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.
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
I hope everyone is doing okay. Today I’m posting a couple of things I did over the weekend. I hope you enjoy them.
Red Bird, 2020, ink & watercolour on 300lb coldpress, 8 x 10 inches
I found a little scribble in an old sketchbook and decided to turn it into a drawing. The watercolour gives the piece the feel of a children’s book illustration. One of the faces is even smiling, albeit a little wistfully, which is fairly unusual in my art.
Yellow Skull, ink on archival illustration board, 10 x 8 inches
This piece was more or less freestyle. I love playing with the hard silhouette of a profile. This character’s head has the shape of a flea. The foreground character was meant to evoke a death’s head moth.
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.
I am offering 20% off original art on my web store until Sunday, May 19. This is a great opportunity to pick up a smaller original work for a great price. Several have already sold. I won’t be offering sale prices again until the fall. Here is just one of the pieces currently available.
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.
Hot off the drawing table, a new ink drawing for the Antipodes Project originally started by artist Ben Tolman. Visit Joe MacGown’s blog for a good background on the project. I really enjoy creating these intensely packed drawings.
I should also mention that my drawing Hypnos is on display this weekend at Copro Gallery as part of the Underworld show. Contact the gallery for information.
Every now and then on this blog I surface a drawing from the depths of my hard drive. This one, from 2003, was done at a time when I was playing with the idea of doing comics, or a comic anyway. Other things came along and the idea was abandoned, partially for the sake of those other projects but mostly because a comic done in pointillism would basically have taken the rest of my life. Hope you enjoy this little peek.
Fish Scale was done as a personal piece, Night Flowers was a commission. Fish Scale may be an alien, walking a lonely shore on his first day on earth, or maybe he’s a creature that coalesced out of the landscape. Night Flowers stands before her mist shrouded woods. Is she barring entry, or is she here to guide you to a magic realm? I’ll let you come up with your own answers to these questions.