blog- Fantasy art of Paul Carrick

The Yithian Temporal Communicator, what else?

My next chapter spread for Call of Cthulhu 7th edition is for 'Alien Artifacts & Devices'.  I read through the entries in the rulebook, and the Yithian Temporal Communicator sounded interesting, and I really like the Great Race of Yith.  It's a device which allows two parties to interact via an audio/video link, sort of like Skype but with holograms... and it can cross time and space!  I hear Apple will be coming out with them soon.  It is described to be made of bronze, and the crystal glows red while in operation.  Here is the thumbnail illustration from the book, scaled up 400%:

Sad to say, I don't know who created this illustration.  A lot of artists worked on that book, and often small pieces like this aren't signed, I think perhaps as to not distract from the art.  If anyone knows who made it, please let me know, hopefully he or she approves of my interpretation of their design:

My first question was where/when would this take place?  I would assume the recipient would have to be pretty special and worthy to be allowed this access, someone with great intellect and talent.  I thought rather than go for the obvious choice (yours truly ), why not give some of the spotlight to lesser known folks such as renaissance artist-slash-inventors??  I was tempted to put in a lot more of Leo's famous things in there (flying whirlygigs and the like), but I felt like the idea of the communicator was a bit demanding of the viewer already, and the left side needed to be relatively blank for all the text.  I wanted to focus more on the idea that it is projecting a hologram, showing some of it's translucency to reinforce the idea, all while realizing that not everyone is going to recognize the alien within the projection.  I like to make puzzles for myself it seems!

Cthulhu Statue Revisited and Hastur the Unspeakable

It's me again!

Aeons ago I did all the chapter illustrations for Chaosium's Call of Cthulhu RPG core rules for their 6th (and perhaps 5th, it's hard to keep track) edition, and as time passed and my painting skills and understanding of Lovecraft's world developed, I hoped to have a chance to update some of that art.  My time has come!  One of the old pieces was a greyscale image of the statue from the 'Call of Cthulhu' story.  I took lots of liberties with the design, mostly out of ignorance, but people seemed to like it, someone even got it as a tattoo!   Here is that older version, from around 1995 or 1996:

But, this time around I thought I could try it again but try and get closer to the text.  Some sculptor's such as Joe Broers ( ) and Mark Arnold (  ) have thoroughly explored the design in three dimensions, painstakingly examining Lovecraft's descriptions and sketches, and they've been an inspiration for me.  Compared to 1996, the vast wealth of available information about Lovecraft and the Cthulhu mythos has exploded, it's become so much easier to research such things.   Beyond that, I started to imagine who or what could have been making these statues and where.  It was another promo piece for Chaosium's upcoming 7th edition rules.   Acrylic, something in the realm of 12x18" or so.

I think they both have nice things going for them, they're both so very different.  Once I finished the promo pieces, I got to work on more interior illustrations.  Due to the amazing Kickstarter success, the budget allowed for new chapter illustrations to be double-paged full color spreads!  Unlike the single page paintings of the past, these new ones would have to accommodate a couple blocks of text on the left side of the art, so the art needed to be less busy on that side.

I started this one before we had really worked out a lot of the details, but I wanted to get a jump on things due to the sheer volume of work ahead of us.  The original is flipped horizontally, as I initially though the text would be on the right side, thankfully it worked out well enough to just flip it.  The subject is a classic entity, Hastur the Unspeakable.

In other news, many thanks to all who sent me messages about options for new site and blog building options.  Most fingers point to Wordpress, so I just need to hunker down and learn the ropes!  But painting is so much more fun, so you see my dilemma.



Nooobody expects the Nightserpent blog!


Whooooo... long time since my last post.  I've had a fairly full plate for a while and am just now coming up for air.  One thing which has consumed a good portion of my time has been the creation of new art for the upcoming 7th Edition of Chaosium's Call of Cthulhu role playing game.  Last year they held a kickstarter campaign to raise $40K to fund their new rulebook, but it exploded to beyond $500K!!  Needless to say, lots of art was required as the scope of the project perpetually expanded.  Back in the mid-90's I created many illustrations for their previous editions, some of them aged well and some, well, I'm happy to let fade into obscurity.  At that time I actually knew little about Lovecraft's universe, and it was pre-internet (at least for me), making it even harder to research many Lovecraftian things.  Since then I've acquired more lore and painting skills, I've been waiting for a chance to update my contribution to the book. 

