Wednesday, August 16, 2017

A Japanese Detective on Darkover

Some time ago I mentioned that among the endless archives of Darkover fan writing published in 'zines was a story featuring a Japanese detective stationed as part of the occupying Earth force on the planet. This character, whose name I have forgotten, is based on the movie detective character played by Peter Lorre, "Mr. Moto." In the story, the elegant and erudite Japanese is forced to live in rustic circumstances, where he has built a teahouse environment to remind him of home. In the case he must work with a Free Amazon, whose uncouth ways he dislikes, and finally to teach her some manners he performs the Tea Ceremony for her. I had no idea how a Japanese Tea Ceremony was done, so I bought a couple books for research purposes, which I still have, 33 years later.

Original is black ink on illustration board, 8" x 10", winter 1984.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Mid-Century Moodle remix

After scanning and Photoshop coloring, I color in the tiny drawing with "conventional" coloring and re-scan it for the blog. Here is the "remix" of the "Mid-Century Moodle" from earlier this month. I think this one looks better than the earlier one though the colors in the earlier design were more "authentically" mid-century modern. 

Going through the myriad photos of my family history I love to see the design of the artifacts that the family had in their homes. Some of them are quite chic but others are ordinary. I have not seen any avocado green appliances yet.

Original drawing in black ink, colored with colored pencil and markers, 4" x 3", August 2017.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Wonder Woman of TV

With all the miserable things happening this year and indeed this week, I thought I'd retrieve a vision of goodness and power with an image of Wonder Woman. This is the famous  Lynda Carter, in the role of Wonder Woman popping out of the TV. This is what we followed on TV back in the mid - 70s, not grisly nihilistic sagas of blood, guts, and monsters. This is from a fan article I illustrated many years ago. You saw more of these little vignettes earlier. One of these days I'll get around to seeing the recent Wonder Woman movie.

Black ink on illustration board, 4" x 5 1/2", January 1981.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Ogre of Kallitechnia

One of the weirdest features of seemingly Utopian Kallitechnia were the ogres and the battles that the citizens fought against them. As the Client described them to me, Kallitechnians in their youth and young adulthood were required to do battle with a series of musclebound, monstrous-looking ogres, in order to gain fighting skills and courage to face adversity. The ogres were played by bodybuilders from the outside world who were paid to come to Kallitechnia and play their role, dressed in "primitive" gear and costumes and wielding what appeared to be crude weapons. At the time of the ordeal, which was kept secret until the moment, Kallitechnians were sent through a constructed forest environment where they were attacked by ogres. The utopians had to fight back with whatever they could use from their environment (presumably placed there by the contest runners). The main question for me was, were these battles for real or was it non-lethal and symbolic? The Client didn't answer but my assumption was that the whole ogre battle was staged and designed to scare rather than actually hurt either group of participants. Here is my concept drawing of an Ogre in full ugly regalia. 

This Ogre marks the end of my Kallitechnia series as published in this Blog.

Ogre original is black ink on illustration board, 7" x 10", spring 1998.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Transforming Hellhound

Here's some more art from the game I illustrated for Mayfair, "The Evil Ruins." In this scenario, the players are in a cave and they encounter what looks like a crystal effigy of a very large dog. Pictured here around the monument are, left to right, a Moon Priestess, a Mediocre Wizard, and a Half-elven Thief. As soon as the Mediocre Wizard uses magic, the statue activates and transforms from crystal to flesh and attacks the group. Without a stalwart warrior to defend them, they must either flee or use what resources they have to evade or defeat the reanimated Hellhound. I have the game book with details of the possible outcomes but I don't know where it is. Somewhere in Dustworld, I guess.

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

Friday, August 11, 2017

Tolkien fan art

This piece of action fan art is from the publication of a short fan fiction by Marion Zimmer Bradley set in the world of J.R. Tolkien's "Ring cycle." Interesting that though Tolkien was seriously influenced by Wagner's opera and its own universe, no one writes Wagner fanfic at least that I know about. Maybe in Germany but then Wagner has  unsavory connotations of past dreadfulness and Tolkien managed to launder most of it out of his Anglo-based world.

I did this piece in the style of old-fashioned Victorian/American ink illustration art, of which I never get tired. For more on this Tolkien pastiche, you are invited to visit this earlier posting of this Blog.

