A note to my devoted readers: No By-Product this weekend because I am taking my art to a show nearby, where I will be displaying and hopefully selling my work at a dealer's table. Meanwhile, it's finally here, my new portfolio website for art. I assembled it using the prefab site building elements from "Weebly," where they provide the basics and you add the content. There is more to be installed but here is my site as it is for now. You are invited to take a look and comment if you wish.
I'll be back in a couple of days. Many thanks.
Thursday, February 26, 2015
These steampunkish forms were taken from yet more of the brilliant photography of Bernd and Hilla Becher. They were a German couple who devoted their photographic careers to documenting the old heavy industries of Europe and North America. The structures in the drawing are mine-heads, known as pit-heads in England where these were. The pit-head is where you pull things up from or let things down into the coal mine, using pulleys, rails, and big turning wheels. I love the intricacy of the iron openwork. There is so much visually interesting material in these works to, uh, mine.
Sepia brown technical pen ink on sketchbook page, 3 1/2" x 4 1/2", February 26, 2015.
Wednesday, February 25, 2015
When it comes to on-site sketching, itself a prized technique among artists, on-site watercoloring is the gold standard. The art lovers and patrons and fellow artists know you are a true artist because you can do this difficult medium outdoors with hardly any equipment but your water jar, paints and paper and a little easel. I have only been able to achieve outdoor watercolor a few times and this one here is one of my best efforts in the medium. I have done countless on-site sketches using ink and colored pencils, after all that's my favorite medium for winery drawing. But you don't see a lot of colored pencil drawings on the sketch sites I frequent.
I didn't have a little easel but I had a fold-out camping table which was my portable studio (big and clunky, not chic tiny easel) and I had plenty of room to set up my art stuff on it. The junk-strewn porch here (NOT junk, antiques! see the sign?) was a landmark on Nolensville Pike, near Nashville, Tennessee. Inside were more old things and a large woodworking shop where the owner, "Marvin," created lathe-turned banisters and other furniture. The red flag on the porch eave is the state flag of Tennessee. Two good friends of mine lived nearby and introduced me to Marvin and his cat.
The shop is long gone though it was memorialized in many publications. I think my painting here was published in a tourist magazine of that era, since I sent Marvin a copy of the art. My friends still live in Nashville but not near this place. Maybe someday I'll give on-site watercolor another try.
Marvin's shop is ink and watercolor on sketchbook page, about 6" x 7", June 25, 2003. Click for larger view.
Tuesday, February 24, 2015
I hesitated before deciding to show this picture on the By-Product. Some of my readers are intensely anti-Christian, and I don't want to assert my Christian faith in their presence. But this is an interesting piece of art, if only for the cultural/spiritual mashup of its concept.
It's an icon of Christ, also known as "Video Icon," designed after the traditional Orthodox icon of Christos Pantocrator, but with abstract elements and non-orthodox colors. Christ is in a black robe reminiscent of a kimono. The background is a cloudy texture of grey and blue, with a simple silver halo. The Book held open by Christ reveals a cloudless, brilliant blue sky with stars, rather than the traditional pages with a passage from the Bible. This is the book as gateway to another Universe.
I also used a different model for the face of Christ. I was trying to portray Jesus as a Cool Guy rather than the saccharine white boy of Protestantism or the scary elongated Mediterranean mystic of Eastern Orthodoxy. When I became Christian I chose Roman Catholicism but for a long while was attracted to Eastern Orthodoxy, and in the mid-90s I worshipped at an Eastern Rite Catholic church. But when I brought this picture to the Eastern priests they refused to bless it because it did not follow the very strict standards used in Orthodox iconography.
My spiritual life is quite different now, with influences from western esotericism and Zoroastrianism, and I haven't painted any images of Jesus Christ for a long time. That does not mean that I won't paint them, but I will do it differently.
"Christ Lord of the Universes" is acrylic on illustration board, 8" x 10", June 1984.
Monday, February 23, 2015
Among the traditional Four Archangels, only Uriel does not appear in the Bible. Uriel does show up in non-canonical writings that were not chosen as Biblical material.
I portrayed Uriel as the Green Archangel of modern science, patron of Ecology. I made him/her an African in pan-African garb, because I want my angels to be global. He/she is holding a bundle of reeds and grains, plants essential to human life on Earth. The wings
are made of green leaves. In the background is hills and an afternoon rainstorm with rainbow. The border is derived from Art Deco and African patterns.
