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The Lure of Tragedy JPEG
Here is a new flounder series picture I made called “The Lure of Tragedy.” It is meant to evoke Greco-Roman tragic theater, the heroic fish confronts a test of character to which it is inexorably drawn. the chorus sings in the background trying to contextualize the fish’s plight while the great jeweled fishhook of the summer sky indicates the portentous and universal nature of the flounder’s choices.

The work is made on ink and it is designed to fit my tragic Marsyas theater. The poor fish seems awfully familiar somehow.

money-flounder

It’s Friday the 13th today and I made a little show of unlucky flounder drawings to celebrate the occasion…unfortunately (or perhaps predictably) after I handed them over to my gallerist, I realized that I had accidentally erased the digital photographs I made.  I only have pictures of the three drawings I photographed for Instagram.  Gah!  this is sad and frustratind, but it is 12:30 AM here, and I am not going to have time to conceive a whole new blog post (not if I want to be able to comprehend infernally over-complicated transactional spreadsheets with any degree of comprehension tomorrow).  So, here are three of the thirteen thirteen-themed flounder.

With its engraving-style lines and elaborate ornamentation (and its green color) the first flounder 9at the top) evokes currency.  the title is “Banknote Flounder” and I already sold it! Yet if you look closely at the ornate margins, you will see they are filled with little parasites and scavengers.  The Latin phrase means (roughly) “fishing using a golden hook” (which is funny considering that I immediately sold this picture…which looks like money).

hex-flounder

The second picture features a lovely leopard gecko and thirteen colorful dots. It has thirteen translated into other mathematical notations (hexidecimal and binary).  the flounder’s back is covered with various spirals, fractal patterns, and chaos scribbles which also denote different systems of order. Here is a second phot of it in different light.

hex-glow-flounder

Finally, just for fun, there is a “Luckyduck Flounder” with a cartoon cat, a good-hearted duck, and a shepherds primitic tally for thirteen.  the flounder is attractively mottled and seems broadly happy.

untitled

Of course there are ten more thirteen themed flounder out there, but you will just have to imagine what they are like until I get my act together and learn to save images to the cloud right away. Although…come to think of it, there is another Friday 13th in October this year [spooky floundery music plays].

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Lady on the Horse (Alfred Kubin, 1938, Pen and ink, wash, and spray on paper)

Alfred Kubin was born in Bohemia in 1877 (Bohemia was then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire).  Like many people, Kubin could see the direction which Austrian society was taking, and it seemed to rob him of direction.  As a teenager he tried to learn photography for four pointless years from 1892 until 1896. He unsuccessfully attempted suicide on his mother’s grave. He enlisted and was promptly drummed out of the Austrian army. He joined various art schools and left without finishing. Then, in Munich, Kubin saw the works of symbolist and expressionist artists Odilon Redon, Max Klinger, Edvard Munch, and Félicien Rops.  His life was changed—he devoted himself to making haunting art in the same vein.  His exquisite mezzotint prints are full dream monsters, spirit animals, ghosts and victims.  These dark works seemed to presage the era which followed.  Yet throughout the nightmare of both World Wars and the post-war reconstruction, Kubin lived in relative isolation in a small castle.

diegrosseboa

After Anschluss in 1938, Kubin’s work was labeled degenerate, yet his age and his hermit life protected him and he continued working through the war and until his death in 1958.  In later life he was lionized as an artist who never submitted to the Nazis (although possibly he was too absorbed in his own dark world to notice the even darker one outside).

 

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The North Pole (Alfred Kubin 1902)

Kubin’s beautiful prints look like the illustrations of a children’s book where dark magical entities broke into the story and killed all of the characters and made their haunted spirits perform the same pointless rituals again and again.  Great dark monuments loom over the lost undead.  Death and the maiden appear repeatedly, donning their roles in increasingly abstract guise until it is unclear which is which.

 

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The Pond (Alfred kubin, ca. 1905)

My favorite aspect of the works are the shadow monsters and hybrid animals which often seem to have more personality and weight than the little albescent people they prey upon.  The gloomy ink work is so heavy it seems to lack pen strokes—as though Kubin rendered these little vignettes from dark mist.

