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.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Sunny Geometrikon Re-mix


Now that's more like it. What are all those blue pencils for anyway? The irregular shape is designed to fit into my sketchbook journal but the words are removed. I suppose I could have done this in digital media but it sometimes looks too precise that way. The lovely wax colored pencils can look like paint if you work with it. These are the blues that aren't sad.

Colored pencil with some white marker, 5" x 4", October 18, 2017.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Street Urchin Game Character


During the course of a role-playing game, you, that is, your character, will need further information. You can find it in a medium like a book or an inscription, or you could use a gadget paid for or found in play, or you could just ask someone. Here, your character engages a street urchin girl to tell him where the next opportunity or contact is. She is from the lowest level of society yet she has native uneducated intelligence. She also may be lying or giving wrong directions. Either way you will want to reward her with a few coins for her information. She doesn't have much of a future; without someone to care for her, she will be snapped up by slavers or pimps or any number of nasty folk. Your character is considering helping her, but he also knows that she may already be part of a vicious gang. Haven is a dangerous place.

Black ink on illustration board, about 5" x 5", spring 1984.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Task Light


I love industrial lighting. I'm especially fond of lanterns and desk lamps, if they're old or visually interesting. I like the old-fashioned enclosed hurricane lamps used in pre-electric houses or in railroads. Just a few years ago there was a decorating fad which used reproductions of old incandescent bulbs inside metal grids, like old factory lights. This didn't last long although Starbucks still has them. 

This is a task lamp, a modern version of what workmen used to give a high intensity light to a job close at hand. The bulb is enclosed so that dust and debris won't get in. This particular light has an LED bulb, rather than a very hot metal halide bulb. LED's have revolutionized the lighting world. They are not burning hot which is much better for safety. Similar bulbs are now in automotive headlights. The style of this light does not have that "antique-industrial" look though.

Black tech pen ink on sketchbook page, colored in marker and Photoshop. 5" x 4 1/2", October 15, 2017.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Sunny Geometrikon


Even though I work at night, I made a sunny picture. This little Geometrikon visits the Mid-20th Century once again, telling us that the 1950s and '60s were a wonderful time of peace and cheerfulness. Well if you were a designer, or an upper middle-class kid, that was kind of how it worked. Don't worry about those Commies or those marchers with the signs.

I drew the lines and shapes for this in blue pencil and forgot that it doesn't show up well on the scanner. So I colored it digitally by hand with stylus and it looks like I used crayons. I think I'll re-mix it with colored pencils.

Colored pencil lines tinted digitally, 5" x 4", October 15, 2017.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Castle and Spaceport


Here's a rather late addition to my endless stream of Darkover fan art. It depicts in symbolic-architectural terms the re-imposition of technological colonialism on the settled world of Darkover. After Marion Zimmer Bradley's passing in 1999, fan enthusiasm for Darkover waned. I haven't done a Darkover picture in many many years. As I see it the whole culture of fandom has changed from a print and traditional media society to a video-driven world inhabited by pre-fabricated characters from movies, TV, and best sellers. Where is the "slow" "farm-to-table" movement in fandom, where a less frantic and more original-based culture can be cultivated? You can't buy it online, though you might be able to share it online. The fact that I was barely able to sell this picture for only a few dollars alerted me to these changes, just after the turn of Marion's millennium.

Mixed media (ink, watercolor, colored pencil) on blue paper, 10" x 7", November 2003.

A note to Claudia: Your insights about gaming as the inheritor to the men's fraternal orders is really worth making into an article for publication. These orders fascinate me, they are declining quickly in membership with mostly older members. One difference is that most of these orders were founded and continue with a charitable mission. They have banded together to do good works, whereas gamer groups don't usually have a charitable quality. If you could find such a thing (Warcrafters for hurricane relief!) that would also be very interesting.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Macho Guardsman


This burly type is an illustration for a Renaissance-styled game I worked on in the early 2000s. I adapted him from an old engraving from that European era. I don't know how the guardsman fits into the game, but it would be sad to have him show up and fight just once before he succumbs to the deadly force of our players. "What if the guardsmen win and they slay most of our party leaving but a couple of survivors running away without the treasure...?" That would be a crappy game if that's all that happened. So this poor soul can look great but has to go down in a minor melee. Artist's confession: I've never played any game that I have illustrated.

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

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Horton Wine Castle

The wineries of Virginia have some unusual buildings. This "castle" is one of the more entertaining of them. I had wanted to get a drawing of the Horton Winery's edifice for a while and finally was able to visit for enough time to do the art. As I recounted in an earlier posting, I drew the building while sitting in my new folding outdoor chair.

The first drawing I did was incomplete because there were parked cars blocking my view of the doorway and wall. I had recourse to a few snapshots I took there and have now finished the drawing. This is a "hybrid" drawing. Some of it was done in pen and ink on site. I transferred it into a digital file and worked on it a bit with the Cintiq (remember that?). Then I printed the results onto paper and finished it again with the tech pen. For a drawing like this I decided that "traditional" pen and ink would be easiest so here you are.

Horton Vineyards is one of the largest wineries in Virginia and they are able to place their wines in big stores like Trader Joe's or Total Wine. They have 48 different varieties to choose from including a line of "country" fruit wine called humorously "Chateau Le Cabin." I wonder whether that tower had once been a silo.

Black tech pen ink and digital, 10" x 4 1/2", fall 2017.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Thieves' Guild: The Fence


In "Haven's" game world, as mostly in our world as well, economics has nothing to do with morality. Stolen goods still have value, and the economic system depends not on whether the goods have been acquired lawfully, but whether they are "real" or "fake." The young thief and the buyer of goods both know this, and so the question is, (as the boy crosses his fingers), will the fence pay anything, or throw him out to try again. The outcome may determine whether the guild boss punishes or pays his operative. 

Black ink on illustration board, 4" x 6 1/2", January 1983.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Unity Temple New Orleans


New Orleans is full of wonderful architecture and this is one of the most unusual sites there. It is the "Unity Temple," a gathering place, school, and worship space for an eclectic, "New Thought" spiritual group simply called "Unity." They respect all religions and invite teachers from many different traditions to speak there. "Unity Temple" was right down the street from where I was staying in the affluent "Garden District" so I had to go see it. I visited with the current leader of the group and she took me on a short tour of the place. The architecture is based on overlapping circles, a symbolic motif, although it looked like a stack of dinner plates to me. The architect, Leonard Spangenberg, was a disciple of Frank Lloyd Wright and had studied with him at Wright's famous architecture school, "Taliesin West." The Temple was finished in 1961, at the height of mid-century modern curved geometric modern style. I was told that the conservative neighbors hated the design for being out of place stylistically, but couldn't stop it from being built. 

Original drawing is black tech pen ink on sketchbook page, 6" x 3 1/2", July 1, 2003. This was drawn from a postcard photograph as I didn't have the time to do a proper drawing on site. Click image for a larger view.

Monday, October 9, 2017

New Orleans in the Storm


In the summer of 2003 I did a long road trip through the states of the Deep South: Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama,Georgia, and South and North Carolina. I wasn't trying to prove any political point, I was just curious about a part of my country that I had never visited before. I had a lot of fun looking at the landscape, eating local food, and drawing a lot of pictures. I used the same ink-and-colored pencil technique I would later use for my winery drawings. 

New Orleans was one of my important destinations but what I didn't know, since I was not connected to Internet and not watching TV, was that a tropical storm named "Bill" was also about to visit New Orleans. Just after I landed in New Orleans the rains came. I didn't mind the deluge, and toured the town anyway. I had a late lunch at a restaurant in the French Quarter called "Pere Antoine's" (not the famous "Antoine's") where I had a mediocre submarine sandwich and drew this picture of the street under the pouring rain. I tried to suggest the torrent through vertical pencil strokes. I was sitting at a table under a sidewalk porch roof and the restaurant staff were agitating me to move back into the restaurant so they could close up the outside panels against the wind and rain. I finally complied once I had hurriedly finished my drawing. There were some flooded areas from this storm and I now call it the "rehearsal for Katrina." I wonder if I'll ever get back there.

