Monday, November 30, 2015

Industrial Patterns 14

Are you refined? I'm sort of refined, but have moments when I'm crude as well. This is my own private refinery, where I turn black goo into energy-rich flame. I want to stand there and watch all the oil-cracking and smoking and steaming and flaring going on. Heavy industry is full of glorious solid geometry that I love to draw. Cylindrical towers, sections and concentric circles in perspective. Networks and mesh of right-angled tubes and pipes. I admire it as an aesthetic view but somewhere there are technicians who could tell me exactly what each pipe or conduit is for. Does anyone else love the refinery world? It's like a hydrocarbon garden.

Brown ink on sketchbook page, 4" x 2 1/2", November 29, 2015.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Rowan the lovely singer

Back in my days as a hanger-on at the Society for Creative  Anachronism, I made the acquaintance of a young lady whose SCA name was "Rowan of Belchant," meaning "Rowan of beautiful song." Her real-life name was Joyce Baldwin and she was training to be an opera singer, or hoped to be an opera singer. Opera singers, actors, and other theatrical folk go perfectly with the SCA because of their love of dressing up and playing roles. I drew this portrait of Joyce/Rowan at a winter gathering. She was wearing what I would now refer to as "upscale peasant" attire. Rowan/Joyce had flaming red hair, just like a fantasy heroine, some of the brightest reddest tresses I've ever seen at least in the USA. I would have loved to paint her portrait. I never saw her again after I sketched her and I wonder whether she succeeded in becoming an opera singer, singing her way to tragic operatic death in so many soprano roles.

Pencil on sketchbook page, about 4 1/2" x 7 1/2", mid-1980s.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Cintiq first picture autumn leaves's my first color sketch on the Cintiq. Same view as my previous iPad sketch, fall leaves out my window. There were more of them when I did the iPad sketch. I gave up on "Gimp" although my photographer friends swear by it, for painting and illustration it just wasn't working at all. I now have "Photoshop CC" which is only available by subscription, so I paid it all at once for the year the way I do with music sites like "Live 365" and after one failed download it was ready to roll. I can be creative with clouds, yeah. This picture was done with Photoshop on the Cintiq and here is the iPad piece for comparison...

What, not that much difference! I suppose the difference is in the availability of textures and "brush" opportunities, and also some major features of Photoshop which the iPad simply cannot do, for instance ruler lines between two points (very important for architecture) or controllable line-widths with stylus pressure.There's also the easier screen view on the Cintiq, larger than an iPad and not mirror-shiny. I will continue to use both these devices of course. There's nothing like an iPad with a glass of wine at some vineyard paradise although I'm sure I'll be hauling the Cintiq to Wineworld too. But I'd better not spill anything on it! Gadget Management is a major skill.

Photoshop, about 6" x 9", Cintiq image November 27, 2015.

Friday, November 27, 2015

House of Success

You could live here! All you need to do is find your passion, work hard, and keep that entrepreneurial mentality going. Prepare to be nimble, agile, and engaged in a proactive business plan that turns non-existent real estate into gold. I did it, so can you. An eighteen-year-old kid is making six figures while living in his parents' basement. He can do it too. Are you too lazy to realize your dream? Are you still lying in your bed at 3 PM? Get up and out of bed and start networking at your computer. Success is just around the corner, no matter where you are right now.

I created this rendering of a McMansion for a private development company in 1996. Ink on illustration board. Printed on textured pale yellow paper with dollar-green ink. Click for larger view.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

More Unboxing

Here is a sketch of my new Cintiq graphics computer tablet and some disassembled boxing. The boxes are not from the Cintiq packaging, they are from a new router/cable modem, but they had that sculptural abstract feeling so I drew them. The tangled cables behind the Cintiq on the table do not lead to a hookah pipe. At this point I am using the device plugged into a regular wall socket. 

I just downloaded "The Gimp," a popular freeware graphics program. Gimp provides all the services of Photoshop and an even more difficult and hard-to-use user interface, if that is possible. Gimp therefore simulates the mighty Photoshop and amplifies its bad points. However that is all I have right now as my copies of Photoshop are for Mac only. I probably will have to bite the proverbial bullet and rent some version of Photoshop from the perpetually vaporous and unstable "Cloud." Only Photoshop will do! I have old versions of Painter and CorelDraw that I might try too, but can you load 10-year-old software on a new Windows machine? Will it work? Stay tuned, graphics fanatics. You know who you are. And Happy Thanksgiving! I'm thankful for digital graphics.

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 8" x 5", November 25, 2015.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Kitchen Tablescape

Is your kitchen table cluttered? Mine is. You see only a part of it, too! Magazines in a mesh box, tissues for allergic nose, vitamins and remedies, a beer bottle (empty), a hand-blown glass potion vessel, and a lamp. After a while I have only a square foot of space in which to put my bowl of Campbell's soup. Must de-clutter! Must make neat! I got up almost at sunset today, which is totally shameful and I've got to find a way to be more of a daylight striver like most other people. Just because I'm working from home now making art doesn't mean that I should live like a lazy slob. Meanwhile I'm still questing for some meaningful art software that I can load on the Cintiq.

