Seven Devils II – Designing Sloth

[Creation notes and ruminations I took while designing the ink piece “Apathy of an Idol”, part of a horror mini-series. Read the previous entry here.]

Sloth is simultaneously the most difficult to personify and the most personally incensing of the seven sins. It’s a broader term than the others, for one, encompassing apathy, laziness, ingratitude and wastefulness, all of which are equally “Sloth” but different acts entirely.

Arguably, Sloth could be the worst of the whole lot, as an immeasurable amount of evil has been gotten away with due only to apathy. The idea of evil and misfortune always being “someone else’s problem” is a corrupting one, indeed. I suppose it’s more than fitting, then, that Sloth be an aggravating and slow-going ink piece with little inspiration to run on, isn’t it?

Sloth has no natural expression – you can’t really sense an apathetic or lazy nature on a person’s face, nor does it have the sinister or obsessive shine of the eye that greed or does, or the definitive flame-red of wrath. I guess at best you might get a sense of emptiness from somebody, or a lack of humanity at Sloth’s strongest – a mechanism that functions like a human but just only.

Again, this is something you sense – it’s incredibly challenging to convey the same thing in an artwork. My initial but admittedly boring idea for Sloth was to give the central character and their surroundings an overwhelming sense of sleep and melt, something akin to the dripping clocks of Dali, but with a more grotesque unkemptness fitting with the mini-series’ theme. Strewn garbage and moldy residue would’ve oozed from the world, which sounds fittingly disturbing, but was too similar to the sketch I already had finished for “Gluttony of a Beast”. I feared that the point might be missed if it was as gross as that one, or else they might be confused for each other. Why should the Sloth piece necessarily be an unhygienic wasteland, when you can find apathy even in paradise?

So… after consideration and a full remix of the early sketch, the idea of melt and rot changed into a dystopian atmosphere of luxury – the focal character became an idol or figurehead of such overblown (and totally ambiguous) importance that they no longer are obligated to move their own limbs, as others stand by, ready to do it for them.

I chose a female figure for this piece, as she fit the “idol” tone more, and it evened out the gender disparity with the other pieces (most at the time had ended up being male or androgynous leaning towards male; the only other female one was Envy). I wanted this piece to convey abused privilege and really drive home the evil of such an atmosphere, as the central figure is surrounded by doll-like helpers who in reality may not be there by choice – handmaids in name only. As bad as Sloth is, its worst facet by far is turning a blind eye towards the oppression of others, if not outright condoning it for the sake of laziness. While probably the lightest piece in appearance (especially if it gets a colour version) “Apathy of an Idol” is the darkest in meaning.

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Seven Devils Series I – Designing Gluttony

[Creation notes and ruminations I took while designing the ink piece, “Gluttony of a Beast”, part of a horror mini-series.]

Gluttony – the most animal yet the most self-destructive of the traditional sins, usually causing more harm to the practicioner than the practiced upon. I say usually, but when gluttony writhes out of its boundaries, it has no mercy to those who stand in its path. It’s a rabid and perpetually starving behemoth.

Gluttony when it applies to food is arguably on a moral level beyond simply “good” or “evil”, as animals who have a moral sense completely foreign to and far more instinctual than humans still can be gluttonous if the opportunity is there. Stranger still, opinions on gluttony vary so drastically, it could easily be taken as a virtue.

I don’t personally believe gluttony toward food can be considered “evil” exactly, as delicious food is quite the temptress and easy to give into, though it can be incredibly harmful to the self. It’s more understandable that it was considered to be a worse action back when they first began to write about the seven sins, as food was much more scarce for far more people.

Gluttony is strange. Inherently a dark feeling, though it’s separate from greed and definitely not obsession. It might cause apathy, but it’s not apathy. Nor is it an emotion, but it’s like an instinct that has gone cancerous and mad. Whether this yields bad, good, or neither, it is always too much and always taken too far.

With “Gluttony of a Beast”, I wanted to turn it onto an inhuman and fully grotesque edge that you might get a hint of once in a lifetime, but never, ever see in another. The Beast calls for a lot of grimy residual textures, like rice that congealed to a bowl over a week ago, as well as meaty textures. Meat textures are notoriously difficult to draw or paint, being a paradoxical combination of rough, spongy and greasy at once.

A notable inspiration was the monster No-Face from the film Spirited Away, who showcases a similarly odd, slimy texture. I also was adamant about including cannibalistic or hyper-carnivorous themes, to add to the feeling of unnatural rawness. We’ll see how this looks when it’s done, it might even get a colour version if it’s polite to me.

See some of my current art on DeviantArt.

Help out my work on Patreon or Ko-fi.