Tech pen black and brown inks with colored pencil, 6 1/2" x 9 1/2", June 30, 2003. Click for larger view. I'm sure I've published this picture somewhere online but if I don't remember where, you probably don't either.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Archival Pumpkin Spice


It's Pumpkin Spice Time again, which I admit is not my favorite flavor nor my favorite time of year. This is what my commercial art used to look like when I was not doing it for Trader Joe's. I used to decorate advertising panels for local Starbuckses. I didn't get paid but I could get any coffee drink I wanted for free. This one is based on Indian and Persian paisley designs. The elaborate design attracted many customers and compliments. Trader Joe's wanted a much simpler style as can be seen on the earlier years of this Blog.

I just realized that many of my best commercial and fine pieces were never published on "Art By-Products." They were published on "Electron Blue," my original blog, which is now replaced by the not-very-active "Electron Blue 3." The  Electron ran from 2004 to 2008. If you are interested in studying mathematics and science, you may be amused or even encouraged by my accounts of my self-teaching struggles. I replaced it by the By-Product which does not usually deal with mathematics and science. The By-Product, as advertised, started in 2008 and here we still are. Seems like no time at all. Rather than grub about in my archives, there are plenty of saved images in the blogs of the past for you to enjoy here on the By-Product.

Liquid chalk sign markers on metallic panel, about 24" square, September 2006.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Raccoon-ish Critter

It may be a raccoon, or some other creature related to it in this world. The critter's expression is rather like how I'm feeling these days. You can find real raccoons guarding and plundering the neighborhood dumpsters all year round. In the winter you can see the prints of their tiny human-like hands in the snow. 

Black tech pen ink with Photoshop corrections, 3 1/2" x 4", October 6, 2017.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Roman roof features


Most older Roman buildings aren't very tall. They top out at around 3 or 4 stories, just like the imperial Roman apartment buildings whose foundations they are built over. If you're on a higher floor,  you get a view over the roofs of the adjacent buildings, with interesting architectural features. This view has the typical clay roof tiles of the Eternal City, along with chimneys and an old TV antenna. The church steeple in the background probably belongs to a foreign congregation such as Germans or French, as the Romans don't build things like that for their own. They preferred the more ancient dome form. 

Watercolor on Fabriano paper, 7" x 5", 1976.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Internetville 1993


In 1993 the Internet was just getting started, and was mostly in the hands of scientists, military, and tech-minded bulletin board users and science fiction fans. That year I was commissioned by a client who ran a tech magazine to illustrate his upcoming book, "The Internet Guide for New Users." This was one of the full-page pieces I did for the series (other smaller ones have been published here on this Blog). I was instructed to list and depict all the possible uses for this upcoming world-changer: university teaching, high-speed communications, entertainment, information sharing. It was a happy utopian vision which, like others, did not foresee some of the most important consequences of "Internetville." What really came to Internetville? The infinite Mall of Cyberspace Shopping, the tyranny of Big Data, the destruction of the recorded music industry, outsourcing of technical and other labor, the degradation of information into "fake news" and sinister propaganda, and of course, porn.

Original art is black ink with computer graphics stuck on, 8 1/4" x 10 1/4", May 1993. Please click on image for a larger view.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Elric on the Road


I know little or nothing about motorcycles, other than that they make a lot of noise and look great and shiny when well-maintained. I know more about Elric, the albino fantasy king who loses his kingdom and wanders through the world having dreadful adventures. Elric's author, Michael Moorcock, set his Elric fantasy in an elaborate Gothic-late medieval world populated with alternate human races and plenty of monsters, but what if Elric had lived in our modern world? Instead of riding a horse, he'd ride a big bike like this one. I don't know what part of a motorcycle does which, but I can copy from a photograph, no problem. Some bike enthusiast could tell me just where I went wrong on the machine, but Elric, with sunglasses, demon-sword, and smoking joint, is all mine to design.

I have no idea why I did this piece. I think I drew it purely to attract buyers at a convention. And I also don't remember when I did it or which convention I did it for. If I ever find out I will be glad to tell you.

