Sunday, December 10, 2017

Purple and Green


One of my artistic friends said how much she loved purple and green together. So I decided I would try these colors in one of my little stylized sketches. The purple and aqua come from markers and the green and blue come from colored pencils. It emerged as a landscape at sunset although the colors aren't that realistic. There are no grapevines in this picture.

Markers and colored pencils on sketchbook page, 2 3/4" x 5", December 10, 2017. 

Saturday, December 9, 2017

The Gloucesterman


I'm a little late on the Blog today but here you go. This is one of my finest sketches in my opinion and have saved it for publication. It was done inside a restaurant in Gloucester, Mass. (pronounced "Gloster") looking out at the marina. The restaurant was the "Gloucester House" specializing (naturally) in seafood. This is one of the only boats I have ever drawn and when the server saw my drawing she was delighted because this fishing boat, the "Gloucesterman," was owned by her son. I wonder where they all are now. I'd love some scallops.

Black technical pen on sketchbook page, 5 1/2" x 4 1/2", June 19, 1999. Click for larger view.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Game Illustration: Betrayal


This is the first of the set of illustrations I did for the game "The Evil Ruins." The story had to explain why the ruins were evil. The history states that a wicked king ruled a grim Northern coastal territory and feuded with all his neighbors. During a particularly vicious war, the king invited his enemies to peace talks at his castle, and when they arrived, sniper archers hidden on the walls murdered them all. This terrible betrayal attracted the demonic forces who put evil spells on the castle. But behind all that was a huge treasure that the wicked king had amassed, and the players are there to find it, gather it, and release it from the curse.

Original art is black ink on illustration board, 11" x 7", winter 1983.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

642 Things to Draw


The By-Product will achieve its tenth year early in 2018, believe it or not! It has more than 3000 distinct images and with a few interruptions has been posted every day. So many things to draw....am I running out of vintage art, and am I running out of ideas to draw? Or "reality" things to draw, how many wastebaskets or wine glasses can I depict? I found an answer in what might be called a "play sketchbook" for artists. It's called "642 Things to Draw" and I found it on the "art inspiration" table at Plaza Arts. Each page of this chunky book has one or two places reserved for drawings, and at the top is the art  prompt word. My opportunity is to make a drawing inspired by the word. At first I was sniffy about it, since Real Professional Artists don't need kiddie prompts to get ideas. But then, why not. So I now have 642 places to put a clever sketch, each with a different prompt word. Many of the prompts are ordinary things like "salt shaker," or "spiral bound notebook," but others are fanciful. I intend to be fanciful all the way through, using the prompt to do visual puns, funny stuff, scary stuff, cartoons, twisted little draws, and surrealism.

I still have plenty of vintage art to scan and show, so you will never be rid of my fan art. I will also be doing plenty more Geometrika. I'm not giving up reality drawings either. My drawings from 642 will be identified as "642" and since every page is more or less the same size (7" x 9") I'll just quote the prompt word and maybe say a little about the drawing. Here the prompt word is "Footprints." Something is happening to the human who is making these footprints. What is it? The line is part of the divider between two prompt areas.

So get ready for creativity and feel free to comment. The "642" book is published by Chronicle Books in (where else?) San Francisco. 

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Unicorn Fail


And here are the other two panel illustrations for the "King and Unicorn" story. They were published in a fan magazine called "Fesarius" in mid-1984. In the top panel the young King meets with a richly dressed woman who is not an aristocrat but the Madam of the whole town. The lower panel shows the Unicorn's horn becoming less....horny. There you have it. 

Black ink on illustration board, 2 panels on page 7" x 10", summer 1984.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Molesting the Unicorn


Once upon a time there was a young king who went on a quest to find himself a bride. For the usual dynastic reasons, she needed to be a virgin. To assure that she was, he took along a Unicorn with him on his royal progress. Unicorns, as is known in fantasy, will not allow any non-virgin to ride them, and are uneasy in the presence of, uh, sexually active people. The king realized he was going to have a problem from the very first village he visited. The Unicorn stood unridden and upset, because every woman from adult to child (yes, children too) turned out not to be a virgin, in fact they were all for sale. Isn't that cute? Now that we are hearing what happens to women of all ages in the presence of powerful men, these "ribald" stories just aren't that entertaining. At least they weren't for me. I didn't like the story, but I did the illustrations anyway. You didn't talk about those things in 1984.

