Friday, May 20, 2016

Brandeis Graduate Flying Cape

Hooray! I'm a graduate! Well, I graduated from Brandeis University in 1975, so it was a while ago, but this was a tryout for my yearbook picture. I had a friend pose me with my cloak of levitation at the top of a stairway, and she took a number of pictures. I liked this one but did not choose it for the yearbook, since I wanted a face portrait. Forty-one years later I'm still a costume fan and Brandeis graduate. Congratulations to everyone around me who is graduating from college or celebrating other happy occasions.

I'm still in Massachusetts working through the clearing of the old family house and will be there for some time. This picture comes from a pile of photos and memorabilia which will have to be sorted and preserved when I take it back to Virginia. I am too busy with the helpers and art removal to do any art myself. But I'm making progress unloading all the STUFF that has been in this house gathering dust for all these years.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Lythande and the Pit of Hell

Here's Lythande again, Marion Zimmer Bradley's cross-dressing magic user. This time she's gazing down into what ignorant villagers believe is the entrance to Hell. In reality, as I dimly recall the story, it was something more prosaic such as a natural gas leak in an earth crater. This kind of thing does occur and it looks like a hell pit to onlookers. Somewhere this story and my art are stashed away in a closet which also resembles a portal to Hell though a dusty and paper-crumbly one rather than a hell of gas and fire.

Meanwhile it's back to the old family house for more toil and clearing, and I don't know how long it will take. So posting here will either be on hold or will appear sporadically.

"Lythande and the Pit of Hell" is black ink on illustration board, about 6 1/2" x 6 1/2",
winter 1995. Published in "Marion Zimmer Bradley's Fantasy Magazine," 1995.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Modern City in Ruins

This is my first professional job as an illustrator. I did it as the frontispiece of a collector's item book by Gregg Press. Gregg, based in Boston, was publishing high-quality editions of classic science fiction and fantasy literature. One of their main authors was Philip K. Dick, who led the genre with disturbing, avant-garde stories and novels. This illustration was for a collection of short stories, "A Handful of Darkness," published in 1977. Since there were many stories with many themes, I didn't do anything specific. But there was a story set in a post-apocalyptic scenario, so I went with the modern city in ruins. In those days it wasn't as much of a cliche as it is now. There's a lot of technical pen work in this piece, and I'm glad to say it still looks good 39 (!) years later. I later did many more of these black and white Gregg Press frontispieces, not only for Dick but for Zenna Henderson stories, and then Marion Zimmer Bradley, which was a career-maker for me in the 1980s.

Original is black ink from Rapidograph technical pens, 11" x 14" (maybe), 1977.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Slinky Inky Dragon

I do love drawing dragons. They come in so many types and styles. This one here is what I would call a "slinky" dragon, long and sinuous and flexible like the well-known metal spring toy. She has plenty of reptilian heritage but can take to the air like a proper flying creature as well. She doesn't have feathers but does have decorative, mosaic-like scale patterns. I drew her in ink but she'd be lovely in color too.

"Slinky Inky" is black tech pen ink on sketchbook page, 7" x 2 1/2", May 9, 2016.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Elric ink drawing and Barry Windsor-Smith

This is a very early piece of mine from the mid 1970s. It depicts Michael Moorcock's fantasy hero, "Elric of Melnibone" in action. It is done in the style of my favorite comic book artist of that time (or any time), Barry Windsor-Smith. He was a British artist who broke in with Marvel Comics when it was still possible to submit an individual portfolio and get work immediately. He started out imitating the drawing and inking style of more popular comic artists but as he progressed he brought out the wonderful Art Nouveau/Pre-Raphaelite look that made him so great. He was heavily influenced by 19th century illustrators and artists such as Edward Burne-Jones or Alphonse Mucha. 

I copied Windsor-Smith's artwork hoping to learn how to draw like him. This Elric piece was inspired by the work Windsor-Smith did for Marvel's "Conan the Barbarian" stories. Elric appears in one of the stories, in a collaboration that is one of my collection treasures. Windsor-Smith used intricate pen work as well as beautifully drawn action figures and fantastic architecture and scenery. The only problem I have with his art is that his faces are kind of clunky, with small eyes and big long square jaws even for women, again borrowing heavily from the Pre-Raphaelites. But anyway I still want to draw as well as Barry.

Unfortunately something happened to Barry Windsor-Smith, some sort of mental problem. He published his terrifying psychedelic (but non-drug, according to him) experiences in his two collector volumes, "Opus," and since about 2010 he has published nothing. No one even in the industry is willing to talk about what happened to BWS. It's a shame that his great work is not continuing.

"Elric" sketch is black ink on sketchbook page, 1976.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Mid-Century Blue

Here I am again, bringing back that chic Mid (20th) Century Modern to the blogworld. I found myself needing an authentic current art piece for the By-Product, rather than the dusty sheets of faded 1990s art I've been working through. So I went to the markers in the plastic disc and a circle template, and here ya go, a bit of charm. Of course it doesn't stop in the 1960s as this is a "hybrid" piece finished in Photoshop. Y'know this wouldn't be half bad as a large wall-sized canvas but I don't have a slick commercial patron or a celebrity to commission it. Meanwhile I struggle with an annoying dental problem which is keeping me from schlepping up to Boston to resume the clearing of the pestiferous old family house. Until that's taken care of I won't be running anywhere just yet. You didn't need to know that but there it is for now.

"Mid-Century Blue" is markers on sketchbook page, colors added in Photoshop, 6 1/2" x 5", May 7, 2016.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Kallitechnia Panorama 2

Mr. Kallitechnia Client asked for two versions, vertical and horizontal, of the panoramic view of his utopian village. You already saw the vertical version, so here is the horizontal version. If you look closely at the layout, you can find all sorts of buildings and infrastructure: a little glass-covered mall at left, a major supply tunnel under the center, a lake shore and a boat house with a climbing cliff at right, and multi-level social spaces. At the top is the climate-controlled dome which connects with all the residences and classrooms. There is also a playing field at lower center and terraces for growing herbs and vegetables. And where would such a place be built? In a place full of utopias and experimental architecture, of course: Kallifornia!

Original art is black ink on illustration board, 14" x 11", March 1997. Click on this image for a larger view.