As you may already know from my most recent post, I’m in the process of creating a new edition specifically for the Kickstarter campaign supporting the 20th annual H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival. This print is inspired by this year’s festival theme—Expedition to R’lyeh—based on the concept of Miskatonic University professors Henry Armitage and William Dyer journeying to the South Pacific in search of the enigmatic island.
Those of you acquainted with Lovecraft mythos will recognize Henry Armitage as the librarian who first appeared in The Dunwich Horror. In this short story, a frighteningly disfigured social pariah named Wilbur Whateley harbors an unearthly presence in his home. Over the years it grows and grows until it fills the entire house, killing Wilbur’s mother, grandfather, and a number of cows in the process. Desperate to rid himself of the ghastly entity, Wilbur travels to Miskatonic University to obtain a copy of the Necronomicon, seeking instructions for summoning the Great Old One Yog-Sothoth. There he encounters university librarian Dr. Henry Armitage, who refuses to lend him the book.
Likewise, geology professor William Dyer makes his first appearance in The Mountain of Madness, in which he leads a catastrophic expedition to Antarctica. Later, in The Shadow Out of Time, he accompanies an expedition to Australia’s Great Sandy Desert. (Given how horror has a way of finding him wherever he goes, one wonders whether Dyer is really the best choice of a traveling companion.)
This year’s H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival theme is based on the idea of Armitage and Dyer joining forces and mounting an expedition to Lovecraft’s famous island of R’lyeh. With documents pulled straight from the Miskatonic University library archives they’ve calculated the date of the island’s next sighting, and participants in this year’s festival have the opportunity to experience the excitement firsthand through our Kickstarter exclusives. These rewards include an expedition log book, a map of R’lyeh, a box of artifacts, and more. For just this occasion, I’ve designed an original hand-pulled woodcut print based on the sort of imagery one might find in the Miskatonic University rare book rooms. The finished piece, Signum Advenit, is an example of the type of illustration Armitage and Dyer would have used to calculate their journey to the lost city of R’lyeh.
In this woodcut, we see a seated figure with a book at her feet burning incense in an upturned human skull: an offering to those whose return she seeks. The figure, though apparently human from the waist up, has a mermaid-like tail evocative of the siren: a denizen of the deep notorious for luring unsuspecting fishermen to a watery death. (Indeed, a shipwreck can be seen vanishing into the waves behind her.) In the background we see R’lyeh depicted as a walled medieval city, a staple of the 15th-century woodcuts on which this piece is based. Above, a comet containing a key descends from the sky while a cosmic eye keeps watch. This is the sign that “the stars are right” to raise R’lyeh from the sea. Attentive observers will notice that the sky contains twenty stars, a nod to the 20th anniversary of the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival.
While the Kickstarter campaign has already been fully funded, it isn’t too late to get your hands on one of these limited edition commemorative prints. Contributing toward stretch goals at the Cryptic Design, VIP Yog-Sothoth, Traveler from Beyond the Stars, and All Access levels and above will entitle backers to a rewards package including an original hand-pulled print of their very own. You also have the option of adding Signum Advenit to your rewards at any level for an additional $70.
Finally, if you’re interested in a behind-the-scenes look at the making of Signum Advenit, check out this video to see its very first inking!
It’s that time, folks: My solo show Omens & Portents is right around the corner, coming at you this weekend at Seattle’s Gargoyles’ Statuary. Join us this Friday July 17th from 6 – 9 PM for wine, cheese, and strange new woodcuts!
To learn more about Gargoyles’ Statuary, follow their Facebook page. Also, if you live in the Seattle area, check out the U-District Art Walk. This event takes place on the third Friday of every month and features art from all around the Northwest.
If I’ve been quiet recently it’s because most of my waking hours have been absorbed by the creation of multiple new editions, and the beginning of another very exciting project I can’t discuss publicly at this time. All I can say for the moment is that I’ve signed a contract that has rendered my art time solidly booked through June 2016, which give you some idea of the scale of this new endeavor. More details will be forthcoming in time, but in the interim check out the rundown of my next upcoming events!
First, on July 17th I’m happy to be returning to Seattle, Washington’s Gargoyles Statuary for my new solo show Omens & Portents. This show will feature some of the new works mentioned above and some older favorites, too, primarily inspired by Hermetic magic and alchemy. (You can see a close-up of one of the aforementioned new prints, Balance, coming off its block at left.) An opening night reception will take place from 6 – 9 PM on July 17th, and I’ll be in attendance, so I hope you’ll all stop by to enjoy some wine, cheese, and art! Omens & Portents is a part of the U-District Art Walk, so if you’re in the Seattle area you’ll have the opportunity to join us throughout the month of July. If you can’t be there in person, then you’ll definitely want to check out Gargoyles’ online store and browse the incredible selection of statues, candle holders, birdbaths, incense burners, and other beautiful, functional pieces of art they have to offer.
