Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Art Barn summer 1972

I don't have much formal art training, but I did go to art school in a concentrated summer session in 1972. This was at the Boston University Art School's summer program which took place in Lenox, Massachusetts, in the scenic Berkshire hills near the famous concert hall in Tanglewood. I had an almost unbearably cultural summer there while struggling with my own religious path undergoing pressure to "accept Jesus into my heart" from Fundamentalist classmates. I also made a lot of student art in oil paint and watercolor. 

This piece was done in sepia pen work. In those days I had a pen called the Pelikan Graphos. This was a combination of a flexible point metal dip pen and an ink reservoir in the handle. You could use real sepia India ink. I did this picture and many others with the Graphos. But the pen had a lot of design flaws. The pen was constantly leaking as it didn't  have a sealed cartridge. And the handle reacted to the solvents in the ink and got corroded. You couldn't take your Graphos traveling because the movement of a car or even an art bag caused it to drop ink. Pelikan discontinued the Graphos and it is only available in relic form on eBay for too much money. But boy, when that Graphos was working, I could draw some cool stuff including this pen-line-fest of a drawing of our communal art studio. You can see the easels and the paint tubes and the wooden structure of the "art barn." I was always afraid that this rather shaky shed was going to either burn down from all the flammable art materials and a lightning strike, or else it would just collapse on its own. Boston University dropped its summer art school sessions some years after I was there, and the art barn disappeared along with the Pelikan Graphos. As for Jesus and my heart, that went a very different way and I don't want to talk about Jesus on this By-product blog.

"Art Barn" is sepia India ink, Pelikan Graphos pen on sketchbook page, 5 1/2" x 11", August 1972. Click on the image to see the mad pen line work. 

I'm off to DarkoverCon this weekend, so no By-Product till I return on Monday December 2.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Elf Rockers

OK, this is one of my stupider pictures, but it is in the collection so I might as well show it. Around the time this was painted, there was a fantasy fad of putting elves and other familiar genre figures into modern settings especially rock music and car racing. These tales were quite popular and illustrations and fan art followed. The rock music for elves was not the grunge or heavy metal of more realistic rock but the "hair" or "glam" rock where beautiful, androgynous blonde creatures would cast spells with stagey shows and glitter costumes. It all seems dated now but there are of course "tribute" bands where aging elves with a "muffin top" around their spandex waistbands trot out the songs of yesteryears.

"Elf Rockers" is ink and watercolor on illustration board, 7" x 10", May 2002.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

My Medieval Age 1972

In 1972 I had the identity of a medieval scribe and illuminator in a scriptorium. I wrote in Carolingian minuscule (early medieval hand script), dressed as a monk in a long robe, read Latin manuscripts, and created art work like this one above. This illumination, done in a modern version of an eleventh-century Germanic style, features four saints. From upper left clockwise: St. Cecilia, patron saint of music, playing an organ. Saint Jerome patron of scholars, with his book, his pet lion, a cardinal's hat, and a skull. The Virgin Mary, opening a door to the heavenly world of Christianity, and Saint Luke, patron of artists, with a sketchbook and his symbol, the winged lion. The ornamentation is borrowed from medieval manuscripts as well.

In those days I was a common eccentric medieval-obsessed type. If I had been in the Society for Creative Anachronism, I would have done more of these artistic things but I was intent on my religious life at the time and the SCA was determinedly non-religious. This piece is the frontispiece for my 1972 journal.

Medieval Frontispiece is heavy watercolor on paper, about 8" x 10", early 1972. Click on the image for a larger view.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Winter Solstice at Trader Joe's

The seasons passeth at Trader Joe's, and Winter cometh to our land. This familiar landscape will advertise Holiday Season goodies, sweets and treats for our customers. Instead of the usual Holiday hokum I have reproduced the winter solstice sunrise over Virginia's Blue Ridge hills. The writing goes in the central empty panel. It is a version of my "winter wine" background for "The Earthly Paradise," my wine and landscape picture book. Remember folks, "Earthly Paradise" is coming soon! I can get eschatological about my commercial art if I want to.

"Art Studio" app on iPad, finished in Photoshop, 8" x 5". This is the first art I have done for Trader Joe's on the iPad.

