Saturday, September 20, 2014

Belgarath, from Eddings

The "Elderly Wizard Mentor" character in David Eddings' "Belgariad" is "Belgarath," a millennia-old magic user who is also known as "Mister Wolf." The text suggests that he can turn into a wolf. That's why I've put the stylized purple "wolf" head and tail aura behind the character. I don't know what it is about wolves, but the wolf species is hugely popular in fantasy fiction. Not just werewolves, but men and women who have telepathic wolf companions or who run in packs with the wolves. There are wolven warriors in the "Warhammer 40,000" universe who are hybrids of wolf and enhanced human. And the white Arctic wolf has its own fantasy following, including the identification of albino Elric as the "White Wolf."

Back in the early days of storytelling, wolves were Big and Bad and they were enemies of humanity and civilization. You wanted to keep the wolf from your door. But in 20th century fantasy, wolves were rehabilitated into furry heroes. This is probably because no one in modern urban society worries about their livestock (and livelihood) being destroyed by marauding wolves. Many animals who were harmful in the past, such as lions and tigers and bears, are now fantasy darlings.

"Belgarath" is acrylic on illustration board, 5" x 9", May 1987.

Friday, September 19, 2014

More Ruins

Here's another sketch inspired by the photographs of Nadav Kander. I'm not including a link to Kander's website. If you go there, you will see his photographs in glorious wide-screen high def, but in doing so his site will EAT YOUR BROWSER. The Kander site takes command of all your windows and re-sizes them and you can't escape. At least this is what happened to me. Not as bad as the Russian police arresting you for trespassing, but it took me long minutes just to figure out how to exit the website. So I'll just keep drawing my own images of ruins and getting surrealistic. There's a long tradition of picturesque or gloomy ruin painting which I love, so there's a lot more I'd like to depict. And I won't have to breathe radioactive dust in the nuclear desert.

Markers and Photoshop on sketchbook page, 7 1/2" x 4", September 18, 2014.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Dead City of Prolgu

Remember David Eddings? No? Well, earlier this year I posted a bunch of illustrations I made from the cliche-ridden but entertaining books of this now-deceased American fantasy author. Here's a few more. This one, based on Egyptian ruins, shows the entrance to the "Dead City of Prolgu," where the group of stock characters takes refuge as a blizzard approaches. Despite its small size this is one of my favorites of my Eddings illustrations.

"The Dead City of Prolgu" is watercolor and ink on illustration board, 6" x 9", June 1991.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Electrical Ruins

Rather than faded old pieces from decades ago here is some freshly done Photoshop sketch by-product. I'm inspired here by the photographs of Israeli photographer Nadav Kander, who risked his life to depict abandoned Soviet nuclear test sites and secret military colonies in Kazakhstan. I'm fascinated by these abandoned empty places that are still full of radioactivity and menace. I am glad that someone is daring (or crazy) enough to document these hidden sites, like volcano photographers who go up to the rim of the lava lake, so we image-consuming folk can see what's there while someone else takes the risk. This way, surrealism is realism.

Photoshop, 10" x 7", September 16, 2014.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Hollywood Babylon King and Queen

In those days, the days of CostumeCon 1991, I knew a handsome couple whom I really wanted to design for. You see, when I see someone naked or just really good-looking, my first impulse is that I want to DRESS them, and then DRAW them. Artists are funny that way, just ask one if you know one. The problem with my friends here was that they were not costumers and would never wear anything like what I designed. I designed for them anyway just for the sake of showing it around at CostumeCon and then I gave the art to the folks who inspired it, since they didn't attend the convention.

I gave them pseudo-Babylonian outfits with a hint of Deco, just like those wonderful films of the early 20th century that lavished detail of ancient Assyria or Babylon gone by on both sets and costumes. All of the glamour and glitz was loosely wrapped around some moral lesson but was really just pure fun and entertainment. They don't make 'em like this any more. But I can design 'em. "Ardath" is a mythical Babylon-ish city of splendor and corruption imagined by one of my favorite fantasy authors, Marie Corelli, 1860-1925, who wrote Steampunk when it really existed. "Ardath" was published in 1889 and I have done many costume studies for that Hollywood Babylon world.

Two costume studies are ink and watercolor on illustration board, each 6" x 9", February 1991.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Morning Glory Cape

In 1991 I did a series of costume concepts for "CostumeCon," a gathering for costume lovers that is occasionally held near enough for me to go to it easily. I love designing costumes for all types of character including art-nouveau-ish outfits based on flowers. The "Heavenly Blue" morning glory is one of my favorite flowers so I designed a cape in the colors of the flower which could go over a white Victorian gown. The blue predominates but there are white rays through it and at the neckline which would be the center of the flower is a touch of gold evoking the flower's yellow center. There would be quite a lot of fabric in this cape because its pattern if laid out flat would be almost circular, like the morning glory. That shade of blue is hard to find in real fabric and the "Morning Glory Cape" was never built.

Watercolor and ink on illustration board, 7" x 10", February 1991.

Sunday, September 14, 2014


As you may know, I've been slammed by a severe cold and probably bronchitis resulting from that, so I haven't been able to go to work or do any art. All I do is cough. But I can draw a little bit in my sketchbook journal, and the theme of this page is "owls." I am a bird lover and owls are some of my favorite birds, mainly because they are up at night the way I am, and no one ever blames them for sleeping all day long. There is a family of Barred Owls in my backyard, and during the breeding season I can hear their calls in the night. The owl portrait head at the top is a "Saw-whet" owl, a tiny little owl which doesn't come into my area very often.

The Barred Owl looks like this: 

And they have a fascinating repertoire of noises and calls. Not just the "Who cooks for youuu" characteristic call, but squeals, whines, screams, whoops, and my favorite, the caterwaul. The Barred is the only owl I have ever seen in my neighborhood with my own eyes, though I've heard them all along. During a snowstorm last winter, someone was shoveling snow under a tree and disturbed a roosting Barred Owl by daylight. What a bother for the bird! I saw it fly away from the shoveler and find a perch higher up on another tree. After a while it settled in and closed its eyes until nightfall. 


Last on the Owl Page is this red-phase Screech Owl, another owl I've heard but never seen. This one has the cute little feather "ears" that make it so characteristic. 

That's all for the bird world tonight. I thank "Birds and Blooms" magazine for the owl photos, which were my drawing references. Pitt brown and black technical pen on sketchbook page, color and some touch-ups added in Photoshop.