Geb was the Egyptian god of the Earth and a member of the Ennead of Heliopolis. The name was pronounced as Geb from the Greek period onward or as Keb. He was the husband of Nut – the Sky, and fathered 4 children with her – Osiris, Set, Isis and Nephthys. As deity, he became associated with the habitable land of Egypt, it’s cultivation and harvest. (More on Geb in Wikipedia).
I imagine if Geb had ever taken a form of a man, he might have looked like this. Isn’t mythology great?!
In reality the story is much more prosaic. As told by a fellow artist from WetCanvas, the man worked as a guard at the temple complex of Karnak, Egypt. He was one of those guards who, when no one is looking, would show you all the places no one else will show you (of course!) and then ask for money, and that’s when you realize you’ve been had. This man was better than others though, he did not blatantly ask for money and agreed to pose for photos. He is now known around the world as many have drawn and painted him for the wonderful worn face full of character.
I’ve been working on this portrait since November 2009. Had to pause for a time to teach myself negative drawing – I couldn’t get the white beard/stubble right by any other method. Then I waited for Hi-Polymer 0.3mm graphite leads to arrive, because my regular 2mm lead pencils were too fat and too shiny for the task. This is the third version of the beard, not counting numerous trials in my sketchbook. As it sometimes happens to me, I was afraid this drawing would go unfinished because my skills were not up to this challenge. It looks like I was wrong.
7.5” x 9” (19 x 23 cm) Graphite on Bristol Smooth 300 Series.