Uriel is acrylic on hardboard, 11" x 14", August 1996.
Sunday, February 22, 2015
Back in 1993 the Internet was still a very new thing to the public and was still mainly in the hands of specialists like scientists, computer engineers and science fiction fans. I got illustration jobs through my fan connections with magazine editors and marketing people. This is one of a series I did for a long-gone magazine called "Internet World." In those days the builders of the Internet had no idea that it would take over the world and they imagined it as a place only for the educated and specialized. They speculated that you would have to take a test just to participate, just like you would take a driver's test (which I failed three times and remember with anxiety and horror). Thus the signs which appear in front of the driver with his big old monitor. I hardly remember what these signs meant, like "GREP" and "WAIS" but one or two of you readers might.
1993 was my first year on the Net. I got connected as part of the payment for one of my illustration jobs. The "access%" was what I got on the black screen before I typed in my login.This was well before the first public use of the World Wide Web. My first internet provider was a company in Maryland called "Express Access DIGEX" and my first Internet e-mail address was firstname.lastname@example.org. Ah, the nostalgia.
"Internet Driver's Test" is watercolor and computer printout collage on illustration board, 8" x 10", December 1993.
Saturday, February 21, 2015
There are four major Archangels in Western angel lore. Raphael is one of them and he is known as the Angel of Healing, hence my associating him with Biotechnology. He is holding a model of the DNA molecule. The ornamentation of his coat, and the elaborate border, is filled with designs based on cells, genes, micro-organisms, and proteins. I overloaded these angel portraits with symbolism, some of it from the "standardized" 20th-century archangel protocols. Raphael is associated with the element of Air, hence the wings and the clouds. He is also connected with the primary color yellow, and the morning. I gave Raphael a "European" look, just as I made Michael Chinese, because I want my angels to be global.
Raphael is acrylic on hardboard, 11" x 14", summer 1996.
Friday, February 20, 2015
Archangel Michael is the warrior angel, symbolized by Fire and the color red. I conceived of him as the patron of High-Energy Physics such as practiced at Fermilab or CERN. He is holding the Beam of Particles in his right hand and an atom of Neon in his left hand. His wings are made of fire and the background has particle trails on the sides of the frame, and lightning bolts - Nature's high energy physics - in the sky. I made this Michael Chinese, to honor the red dragon (on his tunic) and the many great Chinese physicists of the 20th century. Happy Chinese New Year!
I painted this one during a snowstorm in 1996. Currently in this frigid and snowy winter (especially in the Boston area) I am painting another Archangel Michael, who is quite different, and more traditional, than my Physics Michael. Progress is slow but I am glad to finally be working on it again.
I have not featured my Archangels before on this Blog because I think of them as Quality Art Product, not a By-Product, which would be a more casual, less formal effort. But the Archangels can guest-star on the By-product now and then. Click for somewhat larger view.
Michael is acrylic on hardboard, 11" x 14", January 1996.
Thursday, February 19, 2015
Before you read: Please do not re-post this or any part of it to Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, etc.
Yes, folks, things are changing in Chateau Art By-Products. I might as well talk about it because only 10 people read this Blog (thanks Mike, Mike, and, uh, Mike) so it is not going to be spread too far.
As of probably mid-March, I will be leaving my job at Trader Joe's, where I have worked the last 11 years. I am being laid off, although that doesn't quite describe the process. I am leaving for health reasons, namely a badly strained back and injured shoulder which actually are caused by working there. I can recover from these problems and go back to work but then would face re-injuring myself in the same conditions which caused them in the first place.
Also, Trader Joe's has decided to enforce their rule that a "crew member" must lift heavy loads (for instance, a case of wine which weighs about 40 pounds). I am not strong enough to do this and risk hurting my back if I try. Also, the arrangement in the tiny windowless closet where the art is being done causes much more physical (and mental) stress on me.
I was hired in 2003 to do art for my Trader Joe's store but they are slowly phasing out the artists. When I was hired it was for art only but now they want the artists to do the same things as other crew members, creating only simple signage. In the last year, I have done very little art at TJ's.
