Wednesday, October 26, 2016


Every artist has to do one of these. If they are in New England, where I grew up, if you're an artist, you have to paint at least one lighthouse. If you're in the Southwest, you gotta paint at least one howling coyote and saguaro cactus. If you're in the San Francisco Bay Area, then you gotta do the Golden Gate Bridge. But if you are a genteel indoor-type artist like me most of the time, it's crockery and flowers. I've already painted plenty of flower images so I've got that one covered. When I saw this piece at a local cafe I knew I must have it so I bought it and added it to my collection of Orange Stuff. The catch was, I would have to draw its picture. So here it is, the Orange Teapot. There's this sort of strainer cup inside it which I gather is not for drinking out of but for putting loose tea in. The tab on the cap fits in a hole which anchors the tea strainer so it won't fall off and spill your tea when you move the pot. What to put in it? Orange Pekoe, of course.

Black tech pen ink, markers, and a bit of Photoshopperei, 4" x 3", October 26, 2016. This also satisfies the requirement for freshly done Art By-Product.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Darkover Horse Journey

Most of the time when I post fan or vintage art here, I know when and for what zine it was made and published. But in this case, I haven't a clue. It is just generic, two riders and a pack horse behind them, picking their way through a mountain valley. Well that could happen in any fantasy tale, in fact you pretty much have to have a wilderness journey, just like a thriller movie has to have a car chase. Most of the time, the fan author is not too familiar with horses (except for some lucky ones who are real equestrians) so she passes by the troubles you can get when you're depending on an animal for your transportation. The wonderful (but now wildly and offensively awfully designed) website "TV Tropes" has a whole section about bad horse fantasy writing called "Somewhere, an Equestrian is Crying." Read it and weep - or more likely, laugh. No horses were harmed in the production of this fan fiction. 

....But wait! I found it! From my vague memories I fished out the name of the author of the story, who is a good friend of mine from Darkover time immemorial. From her name I was able to search my art catalogue and find the illustration I did for her story.

Black ink on illustration board, 8" x 10", fall 1983.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Horse Tamers Daughter excerpt 3 and ink rant

My illustrated lyrics for the "Horse-Tamer's Daughter" song were the closest I ever got to doing Darkover themed sequential art. "Sequential art" is a classy way to refer to "comic books" or graphic novels. I dropped in small pieces which matched the line of text nearest to them. In this excerpt the lyrics panel originally would have obscured the body of the horse so I didn't draw it. I still want to do sequential art in this style, black ink drawing with a real old-style dip pen.

However I don't like to draw with dip pen, it's old-fashioned, messy, blot-filled, and hard to correct. For this reason I sunk big bucks into a Cintiq stylus tablet where I could do "digital inking" with no drips and wet napkins messing up and staining my hands. I've done a lot of work on the Cintiq but unfortunately there is a major design flaw in the Cintiq which comes either from Windows 10, Adobe Photoshop, or Wacom the maker of the Cintiq. This is kind of hard to explain but I'll try it. When I set my stylus down and apply pressure to the screen to draw, a little circle appears around the stylus point spot, and then a pop-up menu appears and covers my drawing so I can't draw. This happens almost every time I touch stylus to screen. I have to stop the pop-up by tapping the stylus again. 

I called Wacom and they were at least helpful in saying that it was a known problem. But they were helpless to suggest a remedy and they said to try to contact Microsoft about it. Surely they jest. As for Adobe, they are the least user-friendly graphics software people I know. I searched the Almighty Google for forums where people might have answers, and I did find a few, but they didn't work for me.

I have no idea what is going on and no change or upgrade is forthcoming so I use my Cintiq just as it is, dismissing pop-ups every few seconds when I draw. Thousands of units must have been sold by now so does any other Cintiq user have the problem? One of my favorite artists, Simon Stalenhag, uses a Cintiq just like mine and I would like to contact him about it but he only allows contact through "Tumblr" and I have tried to enter "Tumblr" but failed. OK enough ranting.