Black ink on illustration board, 7 1/2" x 5 1/2", summer 1983.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Geometrikon OMG Lost again in the city

Don't you just love driving in the city? Maybe you really do, but I don't and I have been having to do a lot of this recently. There are some places which I visit over and over again (friends and consultants) and I have never left them to go home without getting lost driving around. OK maybe once or twice I ended up on the road I wanted but not today. The area I am driving in is now under construction, with no end in sight unless you believe that they're really going to be finished by the end of the year. So you have to follow detours to get where you don't want to go. This Geometrikon is a colorful impression of what it's like to drive around here. There's lots of orange, the color of "Road Work Ahead" signs and safety cones.

Black marker on sketchbook page, colored in Photoshop, 3 1/2" x 2 1/2", August 10, 2017.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Faces of Kallitechnia

Just getting this one under the electric wire for "Every Day Posting" service. My Kallitechnia client asked for portrait faces from his imaginary world. I searched through fashion magazines and many other sources until I got just what I thought he wanted. I was real careful with the penwork. But when I submitted the drawing to him he rejected some of the faces you see here, especially the rather macho short-haired man at upper left, and the elderly woman in upper center. He wanted faces like the ones on the bottom level: young, beautiful, with a soft slightly open mouth and a "come hither" expression. And I guess people didn't get old in Kallitechnia. They wouldn't die like in "Logan's Run" but they would have to leave or move to another colony.

Original drawing in black ink on illustration board, 9" x 11", spring 1998.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Maggie Malick's Wine Cave

This image was gathered in 2014, photographed on one of my wining expeditions. But I didn't turn it into hand-done art until yesterday, when I set up a page for the Maggie Malick winery. This winery has one of the most unusual buildings on a Virginia site: an earth-sheltered live turf roofed artificial cave where barrels are stored and wine is poured. Note the stainless steel wine vats sitting near the loading driveway. The tasting room is in the tunnel. In summer the earth topping keeps the interior cool and in the winter the artificial underground temperature is mild. Maggie makes a very nice sweet red blend. This place is worth coming back to, and maybe then I'll get a chance to draw outdoors.

Colored pencil, ink, and markers on sketchbook page, 8" x 6", August 7-8, 2017.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Darkovan Domestic Violence

Marion Zimmer Bradley, whom you know all too well if you have been reading this Blog, was  a daring writer who was well in advance of the usual fantasy writing of her time. She was one of the first fantasy writers who dealt seriously with real problems and afflictions like domestic abuse, sexism, violence against women, and prejudice. She created scenarios that taught readers about feminist issues. She created imaginary but realistic social movements and committed groups which attempted to find solutions for the evils of the world against women. The "Free Amazons" was one of them, where women could find a refuge from the brutality of a low-tech society. This illustration, titled "Girlfriends against Rape," was for a Bradley story in a fan magazine. In the story a young girl runs away to join the Free Amazons only to be betrayed by her own mother who spots her in a marketplace as an Amazon (not the dotcom kind) vendor. The girl is attacked by a male relative who attempts to forcibly take her away from the group.

Black ink on illustration board, about 7" x 5", January 1983.

Sunday, August 6, 2017


You could say that this is a "still life" in the old artistic tradition. Random things appear and are painted. Most still lifes are not random. The artist arranges them. This is mostly random and somewhat arranged. It's a table top at Starbucks with the remains of coffee and a cookie. The cookie wrapper is rectangular, the coffee lid is round. A wooden twig coffee stirrer lies across the lid. I drew this while a Montessori school teacher looked on and she provided the title for the sketch. Then she showed me from her workbook how things are done in a Montessori school. It made me want to be a child again so I could learn my geometry and languages that way.

Black tech pen ink on sketchbook page, 4 1/2" x 3 1/2", August 5, 2017.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Young Courtiers of Darkover

Danilo gets the place at court with the elderly nobleman. One of his duties is to entertain the old man with his companionship during the endless winter season and listen to him talk. His best friend, Regis, who is also an apprentice at court, serenades them quietly with his harp. Regis and Danilo will soon learn that their attraction to each other is not just the friendship of two courtiers, but is true gay romantic love. This story, appearing in Marion Zimmer Bradley's THE HERITAGE OF HASTUR, is a fan favorite.

Original drawing is ink on illustration board, 7" x 5", March 1983. Most of these originals were sold for a few dollars apiece at the now-gone DarkoverCon. I wonder how many of them are still extant, given the chaotic lives of many fans.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Mid-Century Moodle

Look! It's a new design. What do you get when you connect the dots in a mid-century modern doodle? A mid-century moodle! With a critter but not a poodle. All those lovely colors appeared on someone's dishes sometime in the 50s or early 60s. The design world is not ready for a revival of the late 60s "psychedelic" swirling garishness.

