Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Summer Patio Flowers

Many years ago when my parents were still alive and active, they did some gardening and planted a profusion of colorful flowers in a little patio area in back of the house. The flowers blocked the view of a decaying old fence and bloomed all summer. I did this on-site watercolor looking out through the kitchen window. Now it is all abandoned though some old flowerpots and fragments of the original fence still remain, hidden by overgrown vegetation.

This is what Summer looks like. Someday it will happen again.

Watercolor on sketchbook page, 8 1/2" x 11", July 5, 1997.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Castle Stasheff

I've been toiling diligently on my upcoming book cover for "The Warlock is Missing" by Christopher Stasheff. It is due in early April, which begins this week, and an added anxiety factor is that my mother is in declining health currently in a nursing home. It is possible I will not be able to finish this illustration, which will lose me a lot of potential jobs for the Stasheff series as well as with other publishers and clients. Once I return to Massachusetts to take care of my mother (or say goodbye to her) I will be out of art action for many weeks and not be able to do any work on this piece as I don't have the digital resources to complete it...laptop is probably not suitable. I still have about 4 or 5 days' work left on it. 

What you see here is an excerpt from the background of the cover illustration. It is all in Photoshop with some underlying work in ink, scanned in. The white areas on the bottom are unfinished. I really hope I can get this done and sent to the publishers before my mother takes a turn for the worse.

Photoshop, excerpt from work in progress, March 2015.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Winding Road Room

"Wine Saturday" took me back to my familiar "Winding Road Cellars" where I re-stocked their stack of my wine art books. It was much too cold to draw outdoors, though the winter colors of the Virginia landscape are truly art-worthy. Instead I drew some sippers in the cozy wine bar area, where many different wood textures and warm colors create a very friendly atmosphere. Winding Road's semi-sweet Chambourcin wine is the perfect sip for a cold spring afternoon. 

Sepia technical pen ink on sketchbook page, about 10" x 7", March 28, 2015.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Daylilies in Color

Some time ago I posted an image of the interior stairway of a house designed by an architect friend. This little paradise also had lovely gardens all around it including this profusion of multi-colored day lilies located at the entry to the driveway. The stone block marks the entrance from the road. I did this watercolor on site right there on a fresh early summer day. Maybe I'll try outdoor watercolor again some day.

Watercolor on sketchbook page, 10 1/2" x 9", mid-1990s.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Cambridge Park People 1983

Cambridge, Massachusetts has a lot of little green parks where people can congregate. On a warm summer afternoon they wander about or lie in the grass. Often, someone is playing a guitar. The park people aren't milling around quickly and sometimes stay in one place for quite a while, which gives me the chance to draw them as if they were art models. You don't have to be nude to be an art model. You don't even have to know someone is drawing you. I usually leave out identifying facial features. A drawing I did in 1983, using the same type of pen I use now, is as good as one I did yesterday. Maybe better. Don't know why my drawings are so consistent and don't improve, but I just keep doing them. Now for that warm afternoon, I know it will arrive sooner or later.

Technical pen black ink on sketchbook page, 10" x 7", summer 1983.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Starbucks fashions

There may be places in my urban area where people dress nicely, but in my neighborhood, they don't. The standard clothing for men is a shapeless hoodie sweatshirt and shapeless baggy pants. For women, various stretchy shirts layered on top of each other, and black leggings. It's like one great big yoga party or construction site. These fashion plates collect at Starbucks where I am sipping my espresso. I am no better, though I've stashed my hoodie away for now. It helps that lately everything I wear is either black or purple so you don't see my "fashion" choices. Soon these folks will go into their summer configuration which is shorts and flip flops as soon as the outdoor temperature is over 50 (fahrenheit).

Black ink on sketchbook page, 3 1/2" x 6", March 25, 2015.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Boy Warrior, new work

This little figure is an excerpt from the book cover I am working on. The character is a boy warrior about 8 years old. He looks kind of like a Hobbit or an elf in this picture but maybe sometimes you can't tell them apart. Hobbits don't have quite human proportions I think and Elves have those fox-like ears. I have been really putting in the work on this cover illustration because I could be called to Massachusetts at any time. The dark shadow you see under the figure shows that he can leap up and levitate, which is often described in the book. I hope I get this work done and submitted to the client.