Here's the first piece I did for them, it was also for the Kickstarter as a was to help generate enthusiasm for potential funders:

and, a close-up shot:

It's acrylic, roughly 12x18".  The Dark Young were one of the first Lovecraft creatures to catch my attention back in high school, there was something so evocative about this lumbering tree-like mass of tentacles and mouths... but no eyes or other relate-able anatomy.  It's taken me this long to depict one, I'd attempted it in a personal piece some years back, but I wasn't happy with it's direction.  As with most other Mythos creatures, there is often something about them which make it a bit tricky to depict- and so sometimes there is a need to use some artistic license in order to provide something interesting and viewable.  So, the 'white lie' here could be that the environment is perhaps lighter out than it could/should be to summon this kind of creature.  I could have painted a black rectangle, but I'm not sure if it would be as satisfying!

In other news.... I am starting the process of updating/migrating my sites ( and ) to different web-hosts.  Though it will be a move for the better, it will create a couple problems, primarily for this blog.  Currently, it is created via my host's free blog software, so when I leave this host I need to find a new means of blogging.  This bothers me the most because it means that some of the followers won't be notified of the move, and I will be sorry to lose some of my audience.  If you subscribe to it through the blog I have your email address and will be sure to notify you of the new blog and location.  However, if you subscribe via RSS feed or some other anonymous means, I would not be able to let you know.  If you're one of the latter people and don't mind losing some anonymity, please consider emailing me so I can put you on the notification list:  I won't sell or give your contact info to anyone.

I am also trying to figure out how/where I want to make the new blog, and I am hoping some readers will be able to provide some advice.  I'm using a mac with OS 10.8.5, ideally it would be an application which lets me be independent of another website or host.  And, I'd really like something simple- drag and drop, WYSIWYG.  I'd rather be spending my time creating art!   Does anyone have suggestions??



I'll be in a group show on the 28th in Boston


On July 28th from 7-11PM  I will be participating in a group show featuring emerging artists (including myself, as I have hardly ever had any of my art displayed in public), if you will be in the area please consider coming!  I will be featuring my 'stream of consciousness' paintings as well as a few of my illustrations.  I struggle with getting my art to be well represented on monitors and in print, so this is a good opportunity to see the paintings the way they're meant to be seen.   It's held at a nightclub named Rumor, located in the theater district:

Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door.  I do have some complimentary tickets to share, I will do what I can to distribute them amongst everyone- let me know if you can attend.

Hope to see you there!


New card illustrations and exhibit news

Hello All!

Now that they've been published, I am able to share a couple illustrations I did for Fantasy Flight's Call of Cthulhu collectible card game.  I hadn't done any card illustrations in a few years, but at one point I did them more than any other kind of work.  Around '95 or '96 there was a huge boom of card games which flooded in after the initial success of the Magic the Gathering card game, and as an artist this was a rather exciting time because there was suddenly a huge demand for color art (they generally needed a couple or more hundred pieces to start a game or release an expansion).  It would not be common to get calls from art directors asking how many pieces one could take within a short deadline, and I would often have to paint a few each day.  It was great practice for color painting, because normally most jobs were black and white interior pieces and just one color image: the coveted cover!  The double edge to that great time was that the cost to commission so much color art and print it on thick glossy paper stock meant that the games were very expensive to produce, and unfortunately that ended up creating a lot of financial drain on these already small publishing houses.  While it lasted it was a blast!

It was fun to revisit this kind of assignment, as what makes it so unique is the tiny size the card art gets printed- generally an inch or two each way.  So the art needs to be readable at that size yet still be interesting at a large scale.  It's a balancing act.

Above is 'Scientist from Yith", featuring one of my favorites of Lovecraft's alien species.  Acrylic, roughly 7x10".  One interesting challenge and aspect of fantasy and science fiction is a request to make something both alien/magic and understandable.  Here we have an alien scientist doing some sort of experiment- but exactly what is he doing?  Well, if that was clear it wouldn't be so alien or shockingly advanced, would it?  So, it needed to have just the right balance of clear and unclear.

This next one is called "Interstellar Migration".  Here we see some form of alien consciousness traveling from one system to another.  I had fun painting the astronomical features. 