Sunday, November 24, 2013


Recently I've begun following the blog and podcast of Michael Nobbs, a British or Welsh artist who lives in Wales. It's called "Sustainably Creative" and it's about how to do art when you have very limited time, energy, or availability. Michael has an autoimmune disorder which severely limits his energy and ability to do daily tasks, let alone art. So he has put together a strategy for working around those limits. He does a daily podcast (voice blog) which is about five minutes long, and longer podcasts and videos occasionally. He also has blog posts, strategy "courses" you can take, and booklets of his art, too. In my case it's not sickness (not yet, that is…) it's the time and energy my day job takes away. One of his strategies is something I already do: draw something every day, no matter how small or ordinary or mundane. I do this and call it the DotD or "Drawing of the Day." I don't do one every day but most days. The one above was drawn at the Honda center where they were replacing a plastic panel on my car. The tires in the rack had an appealing pattern. 

And this one is a "still life" on the hairdresser's shelf which I drew as I was getting my hair done. You can see the tube spray can of hair spray as well as the tall jar full of disinfectant in which they keep combs and picks. And there's a cup of tea. Michael Nobbs, true to his Britishness, is always mentioning and drinking tea. I think that's a good idea, too, just a little pick-me-up to drink in a civilized way. "Sustainably Creative" is refreshingly far away from so many teeth-gritting, muscular, high pressure, rock-climbing "personal development" sites which expect you to be a superhero. I'd rather sketch and drink tea.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Darkover Castle

It's that time of year again…not only Thanksgiving, but DarkoverCon. This convention has run for 36 years, and I've been to 34 of them. The convention, which has taken place in Timonium north of Baltimore for almost half that time, has been run by the same person all those years. But she passed away earlier this year, and with her goes the convention that she was central to. This year's DarkoverCon will be the last one. Next year another convention with another name and other staffers will take its place. With DarkoverCon 36, we surviving members will pay tribute to the convention, its history, and its colorful personalities. I'll be showing a retrospective series of my best Darkover art in print form, including the castle scene here.

This is "Comyn Castle," home to the Darkovan ruling sector, known as the "Comyn." These warrior and magic-using aristocrats are distinguished by their psychic powers and their flame-red hair (remember: IFRR In Fantasy Redheads Rule). The light is the pinkish red of the Red Sun of Darkover. This photo enhances the effect of the red light on the castle, which is built of blue-ish crystalline stone.

So, goodbye DarkoverCon, it was a fabulous run. The World of the Red Sun will live as long as memory and media survive.

"Comyn Castle" is acrylic on illustration board, 10" x 7", November 1996.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Owl Character

Ornithologically this is not a real owl of any species. It is a fantasy owl character with a few dragon-ish features. I like owls because they're like me, up most of the night. Real owls show up in my building's back yard and make noise during the spring and the fall. This fellow may even be sentient, if he is in a fantasy story. The spiky feathers probably will smooth down once he gets a little calmer about being in a blog.

Ink and greyscale markers on sketchbook page, with some Photoshoppage, 4" x 4", November 22, 2013.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Administration Building of Heaven

Even Heaven - perhaps especially Heaven - needs administration. You wouldn't want souls to go to the wrong place or the wrong area. You need more than just the Pearly Gates, you need GPS (Glorious Positioning System) to find your way to the pasture or city of your choice, once you've been interviewed and analyzed for your moral quality. Any number of things need to be attended to and this is one of the buildings where that work takes place. I painted this little picture inspired by another larger one I had done a bit earlier, my "Persian Heaven" picture, "City of Light." The earthly model for the "Administration Building of Heaven" is a pavilion at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair.

"Administration Building of Heaven" is 9" x 11", acrylic on illustration board, November 1996. Click on the image for a larger view.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Another Little Mecha Monster

Coming at you with an angry buzz, or sometimes with no sound at all, it's a little insectoid flyer with enhanced jet-paks on its back. It has articulated arms with sticky burning fingertips, and extendable stingers on both sides. Even though it's only the size of a bean, it can hurt or kill you with potent chemical charges. Consider it the bad black-fly of futuristic combat, and wear plenty of armor to keep this one at bay.

