In the Night When the Wolves Cry Out

Hey remember those line drawings from my last post? Here's one finished and one nearly finished. As you can see basically everything that could possibly be interesting to look at happens at the painting stage. I really do treat the line drawing like a coloring book and go from there.
This finished one is the first of the series and is actually pretty small. maybe a good 8 in tall? The second one is probably around 10 in.
I'm including these pictures so you can see what stuff looks like before I put the outline back in. It looks sort of interesting to me and all the value and rendering is there but for some reason there is this compulsive anal retentive part of me that is expressed absolutely nowhere else in my chaotic messy life that insists on and takes great pleasure in bounding it all back up in tons of black line work. There are some parts that I think look really cool un-outlined though, and I sometimes toy with the idea of doing some colored line work instead of always resorting to black though I am probably more influenced by comic books (especially EC) than even I am aware of and will always have a great love for interesting black linework.

I've been rewatching the X-files for the first time since it originally aired while working the past few weeks. I'm actually pretty impressed and entertained. Oh also I watched Wendy O Williams and the Plasmatics: 10 years of Revolutionary Rock and Roll yesterday and it was excellent. I recommend it.


The Unquiet Grave

Sooooo against my better judgment and in the interest of keeping this blog active I decided to post some process pictures. It weirds me out to look at and display stuff at this state because I always have an idea in my head of what it will look like completed and these seem so sad and boring in comparison. Basically I draw in pencil and then lay ink with rapidographs To make myself what amounts to a coloring book image. Occasionally I'll throw a few directional marks or some hatching in there if I'm worried I'll forget how something should be rendered when it comes time to paint but I mostly leave the areas as open as possible. When I lay the initial layer of paint where the lines are I let it cover them if I can still make them out or if it's a darker paint I try to go around and leave myself little crescents of white paper so I can find my place. As you can imagine that's particularly maddening to do places where there are hundreds of tiny lines and since I like drawing piles of hair and feathers and scales that's usually 20-50% of the image.I decided to start "drawing ahead" by sitting down for a day to draw and ink a couple of pieces so that there will always be something to go right into painting after I finish one. These three go together and are progressively bigger and grosser. They're taken from a Gogol story where a journey down a river to a sorcerer's castle takes the protagonists past a grave yard where one corpse after another springs from the grave, each one more dessicated than the last with longer nails and beard, all screaming for air. I had read some stuff about the unclean dead being literally rejected from the "good earth", and the coffins of sorcerers and suicides popping back out of the ground and rejecting attempts at reburial. I'm pretty sure Gogol was drawing from something like that.
I started the background for the first one but I have faaaaar to go before anything is finished. You can't really tell in the last picture but I have a LOT of hair to render.

In other news I've been reading a lot of cool old Scottish, Irish and British Ballads and getting ideas for other pieces and I've been thinking about making a return to embroidery. I found glow-in-the-dark embroidery floss online. Think how many ghosts and skeletons I can stitch with that! My friend Ned and I have also been chatting about an October zine. Something reprinting obscure Weird Tales interviews and short stories illustrated by yours truly. Never enough time!!!


Fangs in the Day's Moonlight

I finished the crosses! Well, I have two more blanks but composing in this shape is so hard and restrictive I settled on just doing 6 of them. I'm posting these less detailed pictures for the time being and then passing them off to my friend Ryann to be photographed well (I'll post good photographs after my show). I haven't talked about the theme of these (and my show in general it turns out so I thought I would a little here.

For starters, I really like folklore (and mythology and antiquated occult stuff). I landed on Slavic folklore for this show for no very particular reason other than that I had read a lot of it, and had been looking at Russian and Ukrainian folk art and had seen a lot of aesthetic similarities to what I like to do in the bright colors, tiny detail work, the flat stylized lines of icon paintings and decorative boxes and jewelry. In reading a bit further I was predictably drawn to what are referred to as "unclean" forces, elements, and places in folklore. Places of danger, natural forces which are understandably terrifying especially outside of the comfortable modern urban world I live in, and strange creatures abound in these stories. Despite the introduction of Christianity these ideas and fears were not abandoned and I even read a passage about the complete distrust the Russian peasants had in the ability of God and Jesus to protect them from all these unclean forces and "the devil".

"Unclean" places are places that are confusing and dangerous or uncharted. Dark woods, deep water etc. "Unclean" creatures exist in these places and exist to do harm to people, getting them lost, drowning them in water, tricking them. Sorcerers and Witches were capable of existing in this world and doing harm as were the dead/undead who died "unclean" deaths through foul play, suicide or by dying young and unbaptized or sorcerers who failed to pass on their knowledge before death. A sign of the unclean world was inversion. For example the world was reflected upside down in the eyes of a witch, one would walk backwards to confuse predatory forest monsters etc. So these crosses are inverted icons with images of unclean forces. The theme of the show is shaping up to be encounters with unclean forces in Slavic folklore and literature.

From the top left:

The Wolf- is an animal associated with unclean forces and the form that malicious shape-shifting sorcerers and forest spirits often took.

The Dragon- was often found by dangerous lakes and rivers where people were likely to drown

The Magpie- is a shape commonly taken by shape-shifting witches. There is an "historical" folk tale about Ivan the Terrible attempting to burn a group of witches in a town square only to have them all turn into magpies and fly away to escape the flames

The Leshii- is a spirit of the forest which leads men astray in the woods by calling to them in a familiar voice. He may also tickle them to death (seriously, what?)

Viy- I discussed here

The Devil's Carriage Horse- because of the unclean nature of death by suicide it is said that the devil's carriage is drawn by suicides. There are also several malicious water spirits which are supposed to have been human suicides.

Anyway, that's the first wall of my show finished. Next I'm going to work on three moderate sized pieces from a Nikolai Gogol story called "A Terrible Vengeance" and a piece from another story called "St John's Eve" which you can read in full here. It's actually the basis for the composition Night on Bald Mountain (familiarized by Disney's Fantasia).

I'm also in the middle of moving during a heat wave so I'm cranky and struggling to remain productive. And I keep getting the intro to this stuck in my head.

In other news Mike has a new blog where he's posting a drawing a day of Lovecraft creatures. Check it out, it's really cool! Here's a flying polyp: