24 x 30; acrylic poured on canvas
No, it doesn’t require much technique, but it’s a fun way to cover a few square feet of empty wall. I did this as a sequel to Parallels since I had leftover paint.
Regular visitors to Mars Will Send No More know I am a big proponent of using journals and sketchbooks as tools for nurturing artistic and poetic inspirations, personal growth, and ideas for writing projects. In 2015, I published a 150-page dream journal called Three Years Dreaming; and in 2016, I published a 100-page, full-color retrospective of drawings and paintings called Sketchbooks Volume One.
But my first publication of 2017 is devoid of words and pictures of my own creation. It’s a blank book called Journal & Sketchbook: A Place for Creativity, and it features 100 lined pages and 50 unlined pages—all waiting to be filled with words and images, at a conveniently portable 8.5 x 5.5 size.
The cover to this paperback features a scan of an abstract acrylic painting, one of a dozen 8 x 10 canvases I created in the last two months with the intent of making unique, colorful backgrounds and textures for book covers, business cards, website banners, compact disc covers, and anything else that needs a personal, artistic touch.
The title page, instead of displaying my name, has a blank line where you can write in your own, and places to write the dates when you start and finish filling the book. In other words, this isn’t a book by me. It’s a book by you!
I’ve been experimenting with a new method of creating colorful, visually interesting backgrounds for things like book covers, business cards, and blog headers. It begins with painting 8 x 11 canvasses which are mounted on a board instead of a frame. They fit nicely on my scanner, so I can digitally manipulate the images later. This one began as a collage of pages torn from a proof copy of my new poetry book. It ended up as the cover to a new book.
Throw a filter and text on it, and it comes out like this:
It looks pretty awesome in print with a matte finish. Once I get a few good scans, the canvases can be recycled by adding layers of different materials to create cracks, swirls, and other interesting textures. Below is the same canvas as above, but in the process of getting a new, messy layer of krackle over it.
Here’s one I haven’t used for any backgrounds yet, a basic color wash with acrylics.
I had some old acrylic varnish and played around with pouring it and liquid paint at the same time, splashing water on them while they were drying, and mixing them together before pouring.
It isn’t going to hang in a museum or anything, but it’s a fun way to get unique backgrounds and textures. I sampled a section of the image for the current header on this blog. The image’s right half is simply a section of the canvas with its colors inverted.
Blind Alley Blues blasts off from where The Lost Crew of the Volya IX ended.
Join Meteor Mags and her criminal crew on a suicide mission to Ceres, and help them steal the biggest guns in the Solar System!
Bang your head as the Psycho 78s play their most nefarious concert of all time, and find out how the band originally got together!
Run for your life in the tornado that terrifies an entire asteroid! And grab all the ammo you can carry, because you are rocking the Asteroid Belt with Meteor Mags and Patches—at a more brutal volume than ever before!
21,000 words. 102-page paperback includes black & white ink drawings.
Line of Thought by Peter Deligdisch is long overdue for a spotlight here at Mars Will Send No More. For maybe two years now, Line of Thought has inspired me. Filled with complex and often abstract drawings, this completely black and white book gives me an instant trip to an art museum. It’s the cup of ink-black coffee that wakes me up when my artistic spirit is lagging.
Peter’s newest work is called Almanac, which you can see at http://www.peterdraws.com/#almanac
Maybe you’ve already discovered Peter’s artwork on YouTube or, like me, on Reddit. Line of Thought collects many of his more polished works alongside a few odds and ends that make the book feel like an intimate look at the artist’s sketchbook. I like that kind of thing, but some reviewers criticized the book for not being print-quality reproductions and for including what they felt were doodles.
I enjoy Line of Thought‘s resemblance to underground and indie comics, and to zines, and to publications like Seattle’s Intruder which is entirely comics and art. (Intruder will soon publish its final issue after a pretty amazing run.) This book fits right in with works such as Rick Griffin’s Man from Utopia. It’s an art book, and I think my fellow comic book fans might dig it, too.
