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!

  • Richard
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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

Art of the Socially Distant

I hope everyone is doing okay. Today I’m posting a couple of things I did over the weekend. I hope you enjoy them.

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Red Bird, 2020, ink & watercolour on 300lb coldpress, 8 x 10 inches

 

I found a little scribble in an old sketchbook and decided to turn it into a drawing. The watercolour gives the piece the feel of a children’s book illustration. One of the faces is even smiling, albeit a little wistfully, which is fairly unusual in my art.

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Yellow Skull, ink on archival illustration board, 10 x 8 inches

This piece was more or less freestyle. I love playing with the hard silhouette of a profile. This character’s head has the shape of a flea. The foreground character was meant to evoke a death’s head moth.

Both of these pieces are available.

  • Richard

The Pact

Sometimes, when making illustrative images, I find it easy to forget that I’m making a thing. This is especially so when most of the engagement with my artwork happens on the web. As grateful as I am for that avenue of engagement, it tends to have a flattening effect. Sometimes I like to remind myself that art is about things (for me anyway). It’s about the visual immediacy of a work created by hand. The way the light bounces off the ink or paint, the dry whisper of the paper under my fingers, the care I must use in handling these objects. That’s why I created The Pact, a little 4 x 4 inch accordion book. It is actually a prototype for some other, slightly larger accordion books I’m planning to produce in the New Year. In the meantime, please enjoy this little movie.

I also wanted to remind everyone that my short novel The Lost Machine is available on Audible as an audiobook. Mark Miller at Encyclopocalypse did a fantastic job bringing this to fruition. Jake Ruddle’s narration is spot on. If you enjoy audiobooks, please give this a listen. Next year is TLM’s 10th anniversary! The New Year also brings an audiobook version of my novel Necessary Monsters. I can’t wait to share it with you.

Finally, I am building a mailing list for a newsletter, something I’ve wanted to do for a while. The first one will come in January and include things that I’m working on, things I am excited about, and there will be special offers and maybe even some special things for subscribers. We’ll see how it rolls. If this sounds fun, go to my website where there is a mailing list sign-up for the newsletter. I promise it won’t be spammy and I will never use your email for any purpose other than the mailing list. I hope you’ll join me.

– Richard

Mystery Sketches

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During the latter half of October, I offered incentive sketches on my webshop – a free sketch with every shop order. There was some demand from people to purchase the sketches outright, so I introduced the Mystery Sketch option, which is still active. As you can see, as time went on, the sketches became more elaborate! After the first few, I upgraded the paper to a heavier cardstock in off-white with rounded edges. I introduced darker shadows and half-tone marker shading. Overall, I’m quite pleased with the result and plan to have the October sketches as part of my annual calendar. I’ve collected the sketches done to date in this slide show above, though one or two may have slipped the net! I’ve already heard of a couple that are going to become tattoos! Sketches are still available, but since the sale is over, you now have to pay to get one. 😉

I hope you enjoy checking them out.

TheWedding of the Earth and Sky

One of the pieces I’m working on this fall is The Wedding of the Earth and Sky. It will be entirely stippled with my trusty Rapidograph pens. I am pleased with the progress so far. Apart from the pencilling, these images represent about 4-5 hours work thus far. I’m already penciling two more pieces in this cycle of work. I’ll be posting updates as work progresses.

– Richard

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Magpies in October Country

It’s October at last, my favorite month of the year. I have just added a small number of signed copies of Magpie’s Ladder to my webstore. The constant reader will remember that Magpie’s Ladder is my illustrated short story collection published by PS Publishing earlier this year. Get yours now!

Also in celebration of October, for this month only, every order from my webstore comes with a free sketch on a blank greeting card. Wait, what? Yes, go buy something and get yours.

That’s it for now. Now, go out, smash a pumpkin, walk in the woods, or burn some leaves before before fucking winter comes howling in and ruins everything!

Richard

Cover of Magpie's Ladder
Magpie’s Ladder, PS Publishing, 2019