Cover of Necessary Monsters, 2017, Arche/ Resurrection House
I am very excited to show you the cover of my new novel Necessary Monsters, which will be published this May and is now available for pre-order. I can’t wait to share this novel with readers. I re-wrote the book many times over the last few years, refining it to the book I saw in my head. It is, to paraphrase the publisher, true to my art. This observation pleased me immensely because I wrote it to explore the worlds I love through my characters stories. This is a novel filled with books, crumbling cities and unsettling landscapes, magic and of course, monsters. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it.
Other stuff: I spent the last few days moving my website from one platform to another, taking the opportunity to simplify, and cull some older images. The flexibility of the new platform will make it a lot easier to keep the site updated. What can you expect to see? The work highlighted under the Portfolio tab is personal work and ranges from 2009 to present. The Illustration tab highlights various publications, which I either illustrated or contributed to. Over time, I will turn some of those images into gallery links, displaying images from the various projects. But that is phase 2 and will unfold time permitting. Another page, which will be more dynamic and added sooner, will be called Available Originals. My plan with the Available Originals page is to showcase original works appropriate to all budgets. Works on this page will typically be unframed. As an aside, I am very careful with the shipping of original work – at minimum, works are placed in an archival mylar sleeve and shipped sandwiched in 3 pieces of stiff foamcore, within a plastic bubble envelope. For those interested in purchasing a print, they are available in my webstore.
This fall I did some drawings mixing pointilism and ink wash. They were originally intended as illustrations but in the end I went in a different direction. Here are a couple of my favorites from the group. Both of these are available. Send me a message if interested.
Sea Lily, 2016, ink on paper, 13″ x 9″
Little Goblin, 2016, ink on paper, 13″ x 9″
Following a very busy autumn, I’m now finally sitting down to plan creative work for 2017.
My new novel Necessary Monsters is scheduled to be published by Resurrection House/ Arche Press in May. I thought I’d share the description from the distributor’s website.
Lumsden Moss is an escaped thief and an unrepentant bibliophile with a long-suffering desire to foist some karmic retribution on those who have wronged him. But when the opportunity to steal a rare book from the man who sentenced him to prison puts him on the wrong side of the wrong people, Moss finds himself on the run. And it’s not just the book he stole that these people want, it’s also the secrets of a long-forgotten location on Nightjar Island, a place cursed and abandoned since the Purge.
When Moss falls in with Imogen, a nimble-fingered thief who has taken a traveling bookcase filled with many secrets, he starts to realize how much of his unsavory past is indelibly tied to a frightening witch-child and her nightmarish pet monster.
In a fantastic world, still recovering from a war where magic and technology were fused together, Moss and Imogen must decipher the mystery of their mutual pasts in order to illuminate the dark heart that still lurks on Nightjar Island.
Bookending 2017, fall will see the publication of my illustrated short story collection Magpie’s Ladder. I just signed the contract for this project last week and will have more details when I am able to share them. Needless to say I’m very excited about both of these projects.
In late November I turned in 8 illustrations for Centipede Press’s edition of Caitlin R. Kiernan’s Houses Under the Sea – Mythos Tales. This title will be published sometime in 2017.
Also on the art front, I’m working on some new personal work, which I plan to share here as the winter progresses. Sometime in the next few months I’ll be participating in a show with the Shadowood Collective. Shadowood shows are always incredible and this one will be no exception.
Interior illustration for Houses Under the Sea, Mythos Tales
Caitlin R. Kiernan has posted this illustration to her blog, so I guess I am okay to share it here as well. This is for the forthcoming Houses Under the Sea, Mythos Tales. Caitlin has provided details about this book on her blog. The book also features amazing art by John Kenn Mortensen and Vince Locke. Houses Under the Sea, Mythos Tales will be available from Centipede in 2017.
NIGHTDRESS, 2016, charcoal, 12″ x9″
I did this new piece as a break between illustrations. Sometimes I just get images that I have to get out of my head. This was one. It is conceptually similar to a watercolour that I did earlier in the year called HUNGER. This one is a bit darker in tone. When I get a chance I’ll be putting NIGHTDRESS up on my webstore. Okay, back to work.
Dictionary.com defines grotesque as
fantastic in the shaping and combination of forms,as in decorative work combining incongruous human and animal figures with scrolls,foliage,etc.
