I finished this painting several weeks ago, but needed to step away from it a bit, literally and figuratively. It is a large painting and that is the direction I would like to take with my studio practice. This painting is in many ways the impetus for my moving studios. I’ve simply run out of room at my charming current studio.
But this has been a long journey, nearly two years, from bringing what had been a seemingly simple response to Christina Rossetti’s incredible poem of the same name, a simple pencil sketch, to this large canvas.
Before heading off for Philadelphia in the summer of 2015 I made this sketch, dashed it off really.
I was entering a summer program at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and I hadn’t really any concept of how to focus my time. Materials needed to be shipped and I felt overwhelmed logistically. Plus I suffer emotionally from being separated from David and the pups.
I’ve posted before about the PAFA critique program, at times bitterly, but in hindsight I realize how unprepared for the experience I actually was. I now feel, a few years later, that I could approach the experience with more confidence and intentionality (is that a word??).
Perhaps some other summer.
Without a real game plan I decided pretty much on board the plane that Goblin Market was to be my next project for the summer. Part of what I had hoped for with the critique program was to loosen up mentally and creatively, and my little sketch , which I had so enjoyed drawing, would launch me in the right direction. Or so I hoped.
The following are some sequential images of its making.
I pause here because this is where strife began between me and the program director , she insisting that this was a finished work, and I insisting it wasn’t. I envisioned a more polished painting and she wished to “free” me from what she perceived were constraints . Again, in hindsight, I feel I could now express my intentions with more clarity, but at the time I felt crushed and confused.
I persevered but warily.
This image is where I left it at PAFA, unable to finish , I rolled it up, threw it on the plane and allowed it to languish in my studio. I tried avoiding it frankly. Then, in 2017 I decided I needed to face the painting once again.
I’ve tweaked it a bit since this next image, but I now believe it to be finished…for now.
I have a solo show coming up in July, its a small show ( Goblin Market will most likely make its debut), a gallery within a showroom I enjoy showing in. I am excited. It is my first solo show and in many ways it is a clarifying experience.
I’m grappling with what I want to say as an artist and as a person . What is my contribution in this dialogue of life. The window we are given is open ever so briefly, and as I feel I have only just recently entered into myself, I desire to do so fully.
My show will be called “Fairyland”. It is a concept I wish to explore in depth; I will be putting together more extensive proposals for other solo shows, so this show in July is the model.
The following is a revised statement for “Fairyland”:
“At this stage of my life, off center of a century, I am grappling with ways in which to express my “being-ness”. Unable to avoid the “who am I “ question any longer, I find myself ,as a visual artists reaching beyond my usual studio practice of oil painting into diverse disciplines including figures in the round.The figures are essentially dolls, and are fashioned by fully embracing the pre-conceived sissy element of this art. It is in this extension of my practice that I am exploring, at this late stage, my identity as a queer and terrified man; the specter of the pansy boy I was, being given new voice in my latest ongoing project “Fairyland”. It is in this new series of projects , where paint, needle and thread give expression and validation to a long suppressed self loathing.
The very name “Fairyland”, a word once delivered with bloody blows transcends beyond with a message of empathy, compassion. pride, and I hope , humor. Reclaiming the fairy has been empowering. The art I attempt to create is intended to express the spirit of furtive repression breaking free.”
This is a FB link to the show:
9 thoughts on “Goblin Market, the evolution of a painting”
Oh, I mourn your poor time spent in that class! I am impressed that you escaped relatively unscathed (i.e., you continued working, took new directions, continue to rock out as an artist! :D)…
This is my favorite! To see the progression is great for me–I love the photo of the underlit man above your painting at one point, and was ridiculously pleased with the influence on the final work. These characters are just astonishing, i always feel like the world is so big when I see your paintings, that the world isn’t only made up of … big sameness, if that makes sense. I see these guys, and feel excitement and affection, and the presence of old stories. Thank you for that.
Also, not to go on and on, but the colors are perfect.
Your observations are so helpful and so encouraging, thank you my friend !🖤
As always I am in awe of your talent and creativity. It is a piece you can be proud of .
Thank you my friend .
I’m sorry, I can’t help it– I keep finding little surprises, that companion in the dark strapless dress is wonderful, any possibility of seeing the complexity of the tattooed shoulders and arms a little more closely? 🙂 Also, is that a fried egg in the central character’s hand? They just have such huge personalities, and the costuming, it knocks me over!!
I will try to get a close up and post it for you . It’s a large painting and my photographer has had difficulty capturing all of the image . It’s going to be reshot shortly .
Thanks for the input .
Well, i’ve been a big fan of your work for some years now Leonard, but this is one of the most astonishing paintings i’ve seen you create, I hope you are exceedingly proud of it. I love the scale, it suits the painting perfectly and inspires me. And thank you for the progress shots and commentary, it’s so fascinating seeing how such a rich and complex painting evolves and comes into being.
All the very best for the Fairyland exhibition. I’ve enjoyed reading your statement about the show, it touches me very much and makes me reflect on my own work and direction at the moment as I admire how personal you are getting in your making these days – it’s the only way to go!
I’m beginning to believe it really is the only way to go. I’m personally tired of work that seems of a type or a school of thought, derivative in a most obvious way . Unless a work is open and engaging and revealing something of the makers soul , I generally whisk through the gallery only glancing cursorily at the walls. But it seems now there is an abundance of wonderfully true work , I think we all benefit from that . Hoping you are well my friend !
Agreed Leonard, as I grow older I feel it more and more; why bother making something that only has a surface effect to offer? Your work is an inspiration in this respect, it digs deep and expresses something unique to you, it’s powerful stuff! Px