Friday, October 3, 2014

Sketches back from the dead...

I've been away from the Lovecraftian for a while, as anyone who would follow this blog would know. The reasons are various but primarily have to do with other obligations taking me away without giving me the time to do personal work. Luckily my friend Brian nudged me to do something to show I wasn't dead. These are sketches I've tried to do between work, just random Lovecraftian things that come immediately to mind.... Also sorry Brian for being late on these, I just thought I'd postpone posting them until I had something more substantial.

Innsmouth. There's so many places to start illustrating when it comes to this great distopian seaport that it's hard to know where to begin. 

Some denizens of Innsmouth. 

Detective Legrasse. For some reason when I read Cthulhu I always imagined a mustachioed detective similar to the image of Dashielle Hammett. I've been meaning to do a painting of him, just I haven't been able to get a successful image in my head of how to illustrate it...

A very quick and rough sketch of Leng/Antarctica.

   A sketch of a Zoog. Just thinking of how many arboreal features the little fiends may have had. 
Sketches of the beings from Beyond. I'd love to seriously render these, as I've had an idea about how to create them for a long time, though I'll probably do some studies of jelly-fish before I do. 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Asenath Waite


This painting, though long in coming, was certainly inspired by recently finding Paco Rico Torres' amazingly polished -rendition- of Asenath. I think his is the better version, but I'm still learning to be an illustrator, so maybe one day I'll come back to this painting, like I plan to do with a number of my earlier Lovecraftian paintings, and make it the best Asenath it could possibly be. 

It's rather unfortunate that the only major female character in the entirety of Lovecraft's oeuvre would appear in what is probably his weakest late period story, and in such a bizarre, gender-swapped way. 

I think it's rather curious that women are nigh non-existent in all of Lovecraft's works, when women, both those in his family and those in the world of amateur-journalism, made such an large impact on his life. 





Saturday, July 19, 2014

More Ulthar Sketches

Another series of sketches of Ulthar. I'm trying to formulate a panoramic painting of Ulthar, on par with my Polaris painting, but I haven't conceptually defined exactly how I'm going to render the Ultharian houses. Some of these are heading in the right direction. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Gardner Farm and The Colour out of Space

The Colour out of Space is, in my opinion, Lovecraft's best work. This is primarily because of the overall completeness and refined execution of the work, which stands in stark contrast to many of the works in his oeuvre, which, even in the case of profound works like The Dunwich Horror or The Shadow out of Time, are still at best only unevenly successful.

And I think if there was any story of Lovecraft's that genuinely deserved the full-length novel treatment from him it was this story; it would be amazing to see, day by day and week by week, the obliteration of the Gardner family, as well as the environs surrounding them, rather than the tantalizingly brief descriptions we're given.  


I had a hard time finding a font (it took me all of 45 minutes!) that I felt worked with this image, and it only really worked (as much as I seem to think it does) when I erased out bits of it using a rust-brush in photoshop. This was completely done on my brand new Microsoft Surface Pro tablet btw. 


This is the 20th-ish painting I've done for the HP Lovecraft artbook. I say "ish" because I have to go back and spruce up a few of the older paintings, some because of errors in relation to the source material, and some because I've realized in hindsight, and also as I've gotten better as an artist, that there were better ways to improve on what I was trying to say. Only with one, my rendition of Leng, do I feel I need to near-totally re-render it, which I'll be doing soon so I don't have that monkey on my back continuously.

Also, if anyone out there was wondering what my workstation looks like, here it is:

The little fuzzy dude trying to keep me from painting is my cat Lovecraft (yes, I am that unbelievably unimaginative) who is always there for emotional support, as well as artistic inspiration, though mostly just there to pester me for food.

Next up is a panoramic painting of Ulthar, and possibly Asenath Waite after that.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Sketches, sketches and more sketches.

