The Green Man

Anyone who has followed this blog for a while (and thank you, oh patient folk) will know that I do Celtic art. I learned the technique years ago and have been playing with it on and off, usually creating small pieces for friends or special occasions, or just my own doodles. Only recently have I started thinking of reproducing my art for sale. Some would say, “It’s bloody well about time!” and I’m sure they are right. The reasons for me not taking this step sooner are personal and probably boring, so let’s skip over them and get to the art.


There have been lots of Celtic art comings and goings in my sketchbook over the past few years. And this piece is actually one of the more recent ones. The image of the Green Man will be familiar to many. There is considerable folklore and history intertwined with this figure. He appears in churches, manuscripts, and has been redrawn innumerable times. If you are unfamiliar with him, do a Google Image search and you’ll see what I mean.


My version has a personal twist. Besides being constructed as an endless knot, he is holly on one side, and oak on the other. The holly and the oak are seen as the two halves of the year. Even though the oak is a symbol of longevity and strength, it goes dormant in the fall and winter, when the holly reigns. You will find this symbology in the legend of the Oak King and the Holly King.

Detail of the knot work. The image area is about 1.875" x 1.5"

Detail of the knot work. The image area is about 1.875″ x 1.5″

After designing the knot (an arduous process) I transferred it to hot press Arches watercolor paper. I then painted the leaves which required me to evenly wet the leaf area, and only the leaf area. It started as a slow, careful procedure until I started laying down paint, then it turned into a mad dash to get it all down before things started to dry out. It’s all a slap-dash blend of Permanent Green Light, Sap Green, Hansa Yellow, and probably some Prussian Green. (I’m not positive what that blue-green blob on my palette is.) The background came next and wasn’t too bad at all. I was able to do it in manageable chunks. The color is Daniel Smith Garnet Genuine. Yum.

My palette, with left over colors from a previous job.

My palette, with left over colors from a previous job.

With the watercolor out of the way, I have started on defining the knot by painting the negative space with gouache. The color I’m using here is Holbein Terre Verte. Things will be further outlined and defined, but I’m not sure with what color yet. Hopefully you’ll get to find out in a couple of days.