Black ink on illustration board, 8 1//2" x 11", summer 1984. Click for larger view.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Geometric Sunset Remix


Once I draw a geometrikon (or anything) on paper, I have the option of coloring it in Photoshop and then re-coloring the original in colored pencil or watercolor or markers. Using the terminology of recorded music, this would be a "re-mix." Here's the re-mix of my entry for November 17 of this year, done with colored pencils. The color of the background is done in Photoshop. After the mixed media, I leave it alone.

I guess the "Mike" who comments here is the Canadian composer though there are at least two more "Mikes" it could be. Yes, the Amgyal white dwarf planet has been blogged before but in a previous blog I produced from 2004 - 2008. That was "Electron Blue" which was much more wordy and less illustrated than the current By-product. Here is the Amgyal entry from November 2007. That was 10 years ago! Has Mike really been reading this old Blog? If so, I'm amazed. I still have an "Electron Blue" blog but it isn't very active these days. There are always gateways to the world of Noantri if anyone is interested.

Mixed media on sketchbook page, 5 1/2" x 2", November-December 2017.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Amgyal, the dead planet


This is an image from my own imaginary world, the world of Noantri. It is a view of the surface of the planet Amgyal, orbiting a white dwarf star named Tur. This planet, among others, was one of the bases for the Great Gate through which the Noantri people passed to settle on New  Earth.

Amgyal had once been a thriving center of an ancient civilization, a place with beautiful, technically advanced cities and a benevolent technology. Tur was not a white dwarf then. Something happened on planet Amgyal that induced the sunlike yellow dwarf to go nova. Within seconds, Amgyal had been crushed into a radioactive wasteland unable to support life. The black ruins at bottom are the remains of one of their cities.

The line you see at bottom with a few red lights is a surface transport channel. When the Noantri built their gateway system, a project that took centuries, they dug through the ruins to build an underground city which would support a Gate. The surface transport channel was heavily shielded against the radiation from Tur. Only a few technicians or adventurers ever walked on the surface itself, and they could not do so without protective space suits. 

The only life left on Amgyal was bacteria and fungi underground. If the explorers looked hard enough, they could find tiny plants in the old ruined places, which had evolved to survive deadly radiation. Amgyal was locked down to the Noantri public and they were sent through the Gate as quickly as possible to minimize radiation exposure.

Only a few of the Noantri on New Earth, those in the psionic community, know what really happened to Amgyal, and they have devoted their lives to making sure it doesn't happen to New Earth.

Digital on Photoshop, 6" x 4", 2007.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Sunny Corner 1974


In my younger days I was much influenced by early 20th century printed advertising. The ads for home care products were especially attractive to me. These images, originally painted in watercolor, portrayed the mundane kitchen as a place of lightness and enchantment, presided over by a spotless lady in a glowing apron. Imitating that style, I tried to portray my own dwelling in that way. The light-filled corner is softened by sheer curtains. The triangular corner desk, made by my father, bears objects I had brought with me from college: an empty aquarium, a duffel bag, and some of the plants I grew even in my small dorm room. After all these years I can't remember what the central plant with the pink flowers was. I think it was an impatiens.

Watercolor and pencil on sketchbook page, 5 1/2" x 9", July 9, 1974. Click on image for larger view.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Left-Handed Writer Cuts off Own Head: Graphic Details


On a bright warm September day I drew outside and found this scene in front of Starbucks. The girl was absorbed in writing in her journal. I wanted to see her face but my viewpoint and her arm's perspective almost entirely cut off her head. If she had been right-handed this wouldn't have happened. So I got a faceless and rather anxious-looking writer. She couldn't see me, either. It was one of those nothing moments in time which has now been recorded in the journal of life, possibly for centuries. You never know.

Black tech pen ink on sketchbook page, about 5" x 6", September 8, 1999.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Mid-Century Moodle: Exploding Garden Shed


I love garden sheds.They come in an infinite variety, and are built all over the world. There is a  social-architectural movement exploring and building tiny houses but a garden shed is not meant to be a house. It is a microshelter and could be transformed into a refuge cabin. My father built me a playhouse out of a garden shed design and I enjoyed it through many a summer (it was not heated, so was not good in winter). Though the old family house may be gone, the "Little House" is still standing as of summer 2017, and the new owners and their builders were planning to refurbish it as a miniature of the main house with matching color and details. Microshelters continue to fascinate me as I lived with my folks in a Volkswagen camping bus as we drove and camped through Europe, many years ago. Tiny trailers, mini RV's, tents of all variety, woodsy or beach cabins, all fascinate me though I don't think it would be too comfortable inside one, at least for more than a day or two.

This Mid-Century Moodle (doodle) was produced in very dim light while listening to ambient electronic music. This is a surrealistic portrait, an "exploded view" of a garden shed in many dimensions.

