when the sun disappears
we dance in its umbra
embracing lightless silence
where mockingbirds dare not fly
darkness belongs to bodies
we plant kisses like seeds
and if one star
carves its absence like a scar
then you and i are healing
in the wound
Pastel Planets 1
Joe Shenton got his Kickstarter funded for his current book project, and on Tuesday I received an awesome ink drawing from him. My modest contribution earned me a steampunk monster drawn in the style that will appear in his book, with the option to choose what the monster would be based on. I requested an electric eel, and Joe delivered!
UPDATE: You can now buy a high-quality print of this piece from Joe’s Etsy Shop!
JULY 30 UPDATE: I’m pleased to report this project was fully funded! ~M
Last year, Joe Shenton sent me original artwork for supporting a Kickstarter campaign. I told him I like outer space, pirates, and octopuses, and he created a drawing I absolutely love. UPDATE: You can now buy a high-quality print of this piece from Joe’s Etsy Shop!
This year, Joe is working on something a little different: producing an illustrated book with an original story, and adding watercolor paints to his ink drawings.
The Last Forest will be a tale about a boy and his fox caught up in a conflict between nature and industry in a future world Joe’s creating by blending fantasy, steampunk, and science fiction.
Here are a couple images from the project’s Kickstarter page. If you like what you see, head over to Joe’s Last Forest Kickstarter Campaign and show him your support! Get there before July 27, because the campaign ends soon.
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.
This drawing is based on a photograph of Ellie the Studio Cat. Ellie here is modeling for Tesla, the pirate radio DJ’s Siamese cat in the Meteor Mags series. The Psycho 78s album cover she is lying on needs to be finished, and then it can join the recent crop of drawings for the next set of stories in the series.
It’s been slow going on this drawing, not due to technical factors but emotional ones. Ellie disappeared last month on March 20. I’ve posted her on numerous websites and put up 150 flyers in the neighborhood, talked to many helpful folks in the area, and responded to dozens of phone calls about cat sightings. But no luck.
Ellie was my constant companion through life’s storms for the better part of six years. I miss her more than words can express.
I suppose that’s why we have art.
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!
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.
Mom deserves credit for taking the original photograph this drawing is based on.
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 little frog revisits a 4×6 drawing we did with our very first set of fine point pens in March, 2013. The original 4×6 sold on eBay. This one is bigger at 6×8, though the image above is cropped to 5×7. It uses more solid black in the background than the original version did, but the frog is pretty much the same.
We didn’t post it last week so here is a new illustration for one of the Meteor Mags stories. It was fun to produce. It began with posing for the shot, so yeah it’s sort of a self portrait. But with more awesome hair.
This was the first time we used a white gel pen to put some stars in the sky. For a guide, we studied the stars on the cover of Iron Man #215, shown below. That’s a book we bought at the drug store in the mid 1980s, and maybe we’ll feature it here sometime.
Every so often we do a study of this old comic panel from Weird War Tales. As our inking improves over the years, so do the studies. One of these days we won’t screw up hand-lettering this piece so badly that we have to paint out all the words and re-do them digitally. Here we used the Brian Bolland font purchased from Richard Starking’s Comicraft, a company you may be familiar with if you ever read Elephantmen.
For today’s Sketchbook Sunday, let’s take a moment to spotlight these cute animal cards Mom sent us. In 2010, Mom had never had an email address. We encouraged her to get one, and then she started discovering the joys of Google – especially for finding images and materials for her preschool classes. Last year she took her first online course, a class in digital photography to support her animal photo enthusiasm. Now she is having her own cards made from her digital pictures. Pretty cool! Here are three of our favorites, below.
Readers of Mars Will Send No More may recall how we collaged our table with pages from old Jack Kirby comics a few years ago. The Kirby table has served us well, fueling our inspiration and filling our life with Kirby Krackle as we paint and eat. But now, it is time for a little refinish.
Love those panels of people freaking out in a morass of cosmic crackle! But as you can see, the well-loved surface is now a disaster, and it’s impossible to even tell if the thing is clean enough to eat on or not at any given moment.
So, we sanded down the big chunks with some 60 grit and a palm sander, then gave it a black and white starry cosmos finish with some old spray paint from a box of leftovers in a friend’s garage.
This week, our pillows arrived. Below you see a 20×20 throw pillow featuring the image of Meteor Mags playing piano in her black dress and silly pirate hat.
The pillows are nicely made with a sturdy outer cover. The image is printed on both sides. They have a zipper on one edge. It opens to reveal a polyester pillow. The pillows in the 20×14 products are much cuddlier than the 20×20 products. They are stuffed more. The 20×20 is beautiful, but the 20×14 pillows are more snuggly.
This Sketchbook Sunday, let’s take a trip down memory lane. I made an auction listing for the last surviving remnants of my sketchbooks from the 1990s and early 2000s. I’ve scanned and reworked some of them into new art, and I’d like to re-do a few with fine-point pens. Even though some are pretty ragged by now, I’m sentimental about them. Maybe they will find a new home. [Update: They did find a new home! SOLD.]