The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them.
PEACEABLE KINGDOM (1969) was one of my earliest finished paintings. In it, I used the technique of crayon sgraffito, a method I kept working with and developing from this first piece. I built up layers of crayon, drawing the figures, patterns, and embellishments with a sharp stylus through the layers. I developed the Peaceable Kingdom painting from a miniature, A Time of Peace. from my black and white drawing Ecclesiastes (1969).
Peaceable Kingdom was inspired by the passage from Isaiah, and especially by the paintings of Edward Hicks, and his interpretation of the beautiful theme. This is a jungle with many plants and animals, but the child is not afraid. For me, it speaks both to the desire of people to find a place of peace in this world and to the need for peace within us. It also symbolizes our responsibility to protect and care for all of creation.
Over the years I returned to this image, painting it several times, always adding new ideas. In this serigraph edition, the acrylic painting I made in 1990 became my guide.
The printing project started in May 1994 and took four months. The process requires that I draw one stencil for each color printed. The complexity of some of the stencils involved my spending five or six days in drawing each one. As we proceeded with the printing, it was exciting to see each new color further embellishing and refining the compositions, bringing the figures, flora, and fauna to life. The time and care spent on each stencil gave us a depth and intricacy exceeding that on the original acrylic painting.
Another exciting technique that the printer, James F. Butterfield II of Aurora Serigraphics, and I used was the mixing of transparent inks. In the PEACEABLE KINGDOM we successfully combined traditional artist’s oil paints with the silkscreen clear printing base. Because the oil paints are made of purer pigments and more finely ground than those used in silkscreen inks, we have been able to develop richer colors and greater depth that reveal the details on the lower layers.
As the Peaceable Kingdom began with a small detail from another work, Psalm 23 began as a simple line drawing, added to the bottom margin of a few prints from the Peaceable Kingdom serigraph, called the Peaceable Kingdom Remarqué.
The PEACEABLE KINGDOM, to me, is like walking into a land where there is no fear; a land where there is no judgement . . . where all nature and reality are reconciled.
-The Rev. Richard Fragomeni, Professor of Liturgics at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago