Summer sketches

I hope you’re having a good year so far. This is my first blog post in a long time. Last summer, I started writing a new book. I just recently finished it and published it on Amazon in April. Anyway, I tend to have a one-track mind. I usually pour all my energy into one project at a time and neglect everything else. This blog is normally the first thing I abandon.

Sorry about that.

Since Starlight Desperado is finally completed and published, I decided to buy a little sketchbook at Dollar General and start drawing again. Here are a couple of pictures I drew the other night. I photographed my sketchbook in the grass. I got the idea from a wonderful artist known as The Crazy Bag Lady. Sadly, my grass is not nearly as pretty as hers.

 

Copyright 2018 Matthew David Curry

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My Books

I started writing when I was twelve and never stopped. Now I work in a factory, driving a rickety old forklift, but I still write books in my free time. I self-publish them on Amazon too. Writing is more than a hobby for me. It’s a basic need like food and water. I mostly write science fiction stories filled with dark, twisted humor. Sometimes I write madcap comedies set in the South. I also write a little bit of nonfiction.

Finding Drake Novak combines science fiction and Southern Gothic. Drake Novak is a malevolent alien with bloodshot eyes and a black business suit. He draws his nourishment from the pain and sadness of other living things. He takes over a factory in rural Georgia and keeps all the workers as miserable as possible. He absorbs their frustration and despair the way a plant absorbs sunlight. Then a young policeman from the Galactic Precinct comes to Earth to arrest him.

Under the Electric Sun is a book about a robotic raccoon and a boy named Jake. They live in a luxurious underground city beneath the ruins of Washington, DC. One afternoon, as they relax in a room full of plastic trees, a giant praying mantis arrives and tells them it’s safe to live on the surface again. Their lives change forever.

I also love to draw. Sometimes, when people find out I’m an artist, they hound me to draw portraits of their kids. Or they describe tattoo ideas to me, asking me to draw all kinds of ridiculous, complicated things. Some people are downright rude and pushy about it. How to Make an Artist Miserable is a book about these annoying people and the ways I’ve learned to deal with them.

All my books are available on Amazon. You can order paperback copies or download them to your Kindle.

* You can also visit The Publishing Parlor, my other blog, to learn more about my books. It’s mostly a collection of book samples and a few personal essays. Feel free to visit, but please don’t follow it. If you follow that blog, your inbox will be flooded with posts. I update it compulsively. It will drive you absolutely nuts, I promise.

Thanks for reading.

Lost in Germany

We found an auditorium where a heavy metal band was playing. Thick smoke floated above our heads. Red laser beams flashed in the air. People danced with their eyes closed, waving their arms in slow motion, grasping at imaginary objects with their fingers. I watched them with nervous curiosity.

After the show was over, I stumbled into the street with Greg and Jesse. It was time to return to the youth hostel. We walked down a staircase in the sidewalk, into the concrete labyrinth where the subway trains lived. We boarded a train and rode through the tunnel a few minutes. Then we stepped off and climbed another set of stairs.

When we reached the top of the stairs and looked around, we didn’t recognize the signs and buildings around us. We had gotten off at the wrong stop. We didn’t know where we were. It was almost eleven o’clock. And we couldn’t call our teacher on our cell phones because we didn’t have cell phones. It was 1998.

So we rambled through the streets, asking strangers for directions to the youth hostel where we were staying. Most of them were friendly and polite, but they had never heard of the Jump In Youth Hostel. We even found a black taxi cab parked indiscreetly on the sidewalk, a common practice in Germany. The driver sat behind the wheel, sipping coffee and listening to the radio. We eagerly asked him to take us to the Jump In Youth Hostel, but he shook his head and started pointing, giving us directions in German. None of us understood German well enough to know what he was saying. We mumbled “danke” and walked away, disappointed and discouraged.

We walked through the subway and found a group of policemen playing cards in a small, dirty room with pictures of naked women plastered on the walls. We explained our predicament to them. They also gave us helpful directions in German.

***

You’ve been reading an excerpt from How to Make an Artist Miserable. The Kindle version is free May 19-23. The paperback version is $5 plus shipping and handling as always.

You can click here to order a copy.

