The Making of Gringolet: part 1

Gawain’s horse is named in the text of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, as Gringolet. I’m making a maquette of him in preparation for my Penfold Press series of fourteen editioned prints based on the poem.

I’ve spent more time than usual on this maquette, as I was looking for an elegant sense of movement in the horse. I’m not yet sure whether that’s a quality I’ll transfer to the prints, but I feel the maquette will be more useful to me in the long term if I can invest it with grace.

I begin by constructing a paper pattern to the scale of the planned maquette.

When all the details of construction and movement repertoire have been worked out, I transfer the component shapes to coloured paper and begin rendering in pencil.

The rendered papers are glued to card, trimmed and fitted with brads on the backs. Holes are made where required to receive the brads. When maquettes are assembled, these attachment-points don’t show on the fronts of them.

Gradually, piece by piece, Gringolet appears.

14 thoughts on “The Making of Gringolet: part 1

  1. Dreamt of Gringolet and Sir G last night as a kind of centaur, and so I Googled Gringolet just now and found your Part I and Part 2. How charming! Now I have something wonderful to peruse this morning! Thank you so much for posting these pictures, Clive–and for taking the time to describe your thoughts in the making.

  2. Clive I would love to see the back –the cams you talk about! I love it that he’s ready for an animation or live performance…a hoofer (so to speak-that means a dancer doesn’t it)

    • I’ll need to figure out how to do that. The backs of the maquettes are as layered as the fronts, and the cams and extension bars get sandwiched behind other elements, so they don’t show. I’ve even dissected maquettes in order to take photographs to show the workings for an Artlog post, but on the few occasions I’ve tried, it makes no visual sense at all. (Not helped by the fact that the backs are all made out of black card.)

      The reality is that I improvise the whole process as I work, checking joints before committing to fixing them, and even I have difficulty in understanding how some of the maquettes work after the event. With the horse, I took the paper pattern apart in order to reproduce it in heavier card with a finished render, and then had the devil’s own job putting it back together again!

  3. Thank you again, Clive:
    All your horses are great. This one is a beauty. And he looks loyal and brave. The only thing I do not like about him, is his name; Gringolet. I know the name is not your fault, as it is the name Gawain’s faithful horse is given in the poem. But Gringolet sounds a bit too much like the french word ‘Gringalet’, which describes someone too immature and too weak, with not enough muscle or character to be a proper Knight’s Companion Horse… I know this can’t be helped, though. But in my head, I shall call him a real horse name, like Zeus, or Aldebaran, or Fire…

    • Alas, Maria, he is called what he is called, thought I think it fine for you to have a secret, pet name for him. I think ‘Aldabaran’ is rather splendid. But it’s interesting that you mention the name ‘Fire’, because when I was a boy, I rode a black gelding that was not mine, but had he been, I would have re-named him ‘Hephaistos’!

  4. I fell in love with your horses, when I curated the board on “Dark Movements” at Pinterest and wrote about the exhibition at the Artlog. You breathe character and life into your portrayals of these beautiful creatures and Gringolet is no exception.

    Gringolet is Gawain’s companion on his perilous quest to The Green Chapel, so I think it is important to capture the relationship between knight and horse. You have more than succeeded in this with your maquettes, which in your hands become much more than compositional aids. It will be exciting to see how this all translates into print.

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