Friday, December 31, 2010

The end begins...

As I write this, I am about to begin illustrating chapter 133, "The Chase - First Day." Finally, after dozens and dozens of chapters and hundreds and hundreds of pages, Ahab sights the White Whale and the awful, nihilistic climax begins.

Three chapters are left to illustrate. Three days, in the novel, of brutality and death. 31 more illustrations (for me to create, although you visitors still have 51 yet to see), and then this project is finally finished.

I'm not sure how I feel at all right now, so I won't bother to try and put it into words. This year is dying and the next will see the end of this project and the beginning of many other things.

I'm going to pause on the first day of the new year. There will be no posts and I am not yet sure if I will even draw. After that, it will be one more plunge into the bloody pages of the book and there will be no stopping until the epilogue is concluded. But for now, a pause, a moment to gather my wits and catch my breath, and then one long sustained final stab at the Whale.

MOBY-DICK, Page 501

Title: "Come! I feel prouder leading thee by thy black hand, than though I grasped an Emperor's!"

8 inches by 12 inches
acrylic paint and ink on watercolor paper
December 21, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 501 (first, unused version)

(Another page where I had two ideas, so I made them both. This was the first one and it is a very intentional mirroring of the piece I did for page 26 way back in Augist of 2009.)

Title: "Come! I feel prouder leading thee by thy black hand, than though I grasped an Emperor's!"

6 inches by 9 inches
acrylic paint on found paper
December 20, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 094 (re-drawn)

(For various reasons, a handful of these illustrations needed to be redrawn. These are the new versions. All I can say about this one is, damn you Alberto Giacometti and your world famous "Walking Man" sculptures from approximately 1947 to 1949.)

Title: It was nearly six o'clock, but only grey imperfect misty dawn, when we drew nigh the wharf.

5.5 inches by 8.25 inches
colored pencil on found paper
December 31, 2010


(original version below)

MOBY-DICK, Page 500

Title: "Oh, ye frozen heavens! look down here. Ye did beget this luckless child, and have abandoned him, ye creative libertines. Here, boy; Ahab's cabin shall be Pip's home henceforth, while Ahab lives. Thou touchest my inmost centre, boy; thou art tied to me by cords woven of my heart-strings. Come, let's down."

8 inches by 11.75 inches
ink on watercolor paper
December 19, 2010

Thursday, December 30, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 499

Title: Snap! the overstrained line sagged down in one long festoon; the tugging log was gone.

7.75 inches by 10.75 inches
acrylic paint on found paper
December 19, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 498

Title: In his fiery eyes of scorn and triumph, you then saw Ahab in all his fatal pride.

6 inches by 9 inches
acrylic paint, charcoal and ink on found paper
December 19, 2010

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 497

Title: "Men," said he, steadily turning upon the crew, as the mate handed him the things he had demanded, "my men, the thunder turned old Ahab's needles..."

8.25 inches by 12 inches
acrylic paint, collage and ink on found paper and chipboard
December 18, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 496 (first, unused version)

(The illustration for page 496 in the post just below this was my second attempt. I had two ideas for this page so I made both of them and decided to include the one I liked better for the book. The piece in this post is my first attempt, which I like but not quite as much as the second one.)

Title: Deliberately standing before the binnacle, and eyeing the transpointed compasses, the old man, with the sharp of his extended hand, now took the precise bearing of the sun...

10.75 inches by 7.75 inches
marker on found paper
December 17, 2010

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 496

Title: Deliberately standing before the binnacle, and eyeing the transpointed compasses, the old man, with the sharp of his extended hand, now took the precise bearing of the sun...

11.5 inches by 8 inches
ink and watercolor on watercolor paper
December 17, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 495

Title: The sea was as a crucible of molten gold, that bubblingly leaps with light and heat.

10.75 inches by 7.75 inches
ink and marker on found paper
December 17, 2010

Monday, December 27, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 494

Title: "A touch, and Starbuck may survive to hug his wife and child again. - Oh Mary! Mary! - boy! boy! boy! - But if I wake thee not to death, old man, who can tell to what unsounded deeps Starbuck's body this day week may sink, with all the crew! Great God, where art thou? Shall I? shall I?"

7.75 inches by 10.75 inches
acrylic paint and ink on found paper
December 16, 2010

Sunday, December 26, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 493

Title: "Fair for death and doom, - that's fair for Moby Dick."

10.75 inches by 7.25 inches
acrylic paint and charcoal on found paper
December 15, 2010

Saturday, December 25, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 492

Title: ...like the feathers of an albatross, which sometimes are cast to the winds when that storm-tossed bird is on the wing.

