Like so many things mythological, the romanticized view of garden gnomes turned out to have little to do with the reality.
For garden gnomes do exist. They're a subspecies of bat-eared goblin*, related to brownies and house-hobs, and they are indeed concerned with the well-being of their host gardens. Some of them even wear red pointed caps, although there the resemblance ends, as, much like their larger relatives the Redcap, garden gnomes dye their caps in the blood of their enemies (usually bulb-stealing squirrels, but with the occasional mole or gopher that will not get the hint.)
If you are fortunate enough to have well-disposed garden gnomes, they will take care of many of the small chores of gardening, including removal of slugs and Japanese beetles. Armed with their rune-inscribed greattrowels, they are death on many weeds, although they display a peculiar fondness for daisies. They are generally a positive influence in a garden, although one may occasionally come out in the morning to find that some rootbound plant has been repotted in the cleaned skull of the mailman.
Under no circumstances should you place a plaster garden gnome statue in the garden, as they will view this as an intolerable insult and destroy the statue, then plant the garden in with noxious weeds before vanishing forever.
Garden gnomes prefer untidy, exuberant cottage-style gardens, and are distrustful of formal gardens. They dislike manicured lawns and particularly detest golf courses, going so far as to plant weeds in the immaculate grass. They consider topiary a form of black magic.
I have been doing flat-shaded comic stuff for this book for two months now, and the desire to do something with more elaborate shading work apparently hit critical mass. I was thinking about garden gnomes, and since in the olden days, "gnome" and "goblin" were interchangeable, and it's been...god, nearly a decade since I painted an actual classic goblin-ish goblin, I couldn't resist.
Prints are available, for $10 and $20 plus shipping--send a note or visit Red Wombat Studio at [link]
*Not to be confused with the much larger elephant-footed goblin, a completely different group laboring under similar nomenclature.