Black tech pen ink on sketchbook page, 4 1/2" x 4 1/2", November 29, 2017. Click image for a larger view.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Darkovan Musician


One of the nicest things about Chessiecon was that there was live music to listen to, which sounded great in the big echoing atrium. Most of this was folk and Celtic-inspired, with guitars, mandolins, fiddle, flute, bass, and hand percussion. The underlying ethnic culture of Darkover was Celtic, and that ethnicity, so essential to science fiction fans, medieval re-enactors, and Renaissance faires, was everywhere. That's what this little panel is about: a bit of bluegrass in Renaissance re-enactor space. 

This is done in the classic late-nineteenth-century pen and ink style of children's book illustration exemplified by H.J. Ford. I like it in black and white but I could easily tint it using the magic of Photoshop.

Black ink on illustration board, 4" x 9", April 1999.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Geometrikon Vertical Angles


I'm back from Chessiecon, just as I returned from this convention since 1981. Despite not having an art show, I had a good time with my friends and held my legendary room party, "Salon Pyracantha." I served and tasted delicious wine, and ate well at local restaurants too. The hotel, though, is in serious need of upgrades. There were four separate failures impacting me and the other guests. 1. The electronic door lock on my room failed to go and an engineer had to remove and replace the battery and its programming. 2. While getting some ice from the ice machine, I knocked off the steel facing cap and it crashed loudly to the floor at 3 AM, revealing a mildew-ridden freezer unit. 3. The heater in my room was so worn out it started up with a chunking and roaring noise every half hour or so, making it impossible for me to sleep. 4. The central elevator in the vast hangar-like building failed and the engineers were unable to fix it. 

This building which was rather avant-garde in 1988 complete with an indoor swimming pool atrium, has now outlived its usefulness and I say it should be demolished and replaced with a fresh new hotel. Otherwise in my imagination it would collapse of its own decrepitude.

This Geometrikon has nothing to do with a decaying hotel. I don't think it depicts anything but it does sort of look like reflective glass on a skyscraper. The design is based on "vertical angles" which is something you learn early in your geometry classes. Vertical angles are X's, two intersecting lines that divide a place into four quarters. Each quarter has an angle which is equal in degrees to its opposite in the X. "Vertical angles are equal" gives you a lot of opportunities to do proofs in geometry.

Ink drawing on sketchbook page, colored in Photoshop, 3 1/2" x 3", November 28, 2017.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Spiritual Harvest


I think of Thanksgiving as a harvest festival, thus avoiding the horrific stories of colonization, massacres, plagues, hunger, and universal dread. Very few of us actually have a harvest but photos and art of harvests make us feel good in some primal vegetable way. And I remember that this year took away two beloved friends, and one grande dame just a few days ago.

This design is one of many that I made for the Pagan/New Age convention "Sacred Space." The theme of these shirt designs was yearly festivals, so we celebrated the Autumn Harvest festival even though the convention was held in the summer. I was instructed to create a harvest collection, as well as an image of a "corn dolly." I had no idea what a corn dolly was but the Anglophile management explained it to me. You see her just above the pumpkin. We had a big printing budget so we were able to print the T-shirts in 6 colors on a beige shirt. I still have mine but I don't know whether "Sacred Space" still exists.

Original art is black ink on illustration board, 11" x 14", April 1999.

I wish all my friends in the (Northern Hemisphere) global neighborhood a happy harvest feast and some sort of thanksgiving. No blogging over the weekend, see you next week.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Natick Back Alley


My original home town Natick isn't a rough town, but it has back alleys anyway. This is an alleyway between the historic 1850s firehouse (now an arts center) and office and retail buildings on Main Street. There are parking spaces in the alley for the people who work in those buildings. I guess you could call me an "Ashcan School" artist, finding interesting visual material in the back alleys of the world.

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 5 1/2" x 8", May 5, 1999. Click for a larger view.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Two Twisted Posts concept art


Just a while ago I visited the "Two Twisted Posts" winery in Purcellville, Virginia. The wine was   excellent and so was the wine lodge and woodsy site. The title of the twisted posts comes from a wine bottle emblem on an antique jug. It was too cold to sit oudoors and draw but I did get a photograph of the simple birch stick trellis in their yard. From this shot I could create an artist's concept of a real pair of twisted posts which would be a good display piece for visitors to pose with. Someone had already tried this with a burlap rag but it had lost its solidity in weather. There are other things to twist around a tree branch so I am offering this concept sketch to the folks at Two Twisted Posts. They are already building a fire pit for their chilled customers to sit by, so why not posts.

