Tuesday, November 30, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 459

Title: Now, at this time it was that my poor pagan companion, and fast bosom-friend, Queequeg, was seized with a fever, which brought him nigh to his endless end.

7.75 inches by 10.75 inches
acrylic paint, colored pencil and ink on found paper
November 22, 2010

Monday, November 29, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 458

Title: Ahab seized a loaded musket from the rack (forming part of most South-Sea-men's cabin furniture), and pointing it towards Starbuck, exclaimed: "There is one God that is Lord over the earth, and one Captain that is lord over the Pequod. — On deck!"

10.75 inches by 7.75 inches
ink on found paper
November 21, 2010

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The brush and I

Today as I worked in the studio, it struck me that a great majority of the last 200 or 30 pieces have been acrylic paint and ink, and created primarily with brushes. That really surprised me since, prior to this project, I used pens and colored pencils exclusively and was more or less terrified of brushes of any kind. When I started this project, I wanted to force myself to make art more quickly, more simply, more loosely, and in a wider variety of media. I think, without even paying attention, I have started to edge toward those goals. It's difficult to convey, in a simple blog post, just how much of a revelation this is to me, and just how afraid I really was to work with a paint brush. I've really begun to enjoy it, and the evidence is in how many pieces I've painted recently.

After I thought about this for a while, and looked back at some of my favorite recent pieces, I decided today to work on a few Moby-Dick-related pieces that weren't specifically tied to a page number or a line of text. I was lucky enough to have a bit of time off for the Thanksgiving holiday, so I made full use of that luxury by making some art purely for fun and personal exploration. These are the pieces I made today.

This first one was inspired by a Leonard Baskin print of the White Whale and the Ray Bradbury book Green Shadows, White Whale. It's a simple piece, but one which I think gets close to that idea of the White Whale himself. It measures 15.5 inches by by 10.75 inches tall and is acrylic paint and ink on found paper. Thematically, I suppose it belongs to the "Leviathan" series of pieces I was working on earlier this year, but had to abandon so I could focus on this project. I only completed the "Black Leviathan" and the "Gray Leviathan (Wounded)" so this new one would be the "White Leviathan (Green Shadows, White Whale)."

Next, the "Red Leviathan," a continued exploration of my strange obsession with innards and intestines. This one is acrylic paint and ink on found paper and measures 14.75 inches by 10 inches.

Finally, a simple piece, and something my wife called "The essence of Queequeg." Any regular visitor to this blog knows how tremendously fond I am of that cannibal, so I was curious to see what a simple painting of Queequeg against a bright blue background would look like. I am really fond of how it turned out. It is indeed "the essence of Queequeg."

This one is 7.75 inches by 10.75 inches, acrylic paint, colored pencil and ink on found paper.

None of these will be in the book or anything, so they're basically just ephemera or studies or whatever. They are all available in the Etsy shop. All in all, it was quite nice to give myself a day to relax and paint purely for fun.

MOBY-DICK, Page 457

Title: "What we come twenty thousand miles to get is worth saving, Sir."

"So it is, so it is; if we get it."

15.5 inches by 10.75 inches
acrylic paint on found paper
November 21, 2010

Saturday, November 27, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 456

Title: ...and let's finish it before the resurrection fellow comes a-calling with his horn for all legs, true or false...

7 inches by 8.5 inches
ink on Bristol board
November 20, 2010

My art, in France...

These drawings are very important to me, and for that reason the thought of parting with them is sometimes painful and bittersweet. Making art is a very intimate experience for me, and since I have created every one of these illustrations in great solitude and with my own two hands, they at times feel like children to me. So far, I have only sold the alternate versions of these Moby-Dick illustrations as well as a handful of other, older pieces. But I always wonder about where a piece of art will end up once it has been sold. Will it be carefully framed and hung on some wall in a place of honor, shared with friends and guests alike? Will it gather dust in a box or folder or portfolio, forgotten about until some move when the new owner decides to simply give it away or discard it? It is very rare that I ever get to find this out.

This time, though, there is very good news. Parisian blogger Lizzy G purchased this alternate illustration for page 334...

