top of page

Jack and the Beanstalk

When I was a small child, I loved the story of Jack and the beanstalk. All adults to me seemed like very annoyed giants, most of them pretty gruff. And loud. No "Fe-Fi-Fo's", but very loud. I liked the whole fanciful story of Jack, who was older than myself, but not an adult, having an adventure all of his own. The giant was very scary, and, in the end, Jack seemed to be pretty happy, though who really knows.

In Stephen Sondheim's "Into the Woods," Jack was fairly immature and fretful. When I first heard the song, "There are giants in the sky," i thought it was about how scary grownups are to a child. I had no idea it was from the musical until I saw it on PBS with Bernadette Peters as the witch in the 1980s. It was a good show.

I remember being very, very young, between three and four, and drawing on the cement driveway of the small home where I lived. It was of a beanstalk going all the way up the driveway, using all different colors, with something fanciful on different levels. I remember being very happy that day, although no one really noticed. Creating art, whatever kind, is very personal and satisfying, although it helps if you have a compulsive disorder. Technique and skill also help.

On my canvas, my Jack is midway coming down the beanstalk. We know this because he has the harp he stole from the giant. He is wholesome but with a bad streak. Like Russ Tamblyn in "Tom Thumb," the film musical from the 1950s. The idea of giant insects made sense as they would be buzzing around giant land. The whole picturesque landscape of Jack's homeland was fun to create. There is a castle, a county fair, and lots of small, intriguing details. Plus, I hoped to give it somewhat of a vertiginous feel. I have never enjoyed heights. But it truly felt the same as I did as a kid painting this.

I liked that Jack did not have a girlfriend. Too many fairytales are fixated on heterosexual match making with very binary characters (think prince/princess couples in Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Beauty and the Beast, Liltte Mermaid, pretty much all of them). Jack, at least, could be ambiguous and, in my little mind, like me, gay. He was also dominated by his mother. Do not even get me started on that.

View other paintings like this in PARLOR at ARTJOESIMON.COM

7 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page