I’ve had a fair number of sketches similar to the image I created for my Captain Ahab piece, “Ode to Obsession”, for years. I’ve been intending to make a Captain Ahab portrait and actually read Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick” for years. Recently I’ve finally read the book and crafted a Moby Dick inspired art doll, but it’s telling that I was able to make an image that gets the theme of Moby Dick and Ahab’s disastrous pursuit of the white whale across without ever having read the book- most of us know this story without having ever read it! That’s the power of Melville’s Captain Ahab: he is THE archetype of when passion and drive crosses-over into self-destructive obsession and ruin. He’s transcended the pages of the novel and become the cliche, the shorthand of the thing he represents.
Watch the Captain Ahab Art Doll Being Crafted
Designing a Moby Dick Art Doll
When creating the Moby Dick art doll, Melville describes Capt. Ahab, aside from his iconic whalebone peg leg, as having a scorched face, grey hair, and a scar that runs the length of his face and body, which I wanted to capture in my interpretation. I’ve seen other interpretations of Ahab that make him look hardy and vigorous, but when I imagine him, I always see him as this hard-angled, hollowed-out sinewy character. I really liked this idea of Ahab solemnly looking out and being tangled-up in his harpoon line and though it’s kind of subtle, he has a noose cast about his neck, foretelling the doom that he seeks and the prophesy of hempen rope being his end.
St. Ahab: Patron Saint of Creatives
I find myself thinking of Ahab as a patron saint of creatives or anyone that has a passion, a drive for what they do but the path is unclear and even perilous. Many artists find themselves making emotional, relationship, and financial sacrifices to chase that white whale of earning a livelihood doing the things that they love. And since we don’t only have an effect on our own life, we impact the live’s of those around us, the pull of our creative pursuits could also take a toll on our loved-ones as surely as it did Ahab’s crew. The ups and downs of a creative life can be harrowing and it’s often trying to even know if you’re heading toward your white whale or if the risks and the inner turmoil will pan-out and be worth it in the end. The only thing you know for certain’s as scary as all of this has been, is, and will be, looking back and regretting not even attempting the pursuit would’ve been infinitely worse.
I do want to pull this back from the bleakness a bit and say that we right now live in the best times to try to be a creative! The fact that you can attempt to put your art in front of thousands of people across social media and various websites, the only thing it costs you is time, and find-out if anyone cares- that’s such an opportunity that all of us creators shouldn’t take for granted. This opportunity simply wasn’t there for creators that were trying to put themselves on their career path and previously only a few people at publishing companies were the ones to decide whether your art was “good enough”. Now if you figure-out how to market your work and amass only a few thousand dedicated fans that you work’s for them, you can have a sustainable career and life, just getting there is full of headwinds and crashing waves. And for that I think it’s worth risking the venture!
Prints of “Ode to Obsession” are available through my store here:
Limited Edition: https://www.thedreamsyndarts.com/thedreamsyndstore/ode-to-obsession-captain-ahab-portrait
Open Edition: https://www.thedreamsyndarts.com/thedreamsyndstore/ode-to-obsession-captain-ahab-portrait-cwas5
Thanks for joining me so far and here’s to the adventures we have in future! To be the first to know when I launch new polymer clay art videos, be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel and hit the bell icon. Catch all of my videos here: https://www.youtube.com/thedreamsyndicatearts. You can also find many of the supplies I use in crafting here: https://www.thedreamsyndarts.com/supplies-gear/. And sign-up for my newsletter (in the sidebar) to get the latest studio goings-on! Thanks so much for joining me on this journey and until next time: Make. Believe!