Original drawing is marker ink on sketchbook page, colored with Photoshop, 4" x 3", August 3, 2017.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Retro Fan Art

Ever since I got back from Massachusetts I've felt tired and dragged out, even though I've been back for two weeks now. The air conditioner which was repaired last week is working fine now. I know I'm supposed to be doing art but instead I've been aimlessly wandering around my home trying to make sense of all the new deposits of clutter brought back from the old residences. And my car is still loaded with more stuff too heavy for me to lift by myself. Heard this before? So if you see old fan art on this Blog please excuse my failure to deliver fresh stuff. This ominous scene is from a Darkover fan story in which Danilo, a favorite character, interviews with the notorious nobleman Dyan Ardais for a position at court.

Black ink on illustration board, 7" x 5", March 1983.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Scenic Route

I used to do a lot of these small space pictures. I would mass-produce them in batches of around 20. I started with a stack of small illustration board panels in a 7" x 10" size, painted black. I laid them all down on newspapers covering the floor. Then I spattered the "stars" on by shaking a brush filled with paint at them. When that was dry I pre-mixed paint in blue, red, or some other color, filled my airbrush (an archaic spray-painting device) and sprayed nebula and floating gas patterns all over the panels. When these were dry, I chose which ones to add a painting to and which ones were just space scapes. This one here, for instance, I chose to paint over with a spaceship. It's called "Scenic Route," suggesting that the riders in the luxury space yacht are taking in the "scenery" of a lovely nebula area. Of course in reality the nebula would be imperceptible to the passengers' eyes, but I suppose they had an enhanced view generator. 

Nowadays these space concepts have been rendered obsolete by the views from real places and telescopes on earth or orbiting in space. Sure, artists still do space pictures, but the real Hubble imagery is far more detailed and exciting. And most digital artists have never used an airbrush. I discarded mine some years ago, I regret to say. Photoshop and Hubble rule.

Acrylic on black illustration board, 7" x 10", January 1988.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Costumes of Kallitechnia

I ended up doing quite a lot of work in the '90s for the "Kallitechnia" project. During the last round of drawings I was asked to show some of the costumes that the Utopian people wore. This would include anything from work garb to ceremonial attire. According to the client, these Utopians followed a Neo-Pagan religion which varied depending on which "tribe" they were in. These figures above show some of the concepts I illustrated. From left to right: Businesswoman assigned to dealing with the outside world, Landscaping worker with plant trimmer, Renaissance Faire couple with party beverages, Pagan Couple celebrating a symbolic enactment of the "Great Rite" with cup and sacred blade, and Techno-Magic User manifesting energy. There was a fantasy element to this world where magic was practiced in a scientific way.

Original art is black ink on illustration board, 14" x 10 1/2", March-April 1998.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Rappahannock Cellars vine branch

The "Wine Team" didn't expect sunny weather, since the day before had featured deluges and floods all over Northern Virginia. But by the time we got to Rappahannock Cellars, the skies were clearing and the vines were shining. We sipped Rapahannock's excellent selection in the  "members'" beautiful room. Most wineries have a "members club" where if you promise to buy a specified amount of wine per year, you get privileges, like the nice room. This view is through a big picture window in that room and there is a gnarly discarded vine branch sitting as an ornament on the windowsill. 

Colored pencil and markers on sketchbook page, 7" x 6", July 29-31, 2017, finished in studio. Click for winy view.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

American Academy in Rome courtyard

The American Academy in Rome is a place where chosen American scholars and creative artists can spend a year or more in the Eternal City doing special projects and studies. I was a guest there in 1975-1976 using family connections to stay there. While at the Academy, I did numerous works of art including this one, a portrait of one of the inner walls of the open courtyard. The Academy building was designed by the famous American architects McKim, Mead, and White, but it was done in a classical Roman style and looks like the ideal world of Rome as interpreted by early 20th-century American architects.

Watercolor over light pencil drawing, 9" x 11", 1976. Click on image for a larger view.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Patriotic Abstraction

I found a spot in my sketchbook journal which I left empty for image drop-ins. This page contained the entry for July 4 so even though this is retrospective from the 29th I'll do something appropriate for July 4. Many times this year I have been ashamed of some of the people who are supposed to lead our country but when it comes to color, image, and abstraction I don't have to be explicit. 

Markers on sketchbook page with Photoshop background, 5" x 4", July 29, 2017.

Friday, July 28, 2017


It's a pop-in doodle in the sketchbook journal for a space I didn't fill while on the road. The background is adapted from "Mister Mourao's" architectural visual-jazz while the demon is copied from a handbook of pre-drawn fantasy characters and creatures. I feel like this demon right now as my apartment's brand new replaced air conditioner is still not working.

