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The Green Man

15 Oct 2006 / in about art

If I say ‘green man’ there’s a damned good chance you’ll think of a pub or an alien from Mars. But think again for a minute. Think of a woodland spirit and remember what was painted on that pub sign…

In Europe, the leafy face of the Green Man appears carved as a gargoyle on and in churches and in ancient documents. He may be a pagan deity from as far back as neolithic times, subsumed into subsequent religions across the globe, as so many ancient rites and traditions always have been. But wherever he appears, he is a leafy, strong, fertile, playful, woodland or forest-dwelling deity and appears to satisfy a universal human need. The characters of John Barleycorn, Jack-in-the-green, Robin Goodfellow and Puck may all come from the same now-lost spirit who only exists as faint whiff in our collective folk memory.

I love the idea that a deity who may have been created, worshipped and feared by the same people that built, for example Silbury Hill and walked the Ridgeway still has a relevance in our lives. So when I was asked by a client if I’d make a picture of him to give to her dad, I jumped at the chance. When Charlotte asked me to make the picture I immediately imagined the whole thing in green. But I was painting on automatic pilot (perhaps due to a lack of tobacco) and began washing in the background with ultramarine to give that starry cosmic effect which I love so much. As the blue was drying I cursed my stupidity and thoughtlessness and decided to complete the painting with the blue anyway and ended up with this:


I also decided to paint another just using green as was my original intention.

The green man

So now Charlotte, the choice is yours!

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