Ink and colored pencils on sketchbook page, 5 1/2" x 5", November 20, 2017.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Antique Darkover Program Cover


There are some grizzled, aged fantasy fans who remember this cover I did for DarkoverCon 1981. This was when Darkover was a big thing and Marion Zimmer Bradley was more than an author, she was a lifestyle. The image in the central block depicts a meeting between two characters on the Astral Plane, with a medieval cathedral in the background. I copied the lettering and the very elaborate border from the "Kelmscott Chaucer" illustrated book by William Morris, published in 1896. The border was printed on green paper and the image was on white paper which I trimmed and glued onto the green background. Then I colored it in to make an illustration. This was not the actual program; the real thing was printed on light grey paper. It was the most lavish program cover ever done for DarkoverCon. The pale successor to DarkoverCon, ChessieCon, will take place this Thanksgiving weekend. They have no art show.

Print and watercolor, 8 1/2" x 11", fall 1981. Click for a bit larger view.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Off Season


This is one of my favorite little sketches ever, believe it or not. It was done during one of the family trips to Cape Cod, in 1974. It's late summer, and the New England weather is already cold, but there are still some people on the beach with their umbrellas looking for a last moment of sunlight. It looks somewhat like my geometric pieces, even though it is a seascape. 

Ink and watercolor pencil on sketchbook page, 5 1/2" x 2 1/2", August 1974.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Natick Steeple


Here's your posting for November 18, just under the clock wire to preserve the Daily Post Protocol. I may have posted this drawing before but I am not gonna go looking for it. The drawing is of the high steeple of the First Congregational Church of my home town, Natick, Massachusetts. The church was finished in 1880 and you can read about the church's history in this well-made web page. I drew this study through the window of my mother's art studio which was just about a block away from the church. Natick has numerous historic buildings and dates back as a town to the 17th century (1650s). It's a quiet, affluent, well-kept suburb of Boston and looks just like something Norman Rockwell would paint, including a village green and a gazebo bandstand. For another more elaborate view, please click here. 

Black tech pen on sketcbook page, 5 1/2" x 8 1/2", January 2, 1999.

Friday, November 17, 2017

November geometrikon landscape


These are my favorite landscape colors, faded greens and golds either in early spring or late fall, under a cerulean sky. There may be a landform here, and the green gold leaves have probably been shed from grapevines. California, maybe, though I've never seen wine country first hand. Virginia is too hilly to be this fantasy. Except for the sounds of nature such as birds or crickets, it is silent. Pick up your cup of Sauvignon Blanc and enjoy.

Marker linework, colored and leafed in Photoshop, about 6" x 2 1/2", November 17, 2017.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

"Tralg," game character


The game world of "Powers that Be" was populated by a number of different humanoid species, most of them taken from well-known fantasy series such as Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings." Hobbits were re-named "Halflings" and re-settled in urban areas or estates, usually working in lower-class occupations such as kitchen work, gardening, or cleaning. This Halfling is "Tralg," who is responsible for a section of a noble's garden where the magical "Orethail" plant is raised and harvested. Orethail is difficult to cultivate and is very valuable so Tralg has much more social status than a typical Halfling. Halflings may be tiny (average from 2 1/2 feet to 3 feet tall) but they are not stupid and should you need some Orethail, Tralg and his associates will drive, or dig, a hard bargain.

Black ink on illustration board, 5" x 6", early 2003.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Cape Cod Forest


My family used to rent a house on Cape Cod, a different one every summer, for a few weeks so that we could enjoy the seaside and have guests.In 1978 I was one of the guests and of course I brought my art materials. I used ink, watercolor pencil, and watercolor. I wrote about my process on this older post from the By-Product. The house for 1978 was surrounded by the scrub evergreen forest typical of the Cape and there was a deck in the back of the house where I could draw, hence this study of the forest. 

Looking at my old color sketchbook journal I see that it has faded quite a bit even though it is piled up with other sketchbooks and never sees the light. I noticed even when I made the drawings that the pencils were fade-able. I've restored color and contrast in this scan so it can live a long enhanced life in digital luxury.

Ink, watercolor pencil, and watercolor, 4 1/2" x 6", August 1978.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Lord Magistrate Pellicuro, game character


Lord Magistrate Pellicuro has presided over the City's law courts for more than thirty years. During that time he has been renowned for his judicial expertise and insightful verdicts. But of late there are rumors that he may be losing his intellectual power after all these years, since he recently ruled in favor of an allegedly abused woman of "questionable" status. As a player in this game, you can enter the case and hear the details that Pellicuro did, and uphold or reject the determination in a dramatic courtroom scene.

Black ink on illustration board, 5 1/2" x 7", early 2003.

