Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Kids of Kallitechnia


One or more of you might remember my illustration work for a Utopian fantasy called "Kallitechnia." This is one of my later pieces, from the last set I did concentrating on the people and costumes of the place. The author asked me for examples of costumes that children and teenagers might wear. He also asked for a racially diverse group as membership in Kallitechnia was not hereditary or uniform. These young Kallitechnians range in age from 10 to 18. As for the older ones, my client said, "Make 'em showy and sexy. They are in prime mating form and want to impress potential partners."

Black ink on illustration board, about 7" x 10", spring 1998.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Mourao inspiration


I have recently "discovered" the fantastic art of a contemporary Portuguese artist who goes by the name "Mister Mourao." He creates large, incredibly complicated architectural fantasies (he was trained as an architect). Their size ranges from tiny to gigantic, and he has also done illustrations and design for prestigious publications like the "New Yorker" and the New York Times, as well as Apple Corporation. I found a book of his drawings edited to make an "adult coloring book" and I had to have it, not to color but to learn from. Mourao's work is definitely in the "I wish I had drawn this" category.

So naturally, I tried to draw like Mourao. I got through a few inches and realized that Mourao's work is not random or chaotic. Everything in his wild surrealistic world makes sense!  The windows and doors and walls and archways are drawn by an architect who knows how they are built and why they stand up. Since I also have architectural (drawing) training, I can look at a wild and wacky Mourao and figure out just what he's doing. I can't help wondering how long it takes to do one of these detail explosions and also whether he draws a sketch and perspective lines before he goes for the final.

Above is my first attempt at Mourao inspiration. Mine is more chaotic and unreal than his. What looks like an awning is my depiction of a pattern on the paper towels in a roll of Bounty. A bit of Photoshoppage and it looks like 3-D.

Black and brown tech pen inks on sketchbook page, Photoshop added, 8" x 3", July 24, 2017.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Pine Grove Gazebo


Many hotels have gazebos like this somewhere on their property. They are used as a decorative background for wedding photographs. Sometimes they are just ornamental, and people sit in them just to be outside and have a mobile phone conversation, or a smoke. This one belongs to the Hampton Inn in Pine Grove, Pennsylvania, one of the inns I stayed at on my recent Northeastern journey. Pine Grove is sort of near Harrisburg, and the hotel's location has a nice view of wooded hills.There's also a small shopping center, a diner, and a truck stop. I was told when I asked the hotel desk clerk that the gazebo was built by Mennonites. Both the Amish and the Mennonites, with a large presence in eastern Pennsylvania, make plenty of money building wooden structures of all sizes, from gazebos to wine lodges at wineries. 

I had an interesting view of this gazebo from the hotel window. I was looking down on it so I was able to depict the roof and the small cupola at the top. The whole structure was a reddish brown in color.

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, about 5" x 8", July 20, 2017.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Returned from Massachusetts


I only did two drawings during my time in Massachusetts. One of them is this one, done in the waiting area of "Direct Tire" while the two back tires of my Orange Element were being replaced. Massachusetts road conditions were not just the usual rubble and bumpy roads but construction on every major intersection. The digging machines and jackhammers and piles of dirt and ripped apart pavement added to the peaceful summer atmosphere. When they were done the edges of the road were lined with sharp rectangles of granite that can take out your tire in an instant. But I lost a tire to a metal screw (yeah screwed haha not) and had to replace it due to the unfixable puncture along with its matching partner on the car. Thankfully "Direct Tire" was right near my hotel site so they did the work.

The surprisingly brutal Direct Tire slogan displayed here in the main lobby describes my ten days in Massachusetts attending to the family archives and making necessary relative visits. This trip for various reasons was one of the most difficult of my recent drags back and forth. I'm glad I don't have to do this drive again. Blogging will now resume.

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 7" x 5", July 7, 2017.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Magic Carpet Con '95


Been there, done that, designed the T-shirt. In 1995 I was Art Guest of Honor at "Magic Carpet Con" in Dalton, Georgia, in the hills northwest of Atlanta. Dalton is a center for carpet manufacturing, hence the name of the convention and my design. I depicted a patterned carpet unrolling from a galaxy, while a fanciful spaceship dashes by. Marion Zimmer Bradley was Guest of Honor at this convention. The back of the shirt says something like "In Honor of Marion Zimmer Bradley." By that time MZB was in poor health and she died in 1999. The shirt design was printed in black on a white T-shirt but I always thought it should have been printed in light ink on a dark background.

Black ink on illustration board, with computer lettering added, 8 1/2" x 10", October 1995.

A note to my handful of readers: "Art By-Products" will be on break for the next two weeks as I do dutiful things in Pennsylvania and the old home place in Massachusetts.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Nipplecon 1994


I debated whether or not to show this image but eh, why not. I used to do the program cover and T-shirt image for various conventions, especially Pagan and New Age gatherings in my area. There was one called "Ecumenicon," and one called "Sacred Space" which had once been "Ecumenicon," and various others in the fantasy fan category. For "Ecumenicon" 1994, the theme was sacred sexuality and the spring Pagan holiday of "Beltane" celebrating fertility. For my model, I used the heterosexual lovers from the "Lovers" Tarot card. This pleasant pair is holding a copy of a Hindu "Lingam" and "Yoni," symbols of sacred sex. "Mysterium Coniunctionis" is Latin for "The Mystery of Joining," used in Alchemical symbolism. She's wearing roses, he's wearing leaves. As was pointed out to me by other fans, the archway behind them looks kind of like a breast. 

The man and woman in this design are real people, a married couple active in the local Pagan community. When I submitted the design, the directors of the convention thought that I had gotten a bit too explicit with nudity, even though the models' names were never identified. The management had to crop the image to hide the nipples, and move the writing up to fill the space. So much for daring social experiments. Some fans called this "Nipplecon."

Original drawing is black ink and computer-printed graphics on illustration board, 9" x 11", September 1993.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

The Pope with Legs



I spent a lot of time in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, in the various years I lived in Rome. I got to know the monuments and images in the grand barn almost as if they were real people. And I continued to do drawings. This drawing is from a different session than the lantern and  saint. After a Pope died in the early modern to modern era (say, 1500s to early 1900s) the cardinals raised by him took up a collection and commissioned a monument to him. This one is one of my favorites, from 1769. The Pope depicted here is Benedict XVI, who reigned from 1740-1758. He's wearing the beehive-shaped papal tiara crown and is blessing the crowd with his stone arm. In those days it was a big thing to carve stone so precisely that it could be mistaken for real textile or cloud or flesh. The sculptor here gave Benedict a flowing gown which outlines his legs rather like the skirts of a Greek goddess. I suppose Benedict must have had shapely legs. The effect is harder to see if you go around to the other side of the statue. You can read more than you would ever want to know about this monument by visiting this site. There are monuments in St. Peter's to more recent popes including the terrifying one of Pius 12, the pope during World War II.

Here's an atmospheric, rather grainy photo of the interior of St. Peter's and the grand altar, taken by me in 1969. I wonder whether this building and interior, with its evocation of Empire, inspires genuine religious faith, or just awe of human workmanship.


Pope Benedict monument drawing is pencil on sketchbook page, 5" x 7", July 18, 1975. For both images, please click for larger view.