Ink on watercolor paper, processed in Photoshop, about 3" x 4", March 2015.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Paragon Park Picnickers

Just as I go to wineries with friends these days, back in the '80s, a time of falsely serene memories for me, I went to seaside amusement parks. These were not theme parks. They were conglomerations of entertainments, rides, restaurants, games, knickknack shops, and beach supplies. While my friend rode the roller coaster, I sat and did sketches of whatever I could see. This was an outdoor eating area with a spinning ride in the background. I loved the complex environment of an amusement park. With its colorful graphics and playful shapes, it was an endless source of sketchability. This drawing was done at Boston's "Paragon Park," a memorable amusement park that is long gone. It has disappeared and apartments and condos were built on its acreage.

My current environment is not so much fun, mostly shopping centers, parking lots, apartment blocks, office buildings, and other urban sprawl stuff, so I must make an effort to find sketchable things. I'm waiting for the weather to get warmer so I can tailgate, that is, draw while sitting on the tailgate of my wagon.

Black ink on sketchbook page, about 10" x 7", August 21, 1983.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Warin de Grey

I produced two portfolios of black and white fan art in 1981. One was from Marion Zimmer Bradley's "Darkover," and the other was from Katherine Kurtz's "Deryni" world. I copied the drawing pages on a photocopy machine and sold the folios at conventions, innocently unaware that I was violating copyright. I sold a lot of them before I was requested to stop. I still have some of them somewhere, probably where I stuffed all the other fan art and magazines I illustrated.

This fellow, Warin de Grey, is a minor yet memorable character in one of Kurtz's books. He led an anti-Deryni movement, condemning those with magical powers, despite having magical powers of his own. The original is a black ink drawing, and I just colorized it in Photoshop. It is an experiment to see how these old ink drawings look with colors. It's the style I would want for a Deryni graphic story or novel, should I ever have the privilege of creating one. I'm heavily influenced here by the work of the brilliant, and somewhat tragic graphic artist Barry Windsor-Smith.  

Warin de Grey is black ink on illustration board, 4 1/2" x 4", colored in Photoshop, 1981/2015.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Chester Gap Cellars

Happy Spring, everyone in the northern hemisphere! And happy Persian New Year (NoRuz) for my Persian and Central Asian friends. My wine companions and I celebrated 21 March with a visit to Chester Gap Cellars, yet another high-quality Northern Virginia vineyard and winery. The view from the wine deck was spectacular. Weather and light conditions were ideal as I did this page. At times I was surrounded by fellow sippers looking on as I did the art. Now here's something amazing. One wine-loving guy brought out a copy of my "Earthly Paradise" wine book, that he had bought just an hour or two ago at Winding Road Cellars. My wine book is getting popular! I hope that this page I just drew will go into my next wine art book. 

"Chester Gap Cellars" is colored pencil and sepia ink on sketchbook page, 8" x 10", March 21, 2015. Some enhancement of blue colors with Photoshop.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Visiting Zelazny's "Amber"

From my stash of 1980s fan art comes this story title page scene, commissioned and published by a fan magazine called "Shadow Shiftin'." The zine was devoted to the world and characters of Roger Zelazny's "Amber." "Shadows" were alternative universes where the characters were sort of the same but lived different lives, and the physical world worked differently. In this fan-written story, a middle-aged, middle-class American guy is somehow translated between universes and ends up at the royal court of the perpetually scheming and fighting Amber family. The guy in black is Corwin, the hero of the book. The gal behind the visitor is Flora, and next to her in the scaly bits is Julian. You can just see the curly hair of another kinsman, "Random," seen from behind. An unknown woman's hand drops a drug pill into a cup in the lower right corner. I don't remember whether the poor soul in the suit and tie ever made it back to his home world. I might have a copy of the zine in my closet, you never know. I tried to save every publication with my art in it, which led to clutter that I have not touched in 20 years.

Black ink on illustration board, 8 1/2" x 11", spring 1983.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Gadget Tangle

What does your computer area look like? This is an area right next to my large monitor screen. I bet you can identify everything in this little panorama. I've got a power strip with a "wall wart" stuck in it as well as other power supplies. There's a router, delivering a constant stream of Internet garbage into the ether. There's the cable modem, conduit of the constant stream of Internet garbage. Then there is the USB Hub, which looks like a rather sinister spider or octopus. On the table, my birdwatching binoculars, some dusting cloths, and a little paper notebook. And, in case of fire, tornado, or hard drive failure, my external hard drive. Grab that first. There's another one somewhere in the area too just in case the first one fails.
The pink globe is a plasma ball, given to me by a good friend, which plugs into the USB hub and creates mini-lightning inside the ball if you touch it. None of these things existed in 1984, except maybe the power supply and the plasma ball.