Monday, November 13, 2017

"Mother and Daughter" Lamp


I finally got a new floor lamp for my studio, replacing the expensive one that broke down a few weeks ago. It is a Home Depot stock item, and it is touchingly called the "Mother and Daughter Lamp," inspired by the larger and smaller lights on the same pole. Assembling Mother and Daughter was quite a difficult job, but after two hours I had my two-generational housemates standing up and beaming. This drawing commemorates the work, the light, and the packing materials strewn about the studio floor. The books are everywhere but the smallest case in the back contains jars of signmaking paint. In the lower right is the glowering styrofoam eye that once kept the mother and daughter safe. Light's on, folks!

Black tech pen ink and marker, 5" x 7", November 13, 2017. This is the last drawing in my 2015-2017 sketchbook. Another one is already in use. 

"Texchanchan:" The Philosopher is a minor character in the text. I've taken the mid-70s original text and buried it in a cabinet somewhere. I'd rather not show something from that far back in my creative life. I have plenty more texts and stories to read. Please contact me privately if you are interested.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

"Two Twisted Posts"


"Wine Saturday" took me and the Wine Team to a relatively new (started 2013) winery and vineyard in the foothills, "Two Twisted Posts." This is a small, exclusive, "boutique" winery and their wine was especially good. Virginia winemakers are finally learning to make good Cabernets, both Franc and Sauvignon. It is too cold to sit outdoors on my folding royal seat, so I drew this view of the interior of the tasting room. The tasting master was a very entertaining character named "Kosko," who recited and repeated the story of the vineyard for the guests. The "twisted posts" refer to an early 18th century tavern in England, and the heraldic seal on a wine bottle of that era. I suspect that the motif of the two pillars refers to a Masonic symbol of the Pillars of Earth and Heaven. Freemasonry got its start, some believe, in gentlemen's drinking parties during the same 18th century era as the wine bottle.

Sepia brown tech pen ink on sketchbook page, 7" x 6", November 11, 2017.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

The Philosopher


I have written before about my novel set in ancient Rome about 400 AD. Christianity was dominant by then but there were still Pagan believers and practitioners. The upper-class and intellectual Pagan folk believed in a non-mythical philosophy somewhat like Neo-Platonism. I have numerous character portraits from the book which I mostly forgot about till now. This gentleman is named Timotheus Macrobius, a believer and teacher of the "old school" of philosophy, written on the scrolls he holds in his right hand. Much of this philosophy got adapted and absorbed by Christian thinkers in the early Byzantine period, but Timotheus held out for the rest of his Pagan philosophical life. The character was based on my Latin professor at Brandeis University, the long-departed Professor David Wiesen.

Ink and watercolor on sketchbook page, 5" x 8 1/2", later 1974. Click for more detailed view.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Ron Miller's Pavilion

On my way back from my southern tour I visited the home of artist Ron Miller and his wife Judith. They lived on a very remote patch of Virginia bay shore near Fredericksburg. It took me two and a half hours blundering around on forest roads to get to their home. Once there, though, it was a beautiful idyllic place where I enjoyed a truly peaceful stay. Despite the remoteness they had delicious food and their main house was full of books and career materials from Ron's work. Ron Miller is in my opinion America's greatest living space artist and he showed me some of his ongoing work in his digital studio. All his art is done on the computer which is an inspiration to me who still uses a tech pen and colored pencil. This building is the "Pavilion," a screened cabin where Ron and Judith enjoyed cooling breezes and nice dinners in the summer. To the right is a drawing of Ron's "Hugo" rocket trophy and his elderly cat, "Wally." Ron and Judith don't live here any more; they moved to an equally idyllic but landlocked place in south central Virginia.

Tech pen on sketchbook page, 8" x 4 1/2", July 6, 2003.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Summer Hill Baptist Church


On my Deep South road trip I made a stopover in Georgia at a medium-sized town southwest of Atlanta called Newnan. My journal says that I identified a number of birds and also observed the local folk in the McDonalds parking lot. I made a drawing of this little church with its mismatched turrets - after all, the Cathedral of Chartres also has mismatched steeples - and wondered who worshipped there. Friendly Google shows me their website, and tells the story of the African-American congregation at Summer Hill. This church is no longer in use and may have been demolished during road construction. They have a bigger, neater church to use now but it doesn't have mismatched steeples.

