The Old Faeries (part I: The Antique Faerie)


Like Old School, Heileman’s Old Style, and the Great Old Ones, a certain aesthetic is instantly conjured by virtue of the use of the simple word: Old.

It is my intention over the next couple of months to look back from  where I have come in terms of the development of my faeries* series to better establish a structure from which to move forward. There are now four iconic images from which over the past years I believe have established my current trajectory. For those familiar with my website prior to the 2010 relaunch these might have been notable as absent until now.  For those newer viewers, or those have who have not been concerned or interested in the faerie arm of my overall work the following  posts may shed some light on more current works.   Regardless of your entry point into attention to my art,  I hope to establish a loose platform through which further works in the  series can be viewed and interpreted. The four pieces are ; Antique Faerie (2000). Untitled Green man (2001). Melancolia I (2003) ,and Will to Power (2003). Each has its own attributes, though some common properties. As of this year each piece has  finally found a new home beyond my studio and workspace.  My next few posts will concern each of the aforementioned pieces in particular.

* The spelling is a nod to the original Alan Lee and Brian Froud book by the same name.

The media were pencil, paper, water color and gouache (the white). The figure was based on a quick sketch I’d made  at Palette and Chisel in Chicago from a live model. That year I also  became reluctant roommates with a pair of felines; one pseudo tabby black and one pseudo tabby orange. It is likely in this year both were elected to an office which they hold to this day given the bovine fecal nature of Chicago politics.  In retrospect I’m almost certain that this event effected the choice in colors for the Antique Faerie’s wings, but I’m just as certain that at the time I would have denied it.   I do recall, however,  at some point making a deliberate decision to try to practice a lot of restraint but still produce a complete piece. This likely had something to do with the fact that I may have already started the Untitled Green Man but without some kind of external evidence I can’t say for certain whether that is true, and lies are verboten in the drain chamber.


The Antique Faerie is certainly the most popular of the four  iconic images if judged by the number of prints I have been told are hanging in bedrooms, hallways, bathrooms and dining rooms though out the Nation of Chumps. It left my ownership way back when Gen Con was still in Milwaukee and, if I recall correctly, on a Thursday.  I am not certain whether the original art’s public appearance lasted the weekend but I know it was short. Sometimes buyers allow me to leave the a purchased art on display for public viewing until the conclusion of a convention.


As a pencil drawing with only partial color added, it  intentionally told the viewer that it was a piece of art work itself, making complete realism subordinate to the simple depiction of an idea. The converse idea being an atempt to emerse the viewer into a belief of the artwork ‘s secondary reality.  The original was accidentally/ purposefully scratched between the hips and tail, which I digitally downplayed in the print version because I thought the faux antique effect wouldn’t read properly in reproduced form. This recognition of the art as object in itself in contrast to a window into another world as is typical in illustration is also an integral part of my green-man series. When the art is thought to be not part of a secondary world, meaning one apart from our own, it becomes part of the world we do live in, and thus a metaphor, symbol, or even icon.

The Antique faerie established a few motifs  that I have mostly stuck to with each subsequent faerie depiction.  The first and probably most obvious is the tail. Though not always as blatant as in the Antique faerie, the tail has become a ubiquitous feature on any faerie I depict. Tails later  became even more necessary than the wings, as can be seem in Will to Power .  I will freely admit I’m certainly not the first to put a tail on a faerie, but also defer to the phenomena of multiple simultaneous original sources, because it was never specifically a reference to any preexisting faerie tails.  Other motifs  established include reference to realistic body type. As I mentioned previously the figure was based on a life sketch.  The faerie as a subject capable of suffering is another idea established which I continue to probe. Additionally , though wings may be present, actual flight is not depicted. As I reflect on it now, one could speculate on the idea of untapped potential. This seems to cradle well with the more general idea of suffering. As I reflect further on this we may see exploration of the idea in the future.

I’ll continue the discussion of the Old Faeries with Untitled Green Man, though there may be one of two more easily constructed posts prior .

About dk

Doug Kovacs is an Artist and Illustrator who lives in Chicago
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2 Responses to The Old Faeries (part I: The Antique Faerie)

  1. dk says:

    Ha Ha, exactly right
    and more importantly:
    because man created God (aka: The Greenman)
    we are all the GreenMan