Today, in a break from a series of large paintings, I’m going to start sculpting the Green Man. I’ll make him out of some pumice medium and some thick modelling paste which should allow me to build up a leafy, gnarly texture on a small, sturdy canvas.
The Green Man is all around us. Take a walk anywhere there is a trace of stone or terracotta in the architecture and you will find him peering down. I found my Green Man (photo above) posing somewhere on one of the buildings at the University of Toronto. If I spent even a small amount of time , I’m sure I would discover a legion of verdant sentinels gawking at me from ever nook and cranny of the campus.
The Green Man goes back into the mists of time..into paganism and Celtic folklore. The Wiccans have long embraced his vegetative countenance. He’s not nearly as confrontational nor defensive as your typical gargoyle whom, we all know from the movie Ghostbusters, is fully capable of climbing down from his perch and chasing you across the lawn.
I have an antique walnut bed at home which has the Green Man carved into both the headboard and footboard. My wife and I slept in it for almost 20 years. You could say that the Green Man, unwitting voyeur that he is, witnessed the conception of both of my children…not to mention all the fun we had practicing!
Yes, he is a little creepy. He’s usually portrayed, mouth agape, spewing forth all manner of leaves and vines which encircle his head like a wreath. You’ll also find the Green Man as the central figure in a lot of fountains…water gushing from his lips.
I had a wild imagination as a child and I spent much of my time in the forest around our home. You could feel the life in that forest no matter what the season, but never was it more obvious than in the Spring when the whole place seemed to ping with a kind of chlorophyllic vibe. I knew the Green Man was there. He’s there still.
So I’m going to flesh him out in all his garden-centre finery, hang him up and let him live in my apartment too.
Seems like the natural thing to do.