Tuesday, June 29, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 294

Title: ...to this block the great blubber hook, weighing some one hundred pounds, was attached.

7.25 inches by 10 inches
ballpoint pen on found paper
June 29, 2010

Monday, June 28, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 293

Title: They viciously snapped, not only at each other's disembowelments, but like flexible bows, bent round, and bit their own; till those entrails seemed swallowed over and over again by the same mouth, to be oppositely voided by the gaping wound.

8 inches by 7.5 inches
ballpoint pen on found paper
June 28, 2010

Saturday, June 26, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 291

Title: But no doubt the first man that ever murdered an ox was regarded as a murderer...

6.75 inches by 8.5 inches
acrylic paint, ink and marker on found paper
June 26, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 290

Title: It is upon record, that three centuries ago the tongue of the Right Whale was esteemed a great delicacy in France, and commanded large prices there.

7.75 inches by 5 inches
ink on found paper
June 25, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 289

Title: "Up dere," said Fleece, holding his tongs straight over his head, and keeping it there very solemnly.

5 inches by 7.75 inches
acrylic paint, ballpoint pen, ink and marker on found paper
June 25, 2010

Friday, June 25, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 288

Title: Faintly smacking his withered lips over it for a moment, the old negro muttered, "Best cooked 'teak I eber taste; joosy, berry joosy."

5 inches by 7.75 inches
acrylic paint, ballpoint pen and marker on found paper
June 24, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 287

Title: "You is sharks, sartin; but if you gobern de shark in you, why den you be angel; for all angel is not'ing more dan de shark well goberned."

5 inches by 7.75 inches
ink and marker on found paper
June 23, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 286

Title: Sullenly taking the offered lantern, old Fleece limped across the deck to the bulwarks; and then, with one hand dropping his light low over the sea, so as to get a good view of his congregation, with the other hand he solemnly flourished his tongs, and leaning far over the side in a mumbling voice began addressing the sharks...

5 inches by 7.75 inches
ballpoint pen, ink and marker on found paper
June 22, 2010

Monday, June 21, 2010

The best and hugest announcement ever!

I have some very exciting news to share! All 552 of the illustrations I am making for this Moby-Dick project will be collected into a real art book, to be printed by the fine publishers at Tin House Books!

This is really thrilling for me in so many ways. I never ever in a million years would have expected this to happen at all. It certainly wasn’t my intent when I began this project, and even when some friends suggested that I investigate it, I just didn’t think it was a possibility. I think what makes me the happiest about this all is the fact that now anyone and everyone who has been interested in this project can own all of the (eventual) 552 illustrations for a very reasonable and affordable price, right on their own bookshelf to look at whenever they want. The book will be able to stand on its own as an artifact of this endeavor, a permanent record. It is also an honor, and a humbling experience, to be able to contribute something small to the enduring legacy of Herman Melville’s monumental novel.

I don’t have many details yet, but I will continue to share them over the coming months as things become clearer. Right now, at this pace, I expect to finish these illustrations some time in March of 2011. Maybe a bit sooner, maybe a bit later, but too far in one direction or the other. Apparently book publishing, especially for a project of this magnitude, can take some time so the book will not be available until some time in very late 2011 or early 2012. I know that seems a long way off, but when you consider that I’ve just crossed the halfway point in my own illustrations, it actually seems quite soon. More details, such as format, page count, price and so on will follow whenever I learn them.

As always, I owe a huge debt of gratitude to a few people who made this book possible. First, and always, nothing would be possible without the love, support, encouragement, critique and friendship of my amazing wife. I can’t emphasize enough how she is really such a crucial part of this endeavor that it simply wouldn’t be possible without her. Second, I owe an avalanche of thanks to artist and illustrator Sophie Blackall, without whom this book would never have happened. She is such an incredible artist that it still amazes me that she tracked me down and sent me such kind words. But she was really the one that started this whole process and there would never ever have been a book without her putting things in motion. Finally, there are no words adequate to describe the gratitude and affection I have for my agent Seth Fishman of Sterling Lord Literistic. I will be honest, initially I was very reluctant and a bit suspicious of the very concept of an agent, but Seth put up with my seemingly endless questioning and doubt and showed nothing but incredible patience, good humor, warmth and kindness. Through email after email, phone call after phone call, he has shared with me priceless advice and great wisdom and has proven himself to be someone I can trust completely. This project couldn’t be in better hands, and he put in so much hard work to get this through to the publication level it is astonishing. And all because he really believes in this project! That really means a lot to me. Seth is a genius and a great human being and this book is truly his as much as it my own.

Okay, I am going to leave this post up for a few days because I am so excited I want everyone to be able to see the news! As soon as art posting resumes (some time Thursday morning, maybe Friday morning at the latest) I will all at once post the 4 or 5 pieces I will be working on this week. If you have any questions about the book, please don’t hesitate to send me an email and I’ll get back to you right away.

