Shadows of the Past

Driving 8.5 hours from Pittsburgh to Connecticut, we broke up the trip by overnighting with my parents midway. I was happy to see these old friends again.

These are over twenty years old. I made them in high school when my imagination was deeply colored by the classic American weird writers Edgar Allen Poe & H.P. Lovecraft. Some classics merit acclaim, or attention, or whatever they merit chiefly due to their influence, but others stand on their own artistic achievement even today.

The urgent and concrete terror both authors can convey in their fiction holds up well to the modern reader. Poe’s Tell-Tale Heart introduced me to psychological horror around age twelve and has stuck with me for the next two and a half decades. The cataclysmic emotional release at the end of the tale demonstrated what a well crafted short story could accomplish. Lovecraft typically paints in dread rather than pandemonium. When I first discovered Lovecraft at fourteen I read (like so many of his protagonists) too much too quickly and ended up scared to walk down the dark hallway at night. I was certain that there were ghouls ready to pounce on me from the shadows!

My ceramics teacher, Jim Shirk, was a supportive mentor and always allowed me to create my own projects rather than follow his syllabus. I can remember the incredible schematic drawings he would spontaneously produce whenever we asked for creative advice and his beautiful, meticulous handwriting. Jim is a wonderful artist who, like me, loves to capture Nature’s beauty in his work. These two sculptures always evoke fond memories of my time learning from him.

Eldritch Elf: 12 XII 18

Finished with two days to spare!

I’m not sure I’d want to stay there…

It’s not very well lit…

Is there a soft unnatural glow spilling around the edges of the door?

What lies in store for me within?

~

I hope you’ve enjoyed this joyful sprint. If you have, leave me a comment below and tell me what you liked about it.

To check out some different views visit my gallery on CMoN.

Eldritch Elf: 12 XII 18

Let’s get a little light on this situation!

There’s little left to do on this fun project. Most important had been the painting of the illuminated portions of the lamp.

My idea was to use pointillism to create a weird but not immediately implausible effect. I wanted the light to look dingy. I also wanted the lamp to function almost like a black hole, sucking most of the light around it into itself. Hopefully the chiaroscuro makes a bit more sense now!

The lamp is painted sort of reverse OSL, I guess, where the object emits light only directionally.

~

The lamp’s light is oriented down toward the scene directly before the viewer, where the slimey runoff also meets your eyes. Lovecraft describes the building as tall, so I wanted the space to be distended vertically. Even though the scene is tiny, you can still create a sense of imposing bulk. The goal is simply to create the impression that we stand before Gilman House, confronted with the loathsome prospect of a night within its walls. I find that clear ideas such as these free up the problem solving parts of your brain to discover & explore creative opportunities.

Eldritch Elf: 10 XII 18

The weather in Innsmouth is pretty soupy. The locals like it that way.

Our humble public house, a subtle fluorescent glow emanating from around the door…

Whoa. Ugly brown stains. These were done with ink.

And green stains, too. I used enamels for these.

I’m quite pleased with the patinated bronze. You can perhaps see I added an optically impossible shift toward more and brighter patina on the portion of the lamp that points away from the viewer & scene.

~

All these strange visual tricks & mixed styles hopefully help create an interesting piece with a Lovecraftian feel. You can see the light effects on the door (which could definitely be better) are sketched in as if with a pencil, the slime in the street is painted like a cartoon, the enamels themselves are applied fairly naturalistically (though what’s underneath is unrealistic), and the whole thing is rigged for fluorescent illumination.

These kinds of quick & crazy projects offer great opportunities to throw yourself into new techniques (and make up your own) and try your best to capture a mood, an insight, a joke, or whatever.

And we’ll leave it there for tonight. See you soon.

Textual Innuendo

When I create something like the Gilman House, my first step and constant reference is the actual text I’m recreating.

We learn in ‘The Shadow over Innsmouth‘ that Gilman House is yellow, the buildings are made of brick, the street is cobblestone, and the sign for the hotel is “half-effaced.”

