Monday, May 31, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 265

Title: Nor when expandingly lifted by your subject, can you fail to trace out great whales in the starry heavens...

11.25 inches by 8.25 inches
ink and marker on found paper
May 31, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 264

Title: In bony, ribby regions of the earth, where at the base of high broken cliffs masses of rock lie strewn in fantastic groupings upon the plain, you will often discover images as of the petrified forms of the Leviathan partly merged in grass, which of a windy day breaks against them in a surf of green surges.

7.25 inches by 10.25 inches
acrylic paint, charcoal, colored pencil, ink and pencil on found paper
May 31, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 263

Title: Throughout the Pacific, and also in Nantucket, and New Bedford, and Sag Harbor, you will come across lively sketches of whales and whaling-scenes, graven by the fishermen themselves on Sperm Whale-teeth...

8 inches by 10.5 inches
ink and marker on found paper
May 30, 2010


Sunday, May 30, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 262

Title: It is a quiet noon-scene among the isles of the Pacific; a French whaler anchored, inshore, in a calm, and lazily taking water on board...

8 inches by 6 inches
watercolor on watercolor paper
May 30, 2010

Saturday, May 29, 2010

One more mention + new Infinite Zombies post

In the comments section, Dave was kind enough to point out to me that this project had also been mentioned on Benjamin Myers' blog Faith and Theology. Benjamin is a scholar who teaches systematic theology all the way down in Sydney, Australia. So strange that this project has "traveled" so far! You can read Benjamin's post right here.

Also, my next Infinite Zombies post, this one about pages 004 and 006, is up and can be read here.

Back to the studio for me.

MOBY-DICK, Page 261

Title: And all the while the thick-lipped Leviathan is rushing through the deep, leaving tons of tumultuous white curds in his wake...

8.5 inches by 11 inches
acrylic paint, charcoal, colored pencil, ink and pencil on found paper
May 28, 2010

Friday, May 28, 2010

I have been mentioned...

In the past week, perhaps as a benefit of the added online visibility of this project as a result of Daryl Learn Houston inviting me to guest post at his excellent Infinite Zombies blog, I have been mentioned on several other blogs and I wanted to take note of that here. Additionally, I wanted to thank those bloggers for their encouragement. These things always mean a great deal to me.

First, on a fellow librarian's excellent map-centric blog Cartophilia, the Cartophiliac has featured two of my Queequeg illustrations and written some very kind words about me in this post here. This is a fascinating blog, especially for someone like me who is so interested in all kinds of printed ephemera, especially maps.

Second, William Terrell, the man responsible for the very appropriately named blog November In My Soul has actually created a piece of digital art that he writes is an homage to me. You can see the fine illustration in this post and I am really taken with how William has been able to collect so many disparate elements from the novel Moby-Dick and weave them together in a wonderfully simple piece. And having anyone do anything as an homage to me, well, that is obviously an incredibly humbling thing. I certainly don't feel worthy of any homages, but the kindness is very appreciated.

Third, Wes and Stephanie Vander Lugt, two Americans living, working and studying theology in Scotland have a blog called Reflaction, a portmanteau of the words "reflect" and "act." They somehow found out about this project and, all the way from the other side of the Atlantic, penned some encouraging words about me in this post. Thank you Wes and Stephanie.

I include these things not because I am smitten with the attention I receive and well on my way to becoming an insufferable art diva. Quite the opposite, really. When I decided to post these illustrations online, in a blog, it was simply so that I could share the art with friends and family out of state who might never get to see it otherwise. Since then, far more people than I ever would have dreamed have found out about it, sent me emails, left me comments, and mentioned me on their own sites and blogs. That has been an almost bewildering experience in so many ways. I have been astounded at the level of kindness and encouragement from so many total strangers. And I never had any idea anyone would be interested in something I was making, especially since I would have done this same thing if all alone on a deserted island. I post these things because I really do want to thank those who take time out of their lives to write a bit about me and point people toward this project. It means an awful lot, and it makes me smile.

Alright, I had hoped to have a new post up on the Infinite Zombies blog this afternoon but time has intervened and I need to get to work on the art. Look for both of those things tomorrow some time.

MOBY-DICK, Page 260

Title: His jets are erect, full, and black like soot...

5 inches by 7.75 inches
ink and marker on found paper
May 27, 2010

Thursday, May 27, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 259

Title: For all these reasons, then, any way you may look at it, you must needs conclude that the great Leviathan is that one creature in the world which must remain unpainted to the last. True, one portrait may hit the mark much nearer than another, but none can hit it with any very considerable degree of exactness. So there is no earthly way of finding out precisely what the whale really looks like.

9 inches by 12 inches
marker on found paper
May 26, 2010

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 258

Title: The living whale, in his full majesty and significance, is only to be seen at sea in unfathomable waters; and afloat the vast bulk of him is out of sight, like a launched line-of-battle ship...