The following month I’ll be traveling to Providence, Rhode Island for my second NecronomiCon, August 20th – 23rd. This biennial celebration of all things Lovecraft is organized by the Lovecraft Arts & Sciences Council (yes, that’s a real thing, and a federally recognized 501c3 to boot), dedicated to studying Lovecraft’s influence on the modern world of art and literature. Convention-goers will enjoy films, games, art, guest panels of Lovecraftian luminaries, and much more, and it’s not too late to buy tickets, either! Guest passes and single-day tickets can be purchased here while supplies last, but you’ll want to act quickly: the Golden and Silver Key passes have already sold out, and only a limited number of General Pilgrimage passes remain. Why wait? The stars are right!
If you’re a newcomer to NecronomiCon or the world of Lovecraft mythos, I encourage you to check out the NecronomiCon website and read up on the Lovecraft Arts & Sciences Council. In addition to sponsoring historic tours, art exhibits, film screenings, and other Lovecraft-oriented events, they’ve also recently opened a brick-and-mortar storefront in Providence: your one-stop shop for all manner of Lovecraftian curiosities. Check out the pictures here!
Then in September, a couple of my prints will be in Port Townsend, Washington for The Printmaker’s Hand III. This juried show is especially unique because it consists entirely of hand-pulled woodcut prints, so those of you interested in this somewhat arcane art will have plenty to feast your eyes on. The Printmaker’s Hand III runs September 4th – 27th at Northwind Arts Center. For more information, visit their homepage here. I’m not yet certain whether I will be in attendance at the opening reception, but I hope to be able to make the journey.
Also in September, I’ll be heading to Seattle again for the seventh annual Esoteric Book Conference. This multi-disciplined conference brings together artists, authors, bookmakers, publishers, and scholars of esotericism for a weekend of presentations, book-signings, and performance. This year’s lineup will include presentations by Jeff Lavoie, Emily Pothast, Amy Hale, Stephanie Spoto, and others; the work of artists including Valerie Herron, Ezra Sandzer-Bell, Travis Lawrence, Raven Ebner, and Troy Chambers; and a panel of six hosts that includes yours truly. More information including a complete lineup, location and lodging info, and a list of this year’s book fair vendors can be found at the EBC website.
Lastly, if you’d like to take home some Lovecraft treasures of your very own, you should definitely back the Trip to R’lyeh Kickstarter helping to finance the 20th annual H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival. Supporters will receive rewards ranging in value from $1 to $5000+ dollars, and those who contribute at the Cryptic Design, VIP Yog-Sothoth, Traveler from Beyond the Stars, All Access, and above levels will receive an original hand-pulled limited edition woodcut print made by me expressly for this Kickstarter. What are you waiting for? Get yours before they’re gone!
That’s all for now. Until next time, I leave you with this video of Direction being inked and proofed.
What can I say about CthulhuCon San Pedro? It was a different climate from the Portland conference by far, but no less fun, and with no shortage of Lovecraftian delights in which to partake. The attractions included (but were not limited to) short film screenings, burlesque, gaming demos, pub trivia, live author readings, and live radio theatre. Plenty of entertainment to really put the wgah’nagl in your fhtagn!
San Pedro luminaries included Leslie S. Klinger, world-renowned scholar of the Victorian literary figures Sherlock Holmes and Dracula, and New York Times-bestselling editor of The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes, The New Annotated Dracula, The New Annotated H.P. Lovecraft, and Annotated Sandman. For more information about his books and upcoming appearances, check out his blog! Also present was director Richard Stanley (Hardware, Fields of the Nephilim, Dust Devil) and Cody Goodfellow: novelist, short fiction author, and editor in chief of Perilous Press, a micropublisher of cosmic horror. For an unabridged list of HPLFF San Pedro guests, visit this page.
And luckily for us, the entire conference was chronicled by photographer Todd Chicoine, whose photos you see here, with his kind permission. I highly recommend you check out his webpage here.
Once again I had the pleasure of competing in the Pickman’s Apprentice Live Drawing Competition, with a brand new prompt and a talented fellow artist and seasoned veteran of the Lovecraft scene. Our task? To complete an original artwork of Tsathoggua changing a tire. (A rather odd activity for such a lazy Mythos character.) I’m pleased to say that we both reacted to the subject with a moment of “What does a car look like?