Black tech pen ink on sketchbook page, 3 1/2" x 3", July 27, 2017.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

What I Saw

Bright banners hung out to dry in the twilight.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Kids of Kallitechnia

One or more of you might remember my illustration work for a Utopian fantasy called "Kallitechnia." This is one of my later pieces, from the last set I did concentrating on the people and costumes of the place. The author asked me for examples of costumes that children and teenagers might wear. He also asked for a racially diverse group as membership in Kallitechnia was not hereditary or uniform. These young Kallitechnians range in age from 10 to 18. As for the older ones, my client said, "Make 'em showy and sexy. They are in prime mating form and want to impress potential partners."

Black ink on illustration board, about 7" x 10", spring 1998.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Mourao inspiration

I have recently "discovered" the fantastic art of a contemporary Portuguese artist who goes by the name "Mister Mourao." He creates large, incredibly complicated architectural fantasies (he was trained as an architect). Their size ranges from tiny to gigantic, and he has also done illustrations and design for prestigious publications like the "New Yorker" and the New York Times, as well as Apple Corporation. I found a book of his drawings edited to make an "adult coloring book" and I had to have it, not to color but to learn from. Mourao's work is definitely in the "I wish I had drawn this" category.

So naturally, I tried to draw like Mourao. I got through a few inches and realized that Mourao's work is not random or chaotic. Everything in his wild surrealistic world makes sense!  The windows and doors and walls and archways are drawn by an architect who knows how they are built and why they stand up. Since I also have architectural (drawing) training, I can look at a wild and wacky Mourao and figure out just what he's doing. I can't help wondering how long it takes to do one of these detail explosions and also whether he draws a sketch and perspective lines before he goes for the final.

Above is my first attempt at Mourao inspiration. Mine is more chaotic and unreal than his. What looks like an awning is my depiction of a pattern on the paper towels in a roll of Bounty. A bit of Photoshoppage and it looks like 3-D.

Black and brown tech pen inks on sketchbook page, Photoshop added, 8" x 3", July 24, 2017.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Pine Grove Gazebo

Many hotels have gazebos like this somewhere on their property. They are used as a decorative background for wedding photographs. Sometimes they are just ornamental, and people sit in them just to be outside and have a mobile phone conversation, or a smoke. This one belongs to the Hampton Inn in Pine Grove, Pennsylvania, one of the inns I stayed at on my recent Northeastern journey. Pine Grove is sort of near Harrisburg, and the hotel's location has a nice view of wooded hills.There's also a small shopping center, a diner, and a truck stop. I was told when I asked the hotel desk clerk that the gazebo was built by Mennonites. Both the Amish and the Mennonites, with a large presence in eastern Pennsylvania, make plenty of money building wooden structures of all sizes, from gazebos to wine lodges at wineries. 

I had an interesting view of this gazebo from the hotel window. I was looking down on it so I was able to depict the roof and the small cupola at the top. The whole structure was a reddish brown in color.

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, about 5" x 8", July 20, 2017.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Returned from Massachusetts

I only did two drawings during my time in Massachusetts. One of them is this one, done in the waiting area of "Direct Tire" while the two back tires of my Orange Element were being replaced. Massachusetts road conditions were not just the usual rubble and bumpy roads but construction on every major intersection. The digging machines and jackhammers and piles of dirt and ripped apart pavement added to the peaceful summer atmosphere. When they were done the edges of the road were lined with sharp rectangles of granite that can take out your tire in an instant. But I lost a tire to a metal screw (yeah screwed haha not) and had to replace it due to the unfixable puncture along with its matching partner on the car. Thankfully "Direct Tire" was right near my hotel site so they did the work.

The surprisingly brutal Direct Tire slogan displayed here in the main lobby describes my ten days in Massachusetts attending to the family archives and making necessary relative visits. This trip for various reasons was one of the most difficult of my recent drags back and forth. I'm glad I don't have to do this drive again. Blogging will now resume.

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 7" x 5", July 7, 2017.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Magic Carpet Con '95

Been there, done that, designed the T-shirt. In 1995 I was Art Guest of Honor at "Magic Carpet Con" in Dalton, Georgia, in the hills northwest of Atlanta. Dalton is a center for carpet manufacturing, hence the name of the convention and my design. I depicted a patterned carpet unrolling from a galaxy, while a fanciful spaceship dashes by. Marion Zimmer Bradley was Guest of Honor at this convention. The back of the shirt says something like "In Honor of Marion Zimmer Bradley." By that time MZB was in poor health and she died in 1999. The shirt design was printed in black on a white T-shirt but I always thought it should have been printed in light ink on a dark background.