Copyright 2015, 2017 Matthew David Curry. All rights reserved.

Solitude

I hate it when people stand behind me, staring down at my paper and invading my personal space. I don’t know how other artists work, but I spend a long time building the basic shape before I flesh out all the little details. If I’m sketching a face, I might spend ten minutes forming the outline of the head and the curves of the hair around it. But if spectators are gathered around me, I feel obligated to hurry up and work faster in order to keep them entertained. This hasty scrambling always leads to a sloppy picture.

People also love to yell out brainless comments as I draw. If I’m drawing a face, for instance, I will loosely sketch the eyes, make some rough marks representing the nose, scribble in the lips, and then return to the top of the face to add detail to the eyes. As soon as I direct my attention to the eyes, some bonehead will blurt out, “You forgot the give her nostrils! She needs nostrils, don’t she? Are you not gonna give her no nostrils?”

They don’t understand that I’m building the picture in layers. They just think I’m forgetting important details, so they like to point at the paper and remind me to add this and that. Sometimes, they’re deliberately being rude. Sometimes, they’re truly ignorant. Whatever their motivation, it drives me insane. If you don’t know what you’re talking about, don’t open your mouth and spew criticism.

This is why I prefer to draw in the privacy of my apartment, spinning a Miles Davis record on my turntable. Or sitting in a cool hotel room, drinking coffee and listening to the soothing music of The Weather Channel.

***

How to Make an Artist Miserable is free on Kindle May 19-23. The paperback version is still $5 plus shipping and handling.

You can click here to order a copy.

(Copyright 2015, 2017 Matthew David Curry. All rights reserved.)

Finding Drake Novak

Finding Drake Novak is a dark comedy about a renegade alien who draws his nourishment from the pain and suffering of other living things. On the run from the Galactic Police, Drake Novak comes to Earth and takes over a plastic factory in a small town in Georgia. He makes every job as difficult as possible so the workers live in endless frustration. He stands at the observation window in his office and stares down at all of them, absorbing their pain the way a plant absorbs sunlight.

A young man named Malpheus Mallock, a rookie officer from the Galactic Precinct, travels to Earth to arrest Drake Novak. But Malpheus has a problem. His tracking device doesn’t work correctly. Malpheus lands in the front yard of an elderly couple named Carl and Christine. They introduce Malpheus to fried chicken, sweet tea, and Atlanta Braves baseball — but he desperately wants to fix his tracking device so he can find and capture Drake Novak.

Finding Drake Novak is available in paperback and e-book on Amazon.

Finding Drake Novak

I hope you’re all doing well. Sorry I haven’t blogged in a long time. I’ve been busy writing a new book. Here it is. It’s a dark science fiction comedy set in the South.

Drake Novak is a pale man with bloodshot eyes and a black suit. He owns a plastic factory in a small town in Georgia. The workers don’t know it, but Drake is an alien who feeds on the misery and suffering of other life forms. The factory is his buffet. But Drake’s feeding frenzy is about to end. Malpheus Mallock, a young policeman from the Galactic Precinct, comes to Earth to arrest Drake. Sadly, his tracking device doesn’t work correctly. He lands in the yard of an elderly couple named Carl and Christine who provide him with fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and iced tea. Malpheus struggles to fix his tracking device and find Drake Novak before he destroys the whole town.

If you’re interested, the paperback version is six dollars. The e-book is $2.99. You can click here to order it on Amazon.

Something old, something new

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I’m going to keep this post short because I suddenly have a raging headache. I’ve been on vacation all week for the Fourth of July. I’ve spent most of that time working on my new book. The first draft is nearly finished now. My sketchbook has been collecting dust lately, but I did draw a picture of my friend Jill London the other night. I’m posting it here along with a wacky, abstract picture of the late Howard Finster. I drew it back in 2002. (Howard Finster was a primitive artist who lived in Pennville, Georgia. He appeared on the Johnny Carson show. I drive past his house/museum every day, but I never had the honor of meeting him.)

I hope you’re having a nice weekend. I’m going to find some sinus medicine.