Peter works in several distinct styles, but most of his work fits in with what have recently been called zentangles. They are ornately detailed renderings of the plane along shapes which can be either swirling and chaotic, or geometric and orderly. You can make a zentangle out of something representational, or it can be abstract. And when you see Peter’s ink drawings, you can’t help but imagine coloring in all the tiny shapes.
Although I love this book, it may be a mistake to have it categorized in the coloring books category. It got some negative reviews for not really being a coloring book, and that sounds fair. On the other hand, many of the pieces in Line of Thought could totally work as coloring book pages, with a few alterations to the current format. That might include enlarging many of the pieces currently filling half a page (and thus sharing it with another piece). And, pieces with grey-scale shading could be omitted in favor of only pieces created in high-contrast black and white.
That’s not to say it would make me love the book any more, but it would position Deligdisch more accurately in the coloring books category. I’m perfectly content to pick up Line of Thought and flip through the pages whenever I need a reminder that anything is possible in art, that both chaos and order are beautiful and intertwined, and that it’s possible to create pure magic with only a pen and a piece of paper.
Meteor Mags continues her space-pirate adventures in The Lost Crew of the Volya IX. This 20,000-word story picks up where the collection Red Metal at Dawn left off.
Join Meteor Mags, her cat Patches, and her pirate-radio friend, the shotgun-toting Dr. Plutonian, as they face horror in a not-so-abandoned asteroid mine! Thrill to the savage combat of the alien mating ritual practiced by the invading dragons! Rock out as Patches takes over the digital turntables at an asteroid dive bar! Find out what Mags’ informant Kaufman takes with him on his last day as Chief Administrator of the Port Authority on Mars!
And cover your ears, because Mags and her crew are back—bigger, badder, and louder than ever!
I didn’t get any sketching done this week but I stamped and addressed a ton of these Wayne Static postcards. Friends and readers of MWSNM will be receiving these in the weeks to come.
If you haven’t seen Wayne in your mailbox by the end of February, it means A) I don’t have your mailing address, or B) you live outside the USA and a single postcard stamp isn’t enough! To get on my wonderfully anarchistic mailing list, just go to the Contact Page and drop a line.
A friend of mine bought the original Wayne Static drawing (framed and matted) from me last year. If you dig Wayne Static or his band Static X, you might like to order this drawing as a print, t-shirt, shower curtain, or whatever else your heart desires.
Oh, by the way. I turned 43 in January, and my sister sent me this sweet mountain lion mug. Mountain Lions Forever!
The portrait above is based on a photo I saw after googling “flock of seagulls haircut.”
Below are two sketches based on drawings my friend Brian did for a comic book we made a few years ago. These beasties will be models for the “dragons” in the Meteor Mags stories.
Here are the brush tip pens I’ve been experimenting with this year.
You can get them cheap on Amazon.
It’s time to pollute more perfectly good blank paper!
Guitar guy is Michael Gira of Swans, using a video still as a reference. It might be fun to do an 11×17 on bristol board.
The Marvel Value Stamp of Electro (in the top pic) is a rough for an idea of doing a Value Stamp Series as 11×17 pieces. Then again, it might be more fun to do a series of 11×17 Meteor Value Stamps, with characters from the Meteor Mags stories instead of Marvel classics.
It’s time to start picking poses for the next series of Meteor Mags illustrations, so we’ve been trying out some different things. This silly tribute to Church of the Subgenius made it onto the refrigerator.
The first printed copies of Red Metal at Dawn arrived and they look great. And, proof copies arrived for two music albums to be released on compact disc this month. They look good, too. Once Amazon gets them set up to buy, we’ll take a look at them here.
Making art quickly makes chaos out of your walls. Things get hung at random and, over the course of a year, lose all sense of order. Closing out 2015 required a bit of wall patching, cleaning, painting, and re-hanging.
Yesterday saw the arrival of the proof copy of a music album I’ll be publishing this month. The CD looks and sounds great, but I found the volume to be too low compared to most of today’s music. I plan to return to my master files, crank the volume a bit, and resubmit the audio before making an official release. The artwork, which I designed using scans of an acrylic painting and an ink drawing, came out really nice. I’m excited to get this album and one more music album published before the new semester begins.
