Monday, July 28, 2014

Tiger Swallowtail Border


The Tiger Swallowtail butterfly is the state insect of Virginia. What, you didn't know that each state had an honorary insect? Well yes, they do! And this majestic butterfly is also the state insect of North and South Carolina, as well as Georgia and Delaware. Somehow, no state has chosen the cockroach or the fire ant as its state insect. I decided to add the Tiger Swallowtail to this full-summer border for advertising at Trader Joe's. The butterflies are real and you see them flying around in large numbers around this time. Some of them are huge, as big as birds. When they fly at you, you think they could knock you down. Fortunately they are not aggressive, at least against humans.

Ink, markers, and colored pencil on cardstock, 7" x 5", July 27, 2014.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Drooling Dragon


If a Dragon breathes fire, then it would logically drool lava as well. There's quite a lot of heat involved. The skin of this Lava Dragon resembles just-dried Hawaiian lava, a silvery black with a rough wrinkly texture. It's an interesting combination of geology and biology which has its own level in bio-fantastical taxonomy.

"Volcano Dragon" is mixed media on grey colored paper, 8 1/2" x 9 1/2", fall 1998.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Morgaine at her best


Once again, here's the main character from C.J. Cherryh's series of books about the
female time-traveler and adventurer, Morgaine. The white-haired Amazon is depicted in her black and silver armor and white bearskin cape, holding her space-warping "sword." She also has a blaster holstered at her left hip as well as a "utility belt" with ammunition and supplies, since the books are a mixture of fantasy and science fiction motifs. Morgaine has white hair and silver eyes because she is a descendant of an ancient super-race that once ruled the galaxy and left behind the space/time gateways that they built. It is her job to close as many gateways as she can while staying alive during adventures on many worlds.

This picture was bought by a fan at DarkoverCon 1981 and given to C.J. Cherryh on her birthday at Constellation, the Baltimore World Science Fiction Convention, in 1983. I'm sure C.J. has scads of fan art by people around the world and I wonder whether she still has this one or even remembers it. I consider it one of my best small pieces ever, despite its early 1981 date.

Gouache on Fabriano paper, mounted on black mat board, 4" x 8", fall 1981. Clikonthepic for a larger view.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Andrew Acosta Band Returns to Park


Summer in America, our nation goes outside in the evening for concerts and lawn furniture. Kids and dogs playing in the grass, and ice cream from the vendors under the canopies. Fireflies lighting the big trees and evening birds chirping. The dark misery of the world is put aside for just a moment. 

Andrew Acosta and his "New Old-Time String Band" plays every year somewhere in the Falls Church neighborhood and tonight was his turn at the "Concerts in the Park," held at an outdoor venue near the City Hall. As always he brought a good helping of country-musical Americana, somewhere between bluegrass and folk. The band, as seen above, is six gentlemen on various instruments and vocals, including the ninety-six year old fiddler, "Speedy" Tolliver. On the second half of the show, Acosta brought up his other group, "Acosta and Clark," a smaller band with a little bit of drumming and an electric bass. Acosta's sister appeared as vocalist on a few songs and they finished out their set as usual with a Gospel medley.

Pitt technical pen black ink on sketchbook page, about 5" x 8", while sitting on my tiny and uncomfortable folding stool.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Paisley Page


Each page in my sketchbook journal has a different graphic theme, as long as it has text frames. Last week's was Paisley, the time-honored Asian decorative style that was popular in the West during the swingin' Sixties. These swirling, highly detailed, multi-colored designs appealed to the psychedelic stylists whose drug visions may have resembled "Oriental" paisleys. I never indulged in anything psychedelic, I say despite my occasional visits to those visual styles back then or even now. 

"Paisley Page" is ink and water-based markers on sketchbook page, blue background added in Photoshop. July 2014.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Grocery Graphics


When I was first starting out with Trader Joe's I had a boss, called in TJ pseudo-nautical parlance a "first mate" who was a very funny guy. It took me a while to understand his humor, but once I did I learned an important lesson about people. Which is, occasionally what appears to be insults and mistreatment is actually an expression of friendship. Of course you have to be very careful to interpret this correctly. This is much more common among straight guys, or males in general, than among women. It's entirely possible that you are really being insulted or abused. The difference is often non-verbal, as in a non-threatening smile behind the insult. And if this happens between two people who have a very different style of personality, or ethnic culture, it can be trouble. I realized, after more than a year of working with him, that he was treating me like a male friend, because he didn't get the idea that the boyish insults wouldn't win over women co-workers. And he was even more clueless about working with people of other ethnicities or races. That last one finally got him fired, something which some people said "he had it coming." 

However I found him memorable in ways that other, more socially skilled bosses were not. One thing this guy used to say, when we were all upset or disturbed or overworked or angry at each other, was this: "It's only groceries." In other words, it isn't national defense or police work or medicine or something that is a matter of life and death. At least, it usually isn't that dire. Every so often there is a disturbance in the grocery world that makes it clear that we shouldn't take our abundant food supply for granted. A few years ago, it was tainted spinach that got the news. 

Meanwhile I'm advertising harmless (mostly harmless?) olive oil popcorn, using a vaguely retro graphic style, writing something that is perhaps a bit too serious for an art by-product, but there you go.

Olive Oil Popcorn sign is acrylic markers on black-painted Masonite hardboard, 6 feet by 2 feet, July 22, 2014.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Maine Coon Cali


Continuing with my Maine Coon theme I return from my religious meeting having enjoyed the company of my best friends. There is nothing like a group of true friends who pray together and share spiritual experiences. I also enjoyed the beautiful grounds of the retreat house which was home to at least, as I counted it, 32 different species of birds. 

This cat drawing, idealized from a photo, was done as a commission for a Maine Coon cat breeder in Connecticut. It is a lady cat named "Cali," a common cat name for a "calico" multicolored coat. The drawing was supposed to be the logo for the "cattery" but I never knew whether it was used.

I am somewhat allergic to cats even though I love them dearly so I don't have any of my own. I go over other people's houses and stroke and adore their cats. Then I quickly wash off the cat allergens and dust from my hands.

"Cali" is ink on illustration bristol board, 8" x 11", summer 1999.