Ink and greyscale markers on sketchbook page, about 4" x 3", November 19, 2013.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Elopement

My idea on this little picture was to create a story without actually telling it. "The Elopement" has two lovers running away in broad daylight, in a deserted Italian piazza. I wanted it to resemble an opera scene, or perhaps a romantic novel illustration, with a touch of deChirico surrealism. The architecture is real, adapted from a photograph in one of my many books on Italian architecture. As to the plot and progress of the story, who knows. I never bothered to invent it.

"The Elopement" is ink and watercolor on illustration board, 10" x 7", May 2002.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Mecha Red Triangle

Here's another mecha, again adapted from David White's book. White's main style of mecha design is built from blocky squarish shapes, but depending on the technology a mecha could be curvy and graceful too. I think about what shapes would deflect incoming fire and move easily on the battlefield. Old-fashioned knight's plate armor would be a classic mecha design idea, and there are plenty of them around, but there are other models for battle robots, such as hard-shelled insects or crustaceans. Imagine a Fighting Lobster on your side, with lasers coming out of its giant arms. Or a Fire Ant, with a flamethrower as well as a sting. The possibilities are myriad. Note the mechanical "grinning skull" headpiece of this figure. The Warhammer universe designs are filled with skulls of all sorts, the bony skull seems to be a characteristic of many fantasy fighting figures.

Ink and grayscale markers on sketchbook page, about 3 1/2" x 4 1/2", November 18, 2013.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Queen of the Planets

Inspired by a fantasy costume from an old film, this was meant as a costume design for a large or "plus-size" woman. The ultramarine blue is one of my favorite colors, especially paired with a black velvet dress and purple ribbons. At one point a costumer in the Baltimore area was planning to make this costume for herself to wear at a convention masquerade but nothing came of it. I thought I had never depicted a lady with "cleavage" but I guess I have at least once.

"Queen of the Planets" is watercolor and ink on illustration board, 7" x 10", May 2002.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Green dancer 1972

This composition is from my 1972 journal, while I was at Brandeis University. It sums up a lot of my interests then and now. I have more of those golden treasures you saw in a recent post, and some pseudo-medieval calligraphy saying "Deo Gratias" or "Thanks be to God." That whole journal was filled with my calligraphy, both medieval and Roman. Then there's the green and gold figure in the center, a dancer who is wearing a bodysuit of green and gold, designed by me, which looks more like a superhero's costume than a dance outfit. The action figure of the dancer comes from Eadweard Muybridge's famous stop-motion photographs. I remember that at that time I went to dance recitals at Brandeis' theater. In the bottom rows are a portrait of Saint Augustine the bishop, whose "Confessions" I read at Brandeis. His work was very influential on me and my religious life back then. The portrait is imaginary as no one knows what Saint Augustine looked like. The bishop's miter and vestments are from the middle ages, not Augustine's time. To the lower right is a sketchy portrait of Jesus. Those were my interests at Brandeis at that time.

Colored pencil and some ink on a sketchbook page, March 1972.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Elevated Railway

It's taken years to build this futuristic elevated railway over Route 7 in Vienna, Virginia. Sixty years ago this heavily built-up urban area was a simple crossroads among farm fields. Now it is about to connect directly with Washington, DC by rail, for the first time since the 1940s. The grandeur of its engineering is impressive, especially the curved swoop of the railway, two or three stories high, turning onto the new rail lane in the middle of the Dulles access road. Ultimately the rail will go all the way from DC to Dulles Airport, so you could go directly to your important business trip without using a car at all. Underneath the railway (these were there first) are office buildings, business-oriented hotels, shopping malls, big stores, an urban WalMart with a big garage, car dealerships, and other basic American necessities. There is also a 28-story luxury apartment building at one of the Metro stops, still under construction, in which each apartment will sell for more than a million dollars. 

I drew this in the freezing cold at the still-unfinished Metro station. I sat on a metal bench to do my drawing. They were testing out the pre-recorded announcements which would direct walking traffic at the station. "Please stand away from the door." "Doors closing." But there was no one there, yet, which gave a slightly eerie feeling to the scene. They were also running the first trains over the high rail, to test it all out, and they were empty too.

