Project Handel: Samson
In my painting, I depicted Samson alone and chained to the pillars after his capture. A large part of the oratorio focuses on Samson’s dismay and desperation at what he has done. I adopted this in my piece and focused on Samson’s true despair and self-loathing, for he feels that his sins cannot be repented and all hope is lost: “A speedy death, to close my miseries.” His eyes are in shadow after being blinded, and the background is red for his rage. He is surrounded by darkness, both because he cannot see and because he betrayed his most precious secret.
With this piece I wanted to convey to the viewer some sense of the drama within Handel’s great oratorio. The viewer looks through marble columns and curtains parting beneath the bust of the composer Handel at the crouched figure of Samson in grief. Beyond the dark Philistine pillars the musicians and singers are represented in a burst of color, glowing in the image like a live ember in the ashes of a fire long gone out. This is meant to give an impression of the passion of Samson’s prayer rising out of his dark depression.
Upon first hearing Handel’s Samson and engaging myself within the story of Samson and Delilah, I was most interested in the dynamic of their relationship that shifted and transformed as the story progressed. Delilah to me, held the greatest importance of the story. If it were not for her, Samson would had never experienced the tragedy he did, as well as his triumphs.
When creating this piece, I wanted to focus on Delilah and her desire for the treasures that awaited her once she accomplished her goals. All she had cared about was jewels and riches. She holds in her hand a pair of scissors ready to snip off the locks of Samson’s hair, knowing what would result.
The colors I have chosen were inspired by the devious nature of Delilah. As she remained undercover, the glitz and glam were the main motivators the entire time. This is where the bursts of brights colors in the gems and jewels play their part. Their significance is important because her greed is what spurred the chain of events that eventually led to the demise of Samson.
I wanted to depict the intensity and range of emotion that Samson came to face as he approached his final moments. In his despair, Samson has nowhere to turn to but towards God. By showing an eclipse and his distant stare, the moment would demonstrate his conviction to have one more chance to have the gaze of God on him again. The representation of music has all the power and intensity of the sun behind them, yet it’s a double-edged sword as the color palette hints towards the darker, more somber tones of Samson’s inner turmoil.
I made an attempt to capture Samson’s emotional agony with this piece. Immersed in the darkness that was brought upon him by blindness and betrayal, the once-powerful warrior kneels with his head turned toward the heavens that seem to have forsaken him with the loss of his hair. He seems to have succumbed to his misfortune, but the powerful anger that will redeem him peeks through the haze. I emphasized light and darkness in this piece to tie it to the especially strong “Total Eclipse” aria, and red seemed to be a fitting color to express the intensity of Samson’s emotions during the Act 1.
Samson sits in despair, blinded and bound in chains after being betrayed by his Philistine wife Delila. His seven braids were cut and his strength disappeared. I was drawn to the strong emotion of this scene and chose it as my inspiration. Cut down and weakened by his enemies, Samson does not fully submit. He is told by his father to “Trust yet in God.”
My piece not only represents the power of Samson but the power behind the music, the color and textures are influenced by the sound, and the imagery correlates to the story. As Samson calls to God from behind the symbolic prison of Philistine columns he is given back his strength and he transforms, showing the fragility of the Philistines in comparison to his true power.
The tale of Samson and Delilah is one of the most well known stores in the bible. The idea behind my interpretation of the story has a lot to do with his spiritual connection with God. As the Philistines chained the brutally beaten and blind Samson to the pillars of their palace, he began to contemplate his mistake in trusting Delilah and disregarding his warning from God. In one last breath he called out to god to give him strength one last time to bring down the palace with him and all the philistines. My painting is about that last moment he has talking to God as the palace is falling apart around him from destroying the pillars. While listening to the beautiful music played by Handel and Haydn Orchestra inspired by this tale I felt that this scene evoked much emotion just as the music evoked to the listener.
Growing up in a society with part of its cultural tradition very much intertwined with Abrahamic religions, biblical stories become well known, and so when writers create their own take these stories their additions can add new interest to the narrative. I enjoyed how the focus of Handel’s ‘Samson’ was not the events of his relationship with Delilah, but rather his experiences and sentiments in his imprisonment to the Philistines that follows. I also enjoyed how Handel included details of the Philistine deity Dagon, as in retold biblical narratives, Pagan gods are usually reduced to simple demon figures or specifics are glossed over altogether. I chose to depict the image of a bound Samson defiant, while I explored using different imagery beyond the traditional depictions. He stands before a cult statue of the Dagon deity, bound to columns made of biblical-era rams-horn trumpets. Samson is a strong figure, but even with his Lord behind him, he is one man against an entire civilization, and even with his power he is not granted an easy victory.
This piece was made using Adobe Illustrator and shows Samson’s face as his hair is being cut. His eyes are closed since in this scene he is sleeping and unaware, but his face is uncomfortable, as if he feels what is happening as his power is taken from him. The style I’ve used, and which I use for most of my more recent pieces is simplistic shapes of color built into a realistically proportioned composition. It is reminiscent of cut paper but I find that Adobe Illustrator’s ability to micromanage details is far easier to work with.
After reading the story of Samson, I found myself most intrigued with Samson’s unique and complex relationship with his hair. In this piece, I focus on Samson in prison, as his strength intensifies with the regrowth of his hair. Here, I depict locks of his hair as jail bars, a visual metaphor to Samson’s contrived relationship with his hair; without it, he has no strength or status and with it, he is a man of unparalleled, extraordinary power.