So I want to leave on a morally neutral (and true) reason, that I'm not physically up to the job any more.
I am putting things into order financially so that I can buy myself at least some time (maybe for the rest of the year?) to do art full time as I explore developing new works and commissions, marketing, selling, and finishing old projects.
There is also the matter of my mother, who recently endured a hospital stay for heart problems. She is 93, lives alone in snowbound Massachusetts with minimal help, and conditions could change any day.
I dread having to tell the management and crew people at Trader Joe's that I won't be coming back as a crew member. I have good relationships with almost everybody there. I could come back visiting as a customer but it wouldn't be the same.
I will be looking for another part time job I could do, but my preferences at work make it harder to find what I want. Flexible schedule (evening shift), using skills I have, no heavy lifting, maybe such a job is a dreamy myth. I am not at this point willing to attempt to "go back to school" to learn some useful skill. What "useful skill" would that be? I am now making judgements on just what I can and cannot do and where to put my limited financial, physical, and time resources.
I am reading books on "career development" and looking at "career" websites but they all seem like greeting cards to me. A couple make sense. One internet thing I am doing, with much difficulty, is creating an updated web site for myself and my art, using the pre-fab site elements from "Weebly." But "Weebly" is much harder than they make it look. I tear at my hair at 3 AM just trying to make Weebly work.
Well that's enough for now. I feel like the distressed little industrialoid at the top of the page, filled with water and feeling cold and anxious. I will continue to put up images and text on this Blog for your entertainment. Thank you for your support.
"Distressed Industrialoid" is brown ink on sketchbook page, 3" x 2 3/4", February 18, 2015.
Wednesday, February 18, 2015
There are some changes going on in my life, and I can't talk about them here right now. But one of these changes is allowing me, at least for now, to go back to painting and making art like this guy up above. I painted this "FuturIkon" or futuristic icon back in 2001 as a commission for my friends and collectors who already owned my images of the other three Archangels. This is Gabriel, patron of Telecommunications, holding a satellite dish and surrounded by sine waves, fiberoptic cables, and microchips. Since Gabriel is also the angelic patron of Water, you see a lot of blue with waves and ripple textures. I am currently back to angelic art for a major commission. None of these could be considered "By-Products," they are major pieces though not "fine" art, they are somewhere in between fantasy and gallery. Stay tuned for more angelic art as well as other stuff I've been waiting to work on for years.
"Gabriel, Patron of Telecommunications," is acrylic on hardboard, 11" x 14", summer 2001. Click for larger view.
Tuesday, February 17, 2015
I waslikeOMGIFORGOTTOPOST and I have a reputation to uphold, along with the masterful Jim Gurney I post EVERY DAY. But I have been distracted by all sorts of stuff these days so I just manage to get this one under the wire. I'm sure no one is aware of this but me. Here's "Potbelly," one of my industrialoids. With his duck feet he might wander among puddles, even if they are made of molten slag.
Drawing is all Photoshop despite intermittently failing tablet driver, about 3" x 4 1/2", February 17, 2015.
Monday, February 16, 2015
Let's hire dragons to melt the giant mounds of snow in the streets of New England. The dragons can also warm the cars so that the snow falls off of them. The Dragon can puff fire on the drifts that are the recumbent bodies of white monsters. Other dragons can guide the floodwaters from the melt into convenient sluices. Now my part of the country will get the attention of the White Monster, too. Don't forget to buy the White Stuff so that you will feel secure during the snowstorm: toilet paper, milk, bread, and yogurt. And maybe white wine.
Photoshop, all digital drawing and shading. No pencils were sharpened for this piece. 9" x 6", February 15, 2015.
Sunday, February 15, 2015
"Naked in Winter" sounds awful cold doesn't it. Well it isn't me and my friends who are naked but the vineyard and winery, Naked Mountain. We went there on "Wine Saturday" for a feast of Naked Mountain's famous lasagna, washed down of course by their excellent red wine. There was a real wood fire and lots of people enjoying good taste. I did this iPad study of the view from the wine lodge, one I have drawn in many seasons and light conditions. I'm pleased that I was able to reproduce the muted colors of the winter landscape with accuracy. There's a lot more to draw at Naked Mountain as they have built a new "Barrel Barn" for more tasting and dining space.
"ArtStudio" app on iPad, added to in Photoshop, February 14, 2015.