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The Egg (Alfred Kubin, 1902)

Kubin’s imagery was naturally seen through the psychosexual lens of Freudianism.  He was claimed by the symbolists, and the expressionists. Yet his work seems to really exist in its own mysterious context. Kubin’s greatest works seem to involve a narrative which the viewer does not know, yet the outlines of which are instantly recognizable (like certain recurring nightmares).

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The Government (Alfred Kubin)

Gifted in multiple ways, Kubin wrote his own novel, The Other Side, which has been compared to Kafka for its dark absurdity.  I certainly haven’t read it, but if anyone knows anything about it, I would love to hear more below.  In the meantime look again at this broken world of Gothic horror and wonder.  Then maybe go have some candy and enjoy some flowers.  There is plenty more dark art coming

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Snakes in the City (Alfred Kubin,1911, pen and ink)

 

 

F3

Last week I blogged about flatfish.  These fascinating benthic predators can be found in oceans worldwide…however my interest in the asymmetric masters of blending in transcends pure ichthyology.  I have been busy drawing a series of intricate pen and ink drawings of flatfish for a project.  I will show you some of these large drawings one of these days, but I have also been drawing a series of small humorous and surreal flatfish in spare moments…during the commute or lunch break.  I am putting these whimsical, comical, and absurd flounders in brightly colored frames for fun.

Here is some of the series:

f1

This flounder seems to have an industrial refinery in Kazakhstan on his belly.  In accordance with his landlocked status, strange mythical beasts of Central Asia gambol in the twilight skies around him.

F4

This flounder has Greco-Roman objects around him.  The chameleon above his back reminds the viewer of the true nature of flatfish. The strange quadripeds on his back betoken a different age of agrarian labor.

F2

This flounder is at home in the ocean (where he is joined by apparitions and animals which look curiously like molecules or primordial forces.  Indeed, Gauss’ Law for electrical fields reminds us of the subtle but ineluctable flux which pervades interactions at all levels.

F5

I have been trying to garner greater commercial interest in flatfish-themed art, and what is of greater commercial interest (and general prurient interest) than pop-superstar Miley Cyrus?  The famous singer coos atop a stolid turbot in the midst of an exotic and sensuous garden.  A musically literate person can play the musical phrase above the singer for a true multimedia experience. Miley’s cowgirl footwear hint at the true nature of this artwork.

F6

Trailing streamers of ragged blue plasma, a wild eyed flatfish covered in squirming parasites rides a beam of yellow energy over an elongated pink woodchuck ghost.  What could be more straightforward?

F7

A radiant orange flounder with the sun in his belly soars above some sort of pumping station or acetylene factory. In the sky above him, an overly eager gundam has fired an air-to-air missile at an endangered crane.  Oh no! What will happen next?

F10

A long faced flounder made of stitched together toruses looks down upon a futuristic city of arcologies and bioengineered structures.

F9

Mechanical innovation and the aristocratic southern lifestyle begin to seem increasingly at odds.  Predatory animals stock the riverine boundaries. A flying machine whirrs through the heavens.

The flounder at the top of the post–which features fanciful animals gathering around an elegant flounder with a brittle star on its belly is my personal favorite since I drew it with a dip pen–a style of drawing which generally results in the total destruction of the piece with the final stroke of the pen (as a huge blot of ink falls out), however in this rare case that did not happen so you can see some of the linear elegance of the medium.  All of these flatfish are created with ink and (generally) colored pencil, by yours truly Wayne Ferrebee in this year 2016 AD.  I’ll put up the second batch next week.  Thanks for looking and kindly leave any comments!

 

Earth Spirit

Earth Spirit (Wayne Ferrebee, 2016, color pencil and ink)

Here are some more little sketches from my little moleskine sketchbook.  The first one is probably my favorite–it shows an angry Tibetan protective spirit surging up from the fecund Earth.  Various actinomycetes and spores dance within the rainbow between his hands.  The worms, slime mold, and fungi cavort on the ground he springs from.

Art

Art (Wayne Ferrebee, 2016, color pencil and ink)

Industry

Industry (Wayne Ferrebee, 2016, color pencil and ink)

Art and Industry are self explanatory–though I wish I had drawn “Art” more beautifully and I wish i had worked harder on “Industry” (particularly that unhappy pig).