Save the date!
:  On July 28 2013 I will be part of a one night group exhibition in Boston's theater district.  The event is organized by 'RAW artists' who focus on emerging local artists (they have chapters all over the US as well as other countries), this will be the first time I've had a good opportunity to exhibit my art in Boston since I came here (Boston retains a lot of it's puritanical roots, and my art isn't terribly traditional).  I've attended two of their events and had a lot of fun, it's held at a nightclub and features artists, apparel and accessory designers (even with a fashion show), live music.  It's a nice laid back un-snooty atmosphere, if you'll be in the Boston area please come by!  In a future blog entry I will include info about tickets and other details.



Watch that first step...

Acrylic on board, 11x15" , currently untitled.  Names and titles have always been tricky for me, when I do illustration there is often some sort of working title that I can use or modify.  But, with the personal pieces the titles seem to be more important.  They can greatly influence the viewers' interpretations, and I don't want to spoil the discovery for them or sway them from their own unique takes.

This is another of my un-planned pieces (starting with sweeping abstract brush strokes until I start to recognize shapes, much like one might recognize things while gazing at clouds in the sky. Then I refined those shapes and ran with my stream of consciousness). The eye was the first part I saw, after that became a desire to see the eye set back in space to give it a much grander sense of scale. My earlier ideas made for an even more precarious walkway, though after discussing it with a friend I realized that it wasn't my ultimate goal to create so much unease for the viewer (that's no way to thank them for viewing my art, is it?).  Even as it stands, sans rubble and packs of wild monkeys, it is still a rather precarious situation!  As for the stairs and walkway, I think it has something to do with making choices in life. 

As always, I enjoy everyone's interpretation and input, especially this one because it took me by surprise!


Tales of the Sleepless City - Out now!

I got a package in the mail today, it contained my complimentary copies of Tales Of the Sleepless City by Miskatonic River Press and I was quite impressed!   In case you're wondering what kind of book this is, it's a collection of New York city themed source material and adventures for Chaosium Inc.'s Lovecraftian Call of Cthulhu role playing game.  
Here's a link to my original blog post featuring my cover artwork for the book,  note that while the above graphic has the colors a bit more vivid than the original, the published product represents the original artwork quite nicely!

Why am I writing about this?  Well, Miskatonic River Press had a bit of a bumpy start, one could say, and despite many challenges they have produced something very impressive.  Childhood friend and gaming buddy, Thomas Lynch, offered his services to MRP only to have it's founder, Keith "Doc" Herber pass away shortly thereafter.  Doc was sorely missed and the future of MRP was up in the air for some time, but through baptism by fire Tom and a group of dedicated friends and colleagues pulled together and have been producing some excellent things.   Making games isn't just about making games, it requires a lot of knowledge about publishing, printing, distribution and a lot of other mind-numbingly tedious yet crucial details- and all of these things had to be learned in a short period of time.  I examined the book today and was very impressed with the design of the book, it is chock full of very attractive art, maps, handouts, reference material and inspirational content.  Congrats to Tom, Oscar Rios, Badger McInnes, Scott David Anilowski, Dan Harms and the rest of the team, it's clearly a labor of love.

On a related note, I am late to learn the saddening news about Lynn Willis' passing.  For those who don't know of Lynn, he was an editor, writer and game designer for Chaosium, Inc.   Though he was not technically the first one to hire me to make some Lovecraftian art (that would be Pagan Publishing), Lynn brought me on board shortly thereafter and kept me busy for years with many projects.  He put a lot of faith in me, held the reins loosely and was quick to forgive some of my less impressive results, without him I might not have pursued the Lovecraft niche so enthusiastically or at all- it makes me wonder what I would have been illustrating for all those years without his support.  Thank you, Lynn!!


Two new ones

Hello All!

I guess I'll dive right into some new work.  This one was another of those unplanned pieces, as with 'Library Amorphous' I started with a middle toned grey background and worked in lighter and lighter values.  10x15" acrylic; 'Clouds':

As I just kind of went with this one, I can't fully explain what it is about.  I think it has the similar 'astral' feel that my prior pieces do, and I think I was looking to diversify the architecture to suggest how the idea of buildings and structures might be redefined on another plane of existence.