Saturday, February 14, 2015
Cambridge, Massachusetts has lots of older neighborhoods with houses from the late 19th and early 20th century. Many of these houses have gardens. These are real gardens with dirt in them, not container gardens or hydroponic racks. They are behind the house and extend to the sides of the house and its driveway. My house, when I lived in Cambridge, had a spacious lawn and garden enclosed in its backyard, and I grew plants and vegetables. I never realized what a privilege it was to have an outdoor garden in the city until I moved away to a newer and denser environment.
In my sketch trips around the neighborhood I would sometimes draw these gardens. The one you see above looks like it's in the middle of the country, but it is in a built-up area of Cambridge just one block from a major highway. In fact I used to do nature walks with my wildflower guidebook, finding all sorts of species of wildflowers and herbs growing by the roadside and in vacant lots. The pink and white flowers you see in this garden are phlox, which are not wild but keep sprouting year after year like wild flowers. Right now all these gardens are buried in feet of snow, but I thought I'd show my winter-weary readers a summer scene to make them feel warm.
"Country garden in the city" is 8" x 10", ink colored in watercolor on sketchbook page, some restoration in Photoshop. July 19,1984.
Friday, February 13, 2015
I've produced a number of explicitly Christian art works, although not too many recently. My experiences of Christian life range from Eastern Orthodoxy to Roman Catholicism to American evangelical Bible-believers. I've painted icons but they do not follow Eastern Orthodox standards by any means. This icon, "Alchemical Christ," unites the spiritual discipline of alchemy with icon-making. It is based on the Eastern Orthodox "majesty" design, with triangular symbols for the Four Elements in the corners. Water is blue, Earth is green, Fire is red, and Air is yellow. The oval in which Christ is enthroned is called a "mandorla," which means "almond" or "almond-shaped." The writing "IC XC" at the top is an abbreviation for "Iesous Xristos" in Greek meaning "Jesus Christ." The book held by the Lord says "I am the light of the world," from the Gospel of John, chapter 8 verse 12.
This icon is also un-orthodox because it was created with cut colored paper rather than on a panel with paint. I wanted a flat pattern-like surface with bright colors. I cut and assembled paint-coated papers and added details in acrylic paint. I used metallic foil for the halo. Nowadays this would be done digitally with no paper involved.
"Alchemical Christ" is cut-paper collage with foil and acrylic paint on illustration board, 11" x 14", February 1988.
Thursday, February 12, 2015
There's a face and an arm hidden in this drawing. All things are conscious and sentient, including blast furnaces. Some things may be more or less sentient. One of my philosophical friends said that all things are "natural," even machines and furnaces, because human beings are part of the "natural" world and thus things that they have made are "natural" too. I am not so sure what it even means. Rather like "natural" foods or "natural" materials, does it mean untouched by human-made pollution and chemical mixes? Would you live near a steel mill? The ancient rules of ritual purity and pollution still apply, given a veneer of "scientific" terminology.
Pitt technical pen brown ink on sketchbook page, 3" x 4", February 12, 2015.
Wednesday, February 11, 2015
Dredged from the past I bring you one of my Darkover frontispieces for the Gregg Press collector's item book series. This one was for "The Spell Sword," an action-adventure tale from Marion Zimmer Bradley's red sun world. In the story, the main character must fight sword battles against "cat-men," feline/human hybrids I guess. Since he isn't much of a swordsman, he is enhanced with psychic remote control so that a superior swordsman, the elderly noble at the top of the archway, can act through him. The two girls in the picture are psychically gifted twins, one of whom naturally gets romantic with the hero.
"The Spell Sword" is ink on illustration board with photostat reproduced border, 6" x 8", October 1978. Click on the pic for a larger view.
Tuesday, February 10, 2015
In January of 1998 I drove down to Florida to visit some friends who lived in Melbourne, on the east coast of the state. It was a very new experience to me to see a city built on a sandbar by the ocean. The land was astonishingly flat, and the vegetation looked like it came from another planet. I was also surprised at how lightly built the houses were, as if a hurricane could blow them away like balsa wood. While I was in Florida the weather changed and by the time I got to Disney World I had to buy a wildly overpriced sweatshirt to keep the chill away. Yes, Florida chill. It isn't always warm there in the winter. I don't think I'll move there.