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 5" x 7", November 25, 2015.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Golden Leaf Cascade

This golden cascade of leaves was in my back yard in Cambridge, Mass. back in 1984. As it is even now, parts of some cities, even where I am now, have bits of nature hidden behind houses and apartments. I used to go on wildflower walks and "field trips" in the city. Cambridge had all sorts of woodland creatures like raccoons, skunks, squirrels, and plenty of birds. And so it is in Northern Virginia's urban area where I have just heard some raccoons chittering and where Barred Owls hoot. This yard back in Cambridge is much different now. It is a garden and play area enclosed by a high wall so you can't see into it. The house was a duplex, later divided into 4 apartments one of them mine. Now it has been all transformed into a single-family house which must be valued in the millions given its Harvard location. Sunlight was lovely in the fall with bright city leaves.

Ink and watercolor on sketchbook page, 7 1/2" x 9 1/2", October 16, 1984.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Industrial Patterns 13

Here we see yet another of my "Industrial Patterns" series, in which I use industrial details to make abstract art drawings. This one isn't a real engine, I think, but rather a fanciful conglomeration of discarded debris which someone made into a 3-dimensional industrial pattern.The game-like challenge is to copy each angle, bar, wheel, or bulkhead just as it is in the photo or in real life, if you are lucky enough to be able to draw these on site.

Brown technical pen ink on sketchbook page, 4" x 2 1/4", November 23, 2015.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Aragorn Nametag Miniature

I rarely have illustrated anything from "Lord of the Rings" or other work by Tolkien, since other artists have done countless illustrations far better than mine. However in the late 70s I was friends with a family who loved all things Tolkien and they asked me to do miniature character portraits that they could wear at conventions as name tags.This is one I did of Aragorn, the king in exile who returns to claim his kingdom. Although Aragorn in the book and films was a younger man, I decided to make him greying and middle-aged, as a real exile for years would be. I was also experimenting with modern or mythic icons of Jesus and angels which influenced this portrait. The blank bar at the bottom was where the name would go.

"Aragorn" nametag miniature is mixed media on thick paper, 3 1/2" x 2 1/4", winter 1980.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Unboxing the Cintiq

I sleep by day and work by night, most days. My sleep/wake pattern resembles a cat or a fox rather than a human being. I have been lucky throughout my life that jobs I have had allowed for this type of schedule. Most people would only do this if they had to but I seem to do it naturally, as did my father before me. He would work on his music all night long until dawn. People think that my schedule is horrifying or at best LAZY and also creepy because in the winter I barely see daylight what with the sun setting at 4 PM. I am not a vampire fan. I was just born this way.

However, I get quite a lot of (art) work done and I expect that the use of the highly portable Cintiq will allow me to get even more done because I can use it anywhere, even on a pile of laundry. Here you see the interesting abstract patterns made by the unfolded cardboard supports from the Cintiq's box.

Black tech pen ink on sketchbook page, 7 1/2" x 4 1/2", November 21, 2015.

Friday, November 20, 2015

November Colors

I couldn't resist making this iPad study of colorful leaves as viewed from my window. Soon I will be making art on my new Cintiq graphics tablet and it will be interesting to compare the output of both devices. I recently went into the Apple Store and had the iPad Pro demonstrated to me. It seemed to work OK but its surface is very slick and reflective which means that it's hard to see the screen if you are outside under a bright sky. Which I often am if I do on-site work at wineries. Of course the best thing about all these gadgets is that you don't have to store the art you make anywhere except a hard drive which takes up minimal space. And you don't need messy art materials nor even a studio to work in, just hold the gadget on your lap like a real lap top and create. 

"ArtStudio" app on iPad, November 19, 2015.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

BoxScape 1999

I may have posted this image before, but after 7 years of mostly continuous bloggery, who knows. It shows the results of a flurry of material consumption by me in March of 1999. You see boxes for pieces of gear: a Dell computer, a Technics CD player, a Sears Kenmore vacuum cleaner, and other unidentifiable stuff. Of these things, the CD player and vacuum cleaner are still in operation, but the Dell computer is history. Note that I saved the beige hue of the faded sketchbook page rather than converting the whole image to grayscale.

Black technical pen on sketchbook page, 7" x 10", March 15, 1999.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

1980s Medieval Lady

As I have said before (when? who cares) I used to frequent "Society for Creative Anachronism" (SCA) events in order to draw the participants in their costumes. Much of this garb was simple and amateur-made, not like the fabulous "cosplay" of modern times. Because the garb was amateur-made, it looked more "authentic" than the operatic attire of nowadays. This young lady, who presented herself as "Lady Gwynedd of Owensrealm," wore a nice 12th-century outfit with plenty of drawing-friendly drapery. She was at an indoor event in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Just a bit of commentary here, folks....we are seeing a lot of atrocities on our screens these days, bloody barbarism and endless tribal and religious conflicts, beheaded bodies and heads on pikes, bandits and warlords and killers, and in other areas plagues that decimate villages and countryside alike. These were all features of the Middle Ages that our SCA players deliberately chose to ignore. 