Original is black ink on illustration board, around 8" x 8", possibly 1980s.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

K-17 Cerulean Crystal Sky


Digital art allows me to make any sort of shape and color and layer it over other colors which would melt if I were using real paint. I can take a whole "page" full of my favorite cerulean blue and overlay it with crystalline planes in whatever color I want, even pink. This is a color experiment sketch restricting my color choices to light pastels over the bright blue. The "K" designation is for a series of geometric abstractions done in digital media, most of which have been published on this By-Product. "K" stands for "Kandinsky," a 20th century pioneer in geometric abstract art. 

Photoshop, October 3, 2017. Click for larger view.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Character in a Cluttered Room


Here's another one from my game illustration days. The description of the non-player character says, "A courtesan in a cluttered room." The courtesan business in the city of Haven is perennially profitable but this practitioner seems rather demure, even spinsterish in her room full of cluttery things. You never know, maybe that sort of character would appeal to the milder, older but lonely customer, who might pay her just for the pleasantry of an afternoon without the effort of bedding her. It's a game, it's up to you.

Black ink on illustration board, 5 1/2" x 6 1/2", July 1984.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Return to Rappahannock Cellars


Autumn is just beginning, and "Wine Saturday" took me again to Rappahannock Cellars, where the leaves of trees and vines are turning that special green-gold of the season. Here's another view from the salon window over one of their many vineyards. Evening sunlight washes the scene in fall color. On the viewing and sipping deck outside, a sunshade sails in the breeze.

Sepia brown tech pen ink and colored pencil on sketchbook page, about 5" x 8". Click on image for larger view.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Family Drama of Darkover


Back on Darkover, the family dramas continue. Sometimes the soap opera aspect overwhelmed the swashbuckling and the magic. Here, the woman on the left is asking the gaunt, scarred, careworn Free Amazon on the right where her daughter is. Thirty years ago her daughter had run away from an abusive family situation to join the Free Amazons. What the woman doesn't realize, of course, is that the Amazon she is talking to is her daughter, all grown up. The daughter dies tragically after having revealed her identity on her deathbed. I don't write 'em, folks, I just illustrate.

Original drawing is black ink on illustration board, 7" x 5", summer 1983.

Friday, September 29, 2017

20th Century Moodle: Don't Push that Button


"Don't push that red button, Sir!"
"Why not? Isn't that the button for the nukes?"
"Sir, don't play with the numbers board!"
"Isn't it the nuke button? I've always wanted a nuke that would blow shit up real good! I bet it would work, too. And everyone would know that I am a TOUGH GUY. That's what people respect. It's the only thing they understand. That's why they elected me by the greatest majority ever. They wanted to see things shaken up. I can do that, no problem, I can do that!"
"Please don't touch that button, Sir."
"I'm not gonna let some fat little gook drop the bomb on San Francisco! I have a lot of property there! Nobody has more property in San Francisco than I do. Where's that bomb football?"
"Sir, we are not in a retaliation situation...."
He pushes the button.
The nuke controller explodes, and no signal is given. The Commander in Chief falls to the floor, unconscious. Among the aides and Secret Servicemen rushing in to defuse the situation,    a shadowy figure disguised as a male operative slinks out to a waiting car, where a Russian driver whisks Melania and the real nuclear controls finally out of reach of the President. News isn't the only thing that can be faked.

"Mid-Century Moodle" is markers and colored pencil, 4 1/4" x 4 1/2", September 29, 2017.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Golden Apple Logo


While we're on the subject of old-fashioned literary magazines, here is the logo I designed for the magazine I inherited, "Golden-APA." The apple with "Kallisti" written on it is the symbol for a myth about a beauty contest among Greek goddesses. The apple is the "Apple of Discord," deliberately thrown before the jealous goddesses as a cause of strife. I added the wings when I designed the logo, of which there are many other renderings. "Kallisti" means "To the most beautiful," that is, the Miss Universe crown for beautiful Greek goddesses. You can read about my literary magazine experiences at this older By-Product post from 2016.