Drawing Esmeralda

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This is the first illustration that appears in my novel, Under the Electric Sun, but it’s actually the last picture I drew. I did this one back in late January, when it was cold and rainy outside. Like the other illustrations, it’s a colored pencil drawing. I keep saying I’m going to learn to paint, but I still haven’t done it yet. The thought of painting intimidates me, honestly. I’m afraid I’ll fail miserably at it, so I just cling to my box of Crayola colored pencils instead.

The girl in this picture is named Esmeralda. She lives in an underground city that looks very much like a vast shopping mall with lots and lots of floors. She works in a “pet” store that sells electronic animals. Her job consists of greeting customers and making sure all the animals have fresh batteries. She’s not one of the major characters in the book, but she’s still a crucial part of the story.

I’m digressing, though. I didn’t intend to tell you about Esmeralda in this blog post. I wanted to talk about the way I kept my mind occupied while I was working on this picture. Colored pencils are extremely time-consuming and tedious, as you might know. (If you’ve never used them before, just imagine you’re holding a regular old Number 2 pencil in your hand right now. And then imagine what it would be like to color a whole piece of paper with it, covering every square inch of the page in graphite. See what I mean?)

Whenever I draw, I like to have something playing on TV (or YouTube) to keep me company during those long, lonely hours. I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I prefer to watch things that other people find horrendously boring. Old VHS tapes, for example, are like gold mines to me. I love the sitcoms, commercials, news segments, and station identification blurbs from the 1980’s. (You might think I’m stark raving mad. If so, you’re not alone. My cousin Ellice agrees with you wholeheartedly.)

For some reason, I’m especially fascinated with The Weather Channel. I can’t really explain it, but The Weather Channel gives me the same sentimental tingle as hot cocoa or chicken noodle soup. That’s why, as I was drawing this picture of Esmeralda, I watched one YouTube video of The Weather Channel over and over again. It’s a thirty-minute clip recorded on July 17, 1982. There’s something so quaint and charming about it. The set is cheap and simple. (And very, very brown.) The people are dressed in matching suits and ties. You might even call them uniforms. And the computer graphics are extremely dull and low-tech. Sometimes they even display lighthearted chalk drawings on the screen, telling you what’s coming up next. (Well, I assume they’re chalk drawings. I don’t really know what they are.) It’s interesting to watch these “vintage” weather reports and see how far The Weather Channel has come in the last thirty years. Today, they dazzle you with sophisticated graphics and cutting-edge computer animation … and, of course, the beautiful Stephanie Abrams.

Anyway, that’s how I kept myself amused while I did the last (and first) illustration for Under the Electric Sun. I’m including a link to the video here, even though I’ll be very surprised if anybody actually clicks on it. Nevertheless, here it is.

(You can click here to download the novel. Since I wrote this post, I decided to cut out all the illustrations. They gave the book a childish appearance.)

My new sketchbook

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When my German friends, Wolfgang and Regine, landed in Georgia last week for a quick visit, they surprised me with a couple of neatly wrapped presents. They gave me a Moleskine sketchbook and a set of Faber-Castell colored pencils in a fancy metal case. (They actually gave me three gifts, if you count the Haribo gummy bears. It was like a mini-Christmas in April.) Even though I was thrilled with all three gifts, my favorite was the sketchbook. I’ve heard a lot of artists talk about Moleskine sketchbooks, but I never knew exactly what they were. Now I have one. The pages are thick and heavy-duty, but soft and smooth at the same time — similar to the card in the back of a library book with all the due-dates stamped on it.

On the first page of my new sketchbook, I drew a caricature of Matt Smith, the current star of Doctor Who. It looked terrible. I almost tore it out, but I didn’t want to cheapen my brand-new sketchbook by ripping out the first page. So I reluctantly left it in there. On the second page, I drew a picture of Billie Piper. This one also turned out to be a hideous train wreck. On the third page, I did a sketch of G.E. Gallas, one of my blogger friends I met here on WordPress. She’s a writer/illustrator who lives in San Francisco. I was actually happy with this one. Tomorrow, I’m going to attempt to draw Carl D’Agostino, a new friend of mine in Miami.

I still plan to draw a few other citizens of the blog universe, but it will take time. I haven’t forgotten you, I promise.