A question came across my mind while researching on William Blake’s works — ‘What was Blake’s motive to draw all these?’ Being part of Romanticism, dissatisfaction to reality, influence under biblical teaching? What I could think of is probably he wanted a ‘break through’ from the norm. Unlike many artists and poets in Romantic Age, Blake wanted to challenge the core idea of social value, tradition and even religion. The ‘break through’ can more precisely refer to the his creativity, rebelliousness and the way of his story-telling, instead of drawing techniques or visual theories themselves.
It’s an inspiring progress for me to conduct visual research (Fig. 1 to Fig. 19) for Blake’s art. While looking at his sketches, poems, illustrations that utilized the symbolism of devils, I believe he’s seeing a matter from a very different perspective, telling a story from a different angle.
Overall, most of the devil he drew were in human form, with or without wings. Blake’s drawings mainly depict the bible verses, biblical scenario and for book illustrations purpose. The devil that presented by him shows various looks, some come with flame, some accompany with serpent, some grows horns, etc. I personally like his Red Dragon series (Fig. 8 to Fi. 11) the best simply because of of the powerful composition and cutting-edge designs of devil. I believe he was illustrating the scenes in book Revelation in which he designed Satan as a hybrid of an combination of both human and animals forms. In fact, Satan was called ‘dragon’ in book Revelation. Another of my favorite is Satan Calling Up his Legions (Fi, that g. 15) where he portrayed the rise of an evil kingdom from a distinctive perspective.
So my challenge is to avoid the clichéd devil symbolism that massively used by the others. Perhaps what I truly learned from Blake’s drawing is to understand the essence of an idea before putting it into drafts, and breaking through from the past experience.