Monday, September 25, 2017

Game Art: Sinister Tower

Your rag-tag group, bearing scavenged weapons and armor, nervously approaches the sinister brick tower. The stolen map says that the treasure is hidden somewhere in the building, but it says nothing about how to retrieve it. You notice that despite the isolation of the site, there are lights in the windows and a flock of birds attracted to something in the tower. How can you plan a raid when you have so few people and resources? You will have to give in and call on Fred the Quiet Dragon to help you, even though you will lose all your energy points getting him there and active. But the Boss needs that treasure, and you were volunteered, so pull out that green egg from your knapsack and start the spell.

Original art black ink on illustration board, 5 1/2" x 7", spring 2003.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

The view from Delphi, 1975

This is one of the most famous scenic views in the world. It is the view from the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, where the Prophetess uttered the Apollonian truth about what was to come. I was on a bus tour of Greek antiquities and I had enough time after the informative lecture to sketch the scene in watercolor pencil. Later that night I was able to complete the picture in watercolor from my field set. At least that is what I vaguely remember doing; it was a long time ago. The colors of the real scene are more vivid than what I painted then, especially the purple and blue mountains glowing in the sunset. The little green bushes all over the red hillside are "Euphorbia," a drought-tolerant Mediterranean plant. 

This painting is specifically dated "August 25, 1975" and if you look closely, in the lower right corner is the embossed logo of Fabriano Paper Company of Italy.

Watercolor on Fabriano paper, 12" x 9", August 25, 1975.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Adventure Coffee

Caffe Amouri in Vienna, Virginia, is one of the few independent coffee shops in the Tysons Corner - Vienna area. Inside it has the look (deliberately so) of a cafe in the 1960s or some college town, with famous old rock or blues playing and walls covered with famous old record jackets. The coffee is excellent, especially the creamy mixes with foam ("Cafe Cortado"). But just getting there driving through the urban labyrinth is a minor nightmare, and the Amouri parking lot is equally awful, a tiny little place shared with a pizzeria, a dance studio, an interior design shop, and some other operations which prohibit more than an hour's parking time. Inside you can see the usual computer users and damsels chattering and families gathering and friends sipping. I drew this Urban Sketch including the sign for rare beans as "Adventure Coffee." It's an adventure all right but you know I hate adventures.

Black tech pen ink on sketchbook page, 4 1/2" x 6", September 22, 2017.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Geometrikon Yellow and Blue Experiment

Fresh new art! You want it, I need it. My newest order of colored pencils arrived and the blue in this piece is from new Derwent brand as well as my now-familiar Prismacolors and Asian "Irojiten" pencils. The yellow areas and small pink rectangle are marker colors, as are the darker blue outlines. The fact that colored pencils exist gives me hope for the world and human civilization. They don't have to exist, they just do, to make life more beautiful.

Markers and colored pencils on sketchbook page, 5" x 3 1/2", September 22, 2017.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Thieves' Guild in Action

During the mid-1980s as you know by now, I did a lot of illustration work for a game company called "Gamelords." The company is long gone but I still see at least one of the people who worked there, at conventions and even on Facebook. Gamelords' scenarios were set in medieval or Renaissance societies where you played the part of a nasty character such as a gangster, organized thief, assassin, conspirator, smuggler, or spy. Here are two such characters: a Human thief picking a lock, while a Dwarf with a club stands ready to knock out inadvertent viewers or passers-by.

Original art is black ink on illustration board, about 8" x 4", spring 1984.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Nauplia, Greece, 1975

In the summer of 1975 I traveled through the Eastern Mediterranean visiting antiquities and famous sites. I had my art materials with me: a set of watercolor pencils, and a watercolor field set. (I still have the pencil set!) I was able to visit my destinations by taking an antiquities - oriented tour. Nauplia, an ancient port town in central Greece, was one of the stops. There was enough free time on the tour so I could make some drawings and paintings on site. I drew them in light pencil, then added color with the watercolor pencils, and finished with paint and highlights. This scene is the rocky mountain above Nauplia, with a medieval fortress on top. Some of the town's houses appear in the foreground, with one clay-tile-roofed church dome.

Original art is pencil and watercolor, 10 1/2" x 8 1/2", summer 1975. Click on image for larger view.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Wizards Versus Technocrats

This picture, illustrating Arthur C. Clarke's famous motto "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic," was done as a commission for a community of Boston-area science fiction fans that I belonged to. The idea was that a group of wizards would battle an opposing group of technocrats and come out as equal. Each character, well most of them, were recognizable portraits of Boston fans at that time, including the young man who came up with the idea for the picture. My notes for the picture say that I was paid in barter, with some comic book collectables.

This is a tiny picture so the portraits were even smaller than convention nametag IDs, but I managed to get some character for each one. The Wizards are on the left, the Technocrats on the right. The Wizards are using colorful magic, while the Technos use elaborate weapons systems including the spherical "Death Star" from the then-brand-new "Star Wars." In the background are patterns of color and shape which I now produce as "Geometrika," showing that even then I worked in that style.

The characters, from left to right, are: Wizards: The artist then known as "Hannah M.G. Shapero," in a black cape holding a seven pointed star wand; Aaron Joyner, a young African-American who suggested the theme; a scary Hooded Skeleton of Fate; Andrew Adams Whyte, a local collector and patron in dark red robes, and Kris Benders, in a long black dress. 

Across the divide where the energies collide are: Technocrats: Susan Champeny, wearing headphones, David Allen in a khaki uniform from "Star Wars," Robert Cocrane wearing visored helmet, and Spike MacPhee, proprietor of the "Science Fantasy Bookstore" in Cambridge, Mass. Kris had been Spike's girlfriend but at the time of painting, Sue was in that role.

Some of these people are still active in fandom in the Boston area. Spike is a participant in the online world of "Second Life." Sue and Spike are long parted, and Andrew Adams Whyte passed away more than thirty years ago. As for the picture, Spike MacPhee bought it in 1982 and has it displayed in his virtual art gallery in "Second Life." It's a time capsule of what Boston fandom was like in the late 1970s. I was a wretched graduate student at Harvard at that time, but Harvard and I are long parted as well.

Ink and watercolor on Fabriano watercolor paper, 10" x 4", summer 1977. Click for larger view.