Took another hiatus away from the land of Lovecraft for a spell, working on other projects, including a sketchbook of all of my sketches I've done in the past few months, which will include my Lovecraftian stuff as well as others. I've also redirected my energies to my new Tumblr sites: 
http://hplovecraftart.tumblr.com/
http://markwf85.tumblr.com/ 
I've come to prefer Tumblr simply because it's easier to post artwork, and especially amenable to sketches, and overall it's a lot less demanding to use, as well as being a lot more convenient to edit than blogger. Unfortunately I just started my Lovecraftian Tumblr, as I thought it better to open it before someone else took advantage of the opportunity, and so there's not a whole lot there, though that'll be where you'll see most of my Lovecraftian sketches from now on, whereas I'll primarily use blogger for finished pieces. 

Old Wizard Whateley.
This was done as demonstration to another artist, as he had erroneously illustrated the venerable old malcontent with a large chin. His thought process was that he couldn't find a way to illustrate a chinless Wizard without making him look goofy. I begged to differ. So I illustrated this demonstration for him with a view to showing that there are plenty of ways to make a character creepy, with or without a chin. This sketch was done on Ipad in the app Procreate. 

Lavinia. This was done for the same artist, as he erroneously drew her with black hair, whereas she's described as being an albino in the story. Mind you he was kind of enough to take my criticism into consideration and changed several things to be more accurate to the source material. Again, done on the Ipad, using Procreate. 

Another Ipad sketch, this one of old Zadok Allan. 
 Another Ipad sketch of Innsmouth, done for an inquirer about 
what I would do with the dilapidated old town. 
                                       
An Ipad sketch of a couple citizens of Innsmouth. I actually enjoy subtly warping the human anatomy for the only slightly deformed Innsmouthites, rather than doing what most artists do and go all out with full-blown fish-anthropomorphs. 
Those are the last of my Ipad sketches, as I've since packed up my Ipad 3 and prepared it for sale and replaced it with a Microsoft Surface Pro. The reason for the change is that the Surface Pro is less a tablet than a laptop in tablet form, as it can run any program that a pc or macbook could run, including Photoshop, Painter 12 and any pc-based art program you can think of; unlike the Ipad, which, while well-rounded, can only at best use truncated or trimmed-down versions of pc programs. The rest of the sketches were done in Photoshop CS6 on the Surface Pro, using several different brushes. 

I'm currently working on an Ulthar painting for my artbook. These were more or less throwaway designs, as I was just trying to explore different cultural motifs as I tried to find designs that were both homely and slightly foreign. 

Another painting I'm working on is one of the Gardner farm, which you can see designs and thumbnails of below. From an architectural perspective, if there's anything I loath about Lovecraft's descriptions it's his obsession with gambrel roofs; to me they in no way look stately and instead make a house look like those barns you can buy at a Lowes store or Home Depot. 

Herbert West. Thought I'd do a sketch of him, as I haven't seen too many illustrations of him as toe-headed, which he's described as in the story. I wanted him to have some dramatic lighting but couldn't decide what, so I went with three that came to mind. 
 Plan to do a painting of him for the artbook, but nothing as yet comes to mind as to what angle or what context to render him in; most of the paintings from my list below that I haven't started yet are currently not started quite simply because I just don't currently have a defined image in my head as to how to create them, rather than any reluctance on my part to complete them. 



Sunday, June 15, 2014

Dreams in the Witch House and Robert Suydam

A commission I did for a student film inspired by the Lovecraft story. I had fun working on this one, especially the design of the poster. In reality Dreams in the Witch House is really the only story by Lovecraft that freaking creeped me out to no end; it's this blackly-dismal story of a helpless student who is perpetually harassed by horrendous supernatural forces well beyond his control, and who wish for him to join in their unspeakable horrors. 

I would personally declare that this is Lovecraft's blackest story, with other dark stories, like Cthulhu or Colour, actually having a sort of descriptive or conceptual beauty or wonder to them; whereas this story is to me his most horrifically dreary in its systematical destruction of Gilman's sanity, though there is a bit of wonder in the concept of Gilman being physically pulled to a specific point in space—that scene left me genuinely awestruck. 

