Three Windows – The Building

This progress shot represents several hours of cross hatching using very fine brushes with diluted ink. It looks a little stark without the framing background elements but so far so good. My main goal for this building was to capture the weathered, patchy elements. I always forget how grotesquely time consuming this technique is, but it it’s also very meditative. So there’s that.

This piece is about vision. The building represents the enclosed brain relying on inputs from the optic nerve to create an image (some say, hallucination) of the world outside.

Three Windows – Work in Progress #2

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

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.

  • Richard

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

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. ­čśë

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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Off the Grid, Sort of but not Really

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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.

– Richard