Icarus - woodcut - 48" x 32" ©2015 William Evertson
I have several inspirations for my interpretation of the Icarus story. The first is the painting by Pieter Bruegal, Landscape with the Fall of Icarus. (attribution is regarded as doubtful by some)
In Greek mythology, Icarus succeeded in flying, with wings made by his father Daedalus, using feathers secured with wax. Ignoring his father's warnings, Icarus chose to fly too close to the sun, melting the wax, and fell into the sea and drowned. In this painting his legs can be seen in the water just below the ship. There is also a Flemish proverb (of the sort imaged in other works by Bruegel): "And the farmer continued to plough..." (En de boer ... hij ploegde voort") pointing out the ignorance of people to fellow men's suffering.[
Detail from painting above. The fisherman as well as the shepherd and plowman continue to work oblivious to the plight of Icarus.
My second inspiration is the poem by William Carlos Williams also entitled Landscape with the Fall of Icarus.
According to Brueghel
when Icarus fell
it was spring
a farmer was ploughing
the whole pageantry
of the year was
the edge of the sea
sweating in the sun
the wings’ wax
off the coast
a splash quite unnoticed
This piece is a first for me as the image was worked out as I carved. I began by direct sketching on the cherry plywood instead of my usual method of transferring a drawing on paper that I carve through. Perhaps this is my instance of trying to fly close to the sun but it was my attempt at a looser and more direct relationship to the wood. This image below show a preliminary position for the figure of Icarus in his relation to the wings, sun and waves.
First sketch and beginning the carving of the feathers.
Detail of the feathers
The only detail that kept changing over the course of the two to three weeks of carving was the figure of Icarus and the position of the sun.
Eventually, the head and hand position became more obvious during the carving of the waves.
Copies of the edition drying in the studio.