This time my competitor was illustrator Mike Dubisch. In addition to creating Star Wars and Dungeons & Dragons toys, designing DVD covers for WWF, and animating characters for MTV, Mike has published the Lovecraftian graphic novel Weirdling, and has a number of works on permanent display at New York’s Museum of Cartoon and Comic Art. ” Check out his magnificent interpretation of the prompt at right.
My competition piece proved a bit troublesome in the making. Though I love working in wood due it its unique qualities, sometimes particular pieces are problematic. The wood may be too soft, or the grain too wide to yield a solid black print. In this case, the block was prone to chipping, perhaps due to uneven gluing between the layers of the plywood. I quickly learned to be extremely cautious with my larger cuts in order to not lose large pieces of the work! Fortunately the block inked and printed well. Given the subject matter, it has been dubbbed, “Worst AAAA Service Ever!” (You are of course familiar with the quadruple A company: Anomalous Arcane Automobile A———- and their famous slogan, “Do not speak the forbidden name, simply scream AAAA for service.”)
Sadly the print pulled during the competition did not survive the trip home. Fortunately the woodblock did, and since there have been requests, for the first time ever I’m offering a Pickman’s Apprentice edition. In the spirit of the 90-minute art challenge, I will not be making any alterations to the block before printing. I’ll be accepting orders through June 25th 2015 and then printing only as many “Worst AAAA Service Ever!” as have been ordered. Each print will be signed, numbered, and shipped as soon as they are dry (approximately June 20th). Block size is 9 x 12″, paper will be 11 x 14″ cotton rag in my preferred cream color. Shipping via First Class Domestic or International Air Mail. Shipping is included in the price; simply chose the appropriate option below.
Oh, and I should probably mention, I was declared the winner of Pickman’s Apprentice!
Last but not least, the good folks from Everyone Question covered the the festival with excellent photos and interviews. You can find my own interview here, in which I discuss woodcut, nightmares, and why I enjoy H.P. Lovecraft.
There will be more to come soon, including a solo show at Gargoyles Statuary in July, the Esoteric Book Conference, NecronomiCon Providence, and the 20th Anniversary H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival in Portland, Oregon.
Last weekend at PDX CthulhuCon I debuted my new print Supplication. This print—the first installment in a new series inspired by the fiction of H.P. Lovecraft and the medieval tradition of manuscript illumination—depicts a supplicant making a ritual sacrifice to Shub-Niggurath, Lovecraft’s “black goat of the woods with a thousand young.” The central figures are enclosed by a thick, detailed border of uncannily tentacle-like flora. This first edition of thirteen signed and numbered original woodcut prints is available on Etsy. Additionally, those of you attending HPLFF San Pedro this weekend will have the opportunity to purchase your own Supplication onsite from yours truly! The festivities began yesterday at the Warner Grand Theatre, but you still have today and tomorrow to get in on the fun.
It is possible that the image of the Baphomet goat was Lovecraft’s inspiration for Shub-Niggurath, who first appeared in the short story “The Last Test” (1928). While she is never described, leaving ample room for varied artistic representation, she is frequently called upon in incantations and rites like the one illustrated here. Her influence has also crept into pop culture, leading to references in horror fiction including Stephen King’s short story “Crouch End.”
If you’re interested in a behind-the-scenes look at the woodcut printmaking process, then take a gander at this short video of my very first proofing of Supplication. Here you can watch me apply the first application of ink to the newly carved woodblock, thoroughly coating it in preparation for printing. Then, in this video, I drop a fresh piece of cotton rag paper on the freshly inked block and pull it through the etching press, leaving an inky impression behind. Typical of first proofs, the resulting print is a little hazy. The pigment becomes darker and bolder with each application of ink, giving us clearer, bolder prints later in the session.
That’s all for now, folks! I hope to see some of you in San Pedro this weekend. Until next time, may the Great Old Ones smile upon you.
The stars are right, Portlanders: CthulhuCon PDX 2015 is coming at you later this month! On April 25th and 26th at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, we’re celebrating twenty years of H.P. Lovecraft here in Portland, Oregon. CthulhuCon attendees will enjoy offerings including a panel of guest luminaries, a short film festival, live author readings, gaming demos, and much more.