Black ink on illustration board, with computer lettering added, 8 1/2" x 10", October 1995.

A note to my handful of readers: "Art By-Products" will be on break for the next two weeks as I do dutiful things in Pennsylvania and the old home place in Massachusetts.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Nipplecon 1994

I debated whether or not to show this image but eh, why not. I used to do the program cover and T-shirt image for various conventions, especially Pagan and New Age gatherings in my area. There was one called "Ecumenicon," and one called "Sacred Space" which had once been "Ecumenicon," and various others in the fantasy fan category. For "Ecumenicon" 1994, the theme was sacred sexuality and the spring Pagan holiday of "Beltane" celebrating fertility. For my model, I used the heterosexual lovers from the "Lovers" Tarot card. This pleasant pair is holding a copy of a Hindu "Lingam" and "Yoni," symbols of sacred sex. "Mysterium Coniunctionis" is Latin for "The Mystery of Joining," used in Alchemical symbolism. She's wearing roses, he's wearing leaves. As was pointed out to me by other fans, the archway behind them looks kind of like a breast. 

The man and woman in this design are real people, a married couple active in the local Pagan community. When I submitted the design, the directors of the convention thought that I had gotten a bit too explicit with nudity, even though the models' names were never identified. The management had to crop the image to hide the nipples, and move the writing up to fill the space. So much for daring social experiments. Some fans called this "Nipplecon."

Original drawing is black ink and computer-printed graphics on illustration board, 9" x 11", September 1993.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

The Pope with Legs

I spent a lot of time in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, in the various years I lived in Rome. I got to know the monuments and images in the grand barn almost as if they were real people. And I continued to do drawings. This drawing is from a different session than the lantern and  saint. After a Pope died in the early modern to modern era (say, 1500s to early 1900s) the cardinals raised by him took up a collection and commissioned a monument to him. This one is one of my favorites, from 1769. The Pope depicted here is Benedict XVI, who reigned from 1740-1758. He's wearing the beehive-shaped papal tiara crown and is blessing the crowd with his stone arm. In those days it was a big thing to carve stone so precisely that it could be mistaken for real textile or cloud or flesh. The sculptor here gave Benedict a flowing gown which outlines his legs rather like the skirts of a Greek goddess. I suppose Benedict must have had shapely legs. The effect is harder to see if you go around to the other side of the statue. You can read more than you would ever want to know about this monument by visiting this site. There are monuments in St. Peter's to more recent popes including the terrifying one of Pius 12, the pope during World War II.

Here's an atmospheric, rather grainy photo of the interior of St. Peter's and the grand altar, taken by me in 1969. I wonder whether this building and interior, with its evocation of Empire, inspires genuine religious faith, or just awe of human workmanship.

Pope Benedict monument drawing is pencil on sketchbook page, 5" x 7", July 18, 1975. For both images, please click for larger view.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Amazon Adventure Darkover

This is an old relic of a Darkover piece that I did as an extra for a published book cover. DAW Books, M.Z. Bradley's publisher, hired me for four covers along with a black and white ink drawing as a frontispiece. (I've continued that for the six Stasheff covers I've done.) The second Darkover cover I did was for "Sword of Chaos," which was an anthology of short stories written by Marion's fans and one by the author herself. This drawing illustrates one of the stories but not the cover story. In the tale, a young "Free Amazon" and a hardened older male Ranger must work together on a mission though they mutually distrust each other. Darkover's "Amazons" were not Wonder Women nor online merchants, they were groups of women who organized themselves outside conventional society to make their way without the constraints of marriage. At one point the "Free Amazons" were on their way to becoming a real-world group of social experimentalist women but with the passing of Marion the groups disappeared, to my disappointment.

Black ink on illustration board, 7" x 11", September 1981.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Roman Ornamentation

In Saint Peter's Basilica, the grand central space of the Catholic Church in Europe, no expense was spared to make it as ornate as possible. After all, the more stuff you add on, the more praiseworthy it is and the more exalted it is in a place of worship. The proliferation of ornament on the walls and domes is directly inherited from the secular buildings of imperial Rome, but here, it is a way to praise God as well as impress the followers.

This drawing of ornamental cornices and wall textures is unusually precise even for me and I wondered whether I had finished it in the studio but since it is drawn on the same page and with the same pencil as the other July 11 drawings, I guess I really did sit there for the hour it must have taken to jot this little study. I must have had a lot of patience back then. Not so much nowadays. 