Original drawing was about 9 1/2" x 3", black ink on illuminati board, 1999.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Gothic Graphics


As the millennium came to a close, graphic design took a "Gothic" turn, using a lot of black and doing their lettering in old Victorian fonts such as the one above. "The Smoking Shadow" was the header for my printed contribution to an "APA" or "Amateur Press Association, a do-it-yourself magazine made by the readers. Participants would create their own chapter, print it using old-fashioned copy machines, and send it to the co-ordinator who would sort them and staple them into sheafs, each one composed of everyone's contribution. This one was my contribution to an APA called "Point 5," co-ordinated by a member of my own APA, "Golden-APA." "Point 5" had a darker mood to it than my own Golden, so I unleashed bits of writing, such as rants, that were a bit edgier than my usual humor. As I remember I featured an essay each time called "Gross-out Corner," as well as negative literary and musical criticism.

The APA format, in the world of paper, graphics, and mailing lists, disappeared in the early 2000s, replaced by the Internet. I have heard that one or two of them still survive, mostly for a sweetness of literary nostalgia, before the Dark Ages came. The title reflects my obsession with volcanoes, which, uh, peaked around the time of publishing. "Point Five" didn't last very long, and I have no idea what happened to the guy who ran it. I still have my copies.

Original art was ink and added computer graphics, 6" x 3", 1999.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Vineyard Landscape, Early Autumn


Around this time of year the landscape is drenched in a brilliant green gold, not the neon green of Spring leaves but the yellow tinge of plants shutting down for the season. At Winding Road Cellars winery, some of the grapes are still on the vines ready for picking. I have been documenting the growth of this vine patch since it was planted in 2013. I've seen it grow from little twigs to the lush plants you see here. In the winter time the leaves will be gone and with it, the autumn gold.

Some colored pencils have a thick wax composition, such as Prismacolor and Derwent Coloursoft. It's almost like painting a little oil painting, with blending on the painting surface. In this scene, done from a photograph with lots of imagination, I can experiment with a "looser" style rather than the precise renderings I usually make. 

Colored pencil on sketchbook page, some post-sketch color work in Photoshop, 7" x 3", September 2017.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Game Art: Sinister Tower


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

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

Sunday, September 24, 2017

The view from Delphi, 1975


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

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

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

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Adventure Coffee


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

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

Friday, September 22, 2017

Geometrikon Yellow and Blue Experiment


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

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

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Thieves' Guild in Action


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

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

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Nauplia, Greece, 1975



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

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

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Wizards Versus Technocrats


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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, September 18, 2017

Grumpy Physicist


This peeved-looking person is a major character in my imaginary world of Noantri. He is both a physicist and a high-powered techno-magic user. He is famous for having re-discovered the relationship between magic and conventional energies. Currently he is Director of Research at the Institute of Applied Magic in Surakosai city. You may recall my depiction of Surakosai city ages ago. His name is Tanheu, and he is from a foreign country called Khemi. In my portrait he was 60 years old. He just turned 67 this year, on September 7.

So having attained high status in his field, why does this great scientist look so grumpy? And why is he sitting in a corner without his boots on? And what is he thinking? Well, the writing is a combination of mathematical symbols and arcane scientific terminology. It is in his native language, Khemi, rather than the Common Noantri language. He isn't wearing his boots for the simple reason that he is indoors, and you don't wear your shoes indoors.

And why is the physicist grumpy? Because some problems are so difficult that not even a master techno-mage can solve them. The theorist says, "The math is ugly so it can't be right." The experimentalist says, "Just build us the Superconducting Mage-ionic Particle Accelerator" and we'll discover the Great Unity of Seven Forces." None of this has yielded any results and the Accelerator doesn't exist yet. So he considers what form of approach he could use to solve the Problem of Humanoid Interface, let alone the Direction of Time. What is the approach? That is why he is sitting on the floor. He is waiting for his cats to come to him and give him insights. After all, cats are beyond the laws of physics so they may have information that mere Noantri lack.