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

Friday, December 24, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 491

Title: "Um, um, um. Stop that thunder! Plenty too much thunder up here. What's the use of thunder? Um, um, um. We don't want thunder; we want rum; give us a glass of rum. Um, um, um!"

8 inches by 5.5 inches
colored pencil on found paper
December 12, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 490

Title: "...when a fellow's soaked through, it's hard to be sensible, that's a fact."

7.75 inches by 10.75 inches
ink on found paper
December 12, 2010

Thursday, December 23, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 489

Title: "Didn't you once say that whatever ship Ahab sails in, that ship should pay something extra on its insurance policy, just as though it were loaded with powder barrels aft and boxes of lucifers forward?"

10.5 inches by 7.75 inches
acrylic paint, ballpoint pen and ink on found paper
December 11, 2010

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 488

Title: But dashing the rattling lightning links to the deck, and snatching the burning harpoon, Ahab waved it like a torch among them; swearing to transfix with it the first sailor that but cast loose a rope's end. Petrified by his aspect, and still more shrinking from the fiery dart that he held, the men fell back in dismay, and Ahab again spoke:—

"All your oaths to hunt the White Whale are as binding as mine; and heart, soul, and body, lungs and life, old Ahab is bound."


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

MOBY-DICK, Page 487

Title: ...from the keen steel barb there now came a levelled flame of pale, forked fire.

7 inches by 8.5 inches
acrylic paint and ink on found paper
December 10, 2010

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 486

Title: "Aye, aye, men!" cried Ahab. "Look up at it; mark it well; the white flame but lights the way to the White Whale!"

15.5 inches by 10.75 inches
acrylic paint, ballpoint pen and ink on found paper
December 9, 2010

Monday, December 20, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 485

Title: ...while lit up by the preternatural light, Queequeg's tattooing burned like Satanic blue flames on his body.

10.75 inches by 7.75 inches
acrylic paint on found paper
December 9, 2010

Sunday, December 19, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 484

Title: "Look aloft!" cried Starbuck. "The St. Elmo's Lights (corpus sancti) corpusants! the corpusants!"

All the yard-arms were tipped with a pallid fire; and touched at each tri-pointed lightning-rod-end with three tapering white flames, each of the three tall masts was silently burning in that sulphurous air, like three gigantic wax tapers before an altar.


7.5 inches by 11 inches
acrylic paint and ballpoint pen on found paper
December 8, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 483

Title: "But I am not a brave man; never said I was a brave man; I am a coward..."

8.5 inches by 7 inches
acrylic paint, colored pencil, ink and pencil on found paper
December 8, 2010

Saturday, December 18, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 482

Title: So, too, it is, that in these resplendent Japanese seas the mariner encounters the direst of all storms, the Typhoon. It will sometimes burst from out that cloudless sky, like an exploding bomb upon a dazed and sleepy town.

8.25 inches by 7.75 inches
acrylic paint and ink on found paper
December 8, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 481

Title: ...these passed over the mute, motionless Parsee's face. Unobserved he rose and glided away...

7.75 inches by 10.75 inches
acrylic paint and ink on found paper
December 7, 2010

Friday, December 17, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 480

Title: The sky looks lacquered; clouds there are none; the horizon floats; and this nakedness of unrelieved radiance is as the insufferable splendors of God's throne.

10.75 inches by 7.75 inches
acrylic paint and ink on found paper
December 6, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 479

Title: "Take another pledge, old man," said the Parsee, as his eyes lighted up like fire-flies in the gloom...

7 inches by 8.5 inches
acrylic paint and ink on Bristol board
December 5, 2010

Thursday, December 16, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 478

Title: The waif-pole was thrust upright into the dead whale's spout-hole; and the lantern hanging from its top, cast a troubled flickering glare upon the black, glossy back, and far out upon the midnight waves, which gently chafed the whale's broad flank, like soft surf upon a beach.

10.75 inches by 7.75 inches
ink on found paper
December 5, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 477

Title: For that strange spectacle observable in all sperm whales dying - the turning sunwards of the head, and so expiring - that strange spectacle, beheld of such a placid evening, somehow to Ahab conveyed a wondrousness unknown before.

7.25 inches by 9 inches
acrylic paint, ink and marker on found paper
December 4, 2010

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Furiously now.

As I write this, the illustration for page 476 has just been posted. But I am almost finished with the illustration for page 493, and I expect to either begin or complete the illustration for page 494 this evening. It seems that the closer I come to finishing this endeavor, the more obsessed I become. It is often all I am able to think about, and these days I spend nearly every spare second I have working on the art. It’s a curious thing, really. Some kind of strange blending of manic joy, desperation, obsession, and rage. These pictures seem to be furiously pouring out of me.

