The Lady and The Unicorn

Unicorn 1, Coloured pencils on paper, 5.5 x 5.5 in, 2011

Every once in a while, I work on something new and think that I have this great new idea, only to realize that I’ve actually visited the same imagery or theme before.  I don’t think this is a bad thing though.  It’s pretty interesting actually, looking back at why I first chose that image/theme to work with, however many years ago, and then why I’ve chosen to revisit it again.  A couple of blog posts ago, I mentioned the image of the wolf showing up in my work a lot this past year.  This time around though, with my newest piece, it happens to be the unicorn who is re-emerging in my work.

Now I can’t say that I’ve actually drawn or painted a unicorn in my previous artwork, at least not after the age of 8, but the unicorn was indirectly present in one of my past self-portraits, which is a personal favourite of mine:

She wanted to do more than just pass, Oil on canvas, 7 x 9 in, (2006)

I made this painting after seeing Raphael’s painting, Portrait of Young Woman with Unicorn, in the Galleria Borghese in Rome.  The painting caught my eye, as it was rather small but beautifully painted, and the unicorn on the woman’s lap was intriguing, as I found myself trying to figure out what it meant.  After further research (i.e. I looked it up on Wikipedia, ahem…), I realized that the small unicorn had actually been painted as a small dog, which made more sense.

Raphael's Portrait of a Young Woman with a Unicorn

You can actually still see what I’m pretty sure are the ears of the dog in the painting.  It is a peculiar image, but I like the sense of fantasy and wonderment that the unicorn adds to the portrait.  In my painting, however, I replaced the little unicorn with my small lap dog.

And while I may not have painted a unicorn before, I have certainly done a few partial renditions of it’s realistic counterpart, the horse.

Rolla (St. George & The Dragon), Oil on linen, 8 x 10 in, 2007
The Rise & Fall of Proserpina (detail), Oil on canvas, 22 x 44 in, 2010

And so, this brings me back to the unicorn.  A couple of months ago, I started working on these digital text and image prints, scanning found fabric and overlaying text.  The fabrics were patterned with images of animals, and I wanted to create my own pattern, using my own drawings and paintings.  I started a wolf one, but quickly went off the idea of doing another wolf piece, at least for now.  So after some thought and more digital mock ups, I ended up going with the unicorn.  Thematically, the animal fits in well with the other mythology-based work I’m currently doing, and it was also fun to drawing that alluded to my childhood fantasies.  I made four drawings using coloured pencils and scanned them into my computer to lay them out digitally, to eventually create a repeating pattern.

An eight-headed mythical monster

After a few hours of moving unicorns heads here and there and playing with text, here is the final piece:

"and it's driving me mad", digital print, 18 x 24 in, 2011

A new direction/avenue in my work, stemming from a whole bunch of different influences and past works, and one that I’m going to carry on with next year.  And if you’re wondering where the text is from… (Also a hint of things to come.)

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