Tech pen ink on sketchbook page, 7 1/2" x 4 1/2", July 2, 2003.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Courtesan and Agent

"Alya" is a non-player character in one of the games I illustrated many years ago. She is a famous courtesan, still plying her trade even into her middle years. She has had a long career of entertaining the wealthy, noble, and powerful - and of extracting secret information from them with her brilliant wiles. The courtesan, in other words, is a spy. And she is so clever that no one can figure out where the information came from. The rumors are that she is the illegitimate offspring of a high noble, or possibly even royalty. Oppose or accuse Alya at your own risk...she has many friends in high places.

Black ink on illustration board, 5 1/2" x 7", summer 2003.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Autumn Color Study


We waited a long time for the autumn colors and now here they are.The blustery winds are scattering the leaves. The bright orange and yellow flares for just a few days before they fly off into the winds. The Floating Cats have left the Virginia skies to migrate south, and the streets of Massachusetts are adorned with smashed pumpkins.

Markers on sketchbook page, 8" x 3 1/2", November 6, 2017.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Big Bookcase


Do you like books as much as I do? Of course you do! You have hundreds, maybe even thousands, of volumes that you couldn't resist, or that you love, or inherited, or even made yourself. Anybody reading this blog is most probably a bibliophile. So what do you do with all these books? I bought this magnum bookcase in 2002 to hold my art and architecture books, the ones I use frequently. It is in my studio so I can get whatever reference I want right away. The smaller case to the left is currently filled with colorful paint. There are small papercraft solid geometry forms on top of the case. 15 years later (now) this bookcase looks just the way it did then.

Original drawing is sepia brown tech pen ink on sketchbook page, 4 1/2" x 6 1/2", August 14, 2002.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Collage Glitz


My crafter and "Maker" friends invited me to work in their open work space so I brought this project that I have been saving material for. I have been spending literally years collecting beautiful glitzy printed material from tissue and toothpaste boxes as well as metallic craft papers. Finally with the help of scissors and hot glue I was able to cut my glittering papers to a design and adhere them firmly to a pre-painted board. To think that people who buy the products just throw away these fabulous textures and shining surfaces! Also note the mystical inspiration of the graphic text and type on the boxes. Luminous! Revitalizing! Clean! Yes, from my mouth to God's design studio! 

What you see here is not finished. I need a few more bitz o' glitz for accents, and I need a border color, which I have not decided on yet. I'm not sure whether any of these paper elements is permanent. This may fade away in time, but I'll have fun completing this piece.

Found commercial textures, craft papers, pre-painted black board, 16" x 12", November 2017. Please klik for larger view.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Hampton Beach, NH, September 2001


This little sketch comes from a moment in my life which is now part of every American's memory. It was done on September 6, 2001, less than a week before the terrorist cataclysm which changed everything. I was up in New England with my folks after Philcon, and we took a day trip to the little-known resort town of Hampton Beach, New Hampshire. This state has seacoast, though not a lot of it, and a large number of 50s-and 60s vintage hotels along the sea road, which is what you see here. 

Black tech pen ink on sketchbook page, 7" x 3", September 6, 2001.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Remembering Arts Wayland


Wayland is an affluent, woodsy far suburb of Boston. There are many such towns around Beantown and most of them have an arts association, just like my own area has "Falls Church Arts" and "Vienna Arts Society." My family lived near Wayland and as an artist my mother participated in many events, exhibitions, and social gatherings at Arts Wayland. The artists' studios were in a re-purposed school. When the town of Wayland needed the school again for children, the artists had to move out. My mother joined a new arts association in our home town of Natick (next to Wayland) called "The Center for Arts in Natick," known as "TCAN," which is still going strong thirty years later. Arts groups like these exist all over the country and probably in other countries as well.

I have innumerable tote bags and some of them I keep as mementos and souvenirs. In the drawing, back of the larger set of bags is the Arts Wayland tote bag I got as part of their fund-raising activities. It's thirty years old too! Below is a shot of my mother (at center) at an Arts Wayland group art show and gala in 1978.


Drawing, black tech pen on sketchbook page, colored a little in Photoshop, 4" x 7", November 3, 2017.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Thieves' Guild: Tailing the Mark

In a role-playing game, you have the option to be a morally bad person. In the old game "Thieves' Guild," which I spent so much time illustrating, this is the whole point of it. "Thou Shalt Not Steal." Most of the gamers playing this would not actually steal anything, let alone track someone down and mug them. Here in this scene you have a chance to follow a rich-looking gentleman through the Italianate streets, slowly approaching him until you have the right moment. Yes, but why hasn't the man got at least one bodyguard? Are you and your thieving friend about to pounce on someone who is much better protected than he looks? There are many immoral possibilities for our gamer who is so harmless in real life.