I don’t do the tree thing in December, but the art studio desperately needed some suitable greenery. Here in the desert, we get ordinary house flies all year long, even in the winter. Otherwise the weather is so nice you can open windows and doors and let the cat come and go as she pleases and enjoy the sunlight and play guitar on the porch and… then the flies. It doesn’t take but a couple in the house to drive me mad. But, when life gives you flies, grow Venus flytraps.
Nothing says seasonal festivity like a carnivorous plant. I ordered this one on eBay from “Joe’s Carnivorous Plants”. She just ate her first fly yesterday. I was so proud. The leaves are thin enough that when the sun shines on them you can see the pesky little fly trapped in there.
That should keep the freshly cleaned and organized sketch room from devolving into pestilence and infestation for another year! Go, little flytrap!
Every year, the Burton Barr Library, the main hub of the Phoenix Public Library system, dedicates its first-floor art gallery to a Dia De Los Muertos exhibit. The exhibit presents altars made by locals in remembrance of family, friends, and others who inspired and influenced the altars’ creators before dying. This year’s exhibit features not only tributes to artists like Jim Henson, Salvador Dali, Sylvia Plath, and Shel Silverstein, but also memorials to grandparents, cousins, and co-workers.
The brightly-colored altars contain images and objects of meaning to the departed, from books they loved to food they liked, from memorabilia of their favorite sports teams to images and quotes that meant something to them. Every altar has an artist’s statement about what the departed meant to them on a very personal level. These are intimate statements, and one cannot help but be moved by their candor and affection.
Traditional motifs of Dia De Los Muertos abound: multi-colored paper marigolds, candy skulls, and sculptures of people and animals painted black and then painted over with skeletons. The exhibit always contains a piece where people have written names and messages on bright paper butterflies and hung them on lines stretched below a colorful arch of paper marigolds. I imagine the butterflies are symbols of transformation, and also flight and rising above—a deep contrast to the familiar Halloween imagery of graveyards and haunted houses where spirits remain trapped.
Halloween holds little appeal for me. Halloween focuses on fright and creepiness. Halloween imagines the dead come back to haunt us. Halloween portrays the dead as tortured souls come back from the grave to share their torment with us. Perhaps that is one way people confront their fears of death.
But Dia De Los Muertos imagines the dead quite differently. Rather than the dark and gloomy colors of Halloween, Dia De Los Muertos revels in color and brightness. Dia De Los Muertos imagines the dead continuing to do the things they loved to do in life. The dead joyously ride bicycles, make art, love their pets, and play musical instruments. Los Muertos are quite happy, and the day celebrates the joy and love they felt in life—and that we felt for them.
So, I like to make an annual trip to Burton Barr to see this exhibit. I always find it profoundly moving in the way it celebrates those who have died. Though tinged with sadness, the altars focus on why we loved those we have lost, and what brought them joy while they were alive. This year, I took my camera phone to snap a few shots for this blog, but then had second thoughts.
Instead, I took one of many copies of the Lakota prayer, scanned below, from one of the altars. I did not know Carole, but she worked in the public library system here, and worked in libraries all her adult life. Her multi-level altar—created collaboratively by friends, family, and co-workers—includes a diorama of Carole in skeletal regalia seated in a comfortable chair, watching her favorite sports team on television, surrounded by shelves of books and the pets she loved in this life. Above this diorama is a poem composed for her. It tells of her life and her eventual death from cancer. It mourns her passing but celebrates her life. If, as the mythology of Dia De Los Muertos says, the dead do gain permission one day each year to visit their living loved ones, then I have no doubt Carole would be touched to find the exhibit made in her honor. I found the following verse much more meaningful than any spooky and scary Halloween imagery.