After it was stressed that Samson should never cut his hair, I felt as though the biggest turning point in the story was when his locks were sheared away. His hair was something he depended on so heavily in order to keep his strength. I wanted to do something really dramatic and different. I wanted to create an image using a style that wouldn’t traditionally pair with a story like Samson. Drawing digitally through Photoshop, I found I was able to create a dynamic and dramatic image, expressing Samson’s rage and sadness in his moment of extreme vulnerability.
This piece seeks tension, between the known and unknown. Large geometric shapes are confident and bold. Frantic detail work on the columns, along with atmosphere undermine this otherwise simplistic bold piece. As an artist my work informs myself. I seek to be honest with what I do and don’t know, along with having an honest communication to the viewer about the conclusions I draw in my final piece. Drama is a tension between two opposing elements. In this piece, it is the bold and strong (columns, simplistic shapes, colors) versus –the fragile cracks, large gaps of empty space, and sporadic texture work opening possibility to the unknown.
My piece is about the transfer of power between Samson and Philistines. His hair is the representation of power and by having it cut off, he has lost it. Because The Philistines become the dominant power after Samson is shaved, they are cover in his hair. I wanted to capture his moment of realization in the chaos of his attack. I also wanted to paint him in expressive colors in contrast to the harsh lines surrounding his attackers. I feel this moment the pinnacle instance in the story and the emotion of loss and gain is something I felt drawn to.
In this piece I wanted to capture the drama and intensity, as well as the solemn reality, of Samson’s final moments by the temple. By using the wide strokes and harsh slices of the palette knife I hoped to depict a certain feeling of built up energy as Samson begins to push on the temple. The warm, fiery, colors give the feelings of anger and passion to accentuate Samson’s pain. As each second passes closer to Samson’s heroic demise, his form fade’s into the black as only a memory, along with his Philistine captors.
Handel’s version of the Samson story is one of triumph. This image, one of Samson destroying the Philistine Temple, would be the strongest in the audience’s mind after hearing Handel’s oratorio. The perspective and angle this image was made in was done with forethought. This being one of, if not the, most common images depicted of Samson, I wanted to make an image that encompassed more than just Samson destroying the temple. It is an image about power Samson’s physical power and the power of his story through time.
To put it simply, this piece is a multitude of answers. It answers a need to return to a style of design that I have not experimented with in a number of years. It is the answer to one of the many questions I ask myself when making art: What do you want to do in the art field? This work is finally an answer to the story that is Samson the Giant.
Samson, by the time he is confronted by the giant known as Harapha, has regained some of his faith in God and in himself. With his feet being his only limbs bound in chains he boldly faces the giant and challenges him to a fight. This piece represents his defiance in the face of a powerful foe and an even more powerful captor. The two colors, red and tan, symbolize the violent nature and deeds of Samsons captors and respectively, the strong, stone-like qualities Samson exhibits when bringing the temples crumbling down around him.
While reading up on the Biblical story of Samson, I found Delilah to be an extremely interesting character necessary for the development of the plotline. Of course, this is largely due to the fact that she is the major reason behind Samson’s alleged downfall. This conniving woman manages to finally get Samson’s confession as to where his power lies, after trying multiple times and having him lie to her, and then messes with him to the fullest extent by chopping all that power off (the power being in his hair). I chose to illustrate this character because she is a stone cold life ruiner.
I wanted to know what Samson felt left in complete darkness with his mind a storm thoughts and emotions. I choose to start with black paper because darkness was Samson’s new world. I choose to use uncertain hair-like lines to build up an understanding of Sampson’s face. I felt the lines on the black paper could be compared to a man groping his way through the darkness to come to an understanding of the world around him.
When we think of the Biblical story of Samson, key moments are first to make themselves known: the cutting of Samson’s hair, his blinding, etc. Perhaps the most noted scene of all is the destruction of the pillars, and his courageous act of sacrificing himself in order to vanquish the Philistines. This painting is a representation of Samson’s wandering through his blindness, the darkness that overcomes him, and his acceptance back into God’s graces at the moment of his triumph over the Philistines. Dark clouds and highlighted pillars work in unison to emulate the magnitude of Samson’s strength.
Upon hearing the oratory tale of Samson’s triumph against all odds, an image came to my mind of the broken man receiving his unreal strength with God’s grace and toppling down the bars which hold him after feeling nothing but pain and agony at the hands of the Philistines and his betrayer, Delilah. With this piece, I wanted to produce an image of the divine power Samson felt that allowed his self-sacrifice through strong lighting and the elimination of all other elements besides Samson and the pillars, his act of rebellion and retribution against his abusers.
Listening to Handel’s Samson to me was very inspiring, and I wanted my piece to project the inspiration that I believe Handel felt when writing the oratorio, and the divine power that Samson felt as he found God. I chose to create a piece that imitated a stained glass window so that the viewer would see it as a moment of light and power just as Samson felt the light and power of God in the moment of his self-sacrifice.
In every incarnation I’ve heard of Samson I’ve always been drawn to Delilah, despite or perhaps because of her antagonistic nature. To me, it seems that she has always been portrayed as weak and cowardly even though she is the sole cause of the fall of one of the most powerful men in her time. I’ve always seen Delilah as wickedly strong, which is what I wanted to convey in my piece.
Samson. The image of pillars toppling from the heights of the temple brewed freshly in my mind at the mention of his name. I wanted pain to be heavily inscribed upon his hands, as they are the character of this piece. His flesh should be cut and broken from the stone and the grain. It’s this final act that resonates the most with me. It is within his final display of epic faith that we see the absolute power of righteousness. And it is within that moment when the pillars fall that I wished to evoke his solemn triumph.