Emotional Work

First drawing for "Binding of Loki" painting by Sam Flegal

First drawing for “Binding of Loki” painting by Sam Flegal

Those that know me will call me a positive person. Jovial and mischievous also seem to come up when friends describe me. Of course my wife and closest friends will have seen my range of emotions, but I do work to present a fairly positive front. I feel this also comes through in my work. I delve into the concept of epic battles and storytelling, but I most often find myself falling back on humor, gross and twisted humor to be sure, but I’m into that. Maybe too much Ren & Stimpy when I was a kid, or maybe Freddy Kruger movies, not sure.

At the moment I’m working on a piece that has challenged my emotional range. It’s a painting about the binding of Loki from the Norse legends. Most of the piece came out fairly easily, but I just couldn’t seem to pin down the right pose and gesture for Loki’s wife Sigyn. She is forced to look on as her husband is beaten down and punished by the strongest and most powerful of the gods. On some level I think she knows that Loki is due the punishment for his actions, but she is still forced to look on as her love, the father of her sons, is tortured.

Close up of my first try at Sigyn's pose

Close up of my first try at Sigyn’s pose

I’ve found it particularly hard to get into a sad headspace. It’s taken me hours to draw and re-draw this pose. Finally while looking up sad songs on YouTube I came across “Hurt” sung by Johnny Cash. From there I watched a video about a homeless man singing in a talent show, they didn’t know he was homeless when he entered. I then settled on a Best of Johnny Cash. That man captured sadness in way that I find resonates with me. Not sure why exactly, obviously I’m not the only one.

Final Pose for Sigyn

Final Pose for Sigyn

I also did a photo shoot with my good friend Laura Bielaczyc. She’s an actress and is great at expressive faces. It also helped to have a woman’s view on sadness. I posed myself numerous time, but the way a man holds his body is just different than how a woman does it. I needed feminine sadness, not masculine. Laura nailed it. Thank You!

As I finish up drawing I felt compelled to write. The sadness didn’t come on easy, but once I found it, it didn’t want to leave easily. It reminds me of years ago when I struggled with depression. I hope that I have captured that in my piece.

Remember that it’s important to feel something when you create. It’s easy to get in the habit of creating by rote, and simply following the art description. Feeling will make you art better. One of my favorite quotes on emotion in art is from Rebecca Guay, “If you don’t feel anything when you create the piece, than neither will anyone else when they look at it.”

"Binding of Loki" final drawing by Sam Flegal

“Binding of Loki” final drawing by Sam Flegal

Hope you guys feel something when you look at “Binding of Loki.”


“Binding of Loki” is the featured piece on my Norse Mythology Series Kickstarter. Please Check it out, and support my project.




To see more of my work or to contact me for availability to help with your project please visit: www.samflegal.com

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7 thoughts on “Emotional Work

  1. I love the change you made in Sigyn’s pose. I’m a Northern Tradition Pagan – these paintings you make are of the Gods I worship and adore (Your “Odin’s Secrets” postcard is on my altar for Odin. :). Sigyn has always been a wonderful and complicated deity. She stands by Her husband through His binding, and the death of one son at the hands of the other. (and considering what those bindings were made from, Her grief must be magnificent.) She is very much our Lady of Constancy. The new pose captures more of Her personality and who She is. She would not try to interfere or stop the Alfather, but She would still be grieving.

  2. Pingback: Binding of Loki – Process | An Artist's Journey

  3. I know this is an older post, but I just came across your work today (thanks, Pinterest!), and I couldn’t not say something. This is one of the most emotionally terrible, heart breakingly beautiful things I have ever seen. The pose you chose for Sigyn just wrecks me, particularly in context with the rest of the picture. You have an incredible gift.

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