Oak Toad on a Leaf
Micron 05 and 01 fine point pen
And that’s it for my drawing pad of 6×8 paper! Though I have a couple other blank sketchbooks waiting, I might get another 6×8 pad to have around. I like working in this size for several reasons. One, it takes less time to go from concept to completion than it does with a 9×12 drawing. Two, the dimensions make it easier to crop to a 5×7 aspect ratio for custom-printed greeting cards. Three, I can find mats and frames for a much more reasonable price at this size, compared to the relatively exorbitant cost of matting a 9×12 to an 11×14 frame. And four, since I draw all my mid-tone lines by hand without a ruler, it is less challenging to cover large areas of the drawing than it is in a 9×12. Just try drawing hundreds of straight lines across a 9×12 sheet of paper sometime, and you’ll see what I mean!
Like last week’s damselfly, this toad had as its photo reference one of my mother’s recent nature photographs. She’s taken some especially crisp and detailed photos of small animals lately, and it’s been fun using them as inspiration for opportunities to practice inking with fine point pens.
Micron 05 and 01 fine point pens and Sharpie marker.
You can tell this is a damselfly, not a dragonfly, by the folded wings. A dragonfly at rest would hold its wings out flat. Damselflies fold their wings above their thorax like this.
We might get it printed on a 14×14 throw pillow. Matting and framing the 6×8 original will be our little project for this afternoon.
Mom deserves credit for taking the original photograph this drawing is based on. We don’t think she’ll mind if we share it with you here:
Our little pad of 6×8 drawing paper is nearly empty now, so we cracked open our pad of 11×17 bristol board to do a quick ink study. Though we’ve painted on much larger canvases, we haven’t gone bigger than 9×12 for drawing. We broke the ice with a Diatryma based on a smaller study from a year or two ago. We’d like to do a whole series of 11×17 prehistoric animals in marker and pen, but working in these dimensions will take a bit of getting used to.
This wind-up toy dutifully marches through a sky filled with Kirby Krackle in tribute to the 1978 toy created by Tomy. For a photo reference, we used a picture taken for our eBay listing which sold this robot a few months ago. This black and white drawing was created with Micron 05 fine point pen, various Sharpie markers, white gel pen, and black pastel. 5×7 aspect ratio, from a high-resolution (300 dpi) scan of original art.
This week, we recreated an ink drawing from last year. The paper size on the original was slightly irregular, so we wanted to make one that would perfectly fit a 6×8 mat in an 8×10 frame. The dimensions on the image above are 5×7, a convenient size for printing cards, but the original is 6×8.
Then we wrapped up this portrait of Sandra Rose from last week. Sandra loves metal and metal heads and dreams of uniting the people of the world in one giant mosh pit. Starting with her photo reference, we gave her a black rose tattoo based on some anarchist symbolism, the pirate’s jolly roger, and some bottles of booze, cards, and coins in the background.
Clicking the images above will bring up the pages where you can buy them as prints. This summer, we anticipate framing 10-15 of these 6×8 pieces and listing them on eBay.
Revisiting an earlier drawing gave us a moment to reflect on the role these weekly postings have played in our development, that luxury of the blogging world which our friends at Longbox Graveyard jokingly call self-indulgent navel gazing. But recently, someone mentioned they “didn’t get” blogging. Having kept a number of journals, dream journals, sketchbooks, musical recordings, and blogs over the years, we can say there is a definite benefit to making journal entries regularly, especially if you are artistically-inclined or working on a project.
When we started doing 4×6 ink drawings last year, they were coming out pretty rough. We were merely exploring possibilities with our new pens. But recently, and with the addition of mats and frames, the 6x8s and 9x12s are starting to look pretty good on the wall. Visitors say nice things about them, a few of them sold, and even our landlord says we’re starting to get good lol. Having a weekly check-in for ‘sketchbook sundays’ has helped us keep improving. More than once, we have caught ourselves on a Saturday with nothing drawing-related to show for the week, and it gives us a push to get into creative mode. It isn’t like anyone who drops by our anarchic little blog is going to send us hate mail if we miss a week, but little checkpoints each week have helped us stick with it and pursue our illustrative fantasies.