Masters of the Macabre: Bernie Wrightson

I first discovered Bernie Wrightson back in my college days in Buffalo, NY.  He wasn’t one of the established artists of the academic world, and someone that my professors would, for the most part, thumb their collective noses at since as an illustrator/comic creator Bernie wasn’t a ‘true’ artist in their minds.

Fortunately, I had a small group of friends that were into comics, metal, punk, and horror/sci-fi movies from whom I learned about Bernie. What drew my attention to his work is  not just the subject matter, which was a big part of it, but his craftsmanship and attention to detail/composition.

I’ve always been fascinated with and drawn to, yes that’s a shitty pun, line work when creating art. A painting professor at the time made the statement that I’d be capable of painting with sticks, which is rather appropriate. I’ve never been interested in fields of color or blending. The abstraction of the line and the contrast of black ink and white paper always has been a part of my core as an artist. So, for me seeing Bernie’s work in black and white (although he has done color work and work in other mediums) was like manna from heaven. The fact that here’s a dude doing the type of work I adore in the medium I’m obsessed with was, and still is, fantastic. The fact that Bernie was alive and producing new work, unlike so many of the artists in the pantheon of the academic art world, was refreshing. It proved to me that not only was Bernie’s work relevant, but that that style and genre were too.

Despite the years that have passed since my college years, and the passing of Bernie last year, he still continues to inspire me and every time I look at his work I learn something new that can be applied to my own work and in my own style.

In the video interview I posted at the top Bernie mentions how when he draws its like his mind is projecting the image on the page as he draws, I can definitely relate to the idea. His thoughts on line drawing versus painting is also worth a listen.

 

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The Cold Dread of Editing/Rewriting

Earlier this morning I finished the first draft of an art/fiction project I’ve been working on for awhile now. There’s definitely a certain thrill and sense of satisfaction when reaching the end, in particular when the story resolves itself in a satisfying way.

Yet, there’s always that dread at the end, or even while writing, that there’s going to be the inevitable editing/rewriting process. As any writer knows, it can be a tedious process. One that can cause self-doubt and frustration. It’s not uncommon to write a first draft that seems like a great piece only to go back through and realize you have no idea what the hell you were thinking the first time around.  Sometimes a piece like that can be salvaged and rewritten or perhaps totally scrapped and used solely as background info for writing an entirely new piece.

Personally, I found the best way to go through the editing process is to correct spelling and grammar first, then I listen to an audio version of the piece. It’s pretty amazing what a difference hearing it read aloud can make when it comes to sentence structure, dialogue, and other aspects of the prose. A lot of the issues that come up are things I don’t necessarily notice when reading silently or aloud myself. Then I go back and fix those issues.

In terms of continuity errors and etc, I use the program Scrivener for my projects which makes highlighting and adding notes to a project or specific sections pretty easy. I avoid going back and fixing something while writing the first draft, because I find it only encourages self-doubt and second guessing myself while trying to write the story. I think the first draft is more about getting the idea, plot, characters and etc down on the page,  and not about passive voice, exposition, and all the other 1001 neurotic ‘rules’ writers face.

 

 

Beauty is skin deep…

A quick lunch break sketch at the day job  With Copic multiliners.

If you are on Facebook, I now have a page for my artwork and writing there. Feel free to follow/like via this link https://www.facebook.com/ArtistKevinHurtack/

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Last Exit/Feed Your Monster

My sci-fi/horror flash fiction story Last Exit is now up on the website Feed Your Monster.

Synopsis: A lone survivor finds a means out of the wasteland, but trouble tags along for the ride.

You can read it for free via this link: Last Exit on Feed Your Monster

The Disturbance

I finished this one up earlier this morning. Strictly pen and ink with some brush work. I had been doing more with ink wash for tonal stuff and shading but decided to try my hand at stipling and other techniques to create values, textures. I’m  happy with how it turned out. I suppose I could’ve done stipling for the black areas but then I’d end up with carpal tunnel syndrome. But the solid blacks give the viewer’s eyes a break.

I’ve been trying to capture ‘a moment in time’ in my work lately. By that I mean trying to convey the idea that something is occuring or is about to occur rather than having a drawing where the subject matter is static, stiff, and posed. If find it far more interesting and more of a challenge to have subject matters that aren’t ‘posing’ for me. Conveying motion, emotion, some sort of plot or idea that’s either specific or vague. Like a snapshot from a half-remembered dream or a snippet of an old memory.

TheDisturbance

Review: The Devil’s Candy

 

 

 

Plot: When Jesse and his family buy an old farmhouse in rural Texas, they believe that they’ve finally accomplished the American Dream, despite there being a recent murder in the house. But as time goes by Jesse, a struggling artist who’s sole income is painting comissions for banks, etc, begins to have strange experiences in his home studio which result in some horrific paintings. As he struggles to understand why this is happening, a rather rotund and disturbed stranger begins to harass his young daughter both at home and at school.