A book! A real art book! Holy smokes! I am still in shock!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 285

Title: ...this old Fleece, as they called him, came shuffling and limping along...

6.75 inches by 8.5 inches
acrylic paint, ink and marker on found paper
June 20, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 284

Title: Nor was Stubb the only banqueter on whale's flesh that night. Mingling their mumblings with his own mastications, thousands on thousands of sharks, swarming round the dead leviathan, smackingly feasted on its fatness.

7.75 inches by 10.75 inches
ink and marker on found paper
June 19, 2010

Thursday, June 17, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 282

Title: Stubb's whale had been killed some distance from the ship. It was a calm; so, forming a tandem of three boats, we commenced the slow business of towing the trophy to the Pequod.

7.75 inches by 10.75 inches
ballpoint pen and ink on found paper
June 17, 2010

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 281

Title: The crotch alluded to on a previous page deserves independent mention. It is a notched stick of a peculiar form, some two feet in length, which is perpendicularly inserted into the starboard gunwale near the bow, for the purpose of furnishing a rest for the wooden extremity of the harpoon, whose other naked, barbed end slopingly projects from the prow. Thereby the weapon is instantly at hand to its hurler, who snatches it up as readily from its rest as a backwoodsman swings his rifle from the wall.

11 inches by 8 inches
acrylic paint on found paper
June 14, 2010

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 280

Title: But however prolonged and exhausting the chase, the harpooneer is expected to pull his oar meanwhile to the uttermost; indeed, he is expected to set an example of superhuman activity to the rest, not only by incredible rowing, but by repeated loud and intrepid exclamations...

6.75 inches by 8.5 inches
colored pencil, ink and marker on found paper
June 13, 2010

Monday, June 14, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 279

Title: At last, gush after gush of clotted red gore, as if it had been the purple lees of red wine, shot into the frighted air; and falling back again, ran dripping down his motionless flanks into the sea. His heart had burst!

7.75 inches by 10.75 inches
ink on found paper
June 13, 2010

Sunday, June 13, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 278

Title: The red tide now poured from all sides of the monster like brooks down a hill. His tormented body rolled not in brine but in blood, which bubbled and seethed for furlongs behind in their wake. The slanting sun playing upon this crimson pond in the sea, sent back its reflection into every face, so that they all glowed to each other like red men.

7.75 inches by 10.75 inches
acrylic paint, ballpoint pen, colored pencil and ink on found paper
June 13, 2010

Saturday, June 12, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 277

Title: Like desperadoes they tugged and they strained, till the welcome cry was heard — "Stand up, Tashtego! — give it to him!" The harpoon was hurled.

18 inches by 11.5 inches
acrylic paint, ink and marker on found paper
June 12, 2010

The point of no return

With page 276, I have officially reached the halfway point of this endeavor. "The point of no return." Even though I've been thinking about this for a few weeks, it has yet to sink in. As soon as I finish the illustration for page 277, which should be posted some time this evening, I will actually be closer to the end of the book rather than the beginning. Part of me is still in shock.

It's not that I doubted myself. Even way back in August of last year, when I started this project, I knew I would finish. I just didn't have any real frame of reference for how I might feel when I reached that point, or even when I reached this halfway point. I mean, I know I'll be 80 years old some day, but right now I have now idea how I might feel or what I might be like when I get there.

So far, this journey has really been every bit the surreal, exhausting, thrilling, terrifying and unbelievable trip I thought it might be. However, one thing does stand out, more than anything else, and that is how visible this whole thing has become. I never, ever, ever expected that. I've told many people this, in emails and in person, but my decision to put all of this art online, in a blog, was motivated entirely by my desire to share the art with a few friends and family members out of state. That's it. It wasn't some kind of secret plan to get famous or to sell art or anything. I was just kind of excited about this, and I wanted a few people I cared about to be able to see it.

It's been really incredibly strange to me how many new people, and in some cases new friends, have discovered this project. I'll be honest, it's sometimes a very tricky thing. So far I've been able to stay very focused on my own internal vision of Moby-Dick and to create these illustrations from that place, without worrying about what people would think, whether or not people would like it, and so on. But I'll be honest, it is sometimes impossible not to at least be aware of the fact that now I am creating art that I know a small community of people are going to look at regularly. It's just...like I said, a very strange feeling for me.

It's not that I am not grateful, because I am. I'm very grateful to every single person who visits this blog, whether they comment or just check out the art. It means a lot, and it's very humbling. Everyone has been incredibly kind, supportive, encouraging, and genuinely friendly. But I'm not sure if I'll ever get used to it. Really, I've been drawing pictures and making art since around 1998, and I've been completely and totally obscure up until now. And that was (and still is) fine because I never set out to have a career in art. But so much has changed with this project, and it's really been weird. Good weird, but weird.

