Thursday, November 12, 2009

A note from the artist

[Please use the links in the Table of Contents to the right to access the story]

Don't worry, Shadow Bay chapter 9 will be appearing in a week or so, with any luck. Donald & I were taking a break after finishing part 1 of the book (chapters 1-8.) The rest of the chapters make up part 2 which will take us to the end of the story.

We are looking for a publisher to make this available in book form. If you are a publisher, or know one, please don't be shy in approaching us. Also, please tell your friends, via email, Facebook, Twitter & so forth about this blog-novel (nog? blovel?) We'd like to reach as many people as possible.

OK, that's the marketing out of the way. I'd like to spend a couple of moments talking about the art. When Donald Rothschild called me out of the blue a few months ago, & asked me if I'd be interested in working on some artwork for his novel, I assumed he maybe wanted 2 or 3 dozen pictures. Maybe 50 or 60 at most. However, it gradually became evident that it would take far more than those numbers to illustrate his work. Now, more or less at the halfway point, I've done 188 drawings/paintings (they are a combination of pencil, monochrome acrylic paint, & china marker, which as you may know is a type of crayon that will put a mark on just about any surface.) The finished book will probably have around 400 images, give or take...

It all started (as Donald has mentioned in his previous note) when we held a cocktail party in my studio. Donald had noticed a painting on the wall in a corner that somehow put him in mind of his book. Here is the painting:

Stranger on the Shore, 2008, acrylic & china marker on paper, 24" x 19".

So, at least that gave me a clue as to the look of the piece. I imagined a world that was somewhat dark, oppressive & depressing, like maybe Leeds in England, near where I grew up. I'd also recently read Camus' The Stranger while waiting for my car to be serviced, so an industrial wasteland version of Algeria is in there somwhere. Finally, Donald had recently seen & mentioned an article on James Ensor, the Belgian artist, in the New York Times magazine, I think. Thus, the pieces fell into place.

James Ensor: Skeletons Fighting over a Pickled Herring

Ensor's grotesque yet strangely appealing worldview, replete with skulls, masks & the like, had always attracted me, since I had discovered his work for myself 30 or so years before. We resolved to put a little of Ensor's darkness & surreally expressionistic imagery (or my warped version of it) into the novel here & there. And so it was.

I could go further & point out more influences & reference points, but that's enough for now. I don't want to spoil the fun by pulling back the curtain too far. Maybe I'll tell more later on, or maybe Donald will. In the meantime, here is a painting that I did recently:

Shadow Bay, 2009, acrylic on unstretched canvas, 55" x 53" approx.

Thanks for reading. That's it for now. See you soon back in Shadow Bay.


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