Saturday, November 16, 2019

A Californian at Harvard 1977


In 1977 I was in Harvard Graduate School studying Greek and Latin classics. I lived in a luxurious dormitory and had a close circle of studious friends. I continued to do a lot of art work, something which eventually ended my career as a classicist. The girl (woman?) you see in this little ink portrait was Mary from Whittier, California, who was not a classical scholar but a modern language student specializing in German and Germanic languages. I drew her with an imaginary beach behind her. She was very "Californian," naturally blonde hair and all. After a few months at Harvard among the snows and ice, she was miserable. The California culture just didn't do well so far removed from the sun. In late summer I visited Southern California with Mary and the reverse was true - I didn't have a good time there either. Within a year all my Harvard friends had scattered, leaving graduate school for other challenges. Mary decided to go to law school instead, and that was the last I ever saw of her.

Brown ink with tech pen on sketchbook page, 4 1/2" x 2 1/2", 1977.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Lost One Technocrat: RIP Spike MacPhee

The By-Product is saddened to hear of the passing of Spike MacPhee, space pioneer, virtual reality master, and patron of science fiction artists for many years in the Boston area. Spike was one of my first customers and he placed my art in a virtual gallery in the online world of "Second Life." 

Here is the entry I placed on this Blog honoring Spike and his community.



Thursday, November 14, 2019

November Night


The moon is as big as a basketball, at least it seems so. It's not a basketball, though. The November Moon is called the "Beaver Moon" as the critters are preparing for winter these days. You might not be able to see the colorful leaves by night unless you used some artificial, not lunar illumination. This image would take a long time to do if I were using conventional paint but with Photoshop I can splatter color all over the canvas or board without spilling a drop. 

Photoshop, 7" x 8", November 14, 2019.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Moorcock Sepiriz the Giant 1977


This character, "Sepiriz" the giant, appears for a scene or two in Michael Moorcock's 1965 book "Stormbringer." He is at least 8 to 10 feet high, an immortal warrior who joins with Elric in the ultimate battle of Order vs. Chaos. In this phase of his existence he is clad in skimpy furs and drives a huge golden chariot. Moorcock is still alive and active in writing. It would be fun to re-visit his books now and see whether they have aged well. There is a common thread between English fantasists Bulwer-Lytton, Corelli and Moorcock: a dying Empire, a lost super-race, and a Tolkien-inspired diversity of races and creatures.

I brought the Stormbringer book home from Europe and while in my first year at graduate school, I drew many a Moorcock illustration, just for the fun of it. As a scholar of antiquity this type of fantasy set in an ancient world was a rich source for me. Many illustrators have worked on Elric both in word and picture. These range from the psychedelic to the gruesome and grotesque, and if I did any more illustrations I'd probably leave the gore and guts to someone else. 

Black ink on sketchbook page, 3" x 5", 1977.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Moorcock Horrific Sacrifice Scene 1976


You are warned that something horrific is about to take place in this illustration page. It isn't from Corelli, though she wrote this kind of operatic/horror scene into Ardath at least once. The author here is probably Michael Moorcock, who specialized in a mix of fantasy and horror. Many British writers (and French, too!) enjoyed creating massive scenes of "savage ritual" and human sacrifice, inspired by colonialism and historical discoveries. After all, many ancient civilizations practiced human sacrifice, some on a grand scale. Here on this page I'm following the author's detailed verbal description, which I can't find right now but may be in "Stormbringer" by Moorcock. Or it may be another author. There is too much dust on the shelves to find it right now. 

In this blood-drenched scene, some helpless soul is about to be dispatched by the huge, muscular black slave (standard race and procedure of antique fantasy) while the dazzling but veiled Evil Priestess-Queen prepares to signal with her scepter. Courtiers in richly colored robes kneel as the ritual proceeds. I don't think you could pay me enough to depict this again. But it was 43 years ago and that might as well be 1876 rather than 1976.

Brown ink colored with watercolor on sketchbook page, 5" x 7 1/2", 1976.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Geometrikon Fish Eye


Arteza's marker pens have a lot of really pretty colors, especially in the blue section. My fade test shows that these colors will fade in window light though not a lot. Good enough for illustration and concept art as well as doodles and experiments. Here's a Geometrikon using a few of these colors. Some areas here are colored pencils. This is a tiny picture so scanning and enlarging are necessary. One of my friends who works with cloth and fiber for decorative quilts suggested that designs like these might make nice small quilts. I'm tempted to start collecting fabric but really not now, one or two media are enough.

Markers and colored pencil on sketchbook page, about 2" x 1", November 11, 2019.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Moorcock Birdman


This one is rather hard to see but it's good enough to blog in my 1976 series. This flying birdman was a fighting character in Michael Moorcock's "Stormbringer," an apocalyptic tale of Elric the albino sorcerer-king. The bird-man is sort of like "Hawkman," the DC comics heroic winged character, but we readers don't have much time to spend with him, as he only appears for a page or two never to return.

Brown ink in technical pen on sketchbook page, a bit of Photoshop restoration, 5" x 4 1/2", 1976.