Black ink on illustration board, 5" x 7", spring 1984. For a "Gamelords" publication.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Bengal Cat


As you know, I am a cat lover though allergies prevent me from keeping one myself. I like visiting my friends who have cats so I can adore their felines. The spotted cat on the top is a "Bengal," the result of interbreeding with the Asian leopard cat. The breeders wanted a cat with a spotted coat like a wild cat but the temperament and tameness of a domestic one. As generations progressed the "Bengal" breed emerged and is now a very popular cat for feline fanatics. The cat in the lower area is a long-haired Maine Coon sticking its hips in the air. These cats belong to my friends Michael and Elektra, professional cat judges and breeders, who sometimes have up to 20 cats in their house.

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 5 1/2" x 6", December 18, 1999.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Eat your Greens


This doesn't count as "Art;" it is certainly a By-Product. But some of you may find it useful, especially if you are working with colored pencils. These are the "natural" green colors offered by four different makers: Prismacolor, Derwent Colorsoft, Faber-Castell, and "Irojiten." I sorted them out by color and make, and then drew a swatch blending from heavy coating to light dusting. All these pencils have a wax lead base and are very pleasant to use. If you blend them together on your page, it can even imitate watercolor. I am not sure whether they fade; I haven't done a fading test under sunlight. These are the pencils I use to make my winery drawings. With this chart I am able to pick out just the pencil I want. There are other brands available and I have a few, but these are my favorites. The "Irojiten" series are especially lovely and their colors are very close to the exact natural shade of green plants or spring grass or autumn leaves. I have another page of blue skies and clouds. I also did a set of color charts using watercolors but I am not actively using them right now. I suppose I'll do a winter set of greys and browns sometime.

Colored pencils with ink notes on sketchbook page, October 31, 2017. Click for more green.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Gryphon


The Griffin, sometimes spelled "Gryphon," is one of my favorite mythical creatures. It is built from a combination of many different animals. This Gryphon appears to be built of both bird, moth, and mammalian elements. Gryphons are fierce and brave which is why J.K. Rowling created House Griffindor, that is "Griffin d'Or" or in French "Golden Griffin." Let me say right now that I am a Harry Potter fan and I am determinedly of House Ravenclaw. No fantasy test has ever placed me anywhere else. One thing I have noticed in the "Potter" tales is that I haven't seen any art or music at Hogwarts. It must be there, though.

Black tech pens inks on sketchbook page, 4 1/2" x 5", October 30, 2017.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Lythande Performs


Oh Gawd, here's Lythande again. This one comes from a story where at one point Lythande, who sometimes works as a traveling bard as a cover occupation, must perform for an audience of petty aristocrats in a small desolate town. She must keep them entertained and not let them think about magic. This story and all the Bradley ones I illustrated are packed into a closet. If I ever move out of my current residence there will be hell to pay.

Black ink on illustration board, 8" x 7", May 1999.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Paper Bag Abstraction


When it's grocery shopping time, my purchases are handed to me in these classic brown paper bags with handles, whether they come from Whole Foods or Trader Joe's. Sometimes when the load is heavier, the bags are doubled up one inside another. When I get them home, I empty them and stash the bags on the kitchen floor for eventual recycling. This is the bag stash on the floor. I looked at it and suddenly it became an abstract 3-D work of art instead of a mundane food and drink carrier. My challenge in drawing this was to keep the individual bags distinct while rendering the many handles randomly fitting together. I left the printed logos off the bags to reduce confusion.

Black tech pen ink on sketchbook page, 5" x 7 1/2", October 27, 2017.

Friday, October 27, 2017

The Great Athena of Nashville


On my road trip to the American South I visited Nashville, Tennessee. I have friends in the city who were happy to take me around and show me the sights (and feed me the cuisine!). The most spectacular sight I viewed there was this giant statue of the Greek goddess Athena, holding Nike, spirit of victory, in her hand. The making of this statue, inside a replica of the Parthenon temple, is written about here, and it is quite a wonder. I had enough time and space inside the temple to draw a sketch of this awesome icon. There was a park around the temple, and in the park was a little food stand serving some very good Tennessee barbecue. 

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, about 9" x 8", June 26, 2003.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Conspirators in the Theater


Among the upper middle classes of Haven, a conspiracy is brewing. Two gentlemen whisper to each other of plots and schemes, while down on the stage a tear-jerking melodrama plays out. In the dark it's hard to tell who is doing the plotting....or who is a secret informer for the other side. I used a looser, more scratchy drawing style for this illustration, like the style found in pulp magazines or lurid novels.

