Vanishing Act

Books, Drawings, ink, Stippling, Technique

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.

Vanishing Act, 2022, ink on paper, 13 x 9 inches

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.

Happy New Years!

Richard

Tailor of Echoes

Books, Fiction, Illustration, Necessary Monsters, Works for Sale, writing

I am very excited to announce that my new illustrated novel Tailor of Echoes will be published by PS Publications in December 2021! It is now available for pre-order from the publisher! There are 2 editions: a jacketed hardcover and a signed and numbered limited edition of 100.

The ancient City of Steps is transforming. Alleys and staircases appear where none previously existed. A tree is discovered at the bottom of a canal. In his search for the cause, a young, visionary architect, Adrian Peak, falls afoul of a secret society known as the Curators. The Curators task Adrian with finding a lost document called the Oneiric Chart in their vast sealed library. The chart is the key that opens a door to a shadow city in another, eerily familiar world. Lannikin Flower, the Curator’s shadowy servant, has deeply personal interest in Adrian’s failure.

I started writing Tailor of Echoes in 2018, shortly after the publication of my novel Necessary Monsters. The main character, Adrian Peak (and yes, that is a nod to Melvyn Peake), came to me right away. He is a young, adventurous architect who spends his time exploring the remotest areas of a very ancient coastal city. He envisions wild architectural interventions, but at the same time he is in love with the old soul of his city. During his urban spelunking, he notices that things are changing in very weird and inexplicable ways and set out to discover why.

This book draws together all of my obsessions: architecture, old cities, vast libraries, art, and of course monsters! PS Publications gave me the opportunity to illustrate this book, so in addition to the cover and endpapers, there are 10 interior ink drawings. One of these can be seen below.

I hope you will enjoy reading this book as much as I enjoyed creating it!

Richard

Cover of Tailor of Echoes
Tailor of Echoes, interior illustration © Richard A. Kirk 2021

The Bibliophile

Books, Illustration, ink, Magpie's Ladder, Works for Sale, writing

This drawing was originally going to be an interior illustration for my short story collection Magpie’s Ladder. I always liked the drawing, even if it didn’t quite capture the character it was intended to portray. I’ve renamed it The Bibliophile and put it up for sale on my Big Cartel shop along with a few other things.

This year has been all about books. Since my last blog update—August!—I finished the illustrations for Tailor of Echoes and I am waiting to hear from the publisher on the date of publication. I’m also making good progress on illustrations for another book that will be announced soon. I finished a first draft on my new novel and now I’m working through it to prepare it for beta readers and my new agent. So lots going on and lots to look forward to.

I’m reading Bewilderment by Richard Powers. Powers is one of my favorite contemporary authors. Last year I read his Orfeo. I’m also reading The Peripheral by William Gibson and The Mirror Thief by Martin Seay. This is the way I read, drifting from one book to another. Greedy reader. Oh yes, I’m also reading Elizabeth Kolbert’s new one, Under a White Sky.

All for now. I’m going to try and get this blog back on a weekly schedule as I hope to have some cool updates and announcements in the coming weeks.

Richard.

Little Summer

Books, Details, Drawings, Fiction, Illustration, ink, Natural History, Process, Stippling, Technique, Work in Progress, writing

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.

A tiny egg that appeared intact on our sidewalk.

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.

Spacefaring Cicada

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?

Stick Caterpillar

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.

Interior illustration in progress for the forthcoming Tailor of Echoes

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.

Russian Translation of Necessary Monsters (Eksmo, 2018)

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.

Richard

The Point

Books, Drawings, Fiction, Illustration, ink, Process, Technique, Work in Progress, writing

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.

Thanks for reading, Richard

My studio buddy catching some ZZZZs

Tailor of Echoes – Teaser

Drawings, Fiction, Illustration, Process, writing
Tailor of Echoes Title Page Art © Richard A. Kirk 2021

I posted this image on my social media accounts to tease my forthcoming illustrated novel Tailor of Echoes (PS Publications, 2021). It was created for the title page. The original drawing is graphite. Since this blog is a defacto record of my studio activities I thought it should be here as well.

Busy week. I entered the NYC Midnight short story contest (for the first time, ever). I was assigned a fairy tale. So most of the week was spent crafting a 2500 word tale, which I submitted this morning. Wish me luck!

Strange Birds

Books, oil painting, Painting, Process, Technique, Work in Progress, Works for Sale, writing

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
Solitudes, 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

Harbinger – Work in Progress

Books, Cross Hatching, Drawings, ink, Prints, Process, Stippling, Technique, Work in Progress

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!

Atropa

And it’s snowing, while the Jack O’ Lanterns are still rotting on my porch.

All for now!

  • Richard
Harbinger, a work in progress (iPhone snap).
Harbinger on my drawing table (iPhone snap).
Harbinger, detail (iPhone snap).
Harbinger, detail (iPhone snap).
Harbinger detail (iphone snap).