Inside the Blackwing 24 Subscription – An Unreleased Portrait of John Steinbeck

By now, many of our subscribers have received their shipments containing the Blackwing 24, our tribute to John Steinbeck. In addition to pencils, past subscriptions have included extra goodies, including an Incense-cedar pencil slat with a map of California etched into its grain and a movie barcode print of Georges Méliès’ A Trip to the Moon. The Blackwing 24 is no exception

When we met with the Steinbecks at the outset of this project, we brainstormed what we could include as an exclusive gift for our subscribers. We asked Thom if his father had any letters or notes that had never been published, something the public had never seen before. What he had turned out to be even better.

He took us into his dining room, where there hung a painting. It measured roughly 18 x 24 inches and featured the elder Steinbeck in profile, realized in vibrant acrylic. “This is the greatest likeness of my father I’ve ever seen,” said Thom, “and it has never been seen outside of this room.”

The painting is by Kenny McKendry, an artist Thom and Gail met during their travels in Europe. Mr. McKendry, who calls County Antrim in Northern Ireland home, describes himself as a “contemporary traditionalist.” He is recognized around the world for his outstanding portraiture, and his portrait of John was a gift to Thom and Gail.

Thom, Gail and Mr. McKendry agreed to let us share the painting with the outside world for the first time. Every subscription contains a postcard-sized print of the portrait with a message from Thom on the back. 

Steinbeck Print

In addition to the postcard, subscribers will also find a Blackwing pin, so you can show off your Blackwing flair wherever you go.

Blackwing button

Blackwing Volumes subscriptions containing the Blackwing 24 are still available. Click the button below to subscribe.