Pencil on sketchbook page, 4" x 4 1/2", July 11, 1975.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Baby Screams

I must admit that I didn't do this picture out of my revolutionary spirit. A friend of mine challenged me to do it and I came up with the idea and a coffee house of all places. She risks her reputation and possibly even her health and life going into Trumpistan, D.C. to participate in protest marches. She has a whole library of protest signs, some of which I calligraphed in nice block letters. Some of them, worded by family and friends, are funny, some clever, and others are too intellectually complex for a street parade.

But here's the question. Do I really believe that this cartoon Presidential character should be mocked and even removed? Do I share the same contempt for him that so many of my friends and fellow Americans do? This is harder for me to answer than you might think. Sure, in many ways he is loathsome and worthy of disgust. But as a world-builder and fantasy artist I also think of the Turnip as a "mythical" figure, created by some collective imagination that has made a hero out of a con man. If you've read Ayn Rand, you know what I'm talking about. Turnip is someone who has deliberately created his own version of Randian sainthood. She used to complain that businessmen were never portrayed as positive, heroic figures. Now, finally, the "successful businessman" (despite the bankruptcies) has grabbed the soft center of imagination. The mercantile messiah has finally achieved his golden goal. Rand's heroes are beyond good and evil. They can bribe, threaten, even do violence to advance their towering self-interest, and they will succeed. Can we readers do that? I want to be a success! I want to win!

There is a problem though, and that's because this Ayn Rand hero is a twit. Rand is grandiose, but Turnip is petty and small. The celebrity insult games don't give me that Randian rush. Therefore I feel justified putting the Baby-in-Chief in his crib for someone in a milling protest march to hold up high.

Markers on construction paper, worked on with Photoshop, 20" x 16", June 30, 2017.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Saint Peter's Lantern

I love hanging lanterns. I have a number of them in my house, one of which I furnished with an artificial flame. These items derive from the imperial decor of ancient Rome and have been part of Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Christian churches since the beginning of the religion, since they belonged to the non-Christian world before it. Saint Peter's in Rome is filled with them, mostly made of gilded bronze with an artificial flame at the top. I did this pencil study of a particularly ornate one on my Saint Peter's sketching expedition. After all, for a believer, the Lord is your light. It must have been quite a job keeping all these oil or wax lamps lit in pre-electricity days.

Original sketch is pencil on sketchbook page, 3 1/2" x 8", July 11, 1975.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Renovation Roomscape

The management of my apartment building is renovating my kitchen after almost 30 years of occupancy, 25 of them my years. To do this, I and a friend had to take everything, every little dust-covered jar of spices, out of the kitchen. I did this and now everything from the kitchen is everywhere, not counting living room things they had to move to get the heavy bulky stuff across the floor. They replaced the counters, all the appliances (!), the floor, and the cabinets. My oh my what an uproar of hammering and sawing and drilling. The cabinets are not done. Some of them are late in arriving, so more noise is coming. What do you do when your familiar environment is so radically disrupted? Draw a picture of course. That's what I always do. You can see the four circular symbols on the Whole Foods paper bags. Can you find the Ziploc bags? Everything will look lovely soon.

Black tech pen ink on sketchbook page, 4" x 7 1/2", June 28, 2017. 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Saint Augustine in Saint Peter's

During my 1975-76 stay in Rome, I made countless sketches and drawings, usually in ink.  This time I used plain old pencil. On July 11, 1975, I was in the ultimate grandiose environment of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, drawing the sculptures and ornamentation of the Popes' little cottage. (Yes, one of the biggest churches in the entire world.) This guy here is Saint Augustine, one of the founding fathers of the Catholic church and teachings, hence his book. He lived in the fifth century A.D. but this statue depicts him as a 17th century or later Archbishop, when he was carved. This is called "Baroque" style, like the music. When I was studying to be a Catholic St. Augustine was my favorite sacred writer.

Pencil on sketchbook paper, 4" x 7", July 11, 1975.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Leaves Study 2017

I do one of these every year, attempting to capture the bright green of June tree foliage before it fades to brown in the heat of summer. 2014 was done in markers. This is done in a mixture of media. The lush foliage is the view out my window. Over the years I see more and more foliage. I didn't know that mature trees keep growing. It is hard for me to get to my workstation since it is blocked by bulky components removed during the current renovation of my kitchen.

Markers, ink, and colored pencil, 3 1/2" x 4", June 27, 2017.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Gathering in the Crystal Chamber

In neo-medieval fantasy fiction there is almost always a big scene taking place in an aristocratic or royal council chamber. This is where the leaders of the many Houses, Clans, and factions gather to get some business done. It invites the illustrator to depict lavish architecture, heraldic banners, and a costumed crowd. This version of the Council Chamber scene is from a collection of Darkover fan art that I did in my early days as the unofficial artist of Zimmer Bradleyworld. Usually after too many disagreements a deadly fight breaks out in the chamber but I don't remember whether that happened here. I didn't intend on showing a specific event anyway. I miss Darkover, you hardly see it at all these days or perhaps I am just not looking.