29.75 inches by 10.75 inches
collage, ink and pencil on found paper
May 26, 2010



A few things concerning this piece. First, the image probably looks very skinny on your screen. That's because it's incredibly huge. Here is a photo of my lovely wife holding it up to show the size, like "the fish that got away" according to her.



Almost 3 feet long and about a foot tall. Huge.

Second, I had to scan this thing in 4 sections and then piece it together bit by bit. It took forever, and there seems to be some slight distortion (weird tapering) near the right top edge of the image. I wanted to get it posted tonight, and it didn't affect the image all that much, so I am posting it as is for now. I'll see if I can figure out why PhotoShop is tapering it like that but it may just have to be that way.

So there you go. The most massive whale I have ever depicted. I am exhausted now. I literally just finished this, and it is now well after 11 pm. Good night.

Oh, almost forgot. The eyes, sketched in pencil on the upper right portion of the image, are an homage to painter Claus Hoie.

New post at Infinite Zombies blog re: page 001

I guess the post heading says it all, but there is a new post by me up at the Infinite Zombies blog which focuses on the start of this project and my illustration for page 001.

You can read the specific post here.

New illustration posted later tonight, at the magic hour.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 257

Title: But the placing of the cap-sheaf to all this blundering business was reserved for the scientific Frederick Cuvier, brother to the famous Baron. In 1836, he published a Natural History of Whales, in which he gives what he calls a picture of the Sperm Whale. Before showing that picture to any Nantucketer, you had best provide for your summary retreat from Nantucket. In a word, Frederick Cuvier's Sperm Whale is not a Sperm Whale, but a squash.

8 inches by 10.75 inches
acrylic paint and ink on found paper
May 25, 2010

Infinite Zombies 'Moby-Dick' group read

I’ve been invited to participate in a rather fascinating online group read of the novel Moby-Dick, the discussion of which will appear at the group’s Wordpress blog Infinite Zombies. The group includes a writer / copy editor, a librarian (not me), someone who works in a museum, and a few more interesting characters. We’ll be reading the entire novel in 6 weeks and all members are invited to post blog entries dealing with their thoughts, questions, theories, reactions, and anything else that comes to mind.

Most of my posts will, of course, be centered on this illustration project of mine, but since the Infinite Zombies blog is very text heavy, I’ll have the opportunity to really dig down and share a lot of what was going on in my head for some of my favorite illustrations. I’m excited about this.

You can follow the entire blog here, and it is updated frequently, often more than once a day. My first entry, an introduction to this project, is here. I’ll make sure I add something to my blog each time I’ve got a new post up over there so you can take a look. I plan on posting every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for the next 6 weeks. Also of note is a fantastic interview with the poet Dan Beachy-Quick which you should check out(this one’s for you, Scott B!).

The level of quality writing at Infinite Zombies is incredibly impressive, and I feel a little out of place there since the other participants are doing some really intriguing critical inquiry. Still, for anyone at all interested in Melville and Moby-Dick, this is essential, deeply entertaining and informative reading, so I urge you all to take a look when you can. If you've ever found yourself thinking "I sure wish Matt Kish would write more in his blog, I really want to know what's going on inside his head when he makes these illustrations" than Infinite Zombies is just the blog for you. Many thanks to blog proprietor Daryl Learn Houston for inviting me to be a part of this.

I’ll leave this post up for most of the day. The next illustration will appear later tonight, at the magic hour. You should be able to figure out when that is.

Monday, May 24, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 256

Title: In the vignettes and other embellishments of some ancient books you will at times meet with very curious touches at the whale, where all manner of spouts, jets d'eau, hot springs and cold, Saratoga and Baden-Baden, come bubbling up from his unexhausted brain.

10.75 inches by 7.75 inches
ink and marker on found paper
May 23, 2010

Sunday, May 23, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 255

Title: The Hindoo whale referred to, occurs in a separate department of the wall, depicting the incarnation of Vishnu in the form of Leviathan, learnedly known as the Matse Avatar.

7.75 inches by 11 inches
acrylic paint, ballpoint pen, colored pencil, ink and marker on found paper
May 23, 2010

Saturday, May 22, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 254

Title: It may be worth while, therefore, previously to advert to those curious imaginary portraits of him which even down to the present day confidently challenge the faith of the landsman. It is time to set the world right in this matter, by proving such pictures of the whale all wrong.