I fear I am rambling so I'll stop. I didn't spend a lot of time thinking of the momentous post I would write when I got to the halfway point. I figured it would be best if I just sat down and cleared my head a bit. It's really exciting for me to reach this milestone, and I am even happier when I look back at all the art I've made so far. I really like the art! Sure there are a few pieces that make me cringe a bit, a few things I wish I could re-work, and so on. But all in all, I am really very happy with what I've made. It all looks pretty cool, and that was my biggest goal when I decided to do this. To make illustrations for Moby-Dick that look pretty cool.

Before I get back to work tonight, there are some people I would like to thank. As this project has grown bigger and bigger, as more and more people have found out about it, there are a few people whose love, friendship, support and encouragement have really been crucial to me, especially during the times when I was near exhaustion or staring at my weathered reflection in the bathroom mirror, splashing cold water on my face, and asking myself "What the hell have you done?"

First and foremost to my incredible, brilliant, beautiful wife. She has been there every step of the way, she is the first to see every piece, the first to give me honest feedback, and the first to help me up when I'm stumbling or fading. I have had to sacrifice so much of my time with her to work on these pieces every single night, and she has dealt with the solitude with grace, dignity, love and unwavering dedication. She knows how much this means to me, and she has done everything humanly possible to help me achieve the goal. Without her, I would have flamed out around page 10.

Gigantic thanks to Seth Fishman. He knows why, and hopefully you will all know why as well, soon.

Thanks to the artist Zak Smith who created one illustration for every page of Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow. I'm never sure if Zak was the first person in the world to do something like that, but he was definitely the first person whose work I became aware of, and he was a huge inspiration for my own project.

Additionally, thanks go to good friend and artist Shawn Cheng who was one of the very first people to notice my art and has been a constant source of support, encouragement, advice and friendship to me for years now. Shawn and Zak along with the artists Sean McCarthy, Matt Wiegle, John Mejias and Craig Taylor are currently working on a project entitled Six Versions of Blood Meridian, creating an illustration for every page of that novel. I'm not sure if it's still ongoing or on hiatus, there hasn't been any new art in a while, but it is well worth looking at. Obviously, another huge inspiration to me since they began well before I did.

Thank you to Meg Guroff who runs the web site Power Moby-Dick, a completely annotated, full text version of the novel and a wonderful conglomeration of all sorts of Moby-Dick related ephemera. Meg was the very first person to contact me about this project, way back around page 5 or 6, and she was also the very first person to interview me. I visit her site every single day and learn something every time.

Thank you to Scott B. down in Georgia. Scott was the very first real person, not a blogger or an interviewer, to write to me about this project. His emails have been a constant friend throughout these 9 months and he never fails to make me smile. He was also able to track down for me a copy of the tiny abridged version of Moby-Dick that I first read as a child, which he sent to me as a gift.

Thank you to the brilliant artist Jeffrey Meyer who kindly shared with me volumes of advice on collage techniques and has been huge source of inspiration for me. If anyone out there deserves to have a massive art book of their work published, it is Jeffrey.

Thank you to good pal Brian Stevens, my grumpiest, most curmudgeonly, and paradoxically kind-hearted friend. He's been a bit of a patron of the arts to me over the years, and I believe he actually owns more of my original art than anyone in the world. Probably even more than me.

Thank you to my old college friend Tobin Becker who, in an offhand remark in an email, actually sparked me toward attempting this project. I think of him often as I work.

Thank you to Michael Lapides, the Director of Digital Initiatives and the Curator of Photography at the New Bedford Whaling Museum. He too was one of the first to reach out and contact me, and he has been kind enough to share my project on the museum's blog as well as to offer advice and encouragement through these months.

Thank you to Aaron Cael, one of the two people behind the blog TITLEOFMAGAZINE. Aaron did a great interview with me but, even better, painted an awesome and massive portrait of me on found wood which now hangs in my studio.

Thank you to Jamie Hook, curator of the Open City Dialogues lecture series in Brooklyn for inviting me to come out to the city and talk about my project. I was so nervous, but the talk went really well and I met a lot of great people.

Thank you to Hannah Stephenson, an amazing poet and the woman behind the blog The Storialist wherein she writes poetry inspired by images found online. Her gifts are prodigious, and she actually wrote a poem inspired by my illustration for Page 115. Something like that has never happened, and it is strange and wonderful to see something I made inspire someone else to create something so beautiful and unique.

Thank you to William Terrell, of the November In My Soul blog. His emails, while rare, are fascinating and heartfelt and he too has been a real companion on this trip.