Sketch is ink on sketchbook page, about 3" x 3", sometime in 2002.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Fall Festival at Falls Church


The Fall Festival and "Taste of Falls Church" is held in mid-September and is always fun to go to. You buy tickets and then exchange them for tasting-size small platters of food cooked by local restaurants. I especially enjoyed the "Panang Curry" Thai chicken dish served over rice. After my tasting I set up Prince Charles' foldable throne and drew these scenes of the fair. There was a big crowd this year and an excellent Latin band playing. The fair also featured jewelry, crafts, trinkets, toys, and civic causes and worthy organizations. This is the second time I've taken my folding art chair on site and it continues to do well although holding it as I wander through a milling crowd of people is sometimes awkward. And sometimes I ended up poking people with it even if they didn't know it was me so I had to apologize for something not quite conscious. The best way to carry the chair is to hold it vertically by the handles sort of like a walking stick, or horizontally by one of the aluminum structural tubes like a photographer's tripod. Some outdoors chairs have a carrying strap you can wear like a backpack sling, perhaps I could contrive that. Anyway when the chair was on the ground it was pleasingly stable and artworthy. I drew this eater in front of the "Original Corn Roast" machine but he was eating frozen yogurt, not roast corn. I didn't try the corn either. 

There was no By-Product yesterday I'm sorry to say due to a failure at the "Blogger" site. It's all fixed now.

Black technical pen ink on sketchbook page, foliage and corrections in Photoshop. 4 1/2" x 8", September 16-17, 2017.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Geometrikon Caerulean


Artist's got the blues in mid September. Look up, northern hemisphere, the equinox nears. I brought out my most precious markers to do this Geometrikon. This color is very hard to reproduce and it fades quickly when exposed to light. My Geometrika made with markers are preserved in sketchbooks, unless I decide to go permanent and use paint or colored pencil (or digital). I have never tested my colored pencils for lightfastness though I have a whole set which is guaranteed fade proof by the manufacturers. Those are for portraits and work which the client will frame and show. Meanwhile the skies drift into bright blue melancholy, as that awful red is already burning on many trees near me. The lavender spheres in the larger circle are tropical storms.

Colored pencil and markers on sketchbook page, 5" x 3 1/2", September 14, 2017.

You might notice something different on the screen for "Art By-Products." After more than 9 years, I've switched the orange to sky, or caerulean, blue. Do you like it? Comments are welcome about this new sky blue world. 

Thursday, September 14, 2017

My New Blue Blankie


My new blanket arrived today, from the "Company Store." They have consistently sold to me any type of warm and luxurious and colorful home fabrics I could want. This blankie is a light cerulean blue in lambswool, advertised as washable in the home washer. I know that winter is just around the corner and I will need the warmth real soon. You see a drawing of it still folded and placed on a stack of Company Store smaller fabrics in different colors. Wooden camp stool by L.L. Bean. Look for a lot of Cerulean Blue and Sky Blue from me as it is my Theme Color for the upcoming year.

Black tech pen ink on sketchbook page, colored in Photoshop, 4" x 6", September 13, 2017.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Cometary Nucleus


This picture dates back to the early 2000s (early!) when I was still using my airbrush to create astronomical-inspired art. I also used acrylic markers which at that time were a new invention and used for commercial work. The astronomical part is the glowing circle which signifies the icy shine that was thought to be a comet's texture. Surrounding it is an aura of gas which floats off it as it is exposed to sunlight. It would take many more years to actually land a probe on a comet, showing us to our amazement that a comet, at least that one, was a grubby, black, rough chunk of space debris. 

Acrylic on illustration board, 11" x 9", May 2004.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Archimede Restaurant Rome 1976



This sketch from 1976 was done in a restaurant, while waiting for my meal to arrive. "Archimede"  is a famous restaurant in Rome which has been in existence for countless years. Some time during its tenure it was run by a gentleman named "Archimede." I am amazed that restaurants can continue to provide over decades, even centuries if you believe Roman legends. My drawing is in Rapidograph technical pen using a reddish-brown ink. At that time the European Rapidograph was the state of the art in tech pens. I acquired a Rapidograph shortly before returning to the USA but my best drawings were made in Rome. The pin-like tiny points of the Rapidograph were hard to draw with, but I was patient. I still have the old pen but it is just too difficult to work with, since it leaks and dries up quickly. The sepia brown Pitt pen from Germany is now my mainstay.

