Here’s a drawing I finished toward the end of 2021. The title was taken from a song by Hozier. You might have heard it. The phrase struck me as quite apt in this age of misinformation, menace and, frankly, misery. Anyhow, it ain’t all bad and this drawing was intended to be fun, or at least a little bit tongue cheek, so I hope it makes you smile.
My next couple of posts will centre on some drawings I created at the end of 2021. I am a little in love with this Bristol Vellum from Fabriano. It’s a nice paper for stippled pen work—just the right amount of tooth to add some sparkle to the finished drawing, but not so much that it interferes with technique. Even in the dense areas there is no bleeding of ink. I’m going to see what larger tablet sizes they have. The inking was done with Staedtler Pigment Liners, which I’ve been using for convenience for the last few weeks. They are lightfast and feel good in the hand. I think I prefer them to the Micron fine liners.
When I was a kid, being sent to “the corner” as a punishment was seldom the dire consequence intended by those in authority. It was usually an opportunity to read, which was like being tossed in jail and discovering the someone had left open a back door to a more interesting place. So The Corner Book imagines a creature that delivers special books into the hands of “naughty” kids everywhere. May we ever be forever united in the richness of our imaginations.
This is a new drawing called “Vanishing Act.” I created it with Staedtler Pigment Liners (0.1 & .005) on 140lb Arches hot press paper over much of December, finishing it New Years Day (today). The turbulent composition reflects the times and the message, I assume, is clear enough.
Most of the past week was spent reading (Crossroads by Jonathan Franzen and Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr—both excellent) and recharging for the year ahead. In the coming weeks I’ll be working on a few illustration projects, initiating some personal art projects I have in mind, and doing some new writing. Sometime in January, my novel, TAILOR OF ECHOES, will arrive at the publisher from the printer. It was briefly delayed by supply chain issues. It is currently available for pre-order.
The past week was fairly busy. As previously mentioned, I am working on illustrations for a very special book. I expect that work to continue into 2022. It’s not a project I can or want to rush and the publisher is being very patient! More on that soon. I am also working on a number of personal works including a series of oil paintings, and two very large—for me—drawings that are 30” x 44.” All of these projects will keep me busy through the winter.
I am almost finished the edits to my new novel and will pass them on to my agent next month. This morning, I caught myself thinking about another book. Hopefully, I can start it in the new year.
If you have time and you’re looking for a unique Christmas gift, please head on over to my online shop.
Well, today is a rainy day in Southwestern, Ontario, but it is nothing compared to what BC has gone through in the past week. I wish them well through this tough time.
I am very excited to announce that my new illustrated novel Tailor of Echoes will be published by PS Publications in December 2021! It is now available for pre-order from the publisher! There are 2 editions: a jacketed hardcover and a signed and numbered limited edition of 100.
The ancient City of Steps is transforming. Alleys and staircases appear where none previously existed. A tree is discovered at the bottom of a canal. In his search for the cause, a young, visionary architect, Adrian Peak, falls afoul of a secret society known as the Curators. The Curators task Adrian with finding a lost document called the Oneiric Chart in their vast sealed library. The chart is the key that opens a door to a shadow city in another, eerily familiar world. Lannikin Flower, the Curator’s shadowy servant, has deeply personal interest in Adrian’s failure.
I started writing Tailor of Echoes in 2018, shortly after the publication of my novel Necessary Monsters. The main character, Adrian Peak (and yes, that is a nod to Melvyn Peake), came to me right away. He is a young, adventurous architect who spends his time exploring the remotest areas of a very ancient coastal city. He envisions wild architectural interventions, but at the same time he is in love with the old soul of his city. During his urban spelunking, he notices that things are changing in very weird and inexplicable ways and set out to discover why.
This book draws together all of my obsessions: architecture, old cities, vast libraries, art, and of course monsters! PS Publications gave me the opportunity to illustrate this book, so in addition to the cover and endpapers, there are 10 interior ink drawings. One of these can be seen below.
I hope you will enjoy reading this book as much as I enjoyed creating it!
The title of this piece was taken from the Notebooks of Joseph Joubert. The piece itself is one of the many I have on sale in my webstore for 25% off until midnight on Halloween (use the code “nox” on check out).
Just a reminder that if you’d like to find out about sales and other things related to my work, you can sign up for my newsletter through my website.
This week saw a special milestone for me as I signed with a new literary agent. I’ll talk more about this in future posts but for now suffice to say that I am very excited by this new relationship. I’ve been without an agent for a couple of years so signing now feels like a great step forward. The timing is great as I spent the intervening time working on a new novel and making notes about the ones to follow.