I feel very comfortable in stating that despite the rather drastic acceleration in the pace of these drawings, the art has not suffered in any way. If anything, I think I am making some of the best illustrations yet. There are quite a few that I am extremely excited to post here and share with you all.

Currently, my plan is to continue working unabated until I am done. I will occasionally be posting two pieces per day because I would like the illustration for page 500 to be posted on December 31. The new year will begin with page 501 and will see the final 52 pages of this project some time before early February.

Additionally, I plan to write a few posts that will serve as a sort of history lesson regarding my attempts at art over the years. I have mentioned on multiple occasions that since the early 1990s, I have tried my hand at a number of creative endeavors from photography to drawing to making comics. This Moby-Dick project is by far the most demanding and personally fulfilling creative effort I have ever been involved in, but in many ways it feels like the end of something rather than the beginning.

Kurt Vonnegut, a writer I admire tremendously, wrote these words in the in the preface to his novel Breakfast of Champions...

“I think I am trying to clear my head of all the junk in there – the assholes, the flags, the underpants. Yes – there is a picture in this book of underpants. I’m throwing out characters from my other books, too. I’m not going to put on any more puppet shows.

“I think I am trying to make my head as empty as it was when I was born onto this damaged planet fifty years ago.

“I suspect this is something most white Americans, and nonwhite Americans who imitate white Americans, should do. The things other people have put into my head, at any rate, do not fit together nicely, are often useless and ugly, are out of proportion with one another, are out of proportion with life as it really is outside my head.

“I have no culture, no humane harmony in my brains. I can’t live without a culture anymore.”


Those words resonated deeply with me. I empathize with what I think Vonnegut was feeling. I feel very much the same way. This project was many things for me. One of them was a loving farewell letter to my own artistic past. A life filled with visions and images of comic books, vinyl album covers, paperback sci fi and fantasy books, videogames, action figures, and yes, even pornography and numerous trips to the finest art museums in these United States. It’s all there. And it’s all here, in this blog. When I read Vonnegut’s preface, I felt that his words were a fine summation of what I’ve been trying to do here. Empty my head. Take all of those thoughts and ideas and pictures and images and things, hold them up one more time, look at them closely, say goodbye, and set them down for good. I'm not ashamed of any of it. Of some of it, I'm still quite proud. But it's time. I’m only 41 years old, not 50 like Vonnegut was when he wrote that. But I still feel good. I still feel very very young. I still feel like there is more ahead of me than behind me.

Viewed from that perspective, these upcoming “history lesson” blog posts will serve as a fitting epitaph. A line of connectivity showing the past that bred this present. It’s exciting and a bit melancholy, but it has to be this way.

MOBY-DICK, Page 476

Title: It was far down the afternoon; and when all the spearings of the crimson fight were done: and floating in the lovely sunset sea and sky, sun and whale both stilly died together...

10.25 inches by 7.25 inches
ink and marker on found paper
December 4, 2010

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 475

Title: On the quarter-deck, the mates and harpooneers were dancing with the olive-hued girls who had eloped with them from the Polynesian Isles...

8.25 inches by 11 inches
charcoal and ink on wallpaper sample
December 4, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 474

Title: It was a Nantucket ship, the Bachelor, which had just wedged in her last cask of oil, and bolted down her bursting hatches; and now, in glad holiday apparel, was joyously, though somewhat vain-gloriously, sailing round among the widely-separated ships on the ground, previous to pointing her prow for home. The three men at her mast-head wore long streamers of narrow red bunting at their hats; from the stern, a whale-boat was suspended, bottom down; and hanging captive from the bowsprit was seen the long lower jaw of the last whale they had slain. Signals, ensigns, and jacks of all colors were flying from her rigging, on every side.

10.75 inches by 7.75 inches
acrylic paint, ballpoint pen, ink and marker on found paper
December 2, 2010

Monday, December 13, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 473

Title: ...Our souls are like those orphans whose unwedded mothers die in bearing them: the secret of our paternity lies in their grave, and we must there to learn it.

7.5 inches by 9 inches
acryclic paint and ink on found paper
December 2, 2010

Sunday, December 12, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 472

Title: At such times, under an abated sun; afloat all day upon smooth, slow heaving swells; seated in his boat, light as a birch canoe; and so sociably mixing with the soft waves themselves, that like hearth-stone cats they purr against the gunwale; these are the times of dreamy quietude, when beholding the tranquil beauty and brilliancy of the ocean's skin, one forgets the tiger heart that pants beneath it; and would not willingly remember, that this velvet paw but conceals a remorseless fang.

