Just a Kid in a Sheet: Craig Davison, the Art of Imagination

A friend introduced me to the work of an amazing artist, Craig Davison, several years ago, and I knew immediately that I needed one of his paintings hanging on a wall in my house someday. Well, here it is, proudly displayed above my Yamaha Arius piano in the writing / music room:

I was really torn over which of Davison’s paintings I should buy. Honestly, if I had the money to invest (and the wall space), I’d purchase most of his work. Including his stunningly colourful, yet somehow dark, Sonic the Hedgehog renderings. Go check them out if you’re a fan of Sega’s pinwheeling ‘hog.

His Sonic paintings are a little different from much of his work, though. His style is ingeniously unique, making great use of silhouette in a way I haven’t seen before. He often depicts kids at play, acting out the parts of their favourite heroes or villains. They wear makeshift costumes (a boy pretending to fly a TIE fighter by running with a rubbish bin (or trash can) lid in each hand for wings), while the subjects of the kids’ fantasies — a TIE fighter, Luke Skywalker, Chewbacca, Marvel Comics characters, or maybe the Tin Man from Wizard of Oz — appear in silhouette behind them.

I would have loved a painting from Davison’s Star Wars-themed series. A kid kneeling on his shoes with a gnarled branch in one hand and green clothes pegs clipped to his ears, pretending to be Yoda? Yes. A girl wearing retro headphones to replicate Princess Leia’s infamous buns hairdo, wielding a tennis-racket gun? Absolutely.

But, I finally settled on Davison’s painting titled “Pesky Kids!”, which I bought from the wonderful Castle Galleries. It’s inspired by the Scooby-Doo cartoon franchise. There’s a close-up at the top of this page. Check out the kid wearing a dog collar, pretending to be Scooby himself. I used to love this cartoon as a child in the 1980s, so this picture brings back fond memories of the show. And there’s certainly an element of sentimentality in all Davison’s work that appeals to me, but not in a maudlin sense. Back in my early school days, I was the kid with the wooden washing-line pole, imagining myself as Luke Skywalker with his lightsaber. Other days, I had my parka coat buttoned round my neck as I flew Superman-style over the imagined skies of Metropolis. One of Davison’s paintings features a kid wearing such a parka-cape, so I was tempted to get that one.

But the “Pesky Kids!” picture stood out to me. Every time I see it over on the wall — behind me now as I type this — it reminds me of the writer I became and where it all started: in the school playground, out in the back garden — anywhere I was with friends. Pretending. Imagining.

Now, in my head at least, it’s still playtime. I become the characters when I’m writing. I direct the action, make up the story. Really, I’m still just a kid in a sheet.

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