New RetroZapper Kendall Schroeder depicts the transformation from a humble farmboy to a virtuous Jedi in “Path of the Jedi,” the latest installment of the Artist Series.
There are few characters in recent history in literature or in film like Luke Skywalker. An unassuming farm-boy dressed in simple, drab clothing, set in an ordinary world. How could a character such as this have endured for so long? From his initial introduction, one would not anticipate the path this young Jedi would take over the course of 40 years.
I first met our hero in the summer of my 10th birthday. In a small theater, my world was rocked! There, on the screen before me was a young man, not that much older than me, seeking adventure. Little did I know, this meeting would have a big impact on my own character. Despite the forces of evil waged against him, he held true to his passion. He sought for the good in others. He knew deep in his heart that there was still good, still light, in his father. Luke’s actions throughout the original saga showed his true virtue. His path from humble farmer to master Jedi occurred before my eyes. It’s hard to believe that his complete story is yet to be told.
How could I represent that transformation in my art?
“For like nothing else in the world, hope arouses a passion for the possible.” – William Sloane Coffin, Jr.
I would begin at the beginning. One of the most powerful scenes in all of Star Wars is the twin sunsets on Tatooine. This is a pivotal point in the story in which the author Joseph Campbell calls “Crossing the Threshold.” The hero is confronted with a call to adventure, which at first he is reluctant to take. But, upon seeing all he had previously known destroyed, he accepts that challenge and as Obi Wan Kenobi says, takes his “first step into a larger world.”
Luke continues to grow throughout the original trilogy. From Master Yoda’s training, Luke learns to let go of his anger, fear and aggression. With the dark side looming over him, Luke’s virtuous spirit begins to shine and we see the confident Jedi prevail in the final installment.
After seeking out the proper references to depict Luke’s transformation from reluctant hero to wise Jedi, I began to block out my portraiture.
“Virtue…is of two kinds, intellectual and moral. Intellectual virtue springs from and grows from teaching, and therefore needs experience and time. Moral virtues come from habit…we acquire by first exercising them, as in the case of other arts. Whatever we learn to do, we learn by actually doing it: Men come to be builders, for instance, by building, and harp players, by playing the harp. In the same way, by doing just acts we come to be just; by doing self-controlled acts, we come to be self-controlled; and by doing brave acts, we become brave…” – Aristotle
Luke became a Jedi by acting like a Jedi. Aristotle teaches that if one truly wants to be good, one must do good things. Aristotle goes on to say:
“Excellence is an art won by training and habituation: We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have these because we have acted rightly; these virtues are formed in man by his doing the actions; we are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”
The Connection to Virtue
Luke shows this kind of virtuous spirit. He displayed excellence through his training from Obi Wan and Yoda. Despite the opposition and the urge to use his power for evil, he repeatedly acted rightly and just. This is the kind of character that I connected with as a 10 year old boy. And, this is the attitude I would need to take to hone my skills in my art.
If I truly wanted to be excellent in everything that I tried to do…a good writer, a good runner, a good artist…I must practice these things. Pick up a piece of blank paper and begin to draw and draw every day. So, I began.
Once I had the initial blocking, I continued to render the features of each of the representations of Luke: Luke as a farm-boy beginning his adventure, Luke the young, confident Jedi, and Luke the last of his kind.
After the initial sketch, I uploaded the drawing into the Procreate app on my iPad Pro. From there, I would continue to adjust the layout and the rendering. I’ve only just begun working with the iPad and this digital format, so there is much for me to learn! However, I found the possibilities to be endless! The choice of brushes and colors was exciting! The flexibility I had with the Apple Pencil on the screen took a little getting used to. Once I had the sketch outlined, I began to play with the color scheme.
As I continued to play around in the Procreate app, the path of the Jedi transformed before my eyes. It began to feel like a poster for a movie. It brought me back to my childhood once again. I recalled the iconic posters for the original trilogy by the great Drew Struzan that are so ingrained in my mind. I didn’t originally set out to create a poster but, now I felt that was the direction I wanted to go.
Path of the Jedi – Finished?
The more I work in this digital media, the more I discover how much I do not know. After approximately 20 hours of reworking the original piece, I finally feel confident in the finished product. Or, at least it’s finished for now! And, much like my skills are not yet complete, I know Luke Skywalker’s story is still ongoing. Oh, how I look forward to learning more about my favorite Star Wars character and seeing how the path of this Jedi continues!
Kendall Schroeder saw the original Star Wars in a small theater in the summer of his 10th birthday and immediately fell in love with the Far Away Galaxy. Pretending to be either Jedi Luke Skywalker or Colonel Steve Austin, the Six Million Dollar Man, Kendall always believed he had special powers. Maybe that’s why he truly believes there is good in all people. And, he will stop at nothing to help rid the world of evil. When Kendall is not creating art, he is leading educators as the head of an online school. Kendall lives in West Michigan with his wife and two kids.