NJ

NJ Freeway (Wayne Ferrebee, 2016, color pencil and ink)

This is a quick pencil sketch of the freeway in New Jersey which leads to the Lincoln Tunnel.  I went out to visit friends in Montclair and had a million problems with the buses.  On the way back, I was sitting right behind the driver and looking out the huge picture window he looks through. I could see a whole constellation of cars rushing along ahead of us into the city.  I wish this sketch gave a full impression of the scene–but there are a lot of things going on on New Jersey’s highways and they happen pretty fast.

space blob

Characters in Space (Wayne Ferrebee, 2016, color pencil and ink)

This is a study for a giant Sumerian space flounder I am drawing in my studio. There is not enough space art, so I am trying to draw more in 2016 (more space art and more in general).  Ironically I like the simplified flounder the least of all in this picture, but the simplified mammalian dolphin is ok.  As always, thanks for looking and let me know what you think!

 

Jelly Lagoon (Wayne Ferrebee, 2015, color pencil and ink)

Jelly Lagoon (Wayne Ferrebee, 2015, color pencil and ink)\

I didn’t get home until late on Friday night–so I guess this week’s final post is once more going to be drawings from the little book I carry around.  The first is a surreal tropical underwater landscape.  I wish i had included more jellyfish–but I am happy about the jelly duck and the orange artichoke/balloon thing.  I am also fond of the underwater ghoul and the lurking crocodile monster.  For some reason, now that I work of Wall Street i have been drawing all sorts of predators and floating ghosts.  Speaking of which…

Monster Soirée (Wayne Ferrebee, 2015, color pencil and ink)

Monster Party (Wayne Ferrebee, 2015, color pencil and ink)

Here are some monsters at a convivial party of some sort.  It’s a bit unclear what is going on, but I feel like the hobgoblin in the purple and teal robes might well be the designated honoree. Look at how proud and happy he looks.  Another ghoul is there looking super excited too–although the green vegetable guy with gills looks as though he might have a bit of social anxiety.  I need to draw more furnaces and fireplaces.  They are really dramatic.

Prospect Park Sketch (Wayne Ferrebee, 2015, color pencil and ink)

Prospect Park Sketch (Wayne Ferrebee, 2015, color pencil and ink)

Finally here is a summer picture of Prospect Park.  All of the parkgoers were bland and ill-dressed so I just drew verdant trees and creamy clouds.  Just as I finished a teenager in a hijab walked by and a blackbird flew across the sky.  It was too late to put them in the picture, but they  are walking through the empty page towards it!

Have a lovely weekend! I am looking forward to next week’s posts.

Sphinx and Rose (Wayne Ferrebee, 2015, watercolor and ink)

Sphinx and Rose (Wayne Ferrebee, 2015, watercolor and ink)

June is the season when the roses bloom—both the everblooming modern roses which bloom all season long and the classical garden roses which have a beautiful inflorescence once a year—in June (that sentence turned out to be quite circular).  Here are three small watercolor paintings of my garden this week.  We were tragically short of roses, till my goodhearted roommate purchased one (it’s a cerise and cream hybrid tea rose from the seventies known as “Double Delight”).  She purchased it, but I lugged it home from the distant nursery by brute force and planted it—so I guess it’s a mutual project.

Hydrangea and Bust (Wayne Ferrebee, 2015, watercolor and ink)

Hydrangea and Bust (Wayne Ferrebee, 2015, watercolor and ink)

I am going to try to feature more small paintings like this—daily impressions of pretty things and outlandish doodles–particularly as I transition back to running the rat race every day.  Let me know what you think!

Garden Flowers (Wayne Ferrebee, 2015, watercolor and ink)

Garden Flowers (Wayne Ferrebee, 2015, watercolor and ink)

Lion-Head Goose (Lü Ji, ca. 1488-1505, ink on scroll)

Lion-Head Goose (Lü Ji, ca. 1488-1505, ink on scroll)

Here is a masterful painting of a lion-head goose by Ming dynasty master Lü Ji a “flower and bird” painter who gained prominence in the late 15th century.  Lu was born in Ningbo in the Zhejiang province and he became famous for copying the style of early Ming bird and flower master Bian Wenjin, but Lu’s mature works, like this beautiful goose have a style and feeling all their own.  Lu was gifted at painting with flowing lines and flowery washes, but above all he is renowned for his ability to portray expressive lifelike birds (with ample personality).  These gifts made him “a famous court painter at the Renzhi Hall” and lead the Ming court to endow him with a sinecure in the Imperial Bodyguard (which seems like a terrible place for a bird painter–but which was probably an income divorced from title).