The Good: What I immeaditely liked about The Devil’s Candy is that it featured an artist as its protganonist and it used his painting and heavy metal as a means to show the influence of something supernatural and sinister. It went about this in a serious way, rather than being satrical or cartoonish. Nor did it have an underlying message that these forms of creativity were ‘evil’ unto themselves, which some conservatives and Bible thumpers may have you believe.  Often in Hollywood you see metal heads portrayed as stoners/burn outs and artists as flaky and/or snobs or bumbling cliches. I liked the fact that Jesse was portrayed in a relatable manner as a guy struggling to support his family, raise his daughter and at the same time persue his passion of art. I could relate his overdue bills, rejections from galleries, and having to paint the perverbial, or in Jesse’s case the literal, butterflies to make some cash.

I also liked the fact that unlike the one thousand and one clones of Amityville out there, Jesse did not become the crazed lunatic possesed by the devil. I thought it was a refreshing change of pace from the archtype that the possession/haunted house movies usually follow.

The events of the movie do take a toll on the relationship between Jesse and his daughter, which I thought was a good approach. Sometimes movies or books show people bonding when experiencing horrific events, but I felt it was far more realistic to have a rift between Jesse and his daughter develop over the course of the plot. It also added complexity to the conflict that Jesse was going through. Not only did he wonder if he was going mad from all the weird experiences in his studio, but he also faces the peril of the stranger threatening his family and on top of it the self-doubt and anguish of not being able to protect his daughter and having her lose faith in him as a result.

The acting overall was well done, in particular there’s a short scene between Jesse and an art gallery owner that is super creepy. There’s nothing violent or grotesque about the scene, but it defintely fills Jesse and myself as a father, with unease.

The Devil’s Candy manages to tie together all the characters and subplots together at the end pretty well. It’s not going to hold your hand and tell you absolutely everything, but I was happy with the conclusion. In the end I felt that I had a good idea as to why Jesse was experiencing what he did, and that he and his family would never be quite the same afterward.

The Bad: There really isn’t anything that struck me as awful in this movie. However there is a scene during the final confrontation between Jesse and the stranger that just looks like really cheap or poorly done CGI. It did ruin the immersive effect the movie had up to that point, but in the end didn’t kill the ending for me.

Conclusion: The Devil’s Candy is far more psychological with bits of supernatural in it, but it does contain the kidnapping and murder of young girls as part of its backstory. If your sensitive to that type of subject matter your better off not seeing it.

The Devil’s Candy is not a gory movie and other than a few violent acts in the beginning and end, it’s not excessive. It’s far more psychological than anything else.

If you enjoy metal, then you’ll probably enjoy the inclusion of various metal tracks in the movie and the realistic portrayal of a metal head like Jesse and his daughter. The Devil’s Candy is a smartly written and well acted movie that’ll appeal to you if your idea of horror goes beyond ‘gorehound’ film and cheap scare tatics. If you’re looking for an interesting spin on the whole ‘Amityville’ type subgenre of horror then I recommend this one to you. I saw it on Netflix, but I wouldn’t be surprised if you can find it elsewhere.

 

 

 

 

10 Rules of Success from Steven Speilberg

Anita Rodgers Mystery Writer

tips from steven speilberg

Link to video in comments…

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The Devil Comes At Midnight (Finished Drawing)

 

The Devil Comes At Midnight
The Devil Comes At Midnight – pen, ink, brush 2018 copyright Kevin Hurtack

Finished this up yesterday morning. I’m pleased with how it turned out, and after reading up and experimenting with GIMP I managed to get the tones just about right. I don’t think it’s possible to make them exact but I’m satisified with how it turned out as a scanned image.  I had a lot of fun doing this one.

My wife was the first one to see it complete and her words were ‘it’s insane, literally insane’. That’s what I was aiming for, so hopefully she’s not alone in her opinon.

 

WIP: The Devil Comes At Midnight

 

Started this drawing last weekend with the pencils. This morning I worked on the inking. I’m trying out some new materials this time and enjoying the results.  I’m using Dr.  Ph Martin’s Black Star ink and their Bombay red ink. It’s both terrific stuff. The Black Star is about as matte black as you can get and flows well when used with a crow quill pen.  I despise glossy inks so I am loving Black Star.

I’m also using Strathmore 400 Mixed Media paper which I haven’t used before. It’s made for wet and dry mediums and is supposed to not buckle/warp like other paper can. It’s a lot thicker and stiffer than the bristol plate I normally use. It’ll be interesting to see how well it holds up once I get into applying ink and brush as well as some some ink wash. I will say that it is nowhere near as smooth as the Strathmore 500 Bristol plate I use for most drawings, but it’s been working well enough.

The title ‘The Devil Comes At Midnight’ has been floating around my head for awhile now. The drawing started off as a rough sketch in my sketch book and evolved a bit from there. Actually, I’ve been doing several different sketches of this character in different scenarios. The idea original came about from the fact that the basement of my townhouse had a bunch of spiders in it when I first moved in. Throughout the summer I had to engage in a turf war with them.  Arachnids multiple eyes have always fascinated me, in a creepy way.

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Even Death May Die…

Played around with some video editing software this morning and made this quick video featuring some of my artwork for fun. Back when I was in college I took a video production class as an elective. This was back in the early 1990’s when video cameras were the size of brief cases and used VHS tapes. Just writing that makes me feel old. It was a fun class, and learned how to edit in an actual editing suite. Still remember a bit but it’s much easier/quicker doing it on my laptop.