Speaking of books, in my last post I mentioned I was reading Richard Power’s new book Bewilderment. I’m a little better than half way through and it’s already one of my favorite books of 2021. I’ve been reading Powers since The Gold Bug Variations blew my mind when it came out in the 90’s. I spent most of a transatlantic flight buried in the trade version and whenever I pull it off my bookshelf I am still transported back to that time. I think Bewilderment is Power’s most accessible book yet. It is full of incredible sentences. It profoundly describes the relationship between a father and his son. I love the way the mother is so powerfully present in her absence. I also picked up The Dawn of Everything by David Graeber and David Wengrow. Only a few pages into this massive tome, but wow. I was grabbed from the first lines: “Most of human history is irreparably lost to us. Our species, Homo Sapiens, has existed for at least 200,000 years, but for most of that time we have next to no idea what was happening.”
This drawing was originally going to be an interior illustration for my short story collection Magpie’s Ladder. I always liked the drawing, even if it didn’t quite capture the character it was intended to portray. I’ve renamed it The Bibliophile and put it up for sale on my Big Cartel shop along with a few other things.
This year has been all about books. Since my last blog update—August!—I finished the illustrations for Tailor of Echoes and I am waiting to hear from the publisher on the date of publication. I’m also making good progress on illustrations for another book that will be announced soon. I finished a first draft on my new novel and now I’m working through it to prepare it for beta readers and my new agent. So lots going on and lots to look forward to.
I’m reading Bewilderment by Richard Powers. Powers is one of my favorite contemporary authors. Last year I read his Orfeo. I’m also reading The Peripheral by William Gibson and The Mirror Thief by Martin Seay. This is the way I read, drifting from one book to another. Greedy reader. Oh yes, I’m also reading Elizabeth Kolbert’s new one, Under a White Sky.
All for now. I’m going to try and get this blog back on a weekly schedule as I hope to have some cool updates and announcements in the coming weeks.
Over the past few years I’ve been pecking away at a series of works I’m collectively calling The Devil Tree. Some of these might be familiar—at least two have been offered as prints, and another was reproduced in my Darkling Lands 1 booklet. The picture below is a collection of these works. All of them are done in ink, with dip pen, brush or both. There are a couple of larger works associated with this project, which aren’t shown here. Once I hit a critical mass of images, maybe 20 or so, I plan to produce a kind of free form graphic novel. Free form in the sense that there is no over-arching narrative. Instead, the works are intended to evoke rather than instruct. I believe that physically collecting them together will create a unified experience. Anyhow, that is a while off, so I thought it would be fun to lay them out to show what I have so far. Hope you enjoy them.
For those who might be interested, this was a good week for the novel in progress. I wrote through a major part of the story and this coming week I hope to write the climax. Someday I’ll write a listicle of the myriad tricks I employ to keep multiple projects going at the same time.
One of the things that has kept me motivated in the studio is music. Always music. Right now I am loving The Insects, Loscil, Ben Lukas Boysen and Lingua Ignota.
After studio hours this week I’ve been rewarding myself with a drip feed of Devs by director Alex Garland. Not for everyone, but I love the stark tech and the surrealism of this series. Even makes me love teal again.
This past week was filled with drawing, writing, reading, torrential rain, flooded libraries—not mine—and patches of sun. Some of these things are related. I’m calling this post Little Summer, because so many small wonders seem to come our way during Ontario’s short pause in what can seem like an endless winter. Here’s one.
While I was admiring the pattern on the shell, a cicada landed beside my foot at interstellar velocity—though she seemed no worse for it. Here she is.
Earlier in the week, I was standing under one of my crab apple trees when I happened to notice one of the branches was acting strangely. It turned out to be a stick caterpillar. I’ve been in this house for 30 years and have never seen one before. It’s nice the place still has a few surprises. Can you see it?
But, other than bothering the denizens of the micro-kingdom, I have been pouring it on to get my illustrations done for my novel TAILOR OF ECHOES. Here is one that is currently on the table. As you can see, it’s pretty on brand. I can’t wait to share the finished book, to be published by PS Publications.
Finally, this weekend I had cause to dig through some old photographs and came across this promotional image for the Russian translation of my novel Necessary Monsters.
Okay, enough show and tell for this week. Check back next Sunday for another post. In the meantime, don’t forget to look down. You just might find some treasure.