10 inches by 7.75 inches
ink on found paper
May 21, 2010

Friday, May 21, 2010

Chapter 54: The Town-Ho's Story

Chapter 54 (the chapter I just finished illustrating) is unusual in that it is a complete story within a story. Narrated within the framework of the novel, "The Town-Ho's Story" shows an older, wiser and more mature Ishmael recounting what occurrred on the ship the Town-Ho to his two companions Don Pedro and Don Sebastian at Lima, Peru's Golden Inn during a night of smoking and drinking. One of the many many reasons I am so fond of Moby-Dick and so fascinated every time I read it is because the structure of the novel is so multifaceted. Adorning the main narrative of Ahab's quest for vengeance are chapters like "The Town-Ho's Story," making the novel an anthology of sorts, or chapters like "Cetology," an almost scientific explanation of the nature and variety of whales and other marine mammals.

With the illustrations for chapter 54 I wanted to try something a bit different. Knowing that this chapter functioned as an almost self-contained story, I decided to keep the illustrations as visually consistent and stylistically similar as possible. I had a number of pages of glossy full-color historical paintings of ships and knew I wanted to use those. Since the paper was so glossy, my choice of media would be restricted so I laid down a vignetted background of gray and white acrylic paint on each of the pages. Even with that background, not much will stick to acrylic paint so I was limited for the most part to more acrylic paint, some ink and some collage pieces. I wanted to keep each of chapter 54's illustrations as similar to the others as possible so with the exception of two of the whale pieces near the end I oriented the pages portrait style. All of this was quite a departure for me since, up to this point, I had allowed myself the freedom to take a drastically different approach for each and every one of the 253 illustrations I had created. While certain styles and images do echo through some of the series of illustrations, for the most part things are quite visually varied. Which, of course, made keeping to a similar style and medium for chapter 54 much more difficult than I would have initially imagined.

Near the end, I really began to feel these restrictions keenly and almost longed for the chapter to be finished so I could be free to do what I wanted again. I don't regret having experimented with this chapter, and I quite like the way that the unity of style with these illustrations reflects the singular nature of chapter 54 itself. Some of the illustrations turned out quite a bit better than I had imagined, and it was great fun painting Radney with his giant hands, and then again Radney getting blasted in the face by Steelkilt, and Steelkilt's magnificent beard, and so on. I hadn't been using the acrylics very often so it was good to feel a brush in my hand again.

Still though, I am glad we have finally come to the end of "The Town-Ho's Story" and are once again sailing on the open seas. No rules, no restrictions, no guidelines, just whatever spills forth from my head.

MOBY-DICK, Page 253

Title: "...but upon the island of Nantucket, the widow of Radney still turns to the sea which refuses to give up its dead; still in dreams sees the awful white whale that destroyed him."

11 inches by 7.75 inches
acrylic paint and ink on found paper
May 19, 2010

Thursday, May 20, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 252

Title: "But, at some distance, Moby Dick rose again, with some tatters of Radney's red woollen shirt, caught in the teeth that had destroyed him."

7.75 inches by 11 inches
acrylic paint and ink on found paper
May 18, 2010

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 251

Title: "...while the dogged crew eyed askance, and with curses, the appalling beauty of the vast milky mass, that lit up by a horizontal spangling sun, shifted and glistened like a living opal in the blue morning sea."

11 inches by 7.75 inches
acrylic paint, ballpoint pen and ink on found paper
May 17, 2010

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 250

Title: "For by a mysterious fatality, Heaven itself seemed to step in to take out of his hands into its own the damning thing he would have done."

7.75 inches by 11 inches
acrylic paint and ink on found paper
May 16, 2010

Monday, May 17, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 249

Title: "'Shipmate, I haven't enough twine, - have you any?'"

7.75 inches by 11 inches
acrylic paint and ink on found paper
May 16, 2010

Sunday, May 16, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 248

Title: "Steelkilt here hissed out something, inaudible to all but the Captain; who, to the amazement of all hands, started back, paced the deck rapidly two or three times, and then suddenly throwing down his rope, said,'I won't do it - let him go - cut him down: d'ye hear?'"

7.75 inches by 11 inches
acrylic paint, colored pencil and ink on found paper
May 15, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 247

Title: "But all these were collared, and dragged along the deck like dead cattle; and, side by side, were seized up into the mizen rigging, like three quarters of meat, and there they hung till morning."

7.75 inches by 11 inches
acrylic paint and ink on found paper
May 15, 2010

Saturday, May 15, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 246

Title: "...it was then that Steelkilt proposed to the two Canallers, thus far apparently of one mind with him, to burst out of their hole at the next summoning of the garrison; and armed with their keen mincing knives (long, crescentic, heavy implements with a handle at each end) run a muck from the bowsprit to the taffrail..."

7.75 inches by 11 inches
acrylic paint, ballpoint pen, collage and ink on found paper
May 15, 2010

Friday, May 14, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 245

Title: "'Shall we?' cried the ringleader to his men."

7.75 inches by 11 inches
acrylic paint and ink on found paper
May 14, 2010

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

One more presentation

If you're in or near the Columbus, Ohio area and you've always wanted to meet me, I will be giving a presentation as part of the Columbus PechaKucha night on Thursday May 13th at around 7:30. The presentation will, of course, be about this Moby-Dick project and will be a greatly condensed version of the lecture I gave at Pete's Candy Store in Brooklyn last month.

