It’s been a busy week. I’ve been working steadily on Harbinger (see previous post), and on this series of oils (below). These are rough and ready iPhone images off my drawing table and once they are properly finished I’ll put some better shots on my website. Birds and flight seem to be the central theme. I hope you like these in-progress views. I’m really enjoying interspersing my other work with these color pieces. The largest, Cardinal, was actually started the summer of 2019 and had to sit in the studio for a while while I attended to other things. It’s great to finally get back to it. These works will be available for purchase once they are finished, dried and varnished.
Late this week I received the copy edit of Tailor of Echoes from PS Publishing. It doesn’t look too onerous, so I’ll be working though that in the coming weeks, as I also begin work on the illustrations. Progress on the new novel is slow but steady. I have a great sense of my protagonist and the story is unfolding nicely.
What else, oh yes, this week I need to get back to my book blog Amnesiac’s Library. It has been badly overlooked in the past few weeks.
Finally, if you aren’t listening to The Dark Art Podcast, hosted by Chet Zar, get on it. I’ve been listening to some of the recent interviews while I work in the studio. The most recent is Chet’s interview with Kris Kuksi! I had the pleasure of showing with Kris a number of years ago when we were both with Strychnin Gallery in Berlin. Kris’s interview is fascinating. The interviews with David Stoupakis, Matt Levin, Erwin Tschofen, Cris Velasco, Dos Diablos and EGO are also highly recommended.
Truly, finally, if you have a few minutes, please check out my studio sale on Big Cartel. If you use the code ECHO on checkout, you can get a 20% discount on your order.
For the past few weeks I’ve been working on this large drawing called Harbinger (24″ x 18″). Check out the images below. I’m rendering with Pigma Micron 005 pens on 140lb Arches hotpress. I haven’t done a lot of finished work with Microns, so I wanted to give them a real workout to see what they could do. I still have a way to go, but generally speaking I really like these markers on the smooth Arches paper. I don’t think they could replace my trusty Rapidograph pens, but they do permit things the Rapidographs will not, like brushing the pigment onto the paper as the tips deplete, which is kind of interesting, so I’ll definitely use them again. My plan is to offer this piece as a giclee print, in the new year.
In other updates, I am just starting work on the illustrations for Tailor of Echoes, my forthcoming fantasy novel, from PS Publications in the new year. Really excited to start on this project. The novel is currently being copy edited. I also have another book illustration project, a “big” book, but I can’t talk about that yet, so I’ll just vaguepost for now. I’m also making good daily progress on the first draft of a new novel. 28K words in. It’s a healthy start and I hope to get a first draft over the winter.
Finally, Atropa (below) is still available from Copro Gallery. I think the show Roadside Attractions IV (curated by Cris Velasco) is probably over now, but if you are interested in this piece, please reach out to the gallery. I’d also like to thank Erica from that gallery and Cris, who rescued this piece when it went astray on route. You guys are the best!
And it’s snowing, while the Jack O’ Lanterns are still rotting on my porch.
One might be forgiven for thinking this piece a surrealist response to Aubrey Beardsley’s illustration, The Examination of the Herald from Lysistrata, but it is in fact a meditation on vision (see previous posts). I hope you have enjoyed watching this process. This work is available for purchase. Please message me with any questions.
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.
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.
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.
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.