She was drawn to the skulls, much as I was when I drew it. The whole affair was made even easier by the fact that Lizzy was traveling in the states when she purchased it, so I was able to very easily ship it to her in Chicago and she was able to bring it along with her on the long flight back to France. Lizzy has been emailing me, sharing her own photos, travels, and wise words so I was able to read about the entire process of her selecting a frame, adding in some intriguing touches like including the quote in the framed piece, and finally hanging my art on the wall of her far off home. This kind of thing really makes me feel good because I know the art I made has a very loving home and, even more importantly, has brought something good and appreciated to someone’s life. Lizzy was kind enough to share some photos with me, so here is my art hanging in Paris.

First, the drawing itself in a simple but elegant frame. You can see where Lizzy had the line of text from the novel included just below the art...

Next, on the back of the frame, Lizzy included the note that I sent along with the art when I shipped it. This made me quite happy to see...

Finally, the framed art hanging on her wall, in very good company with several other pieces that are dear to her...

Thank you very much Lizzy, for giving the art a good home and for sharing this with me. If you’ve picked up any art from me and have it framed and / or hanging somewhere, send me a photo if you can. I’d like to see where these creations of mine end up. Hopefully by this time next year I will be able to put up around 550 of these posts when I sell all of these illustrations.

Friday, November 26, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 455

Title: Well, well, well! Stubb knows him best of all, and Stubb always says he's queer; says nothing but that one sufficient little word queer; he's queer, says Stubb; he's queer — queer, queer; and keeps dinning it into Mr. Starbuck all the time — queer, Sir—queer, queer, very queer.

7.5 inches by 9.5 inches
acrylic paint and ink on found paper
November 20, 2010

Thursday, November 25, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 454

Title: Hold; while Prometheus is about it, I'll order a complete man after a desirable pattern. Imprimis, fifty feet high in his socks; then, chest modelled after the Thames Tunnel; then, legs with roots to 'em, to stay in one place; then, arms three feet through the wrist; no heart at all, brass forehead, and about a quarter of an acre of fine brains; and let me see—shall I order eyes to see outwards? No, but put a sky-light on top of his head to illuminate inwards. There, take the order, and away.

5.75 inches by 7.75 inches
ink and marker on found paper
November 19, 2010

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 452

Title: Yet, as previously hinted, this omnitooled, open-and-shut carpenter, was, after all, no mere machine of an automaton. If he did not have a common soul in him, he had a subtle something that somehow anomalously did its duty.

8.5 inches by 11 inches
acrylic paint and ink on found paper
November 16, 2010

Monday, November 22, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 451

Title: For nothing was this man more remarkable, than for a certain impersonal stolidity as it were; impersonal, I say; for it so shaded off into the surrounding infinite of things, that it seemed one with the general stolidity discernible in the whole visible world...

8.5 inches by 11 inches
acrylic paint and ink on found paper
November 16, 2010

Sunday, November 21, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 450

Title: But most humble though he was, and far from furnishing an example of the high, humane abstraction; the Pequod's carpenter was no duplicate; hence, he now comes in person on this stage.

8.5 inches by 11 inches
acrylic paint, ink, pencil and marker on found paper
November 15, 2010

Saturday, November 20, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 449

Title: ... take high abstracted man alone; and he seems a wonder, a grandeur, and a woe.

7.75 inches by 10.75 inches
ink and marker on found paper
November 14, 2010

Friday, November 19, 2010

A strange milestone of sorts...

Last night, I completed the illustration for page 453 of this project. It’s really kind of a strange milestone for a few reasons, which may be relevant to me alone.

First, with the completion of page 453, I now have less than 100 pages remaining. Realizing that was, for me, kind of staggering. Honestly, there was never any doubt in my mind that I would complete this project and create an illustration for all 552 pages. Even from the very beginning, when that number seemed to stretch out in front of me like an endless horizon, I knew I would do it. However, that confidence was always tied to something I realized only in the most abstract sense. Almost like how, when you first propose to your future spouse, you know full well that some day you will be married to that person but it’s so far away, so big, that it just doesn’t make much sense at the time. Or, put another way, when you start college you know that someday you’ll graduate. But beyond that simple fact, you really don’t know much more. Is this making any sense?