I needed to sketch for you to prove I haven't given up urban sketching. But on Thursday 3/19 I spent much of my time talking to caregivers or potential caregivers about how to keep my mother in her home rather than sending her to a nursing home. Mother's condition continues to be guarded, I don't know what will happen in the next few weeks.

Technical pen black ink on sketchbook page, 5" x 7", March 19, 2015.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Shabby Cambridge Back Lot

Cambridge and its neighboring city Somerville, were sprawling dilapidated urbanized areas where the rich and the poor lived on the same blocks. In the Harvard-dominated area where I lived, many of the decrepit houses were occupied by students, graduate students, faculty, and other academic types. This drawing of a back lot on the Cambridge-Somerville border shows a typical array of architecture. You see back porches on a "triple-decker," a form of residence highly characteristic of the Boston area stacking 3 floors of apartments. There's a shipping container in there, a fenced-in area behind a business, and the Ronald J. Pointer VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) meeting hall. Instead of finding this type of area dreary and grubby, I loved to draw its geometries and social significators. Also notice that there are still heaps of snow by the side of the road, unmelted on the first day of April. That year, there had been a blizzard on March 29. No doubt the huge snows of 2015 will also remain on the roads into April as well. 

All of this is gone now, replaced by a rather decent, nicely built, environmentally sensitive brick office building. "Development" is bringing this area into a modern age of planned and bland architecture, which I probably wouldn't sketch if I were still there. This drawing and others in its sketchbook were done at the beginning of outdoor sketch season in 1984, during which I documented my Cambridge neighborhood extensively.

Technical pen black ink on sketchbook page, 10" x 7", April 1, 1984. Klick for bigger view.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Pretty Boy of Darkover

Oh you Darkover fans I certainly wouldn't miss a day's posting on the "By-Product" when Regis comes around. Regis Hastur, tall, noble, magical and of course flame-red-haired (IN FANTASY REDHEADS RULE) popped up in many a Darkovan tale. Popped up in more senses than one considering how much erotic fan fiction was written about him. Fan art with Regis as subject was sure to sell. Girls and boys both liked him. Also he was weird, he had six fingers on each hand because he was part humanoid alien. He was Darkover's Prince Charming so here he is again. I'd love to colorize this piece but believe it or not I have plenty of work to handle so it will have to wait. 

Also there is yet another crisis with my aged mother's health so I will try to keep posting as long as I can before I am called to Massachusetts to do whatever it is they want me to do there. 

Regis is black ink on illustration board, about 4" x 5", June 1982.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Iconic Starbucks Coffee is IPadic

Here's a bit of iPaddery from my usual coffee break at Starbucks. It is not as precise as I would like and I need to get more practice. There is a way to draw straight lines on the iPad but it doesn't often work. However this is recognizable as a Starbucks caramel macchiato, sitting on two brown napkins with a green straw. People watched me while I did this drawing, and one of them even took pictures of my screen with his mobile phone camera.

Autodesk Sketchbook Pro on iPad, 6 1/2" x 6 1/2", March 16, 2015.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Danilo of Darkover

This nice little piece of fan art was done for my show at DarkoverCon, back when this convention was flourishing and had a good art show. Marion Zimmer Bradley, the creator of Darkover, always attended and held court among her adoring fans. In those days I actually made money at that convention, targeting things like this character portrait towards people who liked and identified with that character.

Danilo appears in many Darkover books especially "The Heritage of Hastur" where he is involved in a gay relationship with a nobleman, Regis. This book inspired a lot of Darkover fans who were struggling with their own gay-ness and needed a sympathetic treatment of this theme in fiction. Darkover was set in a kind of Renaissance world using magic instead of modern technology, until modern space explorers find them as a "lost" human space colony. So you get some science fiction with your fantasy, and a serious gay story as well. 