Huge thank yous to the fantastic artist Sophie Blackall, a fellow Moby-Dick obsessive whose art and illustrations just blow me away. She has been kind enough to write and encourage me, which is crazy because she is so good, but the emails mean an awful lot.

Thank you to Daryl L. L. Houston who was kind enough to invite me to join his online group read of Moby-Dick and to post about my art over at his Infinite Zombies blog. It's been great fun to be able to write so extensively about my art, and Daryl has been very kind in giving me so much latitude over there.

Thank you to every single person who has purchased my art over the last few months. I use cheap art supplies, but they ain't free, so it's been an incredible relief to be able to sell some pieces and not sweat it when I have to make a run to Dick Blick's.

Thank you to everyone who interviewed me, blogged about this project, linked to this blog or my web site, and just in general wrote nice things about me on the internet. I'm certain every one of those things was instrumental in bringing people here, and I owe you a huge debt of gratitude.

Finally, and most importantly, sincere thanks to everyone who has visited and continues to visit this blog, everyone who has ever left a comment, and everyone who has ever sent me an email, even if it was a quick one to simply say "This is a cool project." I never knew how much that kind of thing would mean to me, and it has really been an honor to be able to share this with you all. I am only halfway there, so I do hope you will continue on with me for the rest of this journey. It will be no easy path, but I hope I can reward you all somehow.

Alright, back to work in the studio...

MOBY-DICK, Page 276

Title: Yes, a mighty change had come over the fish. All alive to his jeopardy, he was going "head out;" that part obliquely projecting from the mad yeast which he brewed.

9 inches by 12 inches
acrylic paint, collage, ink, marker and pencil on found paper
June 12, 2010

Friday, June 11, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 275

Title: The waves, too, nodded their indolent crests; and across the wide trance of the sea, east nodded to west, and the sun over all.

12 inches by 8 inches
ink, marker and watercolor on watercolor paper
June 11, 2010

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 274

Title: "When you see him 'quid", said the savage, honing his harpoon in the bow of his hoisted boat, "then you quick see him 'parm whale."

10.75 inches by 7.75 inches
colored pencil, ink and marker on found paper
June 8, 2010

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 273

Title: ...previous to that connexion, the short-warp goes through sundry mystifications too tedious to detail.

4.75 inches by 8 inches
ink and marker on found paper
June 7, 2010

Monday, June 7, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 272

Title: As the least tangle or kink in the coiling would, in running out, infallibly take somebody's arm, leg, or entire body off...

10.75 inches by 7.75 inches
acrylic paint on found paper
June 7, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 271

Title: Hemp is a dusky, dark fellow, a sort of Indian; but Manilla is as a golden-haired Circassian to behold.

7.75 inches by 10.75 inches
acrylic paint, colored pencil and ink on found paper
June 7, 2010

Sunday, June 6, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 270

Title: For though other species of whales find their food above water, and may be seen by man in the act of feeding, the Spermaceti Whale obtains his whole food in unknown zones below the surface; and only by inference is it that any one can tell of what, precisely, that food consists.

7 inches by 15.5 inches
ink and marker on found paper
June 6, 2010

Saturday, June 5, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 269

Title: The four boats were soon on the water; Ahab's in advance, and all swiftly pulling towards their prey. Soon it went down, and while, with oars suspended, we were awaiting its reappearance, lo! in the same spot where it sank, once more it slowly rose. Almost forgetting for the moment all thoughts of Moby Dick, we now gazed at the most wondrous phenomenon which the secret seas have hitherto revealed to mankind. A vast pulpy mass, furlongs in length and breadth, of a glancing cream-color, lay floating on the water, innumerable long arms radiating from its centre, and curling and twisting like a nest of anacondas, as if blindly to clutch at any hapless object within reach. No perceptible face or front did it have; no conceivable token of either sensation or instinct; but undulated there on the billows, an unearthly, formless, chance-like apparition of life.

12 inches by 9 inches
acrylic paint and ink on found paper
June 5, 2010

Thursday, June 3, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 268

Title: In the distance, a great white mass lazily rose, and rising higher and higher, and disentangling itself from the azure, at last gleamed before our prow like a snow-slide, new slid from the hills. Thus glistening for a moment, as slowly it subsided, and sank. Then once more arose, and silently gleamed.

15.5 inches by 10.75 inches
acrylic paint and ink on found paper
June 3, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 267

Title: Yea; foolish mortals, Noah's flood is not yet subsided; two thirds of the fair world it yet covers.

7.25 inches by 10.25 inches
acrylic paint on found paper
June 3, 2010

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 266

Title: As morning mowers, who side by side slowly and seethingly advance their scythes through the long wet grass of marshy meads; even so these monsters swam, making a strange, grassy, cutting sound; and leaving behind them endless swaths of blue upon the yellow sea.

10.75 inches by 7.75 inches
ink and marker on found paper
June 2, 2010