The food at Archimede was excellent. I never saw anyone remove the wine bottles from the shelf over the door. Wine at Italian restaurants is poured directly from the keg into a glass carafe. I have never tasted truly authentic Italian cuisine in the USA, either, unless it is made by an authentic Italian.

Original drawing is Rapidograph tech pen brown ink, about 7" x 9", Rome spring 1976. Drawing is difficult to see; click on image to see closer detail.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Eclipse Blue


Remember the total eclipse? Huh? It was only a few weeks ago, but Nature had other plans to divert our interest and harass us. We got Hurricane Week instead. You don't need special shade glasses to see a hurricane. This little design sketch fits into a journal place left open for more art on the page, retroactively themed to current events. This is about all the eclipse I ever saw. I tried here to capture the eerie shade of blue in partial shadow. The highest amount of sun coverage in my area was 85 percent. An eclipse doesn't wreck your town though. 

Colored pencils and white markers on sketchbook page, 2 1/4" x 5", September 10, 2017. Click for closer view, no shades needed.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Malakki the dwarf jeweler


The game world of "Haven" is what we would currently call "diverse," with people of different races and habits living all together. The usual array of Tolkien-ish types are there such as elves, hobbits, humans, animal-human hybrids, and dwarves. This dwarf is in the jewelry and gem business, as you can see from his desk display and his little scale. He knows the provenance of items brought to him, and he makes the choice as to deal in, or refuse what is obviously stolen material. His image is adapted from an old Dutch painting.

Original image is black ink on illustration board, 4" x 5", spring 1984.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

More Sky Study


I couldn't help myself, I had to draw more clouds. They were so beautiful today and had nothing to do with hurricanes. September is a good month for clouds here in Virginia. I also have an excellent collection of sky blue colors in my colored pencil collection. I have "Light Cerulean Blue," and "Caribbean Sea," and "Ardoise Slate Blue," and "Forget-me-not Blue," and "Horizon Blue," and so many others. Also in this little sketch are the cloud purple-greys such as "Lupine," "Campanula," "Hydrangea," and "Hyacinth," from the luxurious "Irojiten" collection. The darker grey is "Payne's Grey," a classic watercolor shade adapted for colored pencil use. There's more where this came from. Stay tuned for "Autumn Skies."

Colored pencils on sketchbook page, 8" x 3", September 8, 2017.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Starbucks Damsels


I haven't drawn any Starbucks people for a long, long time so here are two. They are young ladies from the high school next door. I am always amazed at these good-looking, clean, and healthy youths and maidens from the nearby school. I call the girls "damsels," as they look nothing like the scruffy girls I went to school with. And I went to a fancy prep school. I was never a damsel; I was a toad. It's a rich school in an affluent neighborhood, so I guess they look so good because they can. And I went to school during the hippie era, when looking fresh and slick was discouraged. The girl at the top was dressed in a sports uniform which was not a cheerleader's garb. A closer look at her companion (not shown here), also in the uniform, showed the logo of the field hockey team. Their colors were red and white.

Black tech pen ink on sketchbook page, 4" x 8", September 7, 2017.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Othmar the Astrologer


In the Gamelords game "Thieves' Guild," Othmar has an astrology practice in the city of Haven. He is an "NPC" that is, non-player character. If a player wants his or her chart done or wants information from the stars as to success or failure, they can go to Othmar. As described in the game manual, he is shabby, ragged, seedy, and ill-smelling, but can deliver useful and maybe even truthful readings and predictions. The incense burners on the table are an attempt to mask his odor. If Othmar is a successful consultant, why doesn't he wash and dress better? It might be a personal choice, or it could be just laziness, which could lead to mistakes. All of which the player has to weigh in, should he decide to test the planets with Othmar.

From "Gamelords" game, ink on illustration board, original drawing 5" x 6", April 1984.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Academy Lamp


Some time ago this year I posted a colored pencil rendering of a glass bottle table lamp at the American Academy in Rome. Well here's another glass bottle table lamp in the same room at the Academy. Behind the lamp is an orange leather sofa and the black hearth of the fireplace in the large parlor. I liked the way I could line up the trapezoid shapes of the hearth and the lampshade at different degrees of rotation. I did this in all colored pencil. The reason I could get such photo-like precision in this drawing is that it's done on a type of very smooth thick paper from the Italian Fabriano makers, that is not available in this country (USA). I keep trying to find an equivalent but haven't succeeded yet, and it has been 42 years. Maybe I can get it by international ordering online.

