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.
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
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 Machineis 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.
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. 😉
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.
This is an iPhone snap of a watercolor I did a few weeks ago. I plan to do a version of it in oil in due course. It was necessary to suspend my use of oil for a while as the products I was using led to some pretty trippy – but ultimately not fun – ocular migraines. Since then, I have added some odorless oils to my supply cabinet. I’m at the point where I can resume. I really like working in oil – though if you are familiar with my monochromatic ink work you would be forgiven for assuming otherwise. I’ll post my progress here.
At the moment, I am taking a break from social media, specifically Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, so this blog is your best bet if you are interested in my new work. My reasons for stepping back are largely related to a desire to enhance my productivity, but they are also related to the attitudes the designers of these platforms have for privacy, data harvesting, and surveillance. Time will tell how these issues are resolved but for now I plan to be more circumspect in the use of the platforms (though in full disclosure these blog posts are shared to Twitter).
If these issues are of interest to you also, I recommend:
The Age off Surveillance Capitalism by Shoshana Zuboff
World Without Mind by Franklin Foer
Zucked by Roger McNamee
Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport
These books have all been published recently and give excellent overviews of the issues from slightly different perspectives.
Pollen is a new drawing (personal work) that I finished towards the end of January. It was done using .13 & .18 Rotring Rapidograph pens. The image below is a quick iPhone shot of a new work in progress called Hearts Divided. I’m hoping to get it done in the next few weeks, working on it between other things. The piece is 17″ x 14,” ink on archival quality illustration board.
On the writing front, I’m in the middle of a full revision of my latest novel The Tailor of Echoes. My goal is to have it completed by the end of March.
I haven’t posted here for a while because I’m working on some larger projects. In the meantime thought it would be fun to round up a few orphan works. These works were created more or less as materials or technique exercises, or explorations of certain ideas. Hope you enjoy this peek at my process.
This drawing done for fun. It is a brush and ink drawing with a watercolour tint. The underlying monochrome base bled, which gives the piece its mottled appearance.
I really like this piece and hope to use this technique more in the future. The image itself is essentially the same composition at the piece above.
Another acrylic piece.
Yes, this is ugly and a little forlorn. It was basically a stress test for the paper. I kept loading pigment to see what this very thick watercolour paper could absorb. The painting is very tiny and unfortunately its difficult to see properly on a screen. Up close, there are some interesting little passages, such as the one the detail below shows.
I’ve been balancing my production between personal work for upcoming group shows, illustration and fiction writing. Balance is hard to achieve, especially when you get seduced by one particular project. This week is was short stories. I finished two that were, sort of, almost there. I might drop one here, to celebrate the first anniversary of my novel, Necessary Monsters. Like my art, my fiction isn’t intended for everyone. It’s my statement, my aesthetic. I love it when readers respond. It’s so gratifying when people “get it.”
Now that the two stories are finished, this weekend I am returning to the final illustrations for my collection of short stories (Magpie’s Ladder, PS Publishing, later this year). Work on my next novel is progressing, but it’s the kind of thing that has to slow cook.
Booking group shows into 2019. Very excited by projects coming down the line. Thanks for your interest and support.
Further to my last post, PS Publishing has just posted its December newsletter. It includes the full wrap around illustration for Odin’s Girl by Kim Wilkins, which I share here. It also shows a little of an interior illustration, which you can see by following the link.
I am currently hard at work/ play creating the illustrations for Magpie’s Ladder (also mentioned in the newsletter). I will be posting some teasers on my Instagram account. So if you are interested, please follow me there. The link is at the bottom of this page.
Finally, I would be remiss not to throw in a plug for my novel Necessary Monsters published in June by Resurrection House. You can find it on Amazon or, in your local bookshop of choice.
Symphonist No.5 is a silverpoint miniature (4″x3″). It’s one of an ongoing series. Silverpoint lends itself beautifully to miniature work due to the precision you can get with the silver stylus. Over time, this drawing will darken as the particles of silver trapped by the ground begin to tarnish.