Now, though, that end is almost, just barely, almost imperceptibly in sight. After months and months and months of working ever so slowly, page by page, through this mammoth novel, the end is nearing. Perhaps less than 100 pages still seems like a lot to those of you reading this, but to me, with 453 pages (as well as almost 20 alternate versions) behind me, it really doesn’t seem like all that much at all.

The second, and perhaps more obtuse, reason this is a milestone is that from this point onward, I will never again draw a page that ends in the number 53. Or, for that matter, 54 or 55 or 56 and so on. It’s a little thing, I know, and maybe a weird thing, I guess, but again it really reinforces to me just how far I’ve come and how much I have created. It’s a little bittersweet in a way too. This project has been such an enormous part of my life for the last 15 and a half months that it is now difficult to imagine my days without it, for good or ill.

Daryl L.L. Houston emailed me and described what he thought would be, for me, a “weird blend of emptiness and freedom” once I finished this project. That was extremely perceptive of him, and a very accurate appraisal. It will be weird. It will be freeing. It will also feel empty. I am simultaneously looking forward to finishing this project very very much (I miss my wife so much it hurts, and I feel like I have missed the last year of our lives together even though I see her briefly every single day) and filled with sadness at what I know will be a very final ending.

For now though, I am going to enjoy this milestone as best I can, and press on for the next 99 pages. I expect to finish the project for good some time in February if all goes well. This last portion of the book will be very challenging, I think, but I have yet to feel burned out and the ideas keep coming in abundance. For that I am thankful.

MOBY-DICK, Page 448

Title: With many other particulars concerning Ahab, always had it remained a mystery to some, why it was, that for a certain period, both before and after the sailing of the Pequod, he had hidden himself away with such Grand-Lama-like exclusiveness; and, for that one interval, sought speechless refuge, as it were, among the marble senate of the dead.

6 inches by 9 inches
acrylic paint on found paper
November 14, 2010

Thursday, November 18, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 447

Title: ... and if ever the world is to be again flooded, like the Netherlands, to kill off its rats, then the eternal whale will still survive, and rearing upon the topmost crest of the equatorial flood, spout his frothed defiance to the skies.

10.75 inches by 15.5 inches
acrylic paint, ink and pencil on found paper
November 13, 2010

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 446

Title: ... so, hunted from the savannas and glades of the middle seas, the whale-bone whales can at last resort to their Polar citadels, and diving under the ultimate glassy barriers and walls there, come up among icy fields and floes; and in a charmed circle of everlasting December, bid defiance to all pursuit from man.

7 inches by 8.5 inches
ink and marker on Bristol board
November 13, 2010

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 445

Title: Forty men in one ship hunting the Sperm Whale for forty-eight months...

11 inches by 7.75 inches
acrylic paint and charcoal on found paper
November 11, 2010

The "War And Peace" project

About a week ago, I received emails from Lucy Arrington and Lola Baltzell explaining how, late last year, they had somehow come across this project of mine and that it inspired them to begin a creative endeavor of their own. Some people have labeled me everything from simply ambitious to insanely obsessive for my ongoing attempt to create an illustration for each of the 552 pages of Moby-Dick but Lola, Lucy, and the other members of Team Tolstoy have trumped me in the ambitious department since they are about a third of the way through their goal of creating an individual collage for the more than 750 pages of Leo Tolstoy's mammoth epic War And Peace. You can, and really should, see the amazing results (so far) of their project at their blog War And Peace Project.

Their story is even more interesting though. According to their site, Lola had been diagnosed with breast cancer and had been struggling with an uphill battle at first although, thankfully, she seems to have turned a pretty significant corner. Lola’s good friend Lucy mentioned my project to her and somehow the idea grew into Lola deciding to do a “big project of her own.” Using her own 30 year old copy of War And Peace, in Russian no less, she and her team are making these collages by actually using the pages from the book in addition to all sorts of other material.