This year’s featured guests include Leslie S. Klinger, the New York Times-best-selling editor of The New Annotated H.P. Lovecraft; fiction writer Wilum H. Pugmire; sculptor, illustrator, and designer Paul Komoda; and noted game designer Kenneth Hite, among others. Guest artists include Dreams in the Witch House: A Lovecraftian Rock Opera executive producer Mike Dalager; game designer and Dungeons & Dragons contributor Keith Baker; and xylographic artist yours truly. If you’re feeling particularly bold, you can join the live edition of Ask Lovecraft featuring actor Leeman Kessler as the man himself. (Be sure to check out his Ask Lovecraft site, and peruse his YouTube channel, too.) Visit the CthulhuCon guests page for a complete rundown of the other participants, and check out the schedule for more events information. There will be a large number of gaming sessions which attendees can sign up for now!
I’ll be making several appearances throughout the weekend. On Saturday, April 25th you can catch me participating in the Illustrating the Mythos panel alongside guest artists Paul Komoda, Lee Moyer, Heather Hudson, and Nick Gucker. That same day, I’ll also be competing in the Pickman’s Apprentice Live Drawing Competition. Competitors have ninety minutes to plan and create a Lovecraft-inspired illustration. (Last year’s prompt was Nyarlathotep in a water park!) The audience selects a winner, and all pieces will be auctioned off for charity. Whereas in prior years Pickman’s Apprentice was a one-round event featuring three or four competitors, this year there will be multiple two-artist battles culminating in one final showdown. I’ll be competing against Fufu Frauenwahl, so make sure to drop in and catch all of the hot woodcutting action! You can also join me for the Neopaganism & Lovecraft Panel, where we’ll be discussing the influence of Lovecraft’s fiction on modern occultism. Guaranteed fun for the whole family!
Before and after the above events, you can catch me in Artists Alley where you’ll find a dazzling array of original handcrafted artwork: Pick up some Lovecraftian goodies from Arkham Bazaar—including my officially licensed shirts—sample the sideshow oddities of Tinplate Studios, and satisfy your sweet tooth with some spooky confections from nom*ables, Portland’s only geek-themed patisserie/caterer.
I have another exciting bit of news to share, too: This coming weekend at CthulhuCon I’ll be debuting a never-before-seen woodcut, the first installment in a brand new series of work. It’s too early for me to divulge any details, so for the moment you’ll have to see the new woodcut in person. As usual, I’ll have a wide selection of other popular prints available for sale, as well as a few special items such as the one of a kind hand-colored Cthulhu at right.
That’s all for now, Portlanders! If you’re unable to make it to the festival, I have prints for sale online as always, plus a new selection of wood cards available in my Etsy store.
Next week, you can catch me in San Pedro for the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival!
I’m excited to be an Attending Pro at Norwescon 38, April 2nd through 5th. I’ll be exhibiting original woodcut prints in the Art Show and participating in a number of panels. Please note, I will have both framed and unframed prints available at the Art Show including one-of-a-kind hand colored prints, and standard editions. All art sales at Norwescon will be handled by Norwescon staff.
Art Show Hours
Thursday: 8 pm-1o pm (Art Show Reception)
Friday: 10 am–8 pm
Saturday: 10 am–7 pm
Sunday: 10 am–2:30 pm
Art Show Reception – Thursday – 8pm-10pm – Art Show
This is your first chance to see the art on display and meet the artists!
Creativity & Disabilities
Fri 12:00pm-1:00pm – Cascade 10
Whether your problems are physical or psychological, there’s no denying that being creative and creating art is difficult to almost impossible when a disability stands in your way. Come learn how different artists and writers work with, past, or through their personal disabilities and limitations to create their art.
Amber Clark (M), Liv Rainey-Smith, Jeff Sturgeon, Shubzilla
The Business of Art
Fri 5:00pm-6:00pm – Cascade 12
There’s more than talent to making a living as an artist. Health insurance, taxes, marketing, organization, selling yourself, portfolios — where do you find the time to do all that and still make art?
Rob Carlos (M), Liv Rainey-Smith, Bryan Syme, Jeff Sturgeon
No panels today!
Defeating Artist’s Block
Sun 11:00am-12:00pm – Cascade 12
The blank canvas can strike fear into us all. How do we break past that stuckness when we don’t know where to start — or what to do next?
Margaret Organ-Kean (M), Bryan Syme, Julie Dillon, Laurie Noel, Liv Rainey-Smith
Inks and Blocks
Sun 12:00pm-1:00pm – Cascade 12
The computer printer was invented in the 1950s, but we’ve been printing inked images on paper for well over a millennium, with techniques that are still in use today. Why do we continue to use this literally ancient approach… and how can you do it too?