Of course I had my sketchbook and colored pencils with me so I did drawings whenever I could. This is the street my friends lived on. The palm trees fascinated me, as did the spiky brush vegetation that persisted where the developers and builders hadn't cleared it. I ate conch fritters and fried alligator meat at a touristy restaurant called "Conchy Joe's." Right now the Florida folk are staring into their screens at mountains of snow in my old home place, Boston.
Florida street sketch is inks on sketchbook page with colored pencils, 8 1/2" x 4 1/2", January 25, 1998.
Monday, February 9, 2015
You and your friends can tour the world of wine and fungus in luxury in our BugBus, a transportation concept inspired by insects and arthropods. The segmented flexible body of the Bus has comfortable travel accommodations for ten, with plenty of windows for light or sightseeing. The wheels are interchangeable depending on what kind of terrain it is covering. The BugBus is not meant to be fast, but its dependable engine uses clean and fragrant biofuel. This vehicle comes in many colors and configurations, and is guaranteed not to shed, molt, or exude sticky substances, as it is not really a biological creature but a piece of bioform technology. Reserve your BugBus excursion now for springtime, which will eventually arrive.
"BugBus" is sepia brown tech pen ink on sketchbook page, 7" x 3", February 9, 2015.
Sunday, February 8, 2015
The "Mushroom House," as it is called by the neighbors, began its existence as an ordinary wood frame single-family house. A rich family and an architect with extremely eccentric taste re-worked it in the mid-70s, using polyurethane foam to create the "organic" contours of the place. Since then it has been an attraction and an example of quirky Americana in conservative Bethesda, Maryland, just outside of Washington, DC. I drew this small sketch of the Mushroom House in 2003.
Now the "Mushroom House" is for sale, at only 1.2 million dollars. You could live like a hobbit billionaire in your own cozy, yet spacious grotto.
"Mushroom House" is brown technical pen ink on sketchbook page, 7" x 5", May 3, 2003.
Saturday, February 7, 2015
There are few things more dreary and desolate than a dentist's office waiting room. Sure, the dentists and the staff are nice, the place is clean, and they make an attempt to enliven it with framed photos on the walls and a big toy box for children. But it is never really cheerful, since the purpose of the place altogether is to do horrible things to your head. Yes, for your own good, but still truly unpleasant.
Some bureaucratic mess, probably caused by me, put me in the waiting room for an extra hour, so I took out the sketchbook and scribbled. Here you see a young lady crumpled in her heavy winter garb, her scarf across her mouth, looking at the inevitable smartphone balanced on her backpack. In the anteroom is the children's toy box covered with colorful wires and beads threaded on them. Behind that is a flat screen TV on which Susan Rice, the National Security Advisor, holds forth on how we will make the world safe for democracy. My teeth are real clean now.
Technical pen black ink on sketchbook page, 5" x 6", February 6, 2015.
Friday, February 6, 2015
In the 70s and 80s I was much concerned with integrating my spiritual life as a Catholic Christian into my other life as an artist and esoteric scholar. One way to connect esoteric thought and Christian prayer was through abstract art, especially space art. This is one of the experimental pictures I made which was meant to convey a state of prayer, maybe even contemplative or meditative prayer, using elements of space art and abstract art. The three blue bars at the bottom may signify the threefold Trinity, while the airbrushed swirls may represent prayers ascending from earth to heaven. I say "may" here because I didn't want it to get too explicit. The vertical white bar, though, is a clear symbol to me of the "path to God" and I used it on some other pieces too.
By the late 80s I had resolved the space/religion/esotericism questions and went on to do other spiritual fantasy art pieces. I haven't done anything on that theme for quite a while though that doesn't mean I don't think of it.
"Space Prayer" is acrylic and enamel paint on illustration board, 15" x 11", December 1985.
I still have this painting somewhere in my collection, buried in archival stuff.
