The Long King Drawing by David Holcomb

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"The Long King" in its frame, with brushes, pens, and other materials to indicate scale.
"The Long King", detail
"The Long King", detail
"The Long King", detail

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The Long King

David Holcomb

United States


Size: 12 W x 12 H x 0.3 in

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Art Description

Drawing: Ink, Acrylic, Plaster on Wood.

"The Long King", 2015 - acrylic, ink and white chalk on fiberboard, 30 x 30 cm.

The "king" of the title is a kingsnake, the "farmer's friend" of the rural United States.

This drawing is part of a series in which each picture refers to a playing card. The snake has been chosen to represent the King (like the butterfly used for the Queen in "The Broken Queen" or the crow as the Jack in "Blackjack") partly for its visual interest, but also for the subtext that is implied by the specific image as it occurs in dream analysis and in the writings of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. The visual style reflects the fragmentation of space typical of cubism or the prismatic Expressionism of Lyonel Feininger, but the detailed crosshatch technique also evokes the engravings of M. C. Escher.

To create this image, an MDF panel is sealed, gessoed (in white) and sanded, then scrubbed lightly with black latex enamel and sanded again to create a textured and uneven surface in gray and white. A geometric framework of quadrilaterals and lines is sketched on this surface in soft charcoal, the shapes distributed in such as way as to provide an overall focus and flow to the picture. The main subject -- in this case, the kingsnake -- is then drawn into this structural scaffolding, breaking and folding the form into the lines and shapes of the gridwork. Fine crosshatching with a dip pen in either black or white is used to sharpen and define the individual fragmented shapes while at the same time creating illusory effects of light and shadow that guide the eye through the picture, after which the traces of the original rough sketch are carefully erased.

After drying for several days the picture is sprayed very lightly with a UV-resistant matte acrylic polymer varnish.

This picture is framed and ready to hang, signed and dated both front and back, with the title on the back.




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