Margaret Organ-Kean (M), Liv Rainey-Smith, Mimi Noyes
Handling Your Online Image As An Artist
Sun 2:00pm-3:00pm – Cascade 12
How do you create effective online presence? How and where should you sell work online? What social networking tools should you be using, and how? What are best practices for building a fan base and then interacting with them?
Nicole Dieker (M), Liv Rainey-Smith, Laurie Noel, Margaret Organ-Kean
I haven’t made many new art posts in a while because although I am working on a great deal of new art, much of it is being kept under wraps until certain dates for various reasons. The reasons for concealment are good ones,, but I admit I can get a bit impatient about sharing new works, so I recently made time to create something without any such restrictions! If you follow my Facebook Art Page, you’ve likely seen at least a few process photos over the past week or so. If not, here are a few glimpses into the process.
I’ve been interested in the symbolism of Abrasax (also known as Abraxas) for quite some time and recently began researching Abraxas stones. My intention is to create my own Abraxas stone in another medium, but I also felt it was time for a woodcut homage. I chose a block left over from the Arcanum Bestiarum series for the work, so you may notice it is the same size as the Bear, Hare, and Raven prints.
I utilized my usual technique of transferring sketch to block, and started carving with the head. Although I did sketch out the scales of the serpent legs, I left all but the head details off the block. In my experience, scales don’t always carve exactly as expected, so attempting to follow the sketch likely would have been an exercise in futility.
You may notice I’ve left a few elements a bit unfinished. I wanted to see how they’d look in solid black before permanently making them lighter. Now that I’ve inked and proof printed the block, I’ll let it dry a few days before finish carving. After those alterations the block will be ready for editioning. I’m leaning towards a small edition of 22, same as the Raven and Bear. Check out the videos below for a first person look at the first inking, and the first proof coming off the block.
I have exciting news to share. First, since returning from PantheaCon in San Jose last month, I’ve been busily carving a few new blocks, most of which will be a new series of work. At the moment I can’t reveal much about the contents, but here’s a small teaser for you. (Note, you’re actually looking at two blocks here, the one on the right is further along and has been inked and proofed for the first time.)
Speaking of new work, fans of the Arcanum Bestiarum illustrations will be happy to learn the Raven is now available as a bookmark! Each one is laser printed on one- or two-ply natural wood veneer and measures 6 x 2 inches. They retail for $4 each and are available in a wide variety of different woods all of which are sustainably harvested in the USA. I’m extremely happy with how the bookmarks have turned out and am planning on creating more.
And now onto upcoming events …
Coming up on March 7th and 8th is the 25th annual Buckman Art Show & Sell at Buckman Elementary School in Portland, Oregon. This two-day event will feature the work of 140 artists and craftspersons offering original artwork, furniture, jewelry, textiles, and more. Thirty percent of the proceeds will be donated to the Buckman Arts Focus Elementary School PTA to go toward the purchase of essential supplies for Buckman’s arts-integrated classrooms, with the remaining 70% going directly to the participating artists. In lieu of an admission fee, attendees can make a suggested donation of $2 – $5 at the door. Children four and under get in free– and can make some art of their own while there! Follow the Buckman Art Show on Facebook and Twitter for additional details, and I hope to see you there!
Next up, at 5:00 PM on April 3rd is the opening night reception of Visionary Art by Print Arts Northwest. This event will kick off an exhibition exploring themes including transcendence, mysticism, spirituality, and the natural elements. Visionary Art is scheduled to run through April 22nd at Lake Oswego’s Museum 510. For more information, visit the Arts Council of Lake Oswego’s events calendar.
The Lovecraft fans among you will want to mark CthulhuCon PDX down on your calendars. Join me April 25th & 26th at Crowne Plaza in Portland, Oregon for a convention celebrating Lovecraft’s 125th birthday year, complete with art, film, music, and panels. The following month, the Los Angeles edition of the popular H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival comes to San Pedro, California for its sixth year running. Festival-goers can play games, enjoy the live radio theatre production The Shadow Over Innsmouth, watch short films, and meet guest authors, directors, and artists.
H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival San Pedro is only one of several upcoming events outside of Portland, so if you live elsewhere in the U.S. I encourage you to check out my events page. I just may be visiting your neighborhood in the near future, be it at NecronomiCon in Providence, Rhode Island, or my solo show at Gargoyles Statuary in Seattle, Washington beginning July 17th.
Stay tuned for further updates!