Wednesday, October 22, 2014


Title: Nazgul
Artist: Stefan Poag

When I was in 5th grade, I attended a sleepover at a new friend's house, John B. There were a bunch of kids there, some of whom I knew and some of whom were strangers. The most memorable experience from this sleepover was John's older brother (I think he was 12) showing us his copy of the Monster Manual for Dungeons & Dragons. Since this was 1979, this would probably have been the first edition. Even though I had never played D & D and at the time didn't even really understand the game, I was absolutely fascinated with the book and spent most of the rest of the sleepover sitting in a corner paging through the book while the rest of the kids goofed around. I have always been, and will probably always be, interested in the visual organization and classification of fantastic knowledge, so the Monster Manual, with its encyclopedic entries, lists of statistics, descriptions and habits of dozens and dozens of monsters, dragons, demons, devils and so on was like a godsend.

I've seen many later editions of the Manual and, as technology and printing have improved and become cheaper, those old black and white drawings from that first edition have been replaced by slick, colorful, more realistic and increasingly digitally born illustrations. I find them monumentally dull and much prefer those early, old school (in the truest sense of the word), black and white drawings. I love the fearlessness of those pieces, the willingness to completely embrace the fantastic nature of the subject matter, and the richness of the differing styles of the artists. A lot of that sense of wonder seems to be completely absent from not only Dungeons & Dragons material, but all fantasy these days.

So now it is 2014 and I am introduced to the artist Stefan Poag while I am at a speaking engagement at Oakland University in Michigan. He is a soft-spoken and humble guy, which I respond very well too, and a tremendous artist with a delightfully pure love of the fantastic. At some point we exchanged emails and I spent some time at his blog, looking at his work. Obviously, I was keen to see how Stefan would approach the idea of the Witch-king and a big part of that had to do with how his work seemed to draw from, echo, and elevate that wonderful old Monster Manual aesthetic that I treasured. Stefan worked on the piece slowly, but the wait was absolutely worth it and above you see his Nazgul. As always, Stefan gets bonus points for including a fell beast, and I have to say that I am just thrilled with this piece. To me, and I have no idea if Stefan intended this or not, it is a real bridge from the person I am now to the person I was as a ten year old, ignoring the party and flipping through the Monster Manual. This is a rare gift Stefan has.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

64 QUEEQUEGS: Queequeg #13

5 inches by 7 inches
acrylic paint, ink and pencil on watercolor paper
October 20, 2014

(available in my Etsy shop)

64 QUEEQUEGS: Queequeg #12

5 inches by 7 inches
acrylic paint and ink on watercolor paper
October 20, 2014

(available in my Etsy shop)

64 QUEEQUEGS: Queequeg #11

7 inches by 5 inches
ink on watercolor paper
October 20, 2014

(available in my Etsy shop)


Last night while trying to switch nibs, I was having a lot of trouble loading this new 102 nib on to the pen shaft. I came up with what at the time seemed like a great idea to wedge part of my mechanical pencil into the barrel of the nib and press down. As you have probably already guessed, the nib stretched, the mechanical pencil suddenly dropped down, and the nib buried itself deep in the meat of my right thumb. One half of the sharp tip bent, as pictured, either at the bone or due to the density of the tissue in my thumb. The other half snapped off and a tiny sliver was still sticking out of my thumb. There was blood everywhere.

My wife says she nearly passed out, but I was just angry. I needed the time to paint, not to be dicking around with art shrapnel. She ran to get the tweezers and in the bathroom I dragged this fragment out of my thumb. Only the thin part was sticking out of my flesh, so it took four painful tugs to remove the entire thing. But I got it out.

And people think Captain Ahab was obsessed. My biggest regret is not taking more photos of the blood.

Monday, October 20, 2014

CHARACTER WEDNESDAY: Slap! (Louise Belcher)

For a group art tumblr named Character Wednesday that I am a part of.

Title: SLAP! (Louise Belcher)

8 inches by 10 inches
acrylic paint on watercolor paper
October 19, 2014