Original pencil drawing on sketchbook page, 5" x 8", early 1980s.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Autumn Pastorale

All these lovely landscape scenes are nicer in memory than they were in real life. Except maybe this one. I could not be "realistic" enough to depict the brilliant trees, blue-purple hills, and cloud-adorned skies of eastern Pennsylvania in the fall. So this memory sketch is stylized and not "real." I sometimes wonder whether my art is "realistic" enough. The objective of the "realism" game is to make your art look as "accurately represented" as possible without the use of any photography. But hey, if I had had a passenger in my car as I drove up those roads, I'd have her snapping all sorts of pix full of picturesque everything.

"ArtStudio" on iPad, from memory, October 13, 2015.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Woodwork and Wine

You have to drive up a rugged hill to visit Arterra Wines, a new winery that opened only this year. Even though it's new, the wines are excellent, due to the experience and skill of the winemaker, Jason. I remember Jason from my visits to another more established winery nearby, so it was good to see him again and sip his specialty, red varieties. The newly built tasting room and lodge is also a showroom for grape leaf-themed ceramic art by Jason's wife, Sandy. 

I concentrated on sipping Petit Verdot and drawing the traditionally built but very new woodwork in the tasting lodge. The beams are held together by pegs rather than bolts or nails. The tables are surfaced in Sandy's grape-leaf pattern and the ceramic kiln for her work is in a display room right there among the drinkers and the barrels. Outside are many decks to enjoy the sight of just-planted baby vines.

Brown technical pen ink on sketchbook page, 6 1/2" x 8", November 15, 2015. Click for larger view.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Colorful Hills

The colorful fall foliage was at its peak mid-October in the hills of eastern Pennsylvania and New York State's Hudson Valley. Even as a driver I was able to enjoy the brilliance. And when out of the car, in a hotel room in Fishkill, NY, I set down my impressions from memory on the iPad. "Fishkill" has nothing to do with dead fish. It means, in the Dutch language of the early European settlers, "stream filled with fish."

"ArtStudio" app on iPad, October 2015.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

The Warlock is No Longer Heretical

The call to attend my mother after her fall caught me in the middle of my book cover assignment for the second of the Christopher Stasheff "Warlock" series, "The Warlock Heretical." I packed up my laptop and my mini-Wacom "Bamboo" tablet and brought them into the old family house where I set up my studio on the dining room table. Even during the sad days after my mom's passing I was able to work on it, one hour at a time, until I finished it and sent it off to the clients, brought to them by the Warlock-magic of Internet. 

Here is the cover as completed. The top half with the realistic clouds is blank because that is where the writing goes. I did a lot of research into fourteenth-century knights to get this looking suitably Medieval.

The story of the book, set on another world where magic works and civilization is preserved on a medieval level, is that a rogue Abbot, egged on by an evil outside agitator, declares himself an Archbishop of a schismatic church separated from the legitimate rule of the Pope. The hero, here on his black robotic horse, must stop the schism (or heresy) from happening, ultimately engaging in single combat with the Archbishop on the battlefield, as depicted here.

I have always wondered whether a situation like this is heresy or schism, or both. I thought that heresy involved a difference or wrongness of belief, while schism was a political sectarian breakaway from a rightful church authority. I suppose you don't get one without the other, that if you are a heretic you have automatically separated yourself from the mainstream church, and if you are a schismatic you already believe something different from the mainstream church's teaching. But I suppose "The Warlock Schismatic" doesn't sound so dramatic.

Photoshop over a pencil drawing, 12 1/2" x 16", October 2015. Clicquez for larger view.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Lovely Autumn and all that

Every time you think that Nature can't really be that bright-colored, Autumn arrives and for a fleeting week or two, breaks out all the crayons in the box. Even the pink and magenta ones, for all those chrysanthemum flowers. But this yellow foliage makes you into a kid again, using your yellow crayon all over the page. Is an iPad better than a sticky wax crayon? I think so because then you don't have to store your flaky paper drawing of those autumn leaves. Entire trees were childishly bright orange, yellow, or red in this intense fall of 2015. The wind blew at night, and the next day the leaves were on the ground and the tree was all twigs.

"ArtStudio" app on iPad, November 2015, drawn from memory.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Autumnal Green and Yellow

I dragged my orange wagon and myself back from increasingly gloomy Massachusetts and am back in my studio now doing art by-products. So it's time to resume posting here. Miss me, anyone? You don't have to answer. Here's a bit of iPaddery done somewhere in the Hudson Valley in New York State. It was just at sunset and the light was illuminating patches of trees and grass at a roadside rest stop. This sketch was drawn from MEMORY as I didn't have the time to set up and do it right there on-site. Most of what I remember from this trip up and down the Northeast USA is trying to find rest stops for a bathroom break. I must be a connoisseur by now. Some of them even come with their own graffiti art display. 

"ArtStudio" app on the iPad, October 13, 2015.