Thursday, February 5, 2015
I'd like to visit a steel mill someday, but there aren't very many near where I live, or even in the USA. There are lots of steel mills in China. What I really want to see is the blast furnace and all the melting pots and flames and showers of sparks. It's just like a volcano. Some years ago a friend of mine who is a metallurgical engineer and miniature builder shared his extensive library of metallic and railroad industry images with me. He also showed me a somewhat pornographic video called "Hot Metal," which takes the viewer on a tour of a steel mill and blast furnace, sparks and molten flames included. There are other people like me who love heavy industry just for the Ayn Rand thrill of it. The power of man to transform earth into fountains of molten metal! I like oil refineries too, with their gas burnoff sacred fires mounted on masts. This all inspires my artistic impulse but I have to use photos in books. What you see in this doodle is NOT a real mill or furnace but a conglomeration of shapes and lines from the industrial world. I love that smokestack lightning.
Sepia brown technical pen ink on sketchbook page, about 3 1/2" x 3 1/2", February 4, 2015.
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
I don't do much graphics work for Trader Joe's these days, for various reasons I'd rather not discuss here. But if there is something to be done, I sometimes get the assignment and this is one of them. I've done this very "New Items" sign year after year, so this is the 2015 version of it. This time I go for the retro-space age look with stars, Saturn, and a little orange rocket plane. The plane (not right in all its details since my memory was imperfect) is "Glamorous Glennis," the Bell X-1 experimental plane which in 1947 was the first piloted plane to break the sound barrier. The test pilot was Chuck Yeager,http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chuck_Yeager an American treasure who amazingly is still alive and in his 90s. "Glamorous Glennis" was Yeager's wife and he named all his planes after her. The original Bell rocket plane is now displayed in the National Air and Space Museum
Tuesday, February 3, 2015
The stylized bird depicted here is a Peregrine Falcon, which I used as a sacred symbol back in those wonderful spiritual years of the 1980s. (No, really.1980s for me.) I've been a birdwatcher for almost my entire life and I've only seen a real Peregrine once or twice. But I incorporated it into my DAW Books Darkover cover for "Hawkmistress" by Marion Zimmer Bradley. The hawk in the Bradley book was named "Preciosa" but I was trying to refer back to the Ancient Egyptian hawk god, Horus. In my childhood I had a devotion to Horus the hawk, I was a good little Pagan. There is a black stone statue of the Hawk God in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts which was an inspiration to my spiritual youth.
The halo of this Spirit Hawk is dark silver metallic paint. The bright star in the distance was a motif I used in a lot of the spiritual or New Age paintings I did in that era. The star was either the Star of Bethlehem, or more likely a symbol of the distant but beckoning Light of God.
"Spirit Hawk" is acrylic on illustration board, 8" x 10", December 1984.
Monday, February 2, 2015
If you are a Star Wars fan, you will probably remember the publicity shot of Alec Guinness as Obi-Wan Kenobi, in his long Jedi robe leaning on a staff. No, you don't remember this? Oh well. I took that shot and turned Obi-Wan into Jesus, which in the original Star Wars movie he kind of was, when he sacrificed his physical body during the fight with Darth Vader. My friends and I all wondered why there was no sliced-up corpse left after Vader had at Obi-Wan with his light saber. It was just the robe, left there like Jesus's shroud, which was reconstituted as the equally mythical Shroud of Turin. So I re-did Alec Guinness as Jesus, and made him into an icon, which makes him "iconic," which is just short of "awesome" as the 21st century's most obnoxiously over-and-misused English word. Also, intense blue is a holy color. The lettering at the top is the Greek abbreviation for "Jesus Christ," and it appears on most Eastern Orthodox icons of the Savior.
"The Blue Icon" is acrylic on illustration board, 9" x 11", July 1983.
Sunday, February 1, 2015
Around this time of year, early February, is the festive day of Saint Brigid of Ireland. She had unusual political and spiritual power for a woman in her days; some histories claim she was even a bishop. She is also connected with blacksmithing. A friend of mine commissioned this icon of Saint Brigid. The Irish saint, depicted with a bright crimson cloak, holds blacksmithing tongs over an anvil and sacred fire. She is heating a heart of iron, symbolizing her power to bring the devotee spiritual fervor. Mythologically, Brigid is the old Celtic goddess of the Forge, transformed into the Irish Christian saint. In the background is an authentic grey and green Irish landscape, and the green border has Celtic designs from the Book of Kells. The saint holds a Celtic crook staff, symbol of a bishop's office.
Brigid Icon is acrylic on Masonite hardboard, 11" x 14", summer 1994. Click on the image for a larger view.