I have a bizarre fascination with The Horror at Red Hook. Perhaps it's the pulpy, noir nature of the story, or perhaps it's Lovecraft's powerful description of 1920's Brooklyn--or both--but I keep getting drawn back to its story, its environs and its characters. 

Suydam is a curious character, and even more curious for the fact I have no information as to what his inspiration was, as Joshi in his extensive biography gives no mention, only going into detail about the character of Malone, who in Lovecraft's context is himself a fascinating persona. Was Suydam based on an actual person Lovecraft saw in Brooklyn, or perhaps a character from one of the infinitesimal pulps he read as a youth/young man? Maybe we'll never know. 

I find it fascinating that, today, we'd look at the character of Suydam as this open-minded urbanite, ahead of his time in his thinking; this contrasts sharply with Lovecraft in his day, with his prejudiced stance, and who could only look with disdain and horror at this member of the noble Danish race denigrating himself by associating himself with the untermensch of urban American society. Juxtapositions like that that explore America's ever changing philosophies, moralities and perspectives have always fascinated me to no end.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Lovecraft's The Mountains of Madness

The Mountains of Madness and the list of artwork completed and not completed for the Lovecraft artbook. 





Monday, May 26, 2014

Henry Anthony Wilcox


Henry Anthony Wilcox from The Call of Cthulhu. I enjoyed designing the bas relief in the background, which you can see fully here: 
http://hplovecraftart.blogspot.com/2014/05/cthulhu-bas-relief.html

This was created in a similar compositional format as my painting of William Channing Webb, as both pieces are part of a larger piece I'm working on. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Wilbur

Some rather spontaneous sketches of Wilbur. In part I'd been meaning to work out how he was able to look with clothes and still go around convincingly. 

I also wanted to explore how Wilbur's face could be subtly deformed, though this is actually a challenge as an illustrator; if you're too subtle with the deformations people will think you're just a sloppy artist, while on the other end of the spectrum if you go too far with the deformations you'll have something that wouldn't be able to conceal itself successfully in society, however rural that society might be. 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Cthulhu Bas Relief


Working on a painting of Henry Anthony Wilcox and this will be the bas relief he's sculpting in the background of the painting. This isn't my rendition of "the horror in the clay", but it's definitely a step in that direction. I painted this on the ipad btw. 

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Lovecraft's The Dwellers of Ib

I think that it's fascinating--nay, astonishing--that, though he could write about the plight of alien or alien-like creatures against humans in The Doom that Came to Sarnath as well as In the Walls of Eryx, Lovecraft couldn't see past his own bigotry and Anglophilia to realize that these dramas directly mirrored conflicts of encroachment that the European powers had inflicted upon what he would consider "lesser" races for the past five centuries; the fact he could clearly see the right and wrongs of such actions in his fantastical worlds and be so unbelievably blind to them in his own is one of my favorite examples of complete cognitive dissonance. 

This was done on the Ipad3 using the Wacom Creative Intuos Stylus on the art app, Procreate. 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Ibian Concepts and Thumbnails

Though I enjoyed the overall makeup of the final image, I was always disappointed in the actual creature design for Brad Rigney's rendering of the people of Ib, his version unimaginatively having basically a frog-like head on an otherwise perfectly human body, though this makeup may have more to do with the company who commissioned him rather than his own personal design sense. Here's a couple designs for my upcoming rendering of the people of Ib:
And the thumbnails for the eventual painting. 





Sunday, May 4, 2014

Thomas F. Malone


Before there was Rust Cohle there was Thomas F. Malone, of the Butler Street Station out of New York, who explored the occult machinations around him in The Horror at Red Hook. Its ludicrous racism aside, the story has a unique flavor all its own, and one that was the partial germ of both The Call of Cthulhu and The Case of Charles Dexter Ward. 

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Lovecraftian Esquimaux Design

I'm in love with Lovecraft's early forgotten story, Polaris, as well as his later, rather brief, additions to the history of Lomar the lost in the far north of the world. I've already rendered the Gnophkehs and Lomarians, so I thought I would turn my attention to the "Esquimaux". 

