Revisiting the Sural for Art Order's The Journal

As some of you might know, I was invited to contribute to an art book organized and published by Jon Schindehette of Art Order. The book features 78 artists in the main show, and 54 artists in the Salon section of the book, expressing aspects about their work without any boundaries or direction. The book was successfully Kickstarted in early June and has just wrapped up it's preorders.

Me and the other artists included in the book has been collaborating via Slack to show each other progress on our spreads. It's been incredibly inspiring seeing all of this come together. The spreads included in this book will be epic and I am extremely proud to be among this lineup! 

In brainstorming about what I wanted to focus on for my spread, I turned back to the project that's been on my mind for over five years. The Red Valley is still a place I visit often. When I started work on the project back in 2011, I was in a completely different place with my work. The way I handled design was different, the way I use materials was different and since then, I've grown in my own artistic voice and skill.


This project is not one I take lightly. I love the desert. It's always been a home to me and will continue to be a place that I am inspired by. The Red Valley is more than a bestiary, it's a place. So it's taken me a while to build up the skill and courage to approach it again. 

The Sural, concept from 2014.

The Sural, concept from 2014.

From my newsletter in 2014:

"The sural has been following me around for some time now. This creature was the first to emerge from the The Red Valley back in 2011 but it has been a constant work in progress. In my plans for Spring: Book One, the sural is our first encounter and leads us through the cold yet, sunbathed sand dunes that make up a large portion of the northern regions of the Ansari Desert. I've been doing lots of sketching of this creature; off and on across many sketchbooks. I tend to come back to the lanky build, wide feet and large, blunt head."

Here we are, two years later, and I am still refining this creature. No, I don't sketch the sural every day but I do think about it almost every day; mulling over designs and ideas in the back of my mind. This creature is important to me and to the story of The Red Valley. It's our first encounter and will set the tone of how the other inhabitants survive in such a place. The Journal was the perfect place to explore more and to see if I couldn't get closer to what I've been envisioning in my head for so long. 

The silhouette of the sural has gotten lankier. The head is more slender and the neck more swayed. I want this creature to feel odd, with strange proportions and a simple yet, memorable silhouette. This is one of the final drawings that was later painted in gouache for the book. You can see the full spread below.

This was an absolute joy to work on. I am thrilled with where the sural is headed now. I think I am just about there. If you're curious about more on The Red Valley, sit tight. I've got more updates planned through this newsletter in the coming weeks. Keep an eye out for updates on The Journal via Art Order on Facebook.