Ink on illustration board, about 5 1/2" x 7 1/2", fall 1980.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Celtic Music Bits

I dined out with friends at a restaurant in Reston Town Center. For our enjoyment while waiting to go in, there was a Scottish bagpiper making noise in front of the restaurant. He was joined by a snare drummer so you could hear this duo all around the town. He re-appeared inside the restaurant playing a much softer set of pipes he identified as "parlor pipes." The restaurant was serving "Celtic" dishes for the St. Patrick's season and I had an excellent lamb stew. While the piper was playing outside I drew this little sketch of him. I would have drawn the drummer too but due to the crowd I couldn't see him. People were recording the performance with their mobile phones. Of all the things that characterize the twenty-first century so far, the mobile phones recording everywhere might be the most life-changing. You never have to forget an experience if you record it. Ink drawings are so 1800s!

Just in case this drawing was not enough to warrant a post, here's an old mini-drawing I did as fan art for Katherine Kurtz's medieval "Deryni" world. There was no harper to match the pipers but he's Celtic anyway. From 1981.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Trader Joe's T-Shirts

I have dozens of Trader Joe's T-shirts. Some of them date back to 2003 or 2004, when I was first working there. Others are Hawaiian shirts from those early days when every employee, not just the managers, could wear them. I will of course keep my custom-made Hawaiian shirts but the other shirts will go.

Here, a lizard-bird unloads a Trader Joe's T-shirt from a cluttered closet. I have 11 years of memorabilia from my TJ days but none of it is worth very much. The shirts are available on eBay, all under $20 so it is not true that these are prized and costly collector's items. Most of these I will either give back to the organization if they are in good shape, or deposit in one of those old clothing bins which seem to be in every shopping center. The clothes from those bins are re-sold to people in, uh, "developing" countries so someone in Micronesia or Mali or the hinterlands of Ghana will soon be wearing a colorful Trader Joe's T-shirt.

Sepia technical pen ink on sketchbook page, 7" x 4", March 14, 2015.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Deryni House Call

I looked through some of my older black and white art archives and found dozens of images which had not yet been digitized. Many of them were fan art for Darkover and Deryni stories, some written by the original authors. (If the original author writes an off-topic short story in her imaginary world, is that fan writing? Self-fan writing?) I also saw to my dismay that the plastic portfolios these copies were in had deteriorated and gotten sticky and dusty. I am trying to clean them off while scanning the art copies. The originals are scattered to the four winds of fandom.

This is a rather nice one, illustrating a scene in Katherine Kurtz's "Camber the Heretic," where the physician Rhys Thuryn and his wife Evaine attempt to heal a stricken nobleman. Note the boy peering through the door at upper left; maybe a young relative, I'd have to re-read it to remember who he is. This was published in a fan magazine called "Fantasy Book" in December 1981.

Black ink on illustration board, 8" x 6", September 1981. Klicky for larger view.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Cosmic Horse

Everyone loves a cosmic horse, right? You can spray-paint them on the sides of your van or print them on a black T-shirt. Every fantasy artist has to depict at least one of these celestial steeds, just like a New England artist has to do a lighthouse or a Southwest artist has to depict saguaro cacti and howling coyotes. I am currently working on an illustration project involving fantasy horses, one of which is a classical white unicorn. I left the horn off this starry equine. There is no cactus in the picture either.

This was inspired by the work of Mercedes Lackey, whose "Heralds" series pairs our heroes and heroines with immortal white magical telepathic horses called "Companions," who are the mounts for the chivalric magical order of Heralds. Stay tuned for more unicorn stuff.

"The Cosmic Companion" is airbrushed and paintbrushed acrylic on black illustration board, 11" x 14", fall 1991.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Goodbye Trader Joe's

I turned in my note of resignation from Trader Joe' s on Tuesday, March 10. I started in the fall of 2003 as a sign artist, and have had many experiences there, both good and not-so-good. When changing conditions made it too difficult for me to continue doing my work there, I realized it was time to go. I made many friends among the crew and customers and hope that I'll be able to stay in touch with these folks.

I made this sign in 2004, when Trader Joe's criteria for large wall signs were more liberal. The hokey slogan was given to me by the assistant manager of the time, who was a barrel of laughs. He is long gone from the organization but the work I did for him, and all my other managers, remains in my digital image files. 

Acrylic on hardboard, 40" x 30", 2004.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015


I like blue flowers. Not the lavender or purple that gardeners and marketers think of as "blue," but true blue, like the sky or the sea or bluebirds and sapphires. Fortunately, though true blue garden flowers are not common, you can easily find and grow what is available, such as bachelor's buttons or "Heavenly Blue" morning glories or delphinium. Even the weedy Asiatic Dayflower can add a touch of sapphire to your garden. But if you want a big true blue splash, you go to hydrangeas. These woody shrubs bloom in an eye-catching shade of electric blue, as long as you feed them with the right chemicals, including aluminum. 