Brown Pitt technical pen ink on sketchbook page, about 8" x 5", November 14, 2013. I don't want to live here any more.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Classics are full of Treasures: 1972

I studied Classics as an undergraduate. That means Greek and Latin, and ancient history, and ancient art history, and all sorts of stuff relating to Western civilization before about the year 650, when the Islamic conquests changed the world radically. Reading all these texts about the ancient world I was struck by how much gold and metallic treasures mattered then, even more than now. If you go into major museums such as Boston's Museum of Fine Arts or  New York's Metropolitan Museum you will see these things arrayed on display, long removed from any kind of practical value or use. My intention in this drawing was not only to render gold and metal accurately as an illustration, but to heap treasures together as they would have been piled up as spoils of a conquest. And I used the treasure metaphor to allude to the classical texts themselves. 

Colored pencil and some ink on sketchbook page, about 7 1/2" x 6", February 1972.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

It's like drinking apple pie

I haven't posted any Trader Joe's art for a while, so here's some. Spiced Cider is a fall favorite, and its flavors do resemble that of apple pie. I did almost the exact same sign last fall. Autumn is a time of traditional illusions, as if we had anything to do with harvests and hunts and agricultural cycles. But the flavors are real.

Chalk markers on black-painted board, around 3 ft. x 2 ft., November 12, 2013.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Artificial fireplace in coffeehouse

When Caribou Coffee opened a coffee shop right next to my workplace, I was thrilled. It is the perfect place to take my work break. The decor is pseudo-rustic, supposedly to evoke the woods of Minnesota where Caribou Coffee originated. There is an irregular brick wall and in the wall is a fireplace. There is no fire there, which would be hard to maintain and most likely unsafe. But there was, at the beginning, a simulated fire in the fireplace that was so realistic that I thought at first that it was giving off heat. There were glowing logs that changed intensity, just like real ones. And there were flames, flickering above the logs. Only when I stared for minutes at these "flames" did I realize that their pattern repeated every ten seconds or so, as it was on some sort of projection loop. They were still realistic to the casual onlooker. During the summer, the simulated flame stopped working and only the glowing logs are left now. I am told that Caribou will be replaced by a "Peet's" coffee shop next year and the new owners will probably re-do all the decor including the artificial fireplace. 

I drew this on my work break. The artificial fireplace has an irregularly shaped concrete slab in front of it where people can put their coffee and stuff. There are comfy chairs and a round coffee table, as seen in the foreground. The customers are the usual upscale urbanites with their computers and iPads and iPhones. Note the stylized caribou head silhouette in artificial wood above the fireplace. Simulations in a coffee context don't bother me. I hope Peet's does something attractive with the decor.

Pitt black technical pen on sketchbook page, about 4" x 5", 20 minutes work time, November 11, 2013.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Drapery study 1972

This drapery study, a standard art-school assignment, was in my 1972 sketchbook and yes, I was in art school at the time. It was only a summer session, taught by Boston University Art School professors, but I learned a lot. Looking back, I wish I had gone to B.U. Art school full time instead of studying Greek and Latin classics at Brandeis. B.U.'s art school is one of the best in the area and it still insists on a traditional art education, not just computer gimmicks.

The draperies I drew here were part of my daily costume. In those days I was a first-class eccentric. I had a medieval-style monk's robe out of pinkish purple fabric that my mother sewed for me. Over that I had a rough, hairy Moroccan cloak with a pointed hood. I wore this ensemble around the Brandeis campus and sometimes even to class. These are what I used for the study. If you think, "SCA member," (medieval fantasy re-enactor) you would be correct. I belonged to the "Society for Creative Anachronism" in 1973, but didn't continue with them.

Drapery study is ink on sketchbook page, colored with watercolor. About 7" x 11", July 1972.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Winding Wining

I returned to "Winding Road Cellars" on Saturday to enjoy their wine and beautiful grounds. Since it was a bit too chilly to sit outside and draw, I chose to do an interior view of some of their wine lodge's furnishings. The walls are paneled in pine with red-wine-colored trim. The openwork object on the table has a candle inside it. I would have liked to draw more but I didn't have enough time. Winding Road's Chambourcin is excellent. 

