Strange Birds

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.

  • Richard
The Witch of the Wormwood, 2020, oil on panel, 8 x 8 inches
19, 2020, oil on panel, 8 x 8 inches
Cardinal, 2019/20, oil on panel, 20 x 16 inches
Work in progress, 2020, oil on canvas

3 Windows

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.

  • Richard
3 Windows, 2020, ink on paper, 12 x 8″

Mysterious Garden

Last night I finished Mysterious Garden Ex.1 a new silverpoint drawing. As the name implies, I plan to do a few more of these imaginary plants. This work is available on my Big Cartel webstore.

On another note entirely, I have re-booted my book blog, Amnesiac’s Library. It’s a place where I talk about my book projects and post various bits of ephemera about book related stuff I like. I hope you’ll check it out and give it a “follow”.

  • Richard
Mysterious Garden Ex. 1, 2020, silverpoint on board, 8 x 5.5 inches.

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

Rumour

Rumour, 2020, ink on 140lb Arches hotpress paper, 7 x 10 inches
Documentation – work in progress from iPhone
Documentation – work in progress from iPhone

Most of this week was spent editing my novel Tailor of Echoes before it goes back to the publisher for copy editing, but today, I needed to break out the technical pens and draw this vignette piece called Rumour. It’s a playful reflection of everything going on in the world right now. The piece is available on my webstore.

Speaking of the webstore, my summer sale has now ended. Thanks to everyone who took advantage of the 25% off deal to pick up a print or original. It’s much appreciated. Please keep checking back as I will be adding new things from time to time.

Finally today, I just wanted to remind you that copies of my illustrated short story collection Magpie’s Ladder are still available on the PS Publications website. If you missed the trailer I made for the book, you can see it on Vimeo. My novels Necessary Monsters and The Lost Machine are now available on Audible in audiobook format from Ecyclopocalypse

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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

Atropa

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Atropa, 2020, ink on 140lb Arches hotpress paper, 14″ x 10″

I took advantage of a very rainy May weekend to finish this new piece called Atropa. It was done with .13 & .18 Rotring Rapidograph pens. I hope you enjoy it. The work is available. If you are interested, drop me a line.

– Richard

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Atropa – Detail 1

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Atropa – Detail 2

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Atropa – Detail 3

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Atropa – Detail 4

Bird of Ill Omen

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Bird of Ill Omen, 2020, ink on 300lb cold press paper, 10 x 14 inches

The Bird of Ill Omen, was finished earlier this year. Even though it’s only the end of March, the time spent on this drawing already seems long past thanks to the dramatic events in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The first tentative lines for this piece were drawn many years ago: the creature with the bird wings for arms and a few simple lines to indicate the form of the main figure. It was put away, and I forgot all about it. When I returned to it this year, I started by fleshing out and rendering the figures. Only when that was done did I add in the background, and the owl (lending the piece its folkloric title). Compositionally, this piece is a pattern of scalene triangles, and rectangles. The buildings in the distance echo the two main figures. There are strong lines from the elbow of the bird man to the eyeball and the hip of the primary figure. Thematically, it follows my usual preoccupations: artificial life, mutable forms and birds.

The primary figure of the artificial life form is not a scientific construction, but rather  magical creature embodying the form of its human creator. It’s simultaneously liberated from stasis by human imagination but fated, maybe doomed, by the limits of the same. Its form follows the human. It’s bias is human. The mutant may represent science gone awry though genetic manipulation – an attempt at developmental peak hopping contrasted with the slower hill climbing of evolution represented by the owl. But I guess if you’ve watch Blade Runner, or more recently Westworld, you know how reliable appearances can be.

  • Richard

PS. It wouldn’t be unreasonable to see a homage to the Residents in this piece.

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Detail 1

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Detail 2

Wedding of the Earth and Sky

For some reason, I neglected to post the completed image of this piece. Here you go, along with a few details. This will be part of the Fiends of the Dark online exhibition by WOW X WOW. Stay tuned for details!

  • Richard

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Wedding of the Earth and Sky, 2020, ink on archival art board, 20 x 16 inches

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Detail 1

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Detail 2

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Detail 3

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Detail 4