You can read more about the project at their "About" page here, learn quite a bit about the individual members of Team Tolstoy here, and see the fantastic art as it appears day by day on their blog here. Additionally, according to their events calendar, there will be a gallery show at the Atlantic Works Gallery in Boston opening on Friday December 3, so if you’re in the area stop in and see the art and artists in person. This art would be amazing to see in person, I think.

Monday, November 15, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 444

Title: But will any whaleman believe these stories? No. The whale of to-day is as big as his ancestors in Pliny's time. And if ever I go where Pliny is, I, a whaleman (more than he was), will make bold to tell him so.

7.75 inches by 10.75 inches
ink and marker on found paper
November 11, 2010

Sunday, November 14, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 443

Title: For Pliny tells us of whales that embraced acres of living bulk, and Aldrovandus of others which measured eight hundred feet in length...

15.5 inches by 10.75 inches
acrylic paint and ink on found paper
November 10, 2010

Saturday, November 13, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 442

Title: I am horror-struck at this antemosaic, unsourced existence of the unspeakable terrors of the whale, which, having been before all time, must needs exist after all humane ages are over.

10 inches by 6.25 inches
ink on found paper
November 9, 2010

Friday, November 12, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 441

Title: But by far the most wonderful of all cetacean relics was the almost complete vast skeleton of an extinct monster, found in the year 1842, on the plantation of Judge Creagh, in Alabama. The awe-stricken credulous slaves in the vicinity took it for the bones of one of the fallen angels.

8.25 inches by 8 inches
acrylic paint and ink on found paper
November 8, 2010

News about (older) art for sale

I finally figured out a better way to sell some of my art. Before, the “shop” was just a page on my web site that had images of the art, the dimensions, media, a price, and a link to email me if you were interested in buying. That led to all sorts of problems since on multiple occasions I had to turn people down because a piece had already been claimed but I had not fixed that page to reflect that the piece was no longer available. That troubled me more than you may know.

I needed a solution though, and I found a good one. I now have an online shop at Etsy.com which you can see right here. At the moment, there are only two pieces of art for sale. Both are several years old and predate this Moby-Dick project by quite some time. Oddly enough, these are the only pieces of my non-Moby-Dick art that I have left, other than the comics I drew many years ago. It feels both bittersweet and liberating to put these up for sale. I held on to them so long because they are two of my favorites.

The beauty of this Etsy shop of mine is that the process of buying is very simple, and once a piece is purchased, it disappears from the shop automatically. No more confused explanations, no more sending disappointing emails, no more looking like a huckster.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 440

Title: To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme.

6.25 inches by 10 inches
ink and marker on found paper
November 7, 2010

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 439

Title: ...only think of the gigantic involutions of his intestines, where they lie in him like great cables and hausers coiled away in the subterranean orlop-deck of a line-of-battle-ship.

7.75 inches by 11 inches
ink on found paper
November 7, 2010

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 438

Title: Only in the heart of quickest perils; only when within the eddyings of his angry flukes; only on the profound unbounded sea, can the fully invested whale be truly and livingly found out.

7 inches by 8.5 inches
acrylic paint, colored pencil and ink on found paper
November 6, 2010

Monday, November 8, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 437

Title: ... according to my careful calculation, I say, a Sperm Whale of the largest magnitude, between eighty-five and ninety feet in length, and something less than forty feet in its fullest circumference, such a whale will weigh at least ninety tons; so that reckoning thirteen men to a ton, he would considerably outweigh the combined population of a whole village of one thousand one hundred inhabitants.

8.5 inches by 7 inches
ink on found paper
November 6, 2010

Sunday, November 7, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 436

Title: The skeleton dimensions I shall now proceed to set down are copied verbatim from my right arm, where I had them tattooed; as in my wild wanderings at that period, there was no other secure way of preserving such valuable statistics.

