I have begun work on a new novel called A Field Guide to Fauns. In it, I will make use of one of the most central metaphors in all of my art and writing. The mythological figure of the faun is usually portrayed as a young boy or youth, nude, and potentially having goat horns, goat legs, a deer’s tail, and/or pointed ears. It represents sensuality, connections to nature, and a willingness to partake in enjoyments without hiding anything.
Fauns were defined in art long before I came along. The Marble Faun was a book by Nathaniel Hawthorne that I read in college. I looked endlessly in libraries after that for pictures of Praxiteles’s masterpiece from all angles. I would eventually be inspired to make the picture above by a picture made in print by Maxfield Parrish printed in Collier’s Magazine. I have been fascinated for years by fauns. And I began drawing them repeatedly.
As a teenager, I had a faun as an imaginary friend. His name was Radasha. He made it his business to lecture me about sex and nudity, morals, religion, and what was wrong with me. At the time I was repressing the memory of being the victim of a sexual assault, a very painful and traumatic experience that I did not allow myself to remember and admit was real until I was twenty-two. Radasha turned out to be a coping method who helped me heal, and helped me realize that just because it was a homosexual assault, that did not make me a homosexual.
Fauns would come to dominate my artwork through the eighties. I drew Radasha multiple times. I would use the image to express things I feared and fought with and won victories over .
I would come to learn that there were fauns in real life to be found. The portrait above is of Fernando, a favorite student from my first two years as a teacher. He is portrayed as a faun. The cardinal on his shoulder is a symbol of courage and endurance, a bright red bird that never flies away when the winter comes.
Devon Martinez is the main character of my novel in progress. He is an artist like I am. He is fifteen at the time of the novel, and faced with living the rest of his childhood in a nudist community. He doesn’t consider himself a faun to begin with. But that changes during the course of the novel.
Here is the first illustration done for the novel. It is supposed to be a picture drawn by Devon himself.
So, as always with Saturday artwork, there is more to come.