My next couple of posts will centre on some drawings I created at the end of 2021. I am a little in love with this Bristol Vellum from Fabriano. It’s a nice paper for stippled pen work—just the right amount of tooth to add some sparkle to the finished drawing, but not so much that it interferes with technique. Even in the dense areas there is no bleeding of ink. I’m going to see what larger tablet sizes they have. The inking was done with Staedtler Pigment Liners, which I’ve been using for convenience for the last few weeks. They are lightfast and feel good in the hand. I think I prefer them to the Micron fine liners.
When I was a kid, being sent to “the corner” as a punishment was seldom the dire consequence intended by those in authority. It was usually an opportunity to read, which was like being tossed in jail and discovering the someone had left open a back door to a more interesting place. So The Corner Book imagines a creature that delivers special books into the hands of “naughty” kids everywhere. May we ever be forever united in the richness of our imaginations.
This is a new drawing called “Vanishing Act.” I created it with Staedtler Pigment Liners (0.1 & .005) on 140lb Arches hot press paper over much of December, finishing it New Years Day (today). The turbulent composition reflects the times and the message, I assume, is clear enough.
Most of the past week was spent reading (Crossroads by Jonathan Franzen and Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr—both excellent) and recharging for the year ahead. In the coming weeks I’ll be working on a few illustration projects, initiating some personal art projects I have in mind, and doing some new writing. Sometime in January, my novel, TAILOR OF ECHOES, will arrive at the publisher from the printer. It was briefly delayed by supply chain issues. It is currently available for pre-order.
Over the past few years I’ve been pecking away at a series of works I’m collectively calling The Devil Tree. Some of these might be familiar—at least two have been offered as prints, and another was reproduced in my Darkling Lands 1 booklet. The picture below is a collection of these works. All of them are done in ink, with dip pen, brush or both. There are a couple of larger works associated with this project, which aren’t shown here. Once I hit a critical mass of images, maybe 20 or so, I plan to produce a kind of free form graphic novel. Free form in the sense that there is no over-arching narrative. Instead, the works are intended to evoke rather than instruct. I believe that physically collecting them together will create a unified experience. Anyhow, that is a while off, so I thought it would be fun to lay them out to show what I have so far. Hope you enjoy them.
For those who might be interested, this was a good week for the novel in progress. I wrote through a major part of the story and this coming week I hope to write the climax. Someday I’ll write a listicle of the myriad tricks I employ to keep multiple projects going at the same time.
One of the things that has kept me motivated in the studio is music. Always music. Right now I am loving The Insects, Loscil, Ben Lukas Boysen and Lingua Ignota.
After studio hours this week I’ve been rewarding myself with a drip feed of Devs by director Alex Garland. Not for everyone, but I love the stark tech and the surrealism of this series. Even makes me love teal again.
This past week was filled with drawing, writing, reading, torrential rain, flooded libraries—not mine—and patches of sun. Some of these things are related. I’m calling this post Little Summer, because so many small wonders seem to come our way during Ontario’s short pause in what can seem like an endless winter. Here’s one.
While I was admiring the pattern on the shell, a cicada landed beside my foot at interstellar velocity—though she seemed no worse for it. Here she is.
Earlier in the week, I was standing under one of my crab apple trees when I happened to notice one of the branches was acting strangely. It turned out to be a stick caterpillar. I’ve been in this house for 30 years and have never seen one before. It’s nice the place still has a few surprises. Can you see it?
But, other than bothering the denizens of the micro-kingdom, I have been pouring it on to get my illustrations done for my novel TAILOR OF ECHOES. Here is one that is currently on the table. As you can see, it’s pretty on brand. I can’t wait to share the finished book, to be published by PS Publications.
Finally, this weekend I had cause to dig through some old photographs and came across this promotional image for the Russian translation of my novel Necessary Monsters.
Okay, enough show and tell for this week. Check back next Sunday for another post. In the meantime, don’t forget to look down. You just might find some treasure.
Another busy week in another weird summer. My new novel finally reached the point where the main character is calling the shots. If you write fiction, you know that this is the magical moment. It’s certainly the point I wait for with great anticipation, when I start keeping a Moleskine near the shower and fill my phone’s note app with cryptic comments like Does M have any residual fear of trains!!? It’s also the point where my family does a check in to see if I’m still breathing or just THINKING ABOUT THE NOVEL.
I reached 57K words this week, a little better than half way by my estimation. It’s less like a first draft than one of those progressive digital images that gradually comes into focus. I’ve been back over those 57K words quite a few times as I refined the story. For this new project I am writing a female protagonist. I really enjoyed the challenge of writing female characters in my other novels, and this particular piece called for a certain voice. I’m working hard to avoid the tropes to create a truly unique and believable character. So, the book is progressing well and plot things are layering in quite nicely. Oh, and I finally got a haircut.
This week I also finished a new illustration for my “Big Illustration Project”—sorry, can’t share yet. I’m creating these illustrations with a combination graphite, carbon and charcoal. Tools of choice are Blackwing 602s, and Pearls, Wolff’s carbon and Generals charcoal. All of them are a complete headache to keep a point on! I think I spend as much time sharpening as I do shading. No matter, every technique has its challenges and the results in this case are interesting indeed. Using the Blackwings for the light and medium values and the Wolff’s and Generals for those areas where I really need to lay in the darks.
August is going to be busy AF. I need to turn in my illustrations for my last novel THE TAILOR OF ECHOES to PS Publications by the end of August. Those illustrations will be inked.
In lieu of an image from the Big Illustration Project, here is an older drawing I did with the Wolffs, called Nightdress.
This week, I am showing my latest completed drawing called Harbinger. I started this piece on October 2 and finished it on December 6. I hope you enjoy checking out the detail shots below. I will be making a limited giclee print of Harbinger in the New Year. The best way to stay on top of my print drops and other new is to subscribe to my monthly newsletter through my website. It just takes a second. There will be some fun extras for newsletter subscribers in 2021 (special offers, sketch giveaways etc.). This work is available for sale. Please use the contact form below to inquire.
A reminder that my 20% off studio sale is active until the end of December.
Thanks for dropping by. Moving forward, I will be updating this blog every Sunday. That seems to work well with my routine and will remove the guesswork for regular readers.
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.