The hydrangea whose image you see here is a variety whose flowers bloom in loose clusters rather than the more familiar hydrangea blossom spheres and ovals. It grew in front of a house in my Cambridge, Massachusetts neighborhood in 1984, when I made this sketch. I also grew blue flowers in my back yard. 

Ink and watercolor on sketchbook page, 7 1/2" x 9", July 15, 1984.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Puckish Elf

I'm working on an illustration commission for a book by Christopher Stasheff, who in the 1980s and 1990s produced many entertaining and humorous fantasy tales based in the magical world of "Gramarye." This land, which resembles late medieval  England, is populated by a wide variety of humanoids and intelligent animals. There are elves, fairies, giants, dwarfs, and plenty of magic using wizards and witches, some bad and some good.

The hero is an Earthman who is magically transported to this land and is involved in political and magical intrigues. The Earthman marries a lady witch of Gramarye and they have four children, all magic users. The book I am illustrating features this whole family of wizards who help each other out of all sorts of would-be-deadly encounters.

"Puck" is inspired by the Shakespearian character from "Midsummer Night's Dream" but he isn't at all like the Bard's Puck. Though he's a miniature humanoid no more than two feet tall, he protects the four children with his own powers and the help of many other little forest creatures.

"Puck" is sepia technical pen ink on sketchbook page, 3" x 5", March 9, 2015.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

iPhonery urban trees

I have my favorite art-making app, "ArtStudio," on my iPhone as well as my iPad. Doesn't this sound i-SelfCentered? Well it's also a way to lay down a sketch when you don't have your sketchbook and colors with you. I used my plain old finger to do this although I should keep a stylus handy for iSketching occasions. It's a teeny little screen but you can see quite well and the color matching is surprisingly good. What you see here are still-leafless trees and some golden decorative grasses at an urban intersection just beyond a major highway. I didn't include the cup of Starbucks coffee just to the right of my point of view at a table in the coffeehouse.

ArtStudio app on iPhone, March 8, 2015.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Indoor Garden Stairs

I inherited my parents' friends. I got to make friends and spend time with some amazing characters from my folks' Bohemian artsy younger days. One of my favorites among this older generation was an architect called Eduard Henri Bullerjahn. He is hard to find even with Google, and was never famous. But his designs were elegant, simple, and practical, and they found their way into the dwellings and workplaces of the rich and the intelligentsia of New  England. One building I knew well as a visitor was his house on Sakonnet Point in Rhode Island, which he designed after his retirement as a refuge for himself and his equally lovable wife "Timmy." 

This house was part old coastal New England and part Mediterranean modern. Bullerjahn created an entirely new house and melded it with the older place. The new house was built as an enclosed "winter garden," with the rooms set around an inner courtyard under a glass conservatory roof. Within this climate-controlled space you could have flowers and trees and vines even in the middle of winter. There was even a mini-swimming-pool where you could frolic in an artificial current. The inner courtyard had one side with two stories. The master bedroom and the second story, made bright by multiple windows, was accessed by a stairway of stucco and stone which looked like it had been transplanted from a Greek island. Ivy grew up the wall, and the stairs, which you see here, were accented by terra-cotta plant pots and odd little sculptures. Even though there was no railing, the architect assured me that it was safe to go up and down the stairs. After all, Mediterranean folks had been walking stairs like these for thousands of years.

Naturally, I wanted this house. I wanted Bullerjahn to leave this wonderful little palace to me for my own refuge. The next best thing I could do is depict it, which I did here in on-site watercolor. I wanted to live in this white stucco box of goodness and watch the sunbeams travel across the tile floor. Instead, the Mediterranean home was sold to strangers after Bullerjahn's passing, and who knows whether it is even still extant. I still remember staying there, where on quiet nights you could hear the ocean waves splashing on a nearby beach.
It'll be spring someday.

Watercolor on sketchbook page, 7 1/2" x 8", mid-1990s.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Industrial Patterns 3

I can't get enough of this industrial stuff. Where's my hard hat? These structures are once again adapted from the Bechers' compendium of heavy metal pin-ups, "Industrial Landscapes." This scene is from a coal mine and coal processing plant. The complexities of different roofs and enclosed spaces which all fit together just make me feel good inside. I violated one of the Sketchers' Rules in drawing this little doodle, that is, I used a RULER. If you notice, none of the Urban Sketchers or Plein Air Painters use a ruler, I guess that is just too mechanical for them. But hey, this is a coal mine, not a gazebo in a park full of flowers. Grind on, Industrial Sketcher! Turn the wheels of the world with a pen.