Next up is 'Take Flight'; 12x15" acrylic:

I spent a bit more time on this one, I even paused to do a thumbnail sketch at one point to clarify my direction as I felt a bit more focus and intent with this piece.  Assuming this is another out-of body journey, much of what we see could well be more symbolic than literal- the way a mind might try to explain, interpret or categorize something which is highly alien.  From the perspective of the viewer and the off-kilter angles, it seems to me that the viewer is perhaps flying or levitating.  In the foreground we see what seems like an impossible obstacle which is dark and foreboding, yet the background seems like a worthwhile destination to me.  I see the gate as something which represents how unnecessarily difficult we can make things for ourselves, but thankfully we are in flight and from this new perspective we can see how easily the trap can be avoided.

Because this piece is a bite more detailed than usual, here's a close-up of the lower right section:

My interpretations are simply just one possible take, it's no more true or right than anyone else's.   As always I love to hear how the art reflects in others.



the Library Amorphous


Here's my latest creation in my series of unplanned explorations. As I painted it I contemplated and pondered just how subjective the illusion of reality seems to be- if only we could truly see the world through another's eyes, even if only for a brief moment. How different might it be if there are seemingly an infinite number of things we can focus on and edit out. Between two given people there could be no overlap at all. Things we focus on (out of fear, fascination or otherwise) come into more focus, while the things that don't pertain to our personal world are left undefined or discarded.

10x15" Acrylics on illustration board

If you were hoping to get one of the last Cthulhu statues, there are still a few remaining!


Last series of Cthulhu statue- on sale now

The Final Seven

I hope the best for all in who were in Hurricane Sandy's path.  Boston overall fared well, so it seems.  At one point it was raining enough to seem as if someone were pointing a hose at our windows.  My thoughts go out to those who were less fortunate.   That's twice in two years now that this region has experienced rather bizarre storms right at Halloween.

As I've mentioned before, the Cthulhu sculptures are limited in number due to the master and mold both breaking.  It's a mixed blessing, on one hand it makes them more precious and rare, but on the other hand I am sorry to disappoint those who hoped to acquire one.   There are seven left, and they are now available in a final series.

Taking what I had learned from all the previous color schemes and finishes, I chose a finish which I feel plays to the strengths of the sculpture.  This time I went with lots of iridescent and transparent colors combined with clear resins to give a more exotic and alien feel.  Areas of pooled clear resin give quite a nice glistening slimy feel- hence my nickname for this series- "SLIME".  The base is painted in a fantasy marble theme, a deep blue stone with copper and golden veins.  As always, this series is hand numbered and comes with a corresponding signed  mini print.  Protecting the underside of the statue is a pentagonal purple felt pad.  The statue itself is hand painted solid resin, approximately 8-1/4" and weighing 1lb 10.5 OZ.   Shipping is free (USPS priority for US customers, and 1st Class International parcel for others).

Update: these statues are sold out!

Scanning my two-dimensional artwork can often be a challenge, photographing an iridescent, highly textured and glossy statue is as if not more challenging.  I wondered, "how am I going to be able to get the idea across via a photo? If only they could hold it in in their hands, and see the way the light moves across the surface."   My solution seemed like the next best thing- a video of the light moving over the surface. 

Watch what I came up with here:

I had fun with it and perhaps got a little carried away, but I think people will enjoy it even if they are not in the market for a Cthulhu statue.  Earlier in the video, details are a bit more mysterious for dramatic purposes, but by the end you can get a better sense of the clear resin-especially where it has pooled near the eyes and brow area. 

The soundtrack is by my friend Jason Wallach, the artist  behind the Unquiet Void's dark Lovecraftian ambient music.  The track is called 'The Esoteric Order' from the CD 'Poisoned Dreams' (¬© Jason Wallach - The Unquiet Void. Courtesy of Middle Pillar Presents).  I've used Jason's highly evocative music numerous times as inspiration while painting Lovecraft's visions, it's nice to have the chance to use it in a different manner.  This particular track fits well both in subject matter and tone, no doubt the chanter in the song would have his own similar idol for his ceremonies.

I realize that the economy is still a bit shaky, and not everyone is in the position to afford one, and for that I am sorry.  However, there may be a newer design coming out at some point- something smaller for the less flexible budget.