What is PechaKucha? From their site...

PechaKucha Night was devised in Tokyo in February 2003 as an event for young designers to meet, network, and show their work in public.

It has turned into a massive celebration, with events happening in hundreds of cities around the world, inspiring creatives worldwide. Drawing its name from the Japanese term for the sound of "chit chat", it rests on a presentation format that is based on a simple idea: 20 images x 20 seconds. It's a format that makes presentations concise, and keeps things moving at a rapid pace.


It should be interesting, to say the least. This event is being held in the Franklinton neighborhood at 400 West Rich Street, Columbus, OH 43215. The evening starts at 7pm and I believe the presentations begin at 7:30. Unfortunately I am second from the end so you'll have to stick around for a while, but there are only 10 or 11 so altogether they will only take an hour. Hopefully I'll see some of you.

MOBY-DICK, Page 244

Title: "...while standing out of harm's way, the valiant captain danced up and down with a whale-pike, calling upon his officers to manhandle that atrocious scoundrel, and smoke him along to the quarter-deck."

7.75 inches by 11 inches
acrylic paint, charcoal and colored pencil on found paper
May 12, 2010

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 243

Title: "The brigandish guise which the Canaller so proudly sports; his slouched and gaily-ribboned hat betoken his grand features."

7.75 inches by 11 inches
acrylic paint and ink on found paper
May 11, 2010

Sunday, May 9, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 242

Title: "...the holy-of-holies of great forests..."

7.75 inches by 11 inches
acrylic paint and ink on found paper
May 9, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 241

Title: "Immediately the hammer touched the cheek; the next instant the lower jaw of the mate was stove in his head; he fell on the hatch spouting blood like a whale."

7.75 inches by 11 inches
acrylic paint, collage and ink on found paper
May 9, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 240

Title: "Intolerably striding along the deck, the mate commanded him to get a broom and sweep down the planks, and also a shovel, and remove some offensive matters consequent upon allowing a pig to run at large."

7.75 inches by 11 inches
acrylic paint on found paper
May 9, 2010

Saturday, May 8, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 239

Title: "Quitting the pump at last, with the rest of his band, the Lakeman went forward all panting, and sat himself down on the windlass; his face fiery red, his eyes bloodshot, and wiping the profuse sweat from his brow..."

7.75 inches by 11 inches
acrylic paint, colored pencil and ink on found paper
May 8, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 238

Title: "...at all events Steelkilt was a tall and noble animal with a head like a Roman, and a flowing golden beard like the tasseled housings of your last viceroy's snorting charger..."

7.75 inches by 11 inches
acrylic paint, collage and ink on found paper
May 8, 2010

Friday, May 7, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 237

Title: "...they are swept by Borean and dismasting blasts as direful as any that lash the salted wave..."

7.75 inches by 11 inches
acrylic paint and ballpoint pen on found paper
May 7, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 236

Title: ...had it not been for the brutal overbearing of Radney, the mate...

7.75 inches by 11 inches
acrylic paint, collage and ink on found paper
May 7, 2010

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 235

Title: For my humor's sake, I shall preserve the style in which I once narrated it at Lima, to a lounging circle of my Spanish friends, one saint's eve, smoking upon the thick-gilt tiled piazza of the Golden Inn. Of those fine cavaliers, the young Dons, Pedro and Sebastian, were on the closer terms with me...

5 inches by 8 inches
ink and marker on found paper
May 5, 2010

Monday, May 3, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 234

Title: It was not very long after speaking the Goney that another homeward-bound whaleman, the Town-Ho, was encountered. She was manned almost wholly by Polynesians.

11 inches by 7.75 inches
acrylic paint, ink and marker on found paper
May 3, 2010

Sunday, May 2, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 233

Title: And often you will notice that being conscious of the eyes of the whole visible world resting on him from the sides of the two ships, this standing captain is all alive to the importance of sustaining his dignity by maintaining his legs.

8 inches by 12 inches
ink and marker on found paper
May 2, 2010

Saturday, May 1, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 232

Title: And as for Pirates, when they chance to cross each other's cross-bones, the first hail is — "How many skulls?"

10.75 inches by 15.75 inches
acrylic paint and ink on found paper
May 1, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 231

Title: Besides, the English whalers sometimes affect a kind of metropolitan superiority over the American whalers...

7.5 inches by 10.75 inches
colored pencil, ink and marker on found paper
May 1, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 230

Title: Were this world an endless plain, and by sailing eastward we could for ever reach new distances, and discover sights more sweet and strange than any Cyclades or Islands of King Solomon, then there were promise in the voyage.

12 inches by 8 inches
ink and marker on watercolor paper
May 1, 2010