Sunday, December 2, 2012

Self-Portrait as a Mythical Creature

Povitrulya – “air spirit”

For this assignment, I would like to portray myself as a povitrulya. Povitrulya is a good spirit from Ukrainian pagan mythology, specific to the western Ukraine, particularly Carpathian Mountains region.  The name povitrulya comes from a Ukrainian word povitrya which means air. Povitrulyas are daughters of the wind, that live on top of the mountains. Carpathian Mountains are famous for their polonynas – mountains with flat tops. Basically polonyna is a flat area, like a field on top of the mountain. It is usually very windy on polonynas, making it a perfect habitation for povitrulyas.

Povitrulyas are fast and light, and can be invisible. They have wings, but usually hide them.  Wings allow povitrulyas to float in the air. They are very beautiful, and merry. They love to dance and play in the wind. They are associated with beauty, creativity, and inspiration. They protect mountain shepherds and their sheep.  There are many versions of a legend that tells a love story between a povitrulya and a Carpathian shepherd, and how she leaves her wings and becomes mortal to be a wife of a human.

I chose this creature, because I am very interested in ancient Slavic mythology. I am also in love with Carpathian region and its culture. To me, this place is what true Ukraine is all about. Growing up, I spent many summers camping and hiking there with my parents. This place is home, so if I was a mythical creature I would definitely choose this to be my home too J

Some of the descriptions of povitrulyas say that they wear wreaths of flowers and herbs, and that their bodies are often covered with plants and flowers all over. I would like to create an elaborate wreath incorporating plants, flowers and berries that grow in that region: like blueberries, wild strawberries, thyme, mint, ferns, branches of fir trees. For the clothing ideas, I looked at traditional folk clothing and embroidery patterns of that region.  I want to make the sleeves of her clothing look like wings, and imply her ability to fly, rather than drawing actual wings, because povitrulyas hide their wings most of the time, and because I don’t want her to look like an angel.

As far as overall composition, I would like draw her in motion to emphasize her lightness and her association with wind and air.  Also because most of the herbs and berries that I mentioned above are used in teas, and I love drinking tea, I want to try to draw her holding some sort of cup offering tea to the viewer. This way, this mythical creature will possess my qualities, while I possess hers.  

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