Three Windows

I started working on this new piece today on a block of 140lb Arches hotpress. Tomorrow I’ll start the real work of rendering the image using diluted inks to model the forms. As I go along, I’ll post some progress shots here on the blog. Although I did many works with this technique in the past, its been a few months, so I’m looking forward to it.

Some Miniatures

I’ve been working on some silverpoint miniatures over the last few days. These are done with silver wire on a plate finish archival illustration board. I worked them directly on the ground with no under-drawing. I hope you enjoy them. If you are interested, they are posted on my webstore for sale.

  • Richard

The Plague Tree

The Plague Tree, 2020, ink on paper, 27 x 19 inches

Back in March, when Covid 19 started to seriously impact our lives, I knew I wanted to do a piece of art as a way of processing what was happening. I had a large sheet of watercolour paper mounted on an archival board that had been sitting around the studio for a number of years. This seemed like the right surface for this project. The imagery came out of my subconscious, mostly fragments of dreams I was having, and some were pulled from sketchbooks. The theme is simple: human knowledge and structures, represented by the tree of knowledge, are humbled before nature.

  • Richard.
Detail 1
Detail 2
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Detail 4

Rumour

Rumour, 2020, ink on 140lb Arches hotpress paper, 7 x 10 inches
Documentation – work in progress from iPhone
Documentation – work in progress from iPhone

Most of this week was spent editing my novel Tailor of Echoes before it goes back to the publisher for copy editing, but today, I needed to break out the technical pens and draw this vignette piece called Rumour. It’s a playful reflection of everything going on in the world right now. The piece is available on my webstore.

Speaking of the webstore, my summer sale has now ended. Thanks to everyone who took advantage of the 25% off deal to pick up a print or original. It’s much appreciated. Please keep checking back as I will be adding new things from time to time.

Finally today, I just wanted to remind you that copies of my illustrated short story collection Magpie’s Ladder are still available on the PS Publications website. If you missed the trailer I made for the book, you can see it on Vimeo. My novels Necessary Monsters and The Lost Machine are now available on Audible in audiobook format from Ecyclopocalypse

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Twisted

Twist, 2020, ink on paper, 9″ x 9″

This piece is called Twist. It was drawn for my other blog, And Ink in Unfailing Supplies, where I do a monthly drawing challenge with another artist based on a prompt phrase. For the rendering, I used a pen & nib, something I’ve been going back to lately – I find it more interesting to work with than the technical pens that have been my mainstay for the past 20 years.

Maybe it’s comparable to the analog/ digital debate in musical circles. I love the way the nib is a little bit unpredictable. Not all of the dots are the same. Lines are more varied. The flow of the ink is a little more “dangerous.” Sometimes it’s sublime, sometimes it’s like working with venom on the end of a snake’s fang, when the nib bites into the paper fiber – fuk. Still and all, working with nibs is overall more fun.

There will always be a place in my work for the trusted Rapidograph. I actually started drawing with steel nibs in high-school. It was exposure to the work of Moebius (Jean Giraud) through Heavy Metal magazine that set me on a search for the Rapidograph. I wanted to emulate that incredible clean style. Later, I met this guy called John. John was a painter, but he encouraged me to develop my stippling style – he knew a guy that used stippling to render mining scenes in northern Ontario. John taught me a lot about work ethic: produce, produce, produce! That was back in the 1980s. I fell in love with meticulous, tightly rendered drawings. It became my thing.

I never lost that original love for the nib though.

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Of course, I have one aim, the grotesque. If I am not grotesque I am nothing.

In an interview with The Idler (1896), as quoted in Aubrey Beardsley : A Biography (1999) by Matthew Sturgis, p. 309

Atropa

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Atropa, 2020, ink on 140lb Arches hotpress paper, 14″ x 10″

I took advantage of a very rainy May weekend to finish this new piece called Atropa. It was done with .13 & .18 Rotring Rapidograph pens. I hope you enjoy it. The work is available. If you are interested, drop me a line.

– Richard

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Atropa – Detail 1

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Atropa – Detail 2

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Atropa – Detail 3

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Atropa – Detail 4

Bird of Ill Omen

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Bird of Ill Omen, 2020, ink on 300lb cold press paper, 10 x 14 inches

The Bird of Ill Omen, was finished earlier this year. Even though it’s only the end of March, the time spent on this drawing already seems long past thanks to the dramatic events in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The first tentative lines for this piece were drawn many years ago: the creature with the bird wings for arms and a few simple lines to indicate the form of the main figure. It was put away, and I forgot all about it. When I returned to it this year, I started by fleshing out and rendering the figures. Only when that was done did I add in the background, and the owl (lending the piece its folkloric title). Compositionally, this piece is a pattern of scalene triangles, and rectangles. The buildings in the distance echo the two main figures. There are strong lines from the elbow of the bird man to the eyeball and the hip of the primary figure. Thematically, it follows my usual preoccupations: artificial life, mutable forms and birds.

The primary figure of the artificial life form is not a scientific construction, but rather  magical creature embodying the form of its human creator. It’s simultaneously liberated from stasis by human imagination but fated, maybe doomed, by the limits of the same. Its form follows the human. It’s bias is human. The mutant may represent science gone awry though genetic manipulation – an attempt at developmental peak hopping contrasted with the slower hill climbing of evolution represented by the owl. But I guess if you’ve watch Blade Runner, or more recently Westworld, you know how reliable appearances can be.

  • Richard

PS. It wouldn’t be unreasonable to see a homage to the Residents in this piece.

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Detail 1

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Detail 2

Wedding of the Earth and Sky

For some reason, I neglected to post the completed image of this piece. Here you go, along with a few details. This will be part of the Fiends of the Dark online exhibition by WOW X WOW. Stay tuned for details!

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Wedding of the Earth and Sky, 2020, ink on archival art board, 20 x 16 inches

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Detail 1

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Detail 2

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Detail 3

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Detail 4