Drawing in sepia Pitt technical pen ink on sketchbook page, 7" x 3", March 6, 2015.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Leafy Trees Still Exist

Do you remember these green things? I'm sure you do, unless you live in a desert. These are leafy trees. I know my East Coast world has been buried in snow or other winter miseries for quite some time but it is possible that we can survive this and see the leaves again.

These sketches were done on an overcast August afternoon when the greens of the trees were muted and grey. The inset shows the same scene at twilight. I was using water-based markers to do these sketches, which resulted in accurate colors as long as I kept going over it with layers of color. Water-based markers don't come in the proliferation of shades that solvent-based markers like Copics do. And the color dyes used in the water-based markers fade quickly in normal daylight so you have to keep your sketchbooks hidden away. Also, markers are larger than pencils so if you want to do on-site work with them you have to pack and haul a lot of them and they get bulky. These drawings were done in the studio and markers are great to use there. 

Water-based markers with some opaque white marker accents on sketchbook page, 7" x 10", August 7, 2003. Click for larger view.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

New Jersey McDonald's

I was passing through New Jersey on my way north to the old home place, and I stayed in a motel. This McDonald's was next to the motel. I didn't eat there but I sat out on the balcony and did this on-site watercolor of the eatery. Note the children's play set with the big tubes. If it were not a brightly colored play set, but covered with black dust and rust, it could pass for a blast furnace. I want to do more pictures like this, classic urban sketching. But unlike the other sketchers who sit out on the street in winter while their watercolor water freezes, I will wait until late spring or summer to do on-site art. I don't mind the McDonald's, it adds welcome color to an otherwise dull landscape.

Watercolor in watercolor-paper sketchbook, 8" x 11", June 11, 1999.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Souls of Instruments

These sketches are from the second day of the Bluegrass Festival. The other vendors in the dealers' area handled things closer to the actual bluegrass music than my art. There were CD's of bluegrass from vintage to modern, T-shirt makers, one jewelry setup, and lots of instruments. There were little "starter" banjos, grown-up banjos, line-ups of guitars, a mandolin here or there, and some sheet music to play. I wandered through the vendor area admiring the craftsmanship and occasionally touching some strings, enough to make a noise. I have now made a sound with a banjo, but I don't think it will continue, at least for now. I've got to do art. So I'll just keep listening.

You readers are familiar with my belief that things have souls and consciousness just like animals and humans. These musical instruments all had souls that were dormant, waiting to be awakened by a player. I could listen to them before they sounded forth. The instruments were quiet and expectant, hoping to find a home with someone who would treat them right, just like cats and dogs in a shelter. Many of these instruments were visually beautiful too. I had to depict the orange and black guitar you see at upper right. This was a luxurious creature, with a fancy pedigree, appropriate for a professional or a long-experienced (and rich) music lover. But even the inexpensive guitars looked sweet, some of them made small so that children could play them. There was a seven-year-old girl fiddler who was super, fiddlin' with her family right there in the lobby. Bluegrass is something the whole family can do, whether it's in the proverbial countryside or in a big city.

Now it's back to art. I'm working on two major commissions which you will see when done. 

Pitt sepia technical pen on sketchbook page, 7" x 10", February 28, 2015.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Bluegrass Festival

I'm back from the bluegrass festival, which was held in a large hotel only a short ways from my residence. It seems odd for such rural and mountain-y music to be played and celebrated in the midst of a modern concrete and glass city, but the music lovers will play anywhere, not just on an old wooden porch in North Carolina. The lobby was full of informal jam players, picking and strumming their guitars and mandolins and banjos and basses in corners of the rooms. I just love this music and am deeply impressed by the musicians' level of skill. I admit I was tempted to pick up a banjo and learn to play, and there were not only banjos but instructional materials available there in the dealers' area. But I can only devote my time to one or two things right now, such as getting my art going again, so I may not be playing the banjo any time soon. I can always listen.

Sketches of bluegrass festival are sepia Pitt pen ink on sketchbook page, about 7" x 10", February 27, 2015. Pick 'n' Click for larger view.