Oh I was an artist before then. I remember my parents telling stories of me drawing complex pictures at an age when other kids were just scribbling.
But I wasn’t a Fantasy artist before I turned seven. It was at age seven when my parents moved into an old Victorian house in
The house had a basement which was dark and damp and spooky as basements are obliged to be. And at the back of the basement was an old brick wall, and high up on the wall was a small, but heavy wooden door with rusty hinges that squeaked when the door was opened.
Of course no one in their right mind would open a door like that, but when you’re seven and you’re in the basement alone and there’s only one light bulb hanging from the ceiling throwing creepy shadows everywhere, and you’re looking at the door, you can hear someone knocking softly from the inside, and I could hear voices whispering to me “Gil, let us out. Open the door and let us out.”
So naturally I opened the door!
And the room flooded with sunlight, and beyond the door were fields of green grass and flowers with unicorns and fairies dancing and capering about…
But not always.
Sometimes it opened to a darker place where dead things dragged themselves across the floor with fingernails as long as knives.
Other times it took me to a distant planet with spaceships and robots, or a castle with knights and dragons and damsels in distress.
(Over the years the damsels played an increasingly prominent role as they became increasingly dis-dressed.)
Of course any time my dad opened the door it just led to a crawlspace where we could work on the rusty, old plumbing that was in constant need of repair. But even then there were centipedes as long as your arm. It was always an adventure beyond the door.
Sometimes at night the door would open all on its own, and things would climb the stairs, and stand at the foot of my bed watching me, waiting for me to quit pretending I was asleep.
They all wanted the same thing from me: the dark things and the unicorns, the knights and maidens, they all said the same thing; “Gil! Draw me Gil. Draw me before you forget, don't let the memory fade, Get your sketchbook out and draw me.” And I did.
It’s been a long time since I’ve been to the old house, but it doesn’t matter because when I left I took the door with me.
And sadly for a while I did forget. As I grew older I had lots of jobs and most of them were boring and I forgot about the door and all the people and places beyond it.
It’s been a long time.
The seven year old boy is in his fifties. So much has changed.
But we’re here now; we’re back, standing in front of the old door, sketchbook in hand.
Where do you think it will take us today?
It’s time to open it and find out.
Are you coming?