In this painting a white domestic goose stands beside a beautiful abstract rock of the sort treasured by Ming literati.  The bird stares up at the graceful stone and the ephemeral flowers as though he is appreciating their beauty and subtle meaning.  The work may or may not have a deeper allegorical meaning (my dictionary of Chinese symbolism does not mention domestic geese), but it is certainly hints at the sentient nature of our fellow creatures–and it is also a powerful reminder to treasure the exquisite beauty of the world!

Noodler's Forest Green Fountain Pen Ink

Noodler’s Forest Green Fountain Pen Ink

Today we feature a short post about ink…among other things.  The other night I rediscovered my old dip pens and I was doing some doodling (more about that later).  It reminded me of how wonderful dip pens, quills, and fountain pens really are.  I did some online research and I found a contemporary ink company called “Noodler’s Ink” which is an American company which specializes in fancy inks and pigments for specialty pens.  The reason this belongs on this blog is that they are obsessed with catfish—which feature heavily on their marketing and promotional material.  Here are some of the endearing and whimsical catfish drawings which Noodler’s puts on their bottles and boxes of ink.

Various boxes of Noodler's Black Ink

Various boxes of Noodler’s Black Ink

Noodling is a sort of loose word which can be used to describe doodling, but it is also a traditional southern method of fishing for catfish where the angler uses his or her fingers as a lure.  The intrepid fisherperson reaches into promising holes and pits in the bottom of the waterway and wiggles his fingers provocatively in hopes that a catfish will mistake them for some sort of prey.  If the catfish bites the angler’s hand he then uses brute strength to wrestle the fish bodily from the water.  Below is a picture of a Lucy Millsap, a professional (?) noodler landing a monstrous flathead catfish.  It sounds like an interesting sport I guess, but I think I’ll stick to noodlin’ with paper and ink.

Lucy Millsap with a Flathead Catfish she captured by "noodling"

Lucy Millsap with a Flathead Catfish she captured by “noodling”

The Picture Scroll of “Clustering Chinese Plum Flowers”by Chen Lu

Clustering Chinese Plum Flowers (Chen Lu, Early Ming, Ink on Handscroll)

The plum blossom is a favorite motif in Chinese painting.  Since the tree blooms at the end of winter it has long been a symbol of winter and the endurance of life.  Similarly, because ancient gnarled plum trees could bear elegant new blossoms, the plum evoked thoughts of long life.  Plums were also indirectly connected to Lao Tzu who was allegedly born under a plum tree.  For  more than 3000 years plums have been a favorite food in China and a favorite food for thought for Chinese artists and poets.

Plum Blossoms, hanging scroll, ink on paper

Plum Blossoms (Chen Lu, Ming Dynasty, ink on paper scroll)

These paintings are all paintings of plum blossoms by Ming dynasty master Chen Lu.  He was born in the early Ming dynasty in Huiji (which is today Shaoxing in Zhejiang province) and was one of the all-time greatest painters of bamboo, pine, orchids, and especially plum blossoms, but no one knows the exact dates of his birth and death.  The spare calligraphic lines of these monumental scrolls are interspersed with sections of wild chaos and with internal empty spaces.  The effect is not dissimilar from abstract expressionism—the plum boughs become an abstract internal voyage which the viewer embarks on through form & lack of form; from darkness to light and back.  This internal voyage element of his work was highlighted by the fact that the long horizontal work is a handscroll—the viewer is meant to spool through it and thus appreciate the modality of discovery and change (if you click on the horizontal scroll at the top of this post you will get some of this effect, although the image is smaller than one might hope).  Additionally plum blossoms opened in winter and so they are frequently interspersed with white snow and ice—an even more trenchant juxtaposition of life and non-life.

Plum Blossom and the moon (72.8*155.7 cm, by Chen Lu, Ming Dynasty)

Plum Blossom and the Moon (Chen Lu, Ming Dynasty, Ink on Scroll)

on-life.

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