Brown ink and my new water based, autumn-colored markers on sketchbook page, 8" x 9", November 9, 2013.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Stuff on my desk, 1972

I did this study of random stuff on my desk as a first-year college student at Brandeis University. From left to right: ivy plant, Vaseline hand cream (blue top), plastic teacup with spoon. Green pencil eraser brought home from Italy. Red Japanese coin bank in the shape of round-bottomed folk figure "Daruma," a gift from my cousin Charles. (I still have it.) Used tea bag. Dip pen and two bottles of Pelikan India ink. The things of my life have not changed much since then.

I have been looking through my old illustrated journals and am scanning in the best pieces from these dusty old books. I've been keeping a journal since 1968. I still add artwork into my journal though not so elaborate as this, which according to the journal took days to do. As you can see I've been working with colored pencil all along, though I don't usually do as super-realistic a view as this. 

Colored pencils on sketchbook page, 8" x 8 1/2", January 1972 (note date stamp). Click for larger view.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Demira of Atlantis

Demira is a character from Marion Zimmer Bradley's "Atlantis" books. She's a slave, a caste-less captive who has no status in Atlantean society except as a belonging of her priestly master. She has flaxen hair, pale skin, and almost colorless eyes (as Bradley describes her) which suggest she is an albino, although Bradley also describes her as from a far northern area which would mean she is pseudo-Scandinavian. In fantasy tales, people get to have "purer" and more extreme coloration or physical characteristics than in "real life." But occasionally in the crowded and highly international place I work, I have seen these "pure" or extreme types, all the way from frosty Nordics to ebony Africans (as fantasy language would describe them) and also the flame-haired types which are the standby of fantasy's lead characters. Working in this widely diverse environment causes me to secretly gaze at the various characters, memorizing them for my next fantasy portrait.

"Demira of Atlantis" is ink and watercolor on Fabriano paper, 5 1/2" x 9", fall 1988.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Mecha Parts

The structure on the left is the lower leg and foot of a mecha battle robot. The one on the right is a mecha robot arm with a Gatling gun mounted on it. Also shown is an ammunition belt to feed the gun, and part of the robot's hip and upper leg. These were copied from David White's book "Mecha Zone 2" which I am using to learn to draw these fantastic contraptions.

I am not sure anyone is still reading this blog, with the possible exception of Mike. But I don't care if I am broadcasting into a void because at least I get to draw something new every day or so. I have become fond of mecha battle robots for a number of reasons. They are wildly complex and full of details, which immediately impresses me. And they are armored warrior figures, which I have loved since my earliest childhood. In my youth I drew innumerable images of Greek, Roman, and medieval warriors and knights. And...they blow stuff up, and look cool doing it. 

"Transformers" and the mecha genre came to America in 1984, as a Wikipedia entry will tell you. I was no longer a kid by then and was busy trying to do real book covers, so I never got any Transformers toys. I may have seen them, but never played with them. And even if I had encountered them as a kid, I might not have collected them because even for a nerdy person like me, these things were not for girls. The Transformers and mecha mythology are now part of American pop culture but I never picked up on them as things worth drawing, until now. Fortunately the Wikipedia article and Websites can help me educate myself in the myriad storylines, incarnations, transformations, books, comics, cartoons, movies, collectibles, and costumes dealing with the Transformers and mecha....should I wish to do that. White's book generously offers a guide to learning to draw battle robots so if I have the time and determination, I can design some just for myself. 

Two drawings are ink and greyscale marker on sketchbook pages, November 2013.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Autumn Trees study

I must have had a lot of time on my hands in 1998. I filled my journal, or daybook, with highly detailed colored pencil drawings of things I encountered or saw, week after week. This is one drawing from about this time 15 years (!) ago. It's the same technique I use for my winery drawings but with more pencil work and less ink. My 1998 journal did not contain any fantasy pictures, just studies from "reality." I didn't visit wineries back then, but I went to festivals at which there were wine tastings. In 1998 I didn't have a regular day job but worked on freelance architectural renderings for the ultra-luxury market. In those days giant multi-million dollar mansions were springing up like mushrooms. Many of these now sit empty and uninhabited in rich neighborhoods where the golden leaves fall. This view was out my non-luxury window.