Black ink old fashioned dip pen on old fashioned paper, 2" x 6", summer 1984 when no one worried about unwanted computer pop-ups. Click for a larger 2016 view.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Creek's Edge

"Wine Saturday" resumed with the Wine Team's visit to Creek's Edge Winery in Lovettsville, in the very northern tip of Virginia. This winery has been going since 2013 and I am surprised that I haven't found it before. The wine lodge on top of a hill is a masterpiece of Amish craftsmanship. It is made of beautiful wood rescued from old structures in the area and is hand-carved inside and out. The wood is finished with wine-resistant surfacing which is smooth and warm to the touch and the visual richness is enhanced with naturally irregular  edges.

We sampled the "deluxe" tasting series where they featured an interesting chardonnay, a spicy Chambourcin, and my favorite of the group, a red blend named "Foothills," which was also described as "Left Bank Bordeaux." I drew the Winery Drawing while sipping this wine which went well with sausage slices and home-made cheese. 

I think I made a nice page at Creek's Edge. My new "Irojiten" colored pencils produce a quiet range of colors which are best with blended overlay layers rather than heavy saturated color. Also Irojiten makes a perfect "cloud violet" which you can see in the lower drawing.

Sepia brown tech pen ink with colored pencils, and some touching up in acrylic marker and Photoshop, 8" x 11", October 22, 2016. Click on image to see a larger view.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

"Awakening" title page

Here we have yet another dramatic episode between the friends (and later, lovers) Regis (light haired one) and Danilo. Regis gets a psychic vision where he freaks out until Danilo comforts him. Fan writing is full of scenes where one character comforts another for pages of dialogue. I have read an excessive amount of fan writing and there is something about men showing weakness and talking at length about their emotions that just makes the fan writers squirm with joy. This is probably because the real men in their lives would rather poke themselves in the eye socket with a screwdriver before talking about their emotions. I have attempted to read long-form fan fic about TV characters and it had the effect of allergy medicine on me: Caution do not operate heavy machinery while using this medication. May cause drowsiness. I guess that's why you need an "Awakening."

Black ink on illustration board, 8" x 10", August 1986.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Gameworld Sun God Temple

Here's another scene from the "Haven" gameworld. There are many religions to choose from, some of them rich and a good target for thieves. The Sun God cult's temple is well-stocked with precious things especially gold which is naturally sacred to the Golden Sun. 

In these old illustrations of mine gamers were satisfied playing from paper books and a handful of dice. The books were well-illustrated but as in this case only with black and white drawings. Nowadays as you all know gaming is digital and a multi-billion dollar industry. Countless artists, many of them from Asia, produce dazzling full-color arrays of illustrations which are used in games you can only play on an expensive machine. 

I missed my chance to do the modern kind of gaming art, with its super-complex fabulous eye-blasting scenarios and characters. But from what I've heard about the industry since then did not inspire me to enter it, including high-pressure short term contracts, uncertain employment, and rampant sexism. I found my small-scale niche instead among the fine arts and craftsmen and haven't regretted not going for the gaming world too much.

"Temple of the Sun God" original is black ink on illustration board, about 8 1/2" x 2 3/4", spring 1984.

Thursday, October 20, 2016


I don't think it was much of a debate, because anything meaningful was said by only one of the participants. I do think that our American way of life is in danger and I urge anyone American who might stop by here to vote in the election and choose the one on the right side of this drawn-from-TV scribble. You may not like her, but she is the best we're gonna get. I don't do politics usually but this agonizing campaign is one of the most depressing moments in modern American history, up there with the prosecutions of Senator Joseph McCarthy and the "Communist Menace." This campaign has even shown real clandestine Russian influence, making it even more surreal. I wasn't able to do accurate portraits of these two but did manage to capture some of the expressions of the debate.

Black tech pen ink on sketchbook page finished in Photoshop, 5" x 2 1/2", October 19, 2016.