8.5 inches by 5.5 inches
ballpoint pen on paper
November 5, 2010

Saturday, November 6, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 435

Title: Now, amid the green, life-restless loom of that Arsacidean wood, the great, white, worshipped skeleton lay lounging—a gigantic idler! Yet, as the ever-woven verdant warp and woof intermixed and hummed around him, the mighty idler seemed the cunning weaver; himself all woven over with the vines; every month assuming greener, fresher verdure; but himself a skeleton. Life folded Death; Death trellised Life...

6 inches by 9 inches
acrylic paint and ink on found paper
November 5, 2010

Friday, November 5, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 434

Title: ...in the skull, the priests kept up an unextinguished aromatic flame, so that the mystic head again sent forth its vapory spout...

8.5 inches by 7 inches
acrylic paint and ink on found paper
November 4, 2010

Thursday, November 4, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 433

Title: And as for my exact knowledge of the bones of the leviathan in their gigantic, full grown development, for that rare knowledge I am indebted to my late royal friend Tranquo, king of Tranque, one of the Arsacides.

7.75 inches by 10 inches
ink on found paper
November 3, 2010

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 432

Title: ... if you can get nothing better out of the world, get a good dinner out of it, at least.

7.75 inches by 10.75 inches
ink on found paper
November 2, 2010

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 431

Title: But my friend Dr. Snodhead, a very learned man, professor of Low Dutch and High German in the college of Santa Claus and St. Pott's, to whom I handed the work for translation, giving him a box of sperm candles for his trouble—this same Dr. Snodhead, so soon as he spied the book, assured me that "Dan Coopman" did not mean "The Cooper", but "The Merchant".

7.5 inches by 7.5 inches
acrylic paint, collage and ink on wallpaper sample and chipboard
November 1, 2010

Monday, November 1, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 430

Title: During my researches in the leviathanic histories, I stumbled upon an ancient Dutch volume, which, by the musty whaling smell of it, I knew must be about whalers. The title was, "Dan Coopman", wherefore I concluded that this must be the invaluable memoirs of some Amsterdam cooper in the fishery, as every whale ship must carry its cooper. I was reinforced in this opinion by seeing that it was the production of one "Fitz Swackhammer".

5.25 inches by 7.5 inches
ink on old book cover
October 31, 2010

Throwaway Horse & "Ulysses Seen"

Throwaway Horse LLC is an intriguing group dedicated to "fostering understanding of public domain literary masterworks by joining the visual aid of the graphic novel with the explicatory aid of the internet." Their inaugural project is a comic adaptation of James Joyce's novel Ulysses and the work is already well underway at their web site Ulysses Seen. Rob Berry is creating the art while scholar Mike Barsanti develops the Reader's Guides and Annotations using all of the resources he can scrounge on the internet. All in all, it's an extremely well-done adaptation of this deeply challenging - sometimes maddeningly so - novel by some very intelligent and talented people.

It is no secret that today's art market is a tough one, and it's difficult to make any kind of living creating art. Rob, the artist, is apparently waiting tables and working on the Ulysses adaptation at night, after work. I can definitely empathize with how exhausting that is. In order to help things along, Rob, Mike and the people at Throwaway Horse have decided to try and raise some funds through something called KickStarter. You can see their page here.

KickStarter is an interesting way to get things funded. The creators set up a page asking for pledges toward a certain monetary goal. There is a specific timetable, and in some cases there are rewards given for certain amounts pledged. No money changes hands until the goal has been met, within the allotted time. This nicely sidesteps the potential complications of creators having to refund money to lots of different people for projects which have only been partially funded, but more importantly it protects donors from slick types who might just take the money and run. It's all pretty new to me so it took me some time to marinate on this and figure it all out.

Friend Daryl Learn Houston of the Infinite Zombies blog made me aware of this, and I honestly believe in the Ulysses Seen project enough that I wanted to mention their funding drive and pass along the link to their KickStarter page. The artist Rob has written a short but great piece at that link explaining a bit about his own history as an artist and how he came to settle on KickStarter as a way to fund this project.

Pledges can be as low as $1, so if you are fond of James Joyce, the novel Ulysses or even just want to learn a bit more about the project, you can do so at their web site here and their KickStarter page here.

Good luck Rob & Mike!