A Mountain of Books

I’ve struggled to read this year. I’m not entirely sure why this is the case but it seems to have been a trend for the last couple of years. I love reading and would class myself (as those fond of labels tend to do) as “a reader”, which I know sounds a bit elitist and pretentious, but it’s a moniker I wear proudly. I’m also one of those frustrating people who frequently says, “the book is better” when talking about the film (however the exception to this would be ‘Fight Club’ and at a push ‘Moneyball’, and even those books are still excellent).

I read somewhere recently, probably on Reddit, that the pandemic has affected some peoples ability to concentrate and thus has impacted many readers. I don’t know how true this is, and if I’m honest I wouldn’t blame the worlds current situation as the reason for my not reading so much. I think social media and sites like YouTube – where information is ever changing and given to you in bite sized portions – are more to blame for my decline in devoured books.

There was also a time when I didn’t have a TV in my room and I would read before bed, which was a routine I had for years, but now it just seems so much easier to switch on Netflix and watch some dross to help me drop off to sleep. I’m going to try and break this habit, because it really is a massive waste of time.

Anyway, the books above are well worth a read. Emergency (Neil Strauss) and Spillover (David Quammen) were read as a response to the whole Covid fiasco. Spillover, a non-fiction book about zoonotic infections and “The next human pandemic”, was written in 2012 and is scarily prophetic. Emergency, another non-fiction, is about Strauss’s journey to become ready for “when shit hits the fan” and chronicles Strauss learning everything from escaping and evading capture in an urban environment to extreme wilderness survival and earthquake response.

Patrick Ness and Joe Abercrombie are, well, doing Patrick Ness and Joe Abercrombie things. ‘Nuff said.

Paper Lion is about journalist George Plimpton experiencing a preseason training camp as a “last-string quarterback” for the Detroit Lions in the 1960’s – this is before the game became really serious and could afford such frivolities, and even then it was only the Lions that would allow it.

Into Thin Air details Krakauer’s experience in the 1996 Mount Everest disaster, in which eight climbers were killed and several others were stranded by a storm. It also goes on to give the history of the mountain and it’s subsequent overuse.

This Is How You Lose The Time War by Amal el-Mohtar and Max Gladstone was my most recent read and is unlike any science-fiction book I’ve ever read. More like a romance novel, where the two main protagonists (both deep cover secret agents of opposing sides) move backward and forward through the strands of time, leaving covert letters for one another while evading detection from their respective factions. The writing is amazing and almost poetic at times and actually poetic at others.

That was a rare long blog post, wasn’t it?

Cheers

Don’t Overwater Your Plants

I was watering the one plant that I have in my room today and I may have overdone it a tad. The most difficult part of this piece was working out the colours – I tried a few different approaches with this one which included using different shades of blue for everything as well as going heavy on the line work. Ultimately I settled for something in between. I feel like I’m gaining confidence with this style but it still takes a lot of playing around to get it right, however I don’t mind this because it means I’m pushing myself.

K2

This was originally just a study of K2 but that seemed a little uninteresting, so I decided to make it a bit more informative. This actually took quite a while to complete because I had to constantly reign in the detail, and in the end I feel like the graphic-y quality lends itself well to the piece.

Tip Your Waiter – print

This is the final print version for this piece. I had to change a couple of bits to make the image flow a little better, mostly things like filling negative space and adding detail here and there. I’m genuinely pleased with this one, I like the graphic-y style, simple colour scheme, and abstract aesthetic. Many of the characters are made up, but a few are based on reference photos of old Hollywood black-tie events (Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe feature) and there’s a James Bond in there somewhere as well. This was a fun one to do and I’ve got another one in the works as well, so stay tuned! Cheers.

Gouache painting

This is the first attempt I’ve made to paint using gouache for about three years. I’m going to be self deprecating here and say it’s a very amateurish outcome. I wasn’t confident in my brush movement, I wasn’t very sure what brush to even use, and the dark reds should be darker. I’m going to try this one again and perhaps use stencils and a paint roller to apply the block colours, while applying the outlines with a brush. Again, I’ll keep you posted. I’m giving this one away, so if you follow my Facebook or Instagram page you can be in with a chance to win. Go here for my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/mattwalkerart and here for IG https://www.instagram.com/mattwalkerart/ and just follow the instructions. Cheers Matt.

French Girl

This was originally going to be a quick study of a cafe scene, but is now instead a prep piece for an actual traditional acrylic painting I’m going to do. I’m not super good at using traditional media so I wanted to do something that would be relatively simple to execute. I’ll post up the acrylic piece when I’ve done it (hopefully on Friday). Enjoy!

Dover – Quick Study

Very quick piece this one because I’ve been non-stop today – felt like it was needed though as I’ve not posted for a couple days. I tried not to dwell too long on this one, not because I’m lazy (though of course I am) but because I wanted to keep things rough and loose… I am sure there’s an innuendo in there somewhere, but you can unpack it yourself. Still feels a little amateurish – not so much from the execution and speed, but more stylistically – I feel like I could’ve pushed and stretched and… well, just done more. It doesn’t seem enough somehow to slightly exaggerate and simplify things. Need to keep pushing and testing things. Enough for tonight. Enjoy!

Scared of the Dark

I quite like the composition of this one as I think the balance between light and dark helps lead the eye. As I mentioned before, I’m trying to incorporate the new style in to some character work, it’s early days yet and the character here isn’t as refined as I’d like but it was only a quick piece. Enjoy!