Off the Grid, Sort of but not Really

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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.

– Richard

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

Oneiric Natural History

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Detail from Bellman . 2009 . Ink on Paper

One of the joys of the year coming to a close is thinking about what  will come in the next year. This is a time when I make a lot of lists; possible names of new drawings, ideas for images, books I want to read and things to research. Right now I am thinking of a series of drawings that could be a book, or an exhibition or both. Time will tell. It’s going to be called Oneiric Natural History.

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Bug Things Coming

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Bug Head (working title)

Along with a couple fairly involved ink drawings, I also have several paintings on the go. Everything is in various states, from OMFG why did I start this thing? to hey this is working. So, those of you who paint will know the piece above (put through a render on my “tin type” app) only has a neutral layer of oil. What you see here will vanish pretty quickly. I’ll post updates as I go along. I’m racking up half finished works to get me through the winter, like a squirrel storing nuts, or maybe a nut storing squirrels. Who’s to say?

Today’s musical recommendation is Foam Island by Darkstar. Or anything by Darkstar actually. Music is essential in the studio. If you don’t know them, check out Foam Island, I doubt you will be disappointed.

  • Richard.

Aviator

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Aviator, 2015, watercolour, 11″ x 7.5″
All images © Richard A. Kirk. Any reuse is strictly prohibited without permission of Richard A. Kirk
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Aviator – detail

This watercolour is a study for a future oil painting. I wanted to give the figure an avian quality, hence the placement of the eye. The whole piece hinges on that pitiless eye! I think it’s also quite funny. I have a series of paintings in mind featuring monsters in remote outdoor settings. I plan on doing these in the coming months, probably spread out over the year. If you’re wondering what that might look like, Tadpole Tales (below) is the kind of thing I am talking about. Each medium has its own qualities to recommend it.

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Tadpole Tales, 2014, oil, 8″ x 8″

Hunger

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Hunger, 2015, acrylic ink, 14″ x 10″
All images © Richard A. Kirk

I had to take advantage of the light this morning to do a watercolor (or strictly speaking an acrylic ink) painting. The paper wasp nest on the figure’s head is directly inspired by a yellow-jacket nest I’ve been watching over the summer in our garden. The recent cold mornings have killed off the nest, but over the past few months it was fascinating to watch the activity rise and fall with fluctuations in temperature and humidity. This figure is an anthropomorphic representation of hunger, a hunger that might be literal, but which I intended to be a more abstract.

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Hunger – detail

The Veil (on sale)

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The Veil, 2015, acrylic ink on paper, 12″ x 7″ (size approximate)
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Detail

Update: The Veil is sold!

The Veil is a cross hatched drawing done with a dip pen and then painted with acrylic inks. The drawing was done last year but the coloring was done today. One of these days I’d love to illustrate a book in this technique.

This piece is on sale. If you are interested you can check it out in my webstore. Each time one of my sale pieces sells, I put up a new sale piece (eventually).

– Richard.