‘Run, Red!’ is becoming one of my favourites. Even though I painted it myself, I still feel myself getting drawn into this painting every time I walk past it in my living room. It is based on the originally gruesome tale of Little Red Riding Hood, but with no gore and instead a sort of sinister beauty.
In the early version of the tale, Red meets a wolf in the woods and agrees to a race to her grandmother’s house. Of course, she is naive enough to give him directions there. When she arrives at her grandmother’s house, out of breath from running, she believes she is the winner as the wolf is evidently not there yet. Red enters the house, and finds who she thinks is her ill grandmother in bed. So far, just like the tale we were told as children, right? The characters go through the whole ‘you have such big ears Grandmother’, ‘all the better to hear you with’ charade, but it then takes a creepy and gruesome turn for the worst. Don’t read on if you don’t want to know how this tale originally ended.
The wolf tricks Red to strip and warm him up in bed. (Of course, Red still believes this is her sick Grandmother, and being an obedient, naive child, follows through with each request despite thinking the demands rather strange.) Red becomes more suspicious of an impostor when she feels how hairy and strong the person next to her is (unlike her Grandmother), and when the wolf announces that he will eat her with his huge teeth, Red finally realises her mistake, and springs out of the bed… only to land in something warm and sticky on the floor. In the shadows, Red makes out something lying motionless just feet away. I will leave what Red felt and saw to your imagination, and yes, it is as bad as you think.
The story takes a deeper dive for the worst when you are momentarily given a glimmer of hope for Red’s rescue. In true horror movie fashion, Red escapes from the bedroom into the other room, and from a window spots a woodcutter walking through the woods. She dashes to the window, screaming and pounding against the panes, desperately trying to get the woodcutter’s attention. Meanwhile, the wolf is stealthily prowling closer and closer to Red. Oblivious to the horrors happening in that strange little cottage on his way to work, the woodcutter walks on by. The wolf closes in.
The whole time I was painting this, I wanted to tell Red to run. Isn’t it funny how you can become so involved with what you’re painting. Bob Ross talked to his trees, I talk to my characters. I suppose I feel even more involved with the character after having read their original stories, which are often more horrifying than the versions we know. Not all though; the original Beauty and the Beast is actually just a much bigger and interesting story, so all I ever said to Beauty and Prince Adam was ‘hang in there, it will all work out great!’ Unfortunately, not the case for Red, but she is painted just at the point when she could make a deadly or wise decision. Looking at it, I still believe she might listen to me and turn back now.
Where you can see it and buy it:
The original painting of ‘Run, Red!’ will be on show and available to buy at The Stratford Upon Avon Summer Exhibition at King Edward VI School from Wednesday 14th to Sunday 25th August. Giclee prints are available to buy from me directly or through my Etsy and Amazon shops.
Please feel free to tell me what you think! I am always grateful if you share my posts and work with your friends. Please help get the message out there! Many thanks.