Saturday, March 17, 2018

Sea of Space

I have done countless space and astronomical pictures, usually in "editions" and series which I took to conventions and sold at low prices. I was inspired by the space art of those days, which was itself inspired by ground-based telescopes yielding blurry, poorly detailed images. This was, most importantly, pre-Hubble. 

Looking back at my thirty years of space art, sprayed on with an airbrush, I can see that it, like other space art of its day, is out of date. Once the space telescopes went up, and once the "adaptive optics" of ground-based telescopes were deployed, as well as digital photography, you got the most amazing fields of details never before seen. With all those almost biomorphic clouds of dust and gas, illuminated by bright young stars, who needed my old airbrush? 

Interestingly, my more abstract, "graphic"-looking space pieces survived better artistically. This one, a simplified dwarf planet or moon above a nebula, resembles some of the images of Saturn and its moons produced by the Cassini space probe. Artists are still producing space pictures, making realities out of digital information rather than acrylic paint.

"Sea of Space," acrylic on black illustration board, 7" x 10", October 1986.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Nineteenth Century Fan Concept Art

Here's another of my Darkover fan story title pages. This time I tried setting the story not in the faux-Renaissance of the Red Sun but in an equally faux late 19th century. It gave me the chance to render an 1880s-style big dress, and I also had fun with caricature faces such as the two gentlemen at right. I forget what this story was about but from my records this piece was done when I was about to quit doing fan art for pennies and try to make myself a "real" career, which had, looking back, mixed outcomes at best.

Original art is ink on illustration board, 8 1/2" x 11", April 1987.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Gray Outlook

I ordered new colored pencils and they arrived on March 14. The ones that I most anticipated were a collected set of grayscale values as well as different tints of gray, such as bluish "steel gray" or brownish warm gray. You could build a city with these colors, or you could tour through a forest which is still wintry twigs. I will make a color chart for these but this sketch above tries out all of the new colors in an urban-inspired patchwork pattern. The bright yellowish green at the center signifies the coming of spring which despite the snowy heaps and cold windy blasts is on its way.

Colored pencils on sketchbook page, 3 1/2" x 5 1/2", March 14, 2018.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Science Fantasy Bookstore Graphic

As I've mentioned many times in this Blog and elsewhere, my career as a fantasy and science fiction artist started here at the "Science Fantasy Bookstore" in Cambridge, Mass. My first real art patron was Bruce Robert "Spike" MacPhee, the owner and operator of the bookstore. As long as I lived in Cambridge, I knew I'd have friends - and patronage - at this place. I composed many graphics for Spike's store, designs for T-shirts, plastic book bags, and other branded material. This one, which has problems due to the small unreadable writing at the bottom right, features "our place in the Galaxy." Because of the type problem, this design was never used. Spike MacPhee is still alive and active especially in the virtual world of "Second Life," as "Paradox Olbers."

Original drawing in ink with photostat type glued in, about 8" x 10", July 1986.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Architectural Art Portfolio: Gable

In  my frenzy to survey my archival holdings, I found these portfolio samples from when I was working at "The Architectural Art." That was a commercial art company that produced renderings and house portraits for the real estate market. They employed "perspectivists", including me, to create these, using the blueprints as guide. Most of these drawings and paintings were for the upscale and luxury sector, as it was the era of "McMansions." The decorative gable that you see here was done in colored pencil which was not our usual medium. Also, the art here is not all mine. We worked as a team on the illustrations so someone did the windows, someone else did the roof and brick veneer, and another someone did the landscaping, which isn't seen here. I think I did the gable and the roof.

I worked with this group for two years, 1988-1990. I should have stayed but I was unhappy toiling on the same thing over and over again with the pressure to produce work quickly. I did freelance work for them after 1990. Nowadays all architectural illustration is done on a computer but I have never learned that super-realistic technique. Every so often I do a house or landscape portrait (as well as vineyard and wine lodge art) so I am still an old-fashioned perspectivist.

Colored pencils, about 3 1/2" x 4 1/2", 1990.

Monday, March 12, 2018

642 the moon

"642's" prompt was really basic: "The moon." As if no one had ever done a picture of our Moon before. "That's one small artwork for man, one 20-minute doodle for mankind." But I thought not of moon landings but a moon dog, a stubby-legged pooch of some sort whose job is to waddle around the house and garden and keep you company. Also, there was a famous eccentric composer who lived as a street person in New York, and he was "Moondog" as  well.  I'm a cat lover myself but I can make a few exceptions for dogmoons.

Black marker and tech pen ink on sketchbook page, 3 1/2" x 4 1/2", March 11, 2018.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Composer's Birthday

My father, composer Harold Shapero, celebrated his 87th birthday in 2007. It's already been a while, but he passed away in 2013. His birthday honors at 87 included a concert at which he performed some of his own music. This is a sketch from that concert. You can see my annotations on the sketch: where, when, and who. The bald guy at the keyboard is my father. I still have the sheet music of what he played that afternoon.

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 8" x 5", April 29, 2007.