Update

This is an oil I’m working on. I set up a mini-studio on my porch for better ventilation.

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.

– Richard

A Grotesque

Dictionary.com defines grotesque as

fantastic in the shaping and combination of forms,as in decorative work combining incongruous human and animal figures with scrolls,foliage,etc.

This new piece is the first of many I’m doing on a beautiful block of 140lb Arches coldpress paper. My go-to paper is their hotpress, but the texture of the coldpress is perfect for these small pieces. It looks great in a raking light. I like to hang miniatures in unexpected places in a house, where the light can find them at a certain time of day. I hope you enjoy this one. In my filing system, it is Grotesque_1 but in my mind it is the Flowerfish.

If you enjoy process shots, you can follow my work in progress snaps on Instagram. I also post interesting things related to my work that don’t necessarily require a blog entry. In the coming few weeks I’ll be posting images of new grotesques, some new personal works and some in-progress illustrations for a short story collection called Mythos Tales, by Caitlin R. Kiernan, to be published by Centipede Press. If you are looking for original art work check out my Etsy store, Radiolaria Studios

  • Richard
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Flowerfish, 2016, ink on paper, 7″ x 10″

Walking Backwards

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Misguided Taxidermist, 2006, ink on paper, 11″ x 9″

I’ve decided to start an irregular category on this blog called Walking Backwards. It’s like a Throwback Thursday thing but it will appear as the mood suits. Walking Backwards will feature works, dug from my groaning hard-drive,  which I created in the past but haven’t posted in a while. How far back I go will depend on how brave I am feeling.

Today’s inaugural drawing was done back in 2006. I have to say that I love sepia ink, especially on a nicely pebbled watercolor paper. It feels like I drew the Misguided Taxidermist yesterday. I remember very clearly being pleased with the characters. I think it would be a blast to illustrate a book in them manner. Publishers prick your ears! I hope you enjoy this selection.

  • Richard.

Found Memory

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L’Himby, 1996, ink and watercolour. Illustration for Imajica CCG
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L’Himby card from the Imajica CCG, published by Harper Collins, 1997

I guess most artists must have a place where old sketches and ideas stratify over the years. Mine is known by the unremarkable designation of “the paper rack,” which is actually an old library atlas stand. It is so overburdened that one day I expect it will fall through the floor into the basement. Yesterday I was rooting through the paper rack looking for something, and I came across 3 rough sketches for a project I did back in the 90s. The project was a collectible card game based on Clive Barker’s Imajica. I did a number of cards, along with a small army of other illustrators. The whole thing was coordinated by Hans Rueffert and Sean Curran.

The top image is the finished artwork – ink and watercolour. Below, is the card as it actually appeared, 2.5″ x 3.5.” Naturally I had to fill it with as much detail as possible. The line graphite drawing was the under-drawing to the painting. The other images you see here were simply my thinking through various problems. It’s hard to believe this was 18 years ago.

  • Richard.
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Pencil under-drawing
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Colour notes
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Concept drawing

Necessary Monsters Update

In order to maintain the highest level of creative control, I have decided to publish my illustrated novel Necessary Monsters through Radiolaria Studios, my independent press. The book will be financed through a combination of crowd sourcing and money raised through special, limited print offerings. Please consider “liking” the Radiolaria Studios Facebook page to stay abreast of the latest developments.

“It is in front of the the paper that the artist creates himself.”
― Stéphane Mallarmé, Selected Letters

Weaveworld Traycased Edition

The traycased version of the 25th Anniversary Edition of Weaveworld arrived at my house today. Opening these books was one the proudest moments of my career as an illustrator. Paul Miller at Earthling Publications has done an absolutely spectacular job at realizing this production. My photographs can’t do it justice, but you should be able to get a sense of what I am talking about.

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The Exterior Case
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Inside is the hardcover Weaveworld with no type on the cover, just the artwork
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Okay, I get that this shot is totally vain but I’m especially proud of this one!
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A glimpse inside and a big fat trilobite
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A close up of Immacolata, my favorite character in the book

– Richard

Isthmus Occuli

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Isthmus Occuli
Ink and watercolour
1996
© Richard A. Kirk 2013

Digging around in my drives I came across this piece from the mid-90s. It was one of a number of images that I created for a collectible card game (CCG) based on Clive Barker’s novel Imajica. The project was created by Zehrapushu, a company co-founded by my good friend Hans Rueffert. This was the first project that I did in connection with Clive Barker. It was the project that started my illustration career through a chance response to a newsgroup call for artists. Life will take you interesting places if you let it.

– Richard.

Peake

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Illustration by Mervyn Peake from Treasure Island.

There is very little that I can add to what has already been said about Mervyn Peake, other than to say what a deep and enduring impact his work has had on my own. His world was revealed to me through the worn covers of the Penguin Modern Classics Editions that sat on a wire rack in my local library. I picked them up and returned them to the rack many times before I finally took the plunge. A few pages in and I was was having a retroactive panic attack. What if someone had signed the books out and lost them before I’d read them!? As a young reader, crossing the border between Tolkien’s land of elves and hobbits to the shadowed walls of Gormenghast was profound. G. Peter Winnington in his book The Voice of the Heart makes the point that edges are where Peake’s characters come to important life changes. Without knowing that, I felt a seismic shift in what I understood to be possible in my own art, when I experienced Peake’s world for the first time.

TitusI was introduced to his work though writing and only later discovered that he was a brilliant illustrator. The list of Peake’s illustration triumphs include Household Tales, The Brother’s Grimm, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass and Treasure Island. The dense, beautifully worked style of these illustrations was an affirmation to me as I developed my own love of ink. Incidentally, artist P. J. Lynch did a brilliant job of capturing this aesthetic in his illustrations to Peake’s A Boy in Darkness while simultaneously expressing his own artistic presence.

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Mervyn Peake

Peake died tragically young at 57. We can play the game of imagining what he might have produced if he’d lived longer, but at least we have the work he did create and the better game of understanding them.

“Now that he’s dead, ‘is secrets die with him
Like some lost language, or a hieroglyph
Time-shallowed on a stone.”

The Wit to Woo.

“Without heart, Peake tells us, the work of an artist is merely mechanical, characterized by

‘the lethal stillness of good taste and moderation, that landlocked harbour where the craft of an artist can gaze at its own image in the water, year after year, its woodwork freshly painted, its canvas neat and trim, its cargo rotting.’

Winnington commenting on text in Drawings by Mervyn Peake.

– Richard A. Kirk