7.25 inches by 10.25 inches
ink and marker on found paper
December 1, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 471

Title: "Ego non baptizo te in nomine patris, sed in nomine diaboli!" deliriously howled Ahab, as the malignant iron scorchingly devoured the baptismal blood.

7.75 inches by 10.75 inches
acrylic paint and ink on found paper
November 30, 2010

Saturday, December 11, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 470

Title: At last the shank, in one complete rod, received its final heat; and as Perth, to temper it, plunged it all hissing into the cask of water near by, the scalding steam shot up into Ahab's bent face.

6.25 inches by 9.75 inches
acrylic paint and ink on found paper
November 30, 2010

Friday, December 10, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 469

Title: "...look ye here - here - can ye smoothe out a seam like this, blacksmith", sweeping one hand across his ribbed brows; "if thou could'st, blacksmith, glad enough would I lay my head upon thy anvil, and feel thy heaviest hammer between my eyes. Answer! Can'st thou smoothe this seam?"

6.25 inches by 9 inches
ink on found paper
November 29, 2010

Thursday, December 9, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 468

Title: Hearkening to these voices, East and West, by early sun-rise, and by fall of eve, the blacksmith's soul responded, Aye, I come! And so Perth went a-whaling.

7 inches by 8.5 inches
acrylic paint, charcoal and ink on found paper
November 28, 2010

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 467

Title: It was the Bottle Conjuror! Upon the opening of that fatal cork, forth flew the fiend, and shrivelled up his home.

7 inches by 8.5 inches
ink on Bristol board
November 28, 2010

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 466

Title: Availing himself of the mild, summer-cool weather that now reigned in these latitudes, and in preparation for the peculiarly active pursuits shortly to be anticipated, Perth, the begrimed, blistered old blacksmith, had not removed his portable forge to the hold again, after concluding his contributory work for Ahab's leg, but still retained it on deck, fast lashed to ringbolts by the foremast...

8.25 inches by 11 inches
acrylic paint, charcoal, colored pencil and ink on found paper
November 27, 2010

Monday, December 6, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 465

Title: His firm lips met like the lips of a vice; the Delta of his forehead's veins swelled like overladen brooks; in his very sleep, his ringing cry ran through the vaulted hull, Stern all! the White Whale spouts thick blood!

7.25 inches by 10.25 inches
acrylic paint and ink on found paper
November 27, 2010

Sunday, December 5, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 464

Title: So, in good time my Queequeg gained strength; and at length after sitting on the windlass for a few indolent days (but eating with a vigorous appetite) he suddenly leaped to his feet, threw out arms and legs, gave himself a good stretching, yawned a little bit, and then springing into the head of his hoisted boat, and poising a harpoon, pronounced himself fit for a fight.

7.75 inches by 10.75 inches
acrylic paint, colored pencil and ink on found paper
November 26, 2010

Saturday, December 4, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 463

Title: "... but base little Pip, he died a coward; died all a'shiver; — out upon Pip! Hark ye; if ye find Pip, tell all the Antilles he's a runaway; a coward, a coward, a coward! Tell them he jumped from a whale-boat! I'd never beat my tambourine over base Pip, and hail him General, if he were once more dying here. No, no! shame upon all cowards — shame upon them! Let 'em go drown like Pip, that jumped from a whale-boat. Shame! shame!"

6 inches by 9 inches
ink on watercolor paper
November 26, 2010

Friday, December 3, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 462

Title: ... there lay Queequeg in his coffin with little but his composed countenance in view. Rarmai (it will do; it is easy), he murmured at last...

8 inches by 11 inches
acrylic paint and ink on found paper
November 25, 2010

Thursday, December 2, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 461

Title: ... for not only do they believe that the stars are isles, but that far beyond all visible horizons, their own mild, uncontinented seas, interflow with the blue heavens; and so form the white breakers of the Milky Way.

7.5 inches by 9.5 inches
acrylic paint and ink on found paper
November 25, 2010

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 460

Title: But as all else in him thinned, and his cheek-bones grew sharper, his eyes, nevertheless, seemed growing fuller and fuller; they became of a strange softness of lustre; and mildly but deeply looked out at you there from his sickness, a wondrous testimony to that immortal health in him which could not die, or be weakened. And like circles on the water, which, as they grow fainter, expand; so his eyes seemed rounding and rounding, like the rings of Eternity.

10.75 inches by 7.75 inches
acrylic paint and ink on found paper
November 23, 2010