Since Eskimos at no time have been up to battling organized armies, I thought maybe they in the story were simply attributed to being Eskimos, or Esquimaux as Lovecraft colorfully put it, and I thought I could conjure them as something else entirely. I made them tribal, but adorned with bright paint to juxtapose against the muted colors of the Lomarians. I plan to do a serious painting of these antagonists, as well as one of the Lomarians, in the same pose as that of the Gnophkehs painting above.  

Lovecraftian Lilith studies


Working on preparing an illustration of good ol' Lilith in all of her glory. 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Thran Guardsmen Designs


For some reason the red guardsmen of Thran from The Dream-quest of Unknown Kadath always stuck  in my mind, so I decided to work on an illustration of one of them. 

Lovecraftian album art process.

I was commissioned by metal guitarist, enthusiast and all around classy guy Josh Mortenson to paint a Lovecraftian piece for the cd booklet for his upcoming album. He gave me the choice of painting several different pieces about the stories of Lovecraft, which specific songs in the album are based on. I chose The White Ship, mainly because hadn't touched upon that before in illustrating of Lovecraft's world. 

His requirements for the illustration were that the center of the image would be largely clear of details, as that would be where the lyrics for the specific song about The White Ship would go. This injected a fun design challenge to somehow make the illustration exciting while still keeping the details on the margins of the painting. 

Here are initial thumbnails and designs: 
 
I crafted the ship as being similar to a bird as in the story it is implied that the bird and the ship, as well as it's navigator/captain, are one and the same. 

He eventually chose the top right one, mainly because it felt reminiscent of the cataract the ship eventual falls into, so I cleaned it up a bit and added the white bird (which I had forgotten) and this is what I had:


Behind the wave I originally had massive and mysterious structures (similar to what I had in the bottom left thumbnail in the thumbnail iterations above) but eventually dropped it as you really couldn't get a good idea of what it was and so would likely tangentially draw the viewer's eye away from the actual main story of the ship. I later replaced the structures with lightning to accentuate the chaos of the image. 

I also dropped the sea-monster because it felt out of place in the composition of the image and, again, would take too much from the ship. 

Here is what I eventually came up with:

It was a fun painting and I'm glad the client was happy the end result. And I hope to return to the land of The White Ship in the near future. 


At the Mountains of Madness and Thomas Malone sketches

The four thumbnails above are for a painting of the protagonist of The Horror at Redhook, Thomas Malone, which I am currently finishing up. 


Friday, April 25, 2014

Keziah Mason and Polynesian Dagonites

For those few souls who are kind enough to follow this blog, I apologize for having not posted anything here for two weeks (it's felt like months), as I've been tied up with commission work, as well as things outside of art and Lovecraft. I'll try to make a schedule of posting at least sketches every couple of days. 


Of all of Lovecraft's stories only Dreams in the Witch House (and possibly The Thing on the Doorstep, though in a quite different way...) genuinely disturbs me. It's a shame it as a story is almost entirely overlooked by Lovecraftian scholars. 


This is a painting that I've been working on off and on for the past two weeks, but which I've thought about rendering for a long while. Not something for the artbook, but (to me) an interesting concept all the same. Painted and edited entirely on the iPad 3 on Procreate and PicEditor, using the Wacom Intuos Creative Stylus. 


Sunday, April 6, 2014

Arthur Jermyn

Not one of Lovecraft's best known stories, and certainly not one of his best in any context, it still has a smidgen of mysterious charm, particularly as it's one of the early stories that explores so many of his thematic archetypes, such as tainted ancestry, destructive knowledge, unnatural mingling of species, and biological degeneration. 

All the same, it heavily shows both Lovecraft's racism, as well as, and probably more importantly, his social snobbery, which combined together make it one of his less pleasant stories to read; in this story in particular his heavy inclination toward deriding the lesser social classes (classes that ironically he would reside in for the vast majority of his life) is quite intolerable and annoying to me personally. 

Still, I thought it was a fun challenge to try and successfully mix the physiology of man and gorilla, though I think I went more toward the latter in this version....