Thursday, July 24, 2014

Paisley Page

Each page in my sketchbook journal has a different graphic theme, as long as it has text frames. Last week's was Paisley, the time-honored Asian decorative style that was popular in the West during the swingin' Sixties. These swirling, highly detailed, multi-colored designs appealed to the psychedelic stylists whose drug visions may have resembled "Oriental" paisleys. I never indulged in anything psychedelic, I say despite my occasional visits to those visual styles back then or even now. 

"Paisley Page" is ink and water-based markers on sketchbook page, blue background added in Photoshop. July 2014.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Grocery Graphics

When I was first starting out with Trader Joe's I had a boss, called in TJ pseudo-nautical parlance a "first mate" who was a very funny guy. It took me a while to understand his humor, but once I did I learned an important lesson about people. Which is, occasionally what appears to be insults and mistreatment is actually an expression of friendship. Of course you have to be very careful to interpret this correctly. This is much more common among straight guys, or males in general, than among women. It's entirely possible that you are really being insulted or abused. The difference is often non-verbal, as in a non-threatening smile behind the insult. And if this happens between two people who have a very different style of personality, or ethnic culture, it can be trouble. I realized, after more than a year of working with him, that he was treating me like a male friend, because he didn't get the idea that the boyish insults wouldn't win over women co-workers. And he was even more clueless about working with people of other ethnicities or races. That last one finally got him fired, something which some people said "he had it coming." 

However I found him memorable in ways that other, more socially skilled bosses were not. One thing this guy used to say, when we were all upset or disturbed or overworked or angry at each other, was this: "It's only groceries." In other words, it isn't national defense or police work or medicine or something that is a matter of life and death. At least, it usually isn't that dire. Every so often there is a disturbance in the grocery world that makes it clear that we shouldn't take our abundant food supply for granted. A few years ago, it was tainted spinach that got the news. 

Meanwhile I'm advertising harmless (mostly harmless?) olive oil popcorn, using a vaguely retro graphic style, writing something that is perhaps a bit too serious for an art by-product, but there you go.

Olive Oil Popcorn sign is acrylic markers on black-painted Masonite hardboard, 6 feet by 2 feet, July 22, 2014.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Maine Coon Cali

Continuing with my Maine Coon theme I return from my religious meeting having enjoyed the company of my best friends. There is nothing like a group of true friends who pray together and share spiritual experiences. I also enjoyed the beautiful grounds of the retreat house which was home to at least, as I counted it, 32 different species of birds. 

This cat drawing, idealized from a photo, was done as a commission for a Maine Coon cat breeder in Connecticut. It is a lady cat named "Cali," a common cat name for a "calico" multicolored coat. The drawing was supposed to be the logo for the "cattery" but I never knew whether it was used.

I am somewhat allergic to cats even though I love them dearly so I don't have any of my own. I go over other people's houses and stroke and adore their cats. Then I quickly wash off the cat allergens and dust from my hands.

"Cali" is ink on illustration bristol board, 8" x 11", summer 1999.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Cat Sketches

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a cat lover. I adore housecats and will pay worshipful attention to them whenever I can. I was over some friends' house last night and I drew pictures of their cat "Cinnabar." She is a lovely brown tabby with medium long fur and tufts on the tips of her ears. She may have some Maine Coon ancestry though she is a small cat. She moves quickly and zips along as fluidly as a droplet of mercury, hence the name ("Cinnabar" is a mercury compound.). When drawing cats, sometimes less is more and a few lines can convey an entire creature. 

Cat sketches are brown Pitt technical pen ink on sketchbook page, about 5" x 7 1/2", July 14, 2014. 

A note to my handful of readers: Photoshop is working, but I will be away from my studio this weekend to attend a meeting of my religious group, so no blogification until I return on Monday next week.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

City of Amber detail

This is an excerpt from CITY OF AMBER, the last of the 4 great hyper-detailed 
“city” pictures I did in the ‘90s. AMBER was commissioned by Elektra and Michael Hammond, who already owned many of my works. The picture was based on the swashbuckling fantasy series by Roger Zelazny, THE CHRONICLES OF AMBER. The vertical format panorama shows a wildly detailed Italian-Renaissance style city sited on a mountaintop, with numerous borrowings from European buildings of that era. The royal palace is topmost, with its magical reflections in the sky. A selection of characters from the Zelazny books appears in various places in the foreground.Two of the Hammonds’ prize Maine Coons are also depicted in the picture, though not in this view.

This painting took five painstaking months. Some of it was painted under a magnifying glass with miniature brushes. No computer was used anywhere in the project. 

The whole painting of CITY OF AMBER is acrylic on gessoed hardboard (Masonite), 24" x 36", June-November 1999. Click on the image for a larger view.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Trader Joe's Maurice Sendak Tribute

The management asked for an eye-catching sign which would inform our customers that the store would now be open later. So I came up with one of my creatures, a cross between an owl and a cat. It ended up looking a lot like the creations of Maurice Sendak, one of America's most beloved book illustrators. I hope this will appeal to the Trader Joe customer, who probably has children who read and look at Sendak's books.

Trader Joe's Sendak Tribute is ink on card stock, about 10" x 8", July 14, 2014. Scanned in and colored in Photoshop. PS Note: Helpful friends have shown me how to reset the Photoshop crop tool and it is restored to working correctly again.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Coconut Oil

At Trader Joe's they choose their specialties carefully but also respect what's trendy in culinary circles. These last couple of years, coconut oil has made a comeback in the "healthy foods" category. I remember back to my youth when coconut oil, which was a favorite for deep-frying and fondue, was reviled as the worst possible oil you could use. Nowadays it's promoted as full of nutrients and "fatty acids" which are supposed to do all sorts of good things for you and paradoxically help you lose weight. So here on the billboard is the TJ coconut oil which comes in a jar and is also usable as an ointment which will keep your skin soft. The price number is superimposed on a green coconut, not the ripe ones which are brown and shaggy. Everyone eat coconut stuff now, it's all over the shelves at Tropical Joe's. 

Acrylic markers on black-painted Masonite board, 6 feet x 2 feet, July 13, 2014.

A Blogification note: I am having some trouble with Photoshop CS4. The "crop tool" which crops photographs and scans has failed and will not crop or adjust the size of pictures. As far as I know this is the only thing in PS that has gone wrong so far. I've tried re-starting my system many times and have unplugged and re-plugged my Wacom tablet to no avail. I don't want to have to completely re-install Photoshop which will lose me many of my pre-set brushes and all my color swatches, but I may have to. Until this problem is solved I am processing photos on my laptop but the logistics of moving it to a new workspace and transferring files are cumbersome. There may be some interruptions in By-Product posting. Photoshop advice is welcome.