Original artwork was brown ink on illustration board, 8 1/2" x 11", fall 1981. Klik for a larger view.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Cubist Space Station

This piece was excerpted from a Darkover fan zine where I was a regular contributor. It is the cover art but it doesn't illustrate anything in any particular story. Darkover mixed scenarios from science fiction as well as the more common swashbuckling neo-Renaissance material. I did this cubistic space station, orbiting over Darkover, before the "Borg" showed up on the TV screen. 

Ink on illustration board, about 8 1/2" x 8 3/4", May 1984. Click on image for a larger view.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Geometrikon Patriotic Remix

Here we are back with the re-mix of the "Election Geometrikon" of June 19. This is done on paper with the original drawing, using markers and colored pencils. It looks a bit like stained glass, which is OK by me. I wonder whether any modern American politician has won an election while using graphics, stickers, and billboards in a non-red-white-and-blue color scheme. What about another country whose flag is different colors. Let's observe some German political graphics from their upcoming election to see whether they use black, red, and yellow. As a graphic designer I tend to see things through that filter.

Marker ink, colored pencil, and election sticker on sketchbook page, 4" x 5 1/2", June 2017.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Remote Login is like Mind Reading

It is possible to have nostalgia for the high tech of the future. In 1993 I did a series of illustrations for a book called "Internet Guide for New Users." (Visit here for more of this material.) In this graphic, information is exchanged between two separate computer hard discs (looking rather like hockey pucks here) and it is compared in the text to mind reading or telepathic sharing. That is what you get when everyone inventing this new-fangled "trance medium" is a science fiction fan: psychic computers.

Original illustration is ink on illustration board, about 9" x 4 1/2", May 1993.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Mountain near Salzburg

In 1975-76 I returned to Rome and the rest of Europe on a fellowship for student projects and travel sponsored by the Watson Foundation funded by IBM. In the spring of 1976 all the fellowship holders in Europe were invited to a convention in Salzburg, Austria where we would show off our progress in our projects. My project was a young adult/magic realism novel about a rebellious Roman aristocratic girl (I have written about this on the By-Product recently). We fellowship holders were treated like aristocrats ourselves, dining and wandering through a lordly palace.

 At one point I had some extra time and used my portable watercolor set to depict a mountain in the Schloss environment, reflecting on a picturesque lake. This scene may also have been in the film of "The Sound of Music." I was lucky to see the mountain because most of the time it was clouded over. My presentation wasn't this, it was a reading from some of my text in progress.

Unfortunately, I caught the flu at that convention (as one often does) and was helped to a student refuge in Vienna where I lay helpless for days. By the time I had recovered enough to travel, it was time to leave Vienna for a scheduled meeting with friends in Denmark. I don't remember much about that week.

Picturesque mountain is watercolor on Canson paper, 11" x 9", spring 1976. Heavily re-worked in Photoshop to make a level horizon.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Electrical Eggs design

Many science fiction fans are disabled in one way or another. They like to go to conventions just like non-disabled fans, but often the hotel or convention center venue is not accessible to people with wheelchairs or other assistive devices. Blind or Deaf fans also had some difficulty in the public environment of a convention. In the early 90s a wheelchair-using fan created an association that would be present at science fiction conventions to help disabled fans get around. The whimsical name of the association, "Electrical Eggs," came about because one person who used an electric wheelchair said that she rode on "electrical legs." This was mis-heard as "Electrical Eggs" and thus became the name of the group. I was connected to them by friendship. Every year they published a T-shirt and tote bags with an original egg themed design, which they could sell to get funds. I did the 1994 version, which featured an architectural giant egg which had a helpful ramp for wheelchair users. In the original printing, the writing and art were in dark brown printed on a beige shirt. I still have the shirt though the organization disappeared in the early 2000's.

Original art is black ink on illustration board, 11" x 14", July 1993. The white streaks are reflections from a plastic cover in one of my archive books. My early wax-transfer art copies got stuck to the plastic page covers in the portfolio books so I couldn't take them out. Digitization solves that.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Medievaloid bad guys

I finally finished the character portrait that goes with the Stasheff book I recently did the cover for. These two lovelies are "Delilah," an evil witch who leads people astray with elaborate illusions, and "Forrest," a disgraced nobleman pretending to be a sympathetic countryside rebel to deceive the compassionate and dreamy young naive characters in the story. This drawing may be tiny, but it was quite a job to do and all the "inking" is done on the Cintiq, still plugging away avoiding constant annoying pop-ups on the tablet screen.