I’ve split the difference between the color and the bricks, as I intend to do some enamel or ink weathering on the plaster. Always looks good.

~

Lovecraft has been a favorite of mine and an influence upon my thinking since high school (I turn 38 tomorrow). I can remember my terror walking down a dark empty hallway after bingeing on him for the first time. It was ‘Pickman’s Model‘ that did it!

I’m also a bibliophile.

H.P. Lovecraft died in 1937, penniless and largely ignored outside of pulp fiction circles. Most of his income he earned from ghostwriting for others, while many of his own classics initially hit the ground with a thud.

Upon his death, Lovecraft’s acolyte August Derleth attempted to find a publisher for the master’s work, but found no takers. He therefore started up Arkham House Press to issue Lovecraft’s work and that of other weird authors (including Derleth). Arkham House issued books by many great writers, including Ray Bradbury, Clark Ashton Smith, Robert E. Howard, Robert Bloch, Fritz Leiber, and others.

They also tended to feature awesome covers!

Here is a collection of Lovecraft’s poetry, including ‘Fungi from Yuggoth.’

Frank Utpatel illustrated many Arkham House volumes, and he signed this one.

Here’s the gem of the bunch.

Derleth often posthumously ‘collaborated’ with Lovecraft, completing manuscripts of varying completeness & quality and publishing them as finished works.

Derleth takes a lot of sh*t for this, especially from self-appointed Lovecraft gatekeeper S.T. Joshi. Like Derleth, Joshi deserves a lot of credit for moving Lovecraft out of the literary shade, but, like Derleth, he can get a little possessive of his darling.

It’s true that Derleth added a binary and explicit morality that Lovecraft’s fiction absolutely denies, but without him it’s unlikely Lovecraft would have endured as he has.

This copy of ‘The Survivor’ was signed by Derleth when the seller visited him in Wisconsin decades ago.

It’s unlikely I’ll ever get ahold of ‘The Outside & Others,’ the original 1939 collection with which Derleth launched Arkham House, but these little treasures mean a lot to me.

Thanks for taking a look!

Weekend Elf: 9 XII 18

Lots of painting today brings an enormous update. This was as fun a day as you can have inside on a cold day!

Your wife loves you. She supports your hobbies. Also, cats make good sources of magicians’ wards.

NO. NEVER SIDE BY SIDE.

Undercoats. This is almost wash consistency. Treat it like a watercolor.

The joy of toothpicks. They’ll help us do some quick paint chipping with foam.

I’m starting to block in colors and develop light effects, which will be a major feature of the piece.

Now that’s a big brush!

Almost looks inviting…

Bricks.

Yellow paint on the plaster.

Sketching light effects on the door.

I’m trying to create interesting viewing angles with dramatic effects.

I’m very pleased with this gross stuff down in between the cobblestones.

Ew.

Sort of weird looking, isn’t it?

You should see it at night! What are those creepy locals getting up to in there?

~

This was so much fun. No time for doubt. Lots of great music. Go!

I’m really happy with the progress I made today. Much less worried about getting it out on time.

We Interrupt This Broadcast…

… to bring you an awesome alert!

A few years ago my favorite card game ever, Call of Cthulhu, died. Like its namesake, it slumbers and dreams still, I assure you. But officially the game died.

The game ended with a final tournament at Championship Weekend at FFG, which my best friend Tom won. As in all his previous championship victories, Tom got to design an official card for use in the game.

He & I spent countless hours playing with many great friends, and a few of us formed the core of a small but enthusiastic community here in Pennsylvania.

To honor and reward this special group of friends, Tom incorporated portraits of each of us into his last champ card.

And here we are! The world is safe for another day, though no one will ever know the mind-shattering horrors we have saved them from! AhAahaahA!!

I’m so happy my friend gave me a little slice of the minor immortality he achieved! Thanks, Magnus!