This new piece is the first of many I’m doing on a beautiful block of 140lb Arches coldpress paper. My go-to paper is their hotpress, but the texture of the coldpress is perfect for these small pieces. It looks great in a raking light. I like to hang miniatures in unexpected places in a house, where the light can find them at a certain time of day. I hope you enjoy this one. In my filing system, it is Grotesque_1 but in my mind it is the Flowerfish
If you enjoy process shots, you can follow my work in progress snaps on Instagram. I also post interesting things related to my work that don’t necessarily require a blog entry. In the coming few weeks I’ll be posting images of new grotesques, some new personal works and some in-progress illustrations for a short story collection called Mythos Tales, by Caitlin R. Kiernan, to be published by Centipede Press. If you are looking for original art work check out my Etsy store, Radiolaria Studios
Flowerfish, 2016, ink on paper, 7″ x 10″
Here is my piece for the In the Depths show to be held at Copro Gallery in August. The show is curated by Cris Velasco and features works themed around the writing of H. P. Lovecraft.
I always associate the works of Lovecraft with the doldrums of summer. I was barely a teenager when I discovered Lovecraft, thanks to a rich vein – that reeked of the last owner’s cigarette smoke – in a nearby used bookshop. It was a discursion from Tolkien, Verne and Peake, my other favorites at the time.
It is pointless to pretend that his lush writing did not have an influence on my developing artistic aesthetic. All those strange cities and damp gardens, and of course the monsters, had a way of sticking in the mind and resurfacing at unexpected moments.
Maybe one day someone will hire me to illustrate a Lovecraftian edition, until then, I’ll leave you with the Nameless Larvae of the Other Gods. If you are interested in purchasing this piece from the show, please contact Copro Gallery.
Nameless Larvae of the Other Gods, 2016, ink on paper, 14″ x 10″
Well, I should write something here before I gain the sad distinction of being the first man to be fired by his own blog. I have spent the last two months, give or take, writing my face off. What am I writing? It’s a new novel, a cool, weird, trippy and exciting novel (IMHO) – I’ll reveal the title in a later entry. So far it has been challenging, exciting and possibly the most creative fun I have had in recent memory. How is it going? Very well, its about 2/3 complete. I am learning at an exponential rate. I will have much more to say about this in the coming weeks/ months.
My novel NECESSARY MONSTERS is in the process of being edited at Resurrection House. I’ve even had a peek of an early cover concept, which was very exciting.
There is much brewing beneath the surface on the art front as well. I have a couple of illustration gigs coming up that I’m looking forward to and two group shows, both happening in July. In general, I am paring back my show schedule this year to focus on these other projects, but I plan to post lots of new stuff on the blog so stay tuned.
I should have a print of my drawing AMNESIAC’S LIBRARY in the webstore before too long as well.
If you are linked to this blog, please note that the domain has changed. It is now: https://richardakirkblog.com/
All for now – Richard.
L’Himby, 1996, ink and watercolour. Illustration for Imajica CCG
L’Himby card from the Imajica CCG, published by Harper Collins, 1997
I guess most artists must have a place where old sketches and ideas stratify over the years. Mine is known by the unremarkable designation of “the paper rack,” which is actually an old library atlas stand. It is so overburdened that one day I expect it will fall through the floor into the basement. Yesterday I was rooting through the paper rack looking for something, and I came across 3 rough sketches for a project I did back in the 90s. The project was a collectible card game based on Clive Barker’s Imajica. I did a number of cards, along with a small army of other illustrators. The whole thing was coordinated by Hans Rueffert and Sean Curran.
The top image is the finished artwork – ink and watercolour. Below, is the card as it actually appeared, 2.5″ x 3.5.” Naturally I had to fill it with as much detail as possible. The line graphite drawing was the under-drawing to the painting. The other images you see here were simply my thinking through various problems. It’s hard to believe this was 18 years ago.
For the last couple of weeks I’ve been working on a series of cross hatched drawings. It started out as a test of some paper I found in the back of my paper rack called #234 Paris Bleedproof Paper for Pens by Borden and Riley. I have a habit of picking up tablets of paper that look promising and stashing them away for later. I really love this paper for Pigma Micron markers. It’s like the two things were made to go together. So, like potato chips, one followed the other. Here is what I’ve done so far.
This is the first one. The sheet is 9″ x 12.” Untitled.
The second one is called Study #5. I really like the necklace of heads.