Digital inking on the Cintiq, about 4 1/2" x 7 1/2", June 2017.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Election Geometrikon

Last  Tuesday I cast my vote in a Virginia Democratic primary election. The candidates, for some reason, did not send contemptuous Twitter tweets my way, did not have silly hair, were not billionaires, did not stir up violence, and seemed to be almost normal human beings. We will see what happens if they get elected. Both of them actually had experience in legal and political life. I voted, and got this inspiring sticker which I turned into a Geometrikon in patriotic shades, as July 4 is coming soon. 

Marker ink for the linework, colored in with Photoshop, 4" x 5 1/2", voter sticker, June 2017.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

"Live the Adventure" (If you must.)

One of my friends and art patrons is a "life coach" that is, someone who will help inspire people to do better in life than just sitting around and wasting time. She wanted me to render a logo for her life coaching business and described it to me in detail. It was to be a combination of an old-fashioned rapier style sword, and an Infinity symbol, with two shining 8 pointed stars above and below. I worked at this for a long time before I got to what she wanted. The final logo appeared not only on her business card but on a dark blue bumper sticker which had the motto "Live the Adventure" on it. That was her idea, to encourage her clients and anyone else to be more adventurous in life. As for me, I hate adventures..."Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner!" (as Tolkien's Hobbit famously said) so I just kept it in the realm of fantasy.

Original is black ink on illustration board, 7" x 2 1/2", May 1990.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Tomorrowland Metro stop

I did this drawing of the new Metro station at Springhill Road, while I was waiting for my car to have its regular maintenance done. The station's modernist architecture strongly reminds me of Disneyland and the 1950s-1960s style of "Googie" or the "Jetsons." We're in Tomorrowland, along with the full size moving monorail (no, it's a light parallel rail) on an elevated railway. Where are my silver spandex tights and my bubble helmet? The object at far left is understandably known by people who work there as the "ice cream cone." The cone, known in gelaterias as a "flute," is built out of metal mesh and is supposed to be futuristic art.

Black tech pen ink on sketchbook page, 8" x 4 1/2", June 15, 2017. Apologies for interruptions in posting, internet connection problems.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Exploding Piano

I met Kathleen Supove and her husband, composer Randall Woolf, through my dad's musical network of friends. Kathleen is an avant-garde piano performer who can do all kinds of wild and crazy sounds with more than just the old keyboard. At the time I met her she was just starting out on this career and needed promotional materials. Over the years Supove has done experimental performances in a series called "The Exploding Piano." I designed her a logo and also did this fantasy portrait of her blowing up the black and white keys and polished piano planks. Now, much later, it reminds me of last summer when I hired a specialty crew to dismantle, demolish, and cart away my father's old piano which was no good any more. Kathleen could have done the job more artistically! I don't know what happened to the art I did for her but Kathleen is still around and just as active as ever. She can be found on Facebook.

Black ink on illustration board with plastic transfer pattern, 8" x 10", January 1992.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Granny Chair

The "Inn on Poplar Hill," where I stay to rest and relax, decorates their rooms each in a different color scheme, Victorian style. I am always assigned the "Rose Room," with a theme of crimson roses. The upholstery, curtains, rugs, and bedspreads all have pictorial rose prints. This is one of the few "girly" experiences I will tolerate. This chair, "granny" more than "girly," has eighteenth century-styled red picture prints on it, and dark red fuzzy trim. I don't sit on this chair, I pile it with my clothes and books. Other rooms, more extravagant than mine, are the "Blue Willow" room and the "Magnolia Room." 

Black tech pen ink on sketchbook page, 4" x 5 1/2", June 9th, 2017.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

What I Saw: Theater of the Absurd Swimming Pool

Jumbled chairs and meaningless hose. A set for a performance of "Theater of the Absurd." Soon, the splashing and the screaming. Have an existential summer. 

Monday, June 12, 2017

The Door to Vintage

In my never-ending aspirational quest to upscale my brand and maximize my luxury experiences, I visited a palatial inn and restaurant in central Virginia called "Willow Grove." They have a nice restaurant called "Vintage," built into a historic wood-beamed undercroft. Wednesday is "Tapas Night" at Vintage, where you can get sample portions of many different dishes they make. I drew this doorway while waiting for my set of tapas.

Black tech pen ink on sketchbook page, about 4 1/2" x 5 1/2", touched up in the studio with Photoshop, June 7, 2017.