Sunday, February 25, 2018

Return to Barrel Oak

We Wine, Rain or Shine. Yesterday, "Wine Saturday," was a rainy day but that didn't stop the Wine Team from visiting one of Northern Virginia's most popular wineries, "Barrel Oak." This is actually a dog show masquerading as a winery, as the theme of the place is canine and the management encourages the patrons to bring their (well-behaved) dogs with them. It was delightful to see so many breeds of pooch and the creatures were friendly. I have not been to this place in years and it has grown remarkably, with new rooms, event areas, and tasting areas. They also have a brewery now so you can choose your booze. It was crowded in the main area but we were able to find a place upstairs to sip wine and munch cheese. I drew this monochrome drawing of the hand-cut structural woodwork and the wine-lovers next to us.

Sepia brown tech pen on sketchbook page, about 5" x 8", February 24, 2018. Click for a larger view.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

"The Planet Savers" frontispiece

World of Darkover again, but this time it's art for a reprint of one of MZB's earliest works, "The Planet Savers." In this 1958-dated tale, an Earthman doctor must venture deep within the Darkovan biosphere to find a cure for a plague that is afflicting the returning settlers. He must deal with one of the sentient semi-humanoid races native to the environment, the "Trailmen," as well as his own multiple personality disorder. Instead of character portraits for this one, I drew an alien jungle and forest with glowing eyes peering from the darkness.

Drawing is ink and glued-on photostat, about 7" x 10", October 1978. Click for larger view.

Friday, February 23, 2018

642: a seashell

The 642 prompt was "a seashell" so my concept was an enormous conch shell in which a tiny village would nestle. I based the idea not only on my mother's art (the lines and shapes) but on the work of sculptor Judith Brown. My aunt Edith was a connoisseur of Brown's art and had a small bronze by her in a display. The bronze depicted a great cloud or wave arcing over a tiny city underneath. I always loved that piece; it was large and epic even though it was only about two cubic feet in size.

Tech pen and marker on sketchbook page, 7" x 4 1/2", February 23, 2018. Freshly made art.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Cambridge Cat and Turret

There are lots of ornate old houses in Cambridge, Massachusetts. They were built in what was known as the "Queen Anne" style, with lots of decorated woodwork and little towers or turrets. Many of these have been divided up into student quarters but others are being  "gentrified" by rich re-modelers back into single-family houses. The student houses are usually in disrepair, until the historic developers move in. This turret is typical of the style, and often you'll find the resident's cat in the window surveying the Cambridge scene.

Black ink on illustration board, 5" x 7", November 1980.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Beach Gent 1974

This little portrait is from my 1974 sketchbook, where I documented family visits to the beach on Cape Cod. The gentleman depicted is not connected to my family; he is just there in my view. I was trying different media in my sketchbook, types I have not used again since. This one is drawn with a thin sepia brown tech pen, over a drawing in watercolor pencil. After I finished the drawing, I wet down the watercolor pencil and made it look like watercolor. When it was all dry, I added details back in with more tech pen and colored pencil. Quite a complex multi-stage process for just a sketchbook bit, which is why I didn't use a lot of watercolor in my later sketches.

Tech pen brown, watercolor pencils, colored pencil on sketchbook page, 4 1/2" x 4", August 1974.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Capitol Dome Interior

Ever wondered what was actually inside the big dome of the Capitol in Washington, DC? Yes, it's filled with worthless talk and hot air, but the building itself is a massive stack of neo-classical ornament and decorative art. What you see here is only part of the pile of layers which are derived from classical Roman buildings such as the Pantheon. Back in the 18th and 19th centuries when they were conceiving these edifices, most educated men had a classical education with emphasis on Greek and Roman artistic and political literature and ideals. They tried to imbue our Republic with the spirit of those toga-clad, heroic Romans who took their political work very seriously, to the point of having their portraits done in Roman garb.

We've got a different type of Rome in Washington today, an Imperial Rome full of madness and excess, and we had better watch carefully while Caligula and Commodus cavort in their pleasure palaces. The old decor, though, still rules under the white dome.

I did this drawing on site a long time ago. It's as good as any architectural drawing I've done since. 

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 5 1/2" x 8 1/2", December 31,1981. I wasn't living in the DC area yet, just visiting.

Monday, February 19, 2018


I'm back in Kandinsky territory again with another digital sketch. Those Modernist artists would have a field day with Photoshop. (What's a "field day" anyway?) I try to keep these stylistically coherent, you never know whether I will start treating them like, you know, real art, and compile them. I seem to have a thing for purple and blue with orange accents. It sure is useful to have a gradient blend feature. I don't have to make an awful mess with paint. I stopped just before I made this one too complicated. The "real thing" as much as digital could ever be "real" is tiny, only about 5 1/2" x 3 1/2". And it has no Darkovan aliens or baby pictures of me!

"K-19" is Photoshop, February 19, 2018. Click for a larger view.