Here is my recap of the creatures I used in my story poem, The Fear of a Farmer: Valkyrie, Norns, Water Horse, Selkie, sea serpent, and Cherubim. As I did for The Staff in the Tree, I have chosen to show certain illustrations with some accompanying verses. I’m a bit more pleased with the visual quality in this particular book. And now…
“So know, as you tremble with eyes open wide, I’ve come to commission the hero inside.”
From out of the darkness, a trio of Norns Gave such admonition as righteousness scorns.
Its profile was equine but horribly so, Distorted, and much like a fish did it go.
He turned to discover a striking surprise, A womanly creature with ebony eyes.
“I said I would love and return to the deep. A promise I make is a promise I keep.”
Respectfully, Einar stood up in the stern. The guardian lowered its head in return.
“What’s this,” chuckled Asger, “that falls on my ear? You give him the wrong appellation, I fear.”
Their power was awesome, as often was proved By flashes of lightning whenever they moved.
“Be careful,” said Anni. “Arise, but don’t speak.” She stood and positioned her hand on its beak.
The Fear of a Farmer has just been made available on Amazon. You may find out more about it by clicking HERE.
Oops! I lied. I was originally going to do something different. It’s been an uncommonly busy summer for my wife and for me, and school is about to start again for both of us (the school nurse and the college professor). What I’m trying to say is that I’m feeling lazy, so I’m going to try to get by with some additional pictures I drew of a Valkyrie for my story poem, The Fear of a Farmer. I’ve been writing ad nauseum that it’s copyrighted but not yet published. Due to the many illustrations, it is taking me a long time to get it formatted.
I wrote last week, that portraying Valkyries requires some tricks with picture composition in order to make them more evocative. I obviously chose adding wings, but most artists don’t do this. In addition, I wanted to develop the visual character of Anni, the Valkyrie, by doing a portrait and playing with her facial expressions. In this picture, she is giving the farmer the instructions he must follow to save his village from an oncoming invasion.
The following illustration shows her pondering the fate of the farmer. I added an inquisitive sea gull to accentuate the mood.
Finally, I tried a different action pose because, well, it just sort of blew into my mind and wouldn’t leave. In this rendering, she is reaching into the ocean to save the farmer from drowning.
Well, that’s it. I told you I was feeling lazy. Next week, I’ll take on another entity.
Norse mythology strikes me as being visually literal. What I mean by this is that spirits and creatures look like humans and animals – sometimes exaggerated in size, sometimes not – but they typically are not hybrids or chimeras of different species. Serpents look like serpents, gods like men, goddesses like women, etc. Sleipnir, Odin’s horse, is an exception to this rule due to his eight legs, but I think it largely holds true. Of course, the gods are able to change form, sometimes into those of animals, but they tend to look like ordinary animals, albeit sometimes exaggerated in size.
So what does this have to do with Valkyries? Well, they look like women – fierce, war-like women, but women, nonetheless. I wanted to illustrate a Valkyrie named Anni for my story poem, The Fear of a Farmer, but I didn’t have enough confidence in my artistic ability to make her look sufficiently impressive, so I added wings. In this sense, she looks a bit like the stereotypical imagery from a Wagnerian opera.
So what are Valkyries? That’s a good question. I can tell you what they do in Norse mythology, but it’s a bit harder to explain what they are with complete clarity. Much of what we know of them comes from The Prose Edda by Snori Sturluson and other works such as The Saga of the Volsungs.
Valkyries are females who fly over battlefields to choose the best of the slain for entrance into Valhalla, the great hall of Odin. Are they otherwise normal women who aspire to or are chosen for this calling, or are they spirits who can take on physical form? One scholarly opinion I read favors the former, but I don’t know the overall consensus since it is outside my field of expertise (molecular biology). Either way, they are a blend of the natural and the supernatural. This is often the case with Norse mythology and Greek mythology. Valkyries could interact with the living and even marry them. In The Saga of the Volsungs, a Valkyrie named Brynhild is betrothed to Sigurd, the main hero.
Valkyries are not normally portrayed with wings, so portraying them impressively is all about presentation. By this, I mean picture composition. I have chosen some examples which for various reasons have impressed me. Valkyries are often shown as wearing armor and/or riding horses, but there are some other tricks that can be used as well.
Okay, this might be cheating a little. The Valkyrie doesn’t have wings, but her horse does. Of course, I’m no purist in creative matters like this. Based on the kinds of stories I like to write, I think it’s cool when artists and writers borrow different elements from different mythologies. Pegasus quickly comes to mind from Greek mythology.
In this example, the expressions, postures, and poses of the Valkyries and their horses make for an interesting composition which is heightened by the artistic style and choice of color. This really drew my eye.
Here is a more abstract approach which blends them with elements of nature – in this case, clouds. Note how the sense of scale, the dark birds, and the windblown trees accentuate the effect.
In the next two examples, we again see interesting and dynamic poses combined with a sense of context as Valkyries are shown riding in the air. Winged helmets serve as further suggestions of their power of flight. For reasons of personal taste, I especially liked the second of these. Look at the eyes of the horse on the left.
This next one might be my favorite. Has the Valkyrie merely taken off her implements while keeping dutiful watch, or is she awaiting the return of the warrior she loves? I think art is really doing its job when it encourages us to imagine and speculate.
I might as well end with another selection from my copyrighted but currently unpublished story poem, The Fear of a Farmer. I don’t want to spoil the plot, so I’ll just say it shows a farmer named Einar being born aloft by Anni, the Valkyrie.