Original drawing is black ink on illustration board, 9" x 2", spring 1984.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Autumn Geometrikon


These are the tree colors I'm seeing at this moment in the season. The maples in my backyard have an early manifestation of red with more to come. The rectangular panel at center left depicts the red leaves with the green. I embellished the composition with a digital "wash" and drifting autumn leaves. Hundreds of colored pencils entice me to make more color studies.

Colored pencil, marker lines, Photoshop. Original art 8" x 2", October 25, 2017.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

"Blue Thoroughfare" larger version


This picture, called "Blue Thoroughfare," depicts a bunch of asteroids surrounding a "dwarf planet" with nebulas in the background. I did a small version first as a sketch, and then completed this one some weeks later. It's painted with airbrush spray paint, and then with hand-done acrylic with a brush. When I first migrated to the Metro DC area, I thought that I might break into the "fine" art gallery type of art career, using my space and geometric pictures. I joined the "Art League" in Alexandria, Virginia and submitted this one, with another nebula picture in light blue the same size, to a juried show there. The jury rejected both my pieces and when I saw what they did choose, I realized that they just didn't like this type of space art. Evidently not many other folk did either. I showed it at a science fiction convention where it would seem to be right at home, and someone bought it for a much lower price than it deserved. The airbrush is gone, replaced by spaceworthy Photoshop.

Claudia: Thanks for your nice words about my little golden autumn piece. I like to show my art whether it is in a gallery or a high school art room.

"Blue Thoroughfare" is acrylic on black illustration board, 16" x 20", February 1990.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Golden Autumn Sunset


This scene is a little ahead of time with leafless trees, but I wanted to use these colors, some of them from my new pencil acquisition. Some of the colored pencil makers have beautiful "natural" colors such as "green gold" and "white grey" and even Irojiten's appropriate title "Autumn Leaf." I like to sort them by seasons and so I have the Autumn set at hand now. These little color studies are from memory. Seems like Winter is just around the corner, wasn't it just here? Along the winding road the winemakers are saving the last of the summer wine.

Colored pencil with marker line frame, 4" x 2 1/2", October 23, 2017.  

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Postcards from the Multiverse Original


I recently found some art that I thought had either been posted before or had been lost in a couple of computer destructions. This one, in acrylic and watercolor, was meant to be the sketch for another painting in digital media. The digital version, available here, went to the By-Product in 2008 leaving this one published in an earlier version of this art blog, and all other images of it were lost. (I'm so confused.) Looking again at this 2006 image I don't mind it as much as I did before. The idea is that all these rectangles are portals to multiple worlds and landscapes, which emerge from a transuniversal source up at the top right. This piece was bought by a friend of mine, and she has just moved house so it will be a while before it sees the light of day, or even this universe, again.

Acrylic and watercolor on watercolor paper, 12" x 20", June 2006.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Union Monument in the South


Early on my 2003 road trip through the South I visited Chattanooga, Tennessee, where a good friend of mine lived. Just about anyplace in that area was historic and we only needed a short walk to get to Missionary Ridge, where a deadly battle had taken place. This monument marks the spot where dozens of men on both sides died. The monument itself notes the soldiers from Ohio who fought and died there: "The 124th Ohio Infantry, Hazen's Brigade, Wood's Division, 4th Corps, Lt. Col. James Pickands. November 25, 1863." Ohio, that is, Union. This is a Union monument placed on what had been Southern territory. With all the controversy about the placement or removal of Confederate monuments, few comment that Union monuments stand all over the old Confederate territories. The sharp obelisk and warriors bearing arms, all of them Union, are a reminder to the Southerners just who won that war. Interestingly, many of these statues, made out of bronze or zinc or other metals, were mass-produced during the period of their deployment in public squares, with little difference in detail between North and South.

Drawing is black tech pen ink on sketchbook page, 4" x 10", June 30, 2003.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Lythande and Goblin


Uh huh, another "Lythande" illustration. Am I scraping the bottom of the Bradley barrel? Marion is still dead. This one was from a story published in "Marion Zimmer Bradley's Fantasy Magazine," about her cross-dressing female-to-male wizard. This one had to do with goblin capitalists, I try to remember. Note the cigar in the goblin's hand. I illustrated all the Lythande stories for that magazine until it closed after the author's demise. I actually enjoyed doing these pen and ink drawings and wouldn't mind doing more, though I would probably simulate it with digital inking nowadays. Knocking about the web looking for Bradley texts I found a vast organized collection of titles (but not texts) which lists everything that MZB ever ever wrote including this one. I will not inflict this on you.

Black ink on illustration board, 9" x 8", May 1999.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

What I Saw: Return of the Laundry Monster


It wants my Oriental rugs. And it just keeps growing, and growing.