Colored pencil, about 4" x 4", October 30, 1998.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Travelers at the Gate

I used to produce sets of small paintings to be sold at conventions such as Philcon or Balticon or Darkovercon. These would usually be "generic" fantasy scenes such as could take place in any game or written tale. This is one of a fall crop of mostly architectural fantasy pictures. These travelers, in the orange twilight sunlight, could be Darkovans, or your gaming party reaching a destination. The purple sky and golden leaves and yellowing grass reflect the autumn scenery I viewed while I was creating this bunch. The gatehouse and tower are adapted from a medieval French structure. I don't do these any more because I don't go to enough conventions to make it worthwhile. 

"Travelers at the Gate" is ink and watercolor on illustration board, 7" x 10", fall 1991.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Chaotic Beams

I retreated from the blustery cold into the tasting lodge at Sunset Hills. This 19th century building has been lovingly restored and is now full of Americana and wine drinkers. I sat at a table attempting to follow the seemingly chaotic pattern of wood beams inside the barn. I only partially succeeded. A true rendering would be easier to follow and make some sense architecturally. Maybe next time I'll try to solve the barn drawing geometry before I drink the wine.

Ink on sketchbook page, 5" x 8", November 2, 2013. Note: There is a large "variety" pumpkin on the table with the wine bottle.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Sunset Hills Sunset

I recorded this autumnal scene from the wine deck of Sunset Hills Vineyard, my destination for "Wine Saturday." I sat there freezing; I regret to say that it is now too cold outside to do outdoor sketching, at least for me. Other stalwart sketchers go all winter long, wearing layers of wool and fingerless gloves. I am just not that dedicated. This is done on the iPad or the WinePad as I might call it. Note the golden fall leaves on the vine rows in front. The wine was good and the place was very crowded as Sunset Hills was celebrating its fifth anniversary. I want to commend the servers who kept the wine flowing at the tasting locations, especially Maria who was able to stay cheerful and friendly in the middle of winey chaos.

"ArtStudio" app on the iPad, some details added in Photoshop later, November 2, 2013. Click for larger view.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Deere Digger

As you know, I love heavy equipment. This digger is a John Deere 410G loader backhoe, belonging to the Falls Church city maintenance department. I drew it while sitting on my car's tailgate at the recycling center. This annoyed some of the visitors to the center who complained that I was blocking traffic. That's plein air art, folks. The industrial area around the recycling bins has been a longtime source of inspiration for me.

The digger reminds me of the mechas that I've been drawing. Many mecha artists use industrial equipment as a design source for their robot warriors. The articulation of the front digging arm is ultimately a biomechanical design, with metal shapes and pistons as joints and muscles, and electric cords as nerves. Were this for warfare rather than construction, some of the more vulnerable structures would be concealed under plates of armor. Also if this were a war machine I'd use tank tracks rather than wheels or legs. 

Brown technical pen on sketchbook page, 5" x 4 1/2", November 1, 2013.

Friday, November 1, 2013


In our urban area the "traditional" trick-or-treat free runs are being replaced by a safer and enclosed version of children's costume promenade in the mall. I enjoy going there on Halloween night to see all the costumes, which ranged from the minimal to the elaborate. There were a lot of princesses and fairies and witches, and ninjas and super-heroes, and pirates and animals. Occasionally there were more scary get-ups, like Dementors, ghosts, zombies,and vampires. For some reason, bloody sewn-up face cheeks are a big make-up item these days. The parents often dressed up too, which led to Green Lantern being Superman's dad. Most of the costumes were gender-stereotyped, with plenty of princesses in bouffant skirts and space warrior boys. Some of them managed to be more evenly matched, with both boy and girl pirates and cartoon characters. I did my best to sketch from a constantly moving crowd.

Here's another view, with some of the mall architecture around the rotunda. Costumed children are throwing balloons. This sketch also features a grass-skirted hula girl on the left, and a spotted ladybug, in center. But my vote for "Most Original" costume was this "balloon kid." He (or she, I couldn't tell) had a large helium balloon attached to his head, which was connected by a loose grid of ribbons. And the lower part of the kid was enclosed in an openwork bucket, hence an old-fashioned balloon. I don't know whether the youngster enjoyed the innovative concept, but I suspect that one or both parents might be engineers.