Portrait of lamp is colored pencil on Fabriano paper, 4" x 6", 1975.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Number 3000


And here we are! This is Post number 3,000 on "Art By-Products." This doesn't necessarily mean 3,000 continuous day-after-day posts, since the By-Product has had to go on hiatus many times during the nine years of its existence. But it does mean 3,000 individual works of art, however small or poor, that I have shown on this Blog. I amaze myself, my friends. I am not the only blogger to keep going for this long; there are others in any number of fields that are offered up by someone who doesn't stop. But I think I deserve at least a place as candidate for the Cal Ripken award for continuous blogging. (This award does not exist. Cal Ripken of the Baltimore Orioles holds the record in baseball for the longest continuous game participation.)

I don't know what the creature is, who holds up the shaggy banner or perhaps a poncho. It looks like a combination of a cat and a dog. A catdog, maybe. Or a lemur? or a dogcat? Or some magical creature from a Harry Potter book. Well, the By-Product is not going to stop, as long as I'm able to do art. The way I see it, as soon as I say that I won't publish every day, then I'll forget to do it altogether real soon. I see it as a worthy exercise in self-discipline, as well as a way to connect with friends and potential art buyers. So here I go, on to the next thousand.

Marker ink on sketchbook page, 6" x 4", September 5, 2017.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Inside the wine cave


A while ago I showed you my color drawing of "Maggie Malick's Wine Cave," an unusual earth-sheltered barrel and tasting room. Here is what it looks like inside. There are steel fermenting vats, boxes and cases ready for delivery, and the tasting bar with attendees. This drawing was also done from a photograph because it was impossible to sit down in the packed space to do a drawing. If I didn't say anything, could you tell the difference between on-site or from a photograph? Possibly, especially if I drew it.

Sepia brown tech pen on sketchbook page, 7" x 5", original image May 2014, ink sketch September 4, 2017.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Shenandoah Memory


This is what the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia looks like in late August. The greenery is still lush but there are touches of yellow. In the distance, looking very blue, are the famous Blue Ridge mountains. I did this sketch from memory. I didn't use a photograph. I suspect most landscape art is enhanced by the artist's memory. I think this area is one of the most beautiful places in the whole world.

Colored pencils on sketchbook page, 7 1/4" x 8 3/4", August 25, 2017.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Sit down and do art


This is my first drawing done while seated in my new outdoor folding chair. The building is the wine castle and tasting room of Horton Vineyards, in central Virginia. Horton is one of the largest and oldest wineries in Virginia and they make enough vino to sell it in big stores like Costco and Trader Joe's. 

Does the chair work for outdoor art? So far so good. In fact if you notice, my lines are really even and they look like I might have used a ruler, but I didn't. Prince Charles' art throne is so stable that I can place art on my lap and I don't have to balance the panel on something to get good lines. I ran out of page space at the left, just as I got to the elaborate doorway, and I am debating whether to go to digital inking and complete it (from a reference photograph) on the Cintiq, which is wondering why it is not being used more. I probably will make a color-tinted version of this. Horton has a wide selection and I ended up getting a bottle of the astronomically appropriate "Eclipse" sweet red.

Black tech pen ink on sketchbook page, 10" x 6 1/2", August 28, 2017.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Cat dozer


My hosts in Staunton have a splendid antique house with pillared porches on both front and back. They also have five cats who are mostly indoor cats but in nice weather they venture outside to lie in the porch areas dozing. I did this pen study of one of the cats, "Nicholas," dozing at the base of one of the majestic back porch columns. He is a cat dozer, the smaller version of a bulldozer. And what do you call a cat dozer by a column? A "caterpillar," of course!

Black tech pen ink on sketchbook page, 5" x 8", August 25, 2017. Click on image for larger view.