Thursday, August 28, 2014

Morgaine or Elric

This picture could be either C.J. Cherryh's Morgaine or Michael Moorcock's Elric, though I meant it to be Morgaine. Just a little photoshoppery on the sword and on the character's chest and you'd get Elric. The character is riding the "Universal Horse" (that is, no matter what fantasy world you're on, the horses are all standard Earth species equines.) In fact everything in this picture can be found as a cliche on the wonderful website "" which enumerates "Mystical White Hair" and "Automaton Horse," not to mention "Magical Sword" which probably covers everything.

"Morgaine at Exiles' Gate" is watercolor on illustration board, 8" x 11", November 1989. Rescued from a bad photograph by the magic of Photoshop. Klik for a larger view.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Oley Valley, PA, August 2006

Once upon a time, not even 10 years ago, I had more money at my disposal and was able to take time off from work to travel around the countryside drawing things. These two colored pencil drawings come from that pre-Crash era, when I was touring through eastern and central Pennsylvania in Amish country. The location is Oley Valley, Pennsylvania, which appeared in a poem by modernist 20th century American poet Wallace Stevens, who was born and raised there and had strong historical family ties to that region.

"One of the limits of reality
Presents itself in Oley when the hay,
Baked through long days, is piled in mows…"

(From "Credences of Summer," part IV)

Stevens is one of my favorite poets, despite his expectation that the reader will be as sophisticated and well-informed as he is in order to get the density of references he writes about. He also writes from a position of social privilege which is hard to take in the politically edged culture of our current time. 

Literary Criticism aside, these are the colored pencil landscape studies which morphed into my winery drawings a couple of years later, when I traded traveling in other U.S. states to visiting wineries in Virginia. 

Colored pencil on sketchbook page, 8 1/2" x 11", August 14, 2006. Some Photoshop restoration in the sky area. Cliquez for larger view.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Magical Amazon

Sometime back in the sultry August of 1983 I got two fan friends of mine to pose for me, an athletic, well-endowed woman and her skinny boyfriend. They dressed in minimal attire and posed in my Cambridge, Massachusetts back yard. I paid them money and possibly a bit of art as well. They took just the kind of action poses I wanted for my fantasy pictures. She had the required red hair and large chest and though she was not trained or a "real" fighter she could wield her props in an entertaining fantasy way. This is the origin of the picture for today, "Magical Amazon." There is no story to this piece, only a figure study with some nice colors and special effects. It's one of my better figure pieces, which perhaps is not saying much but she looks better than my usual awkward attempts. Somewhere in my crammed studio are the photos I took of this helpful couple. I wonder where they are now. 

"Magical Amazon" is acrylic on illustration board, 12" x 16", August 1983. It was shown, and sold, at the World Science Fiction Convention in Baltimore, Md. later that month. Click for larger view.

Monday, August 25, 2014


A Starcat plays with planet Earth. Your cat would, too, if he got the chance. This piece is an attempt at a more "graphic" style, that is, flatter and more stylized. The nebula background is done with an airbrush. Cat lovers and astrophysics lovers often go together, because cats challenge the laws of physics and cosmology. They have variable mass, and often absorb or bend light like a black hole. Watch the galactic cat leap through space-time! If you look closely, you can see the dimensions of the cosmic Paw...

"Starcat" is acrylic on black illustration board, 10" x 7", January 1987.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Chaos Castle

British fantasy author Michael Moorcock, who is still turning out the fantasy in the 21st century, evidently had quite a time in the 1960s and 1970s. His fantastic worlds and descriptions might give one the idea that he was smoking and/or dropping some interesting biochemicals, but this is a longstanding tradition in British writing anyway. He also represented one of the basic philosophical themes of midcentury fantasy writing, that is, the perpetual war between Order and Chaos, or the Lords of Law and the Lords of Chaos. Chaos definitely has the better lines and the better designs in Moorcock's work. This castle, in the 1970 story "The Singing Citadel," was created by a jester at the Court of Chaos in order to invade Earth's dimension with wacky chaotic games. Elric, Moorcock's albino exiled king/adventurer, must confront the jester with even more Chaotic firepower. 

"Chaos Castle" is ink and markers on sketchbook page with a little Photoshop, 4 1/2" x 7", August 20, 2014. There is a baseball sticker on the lower left corner of this image. Klik for larger view. 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

August Twilight

Around this time of year the tree colors become muted and grey, especially at twilight. The sky becomes a grayish orange, the colors of the environment fade. I've done many studies of this evening moment and this is my latest version done digitally on Photoshop. These are the trees I see out my window. Photoshop has got some great leaf-texture "brushes" and I'm using them here to my sketching advantage. 

Photoshop, about 9" x 6", August 22, 2014.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Umbrellic Geometry

Is this a spiderweb with a spider in it? Or a steampunk satellite dish? No, it's a little umbrella, which kept most of the rain off me while we waited for the weather to clear at the ballpark. It's another example of my sketching in the "geometry of ordinary things" theme. The metallic supports of the umbrella fabric resemble a spider with eight legs. In this view, the umbrella is only partly opened so that you can see the pattern made by the metal frame and rods. This marvel of "umbrellic" architecture is sitting upside down as it dries after its use in the rain.

Pitt black technical pen ink on sketchbook page, about 5" x 8", August 21, 2014.