Thursday, June 30, 2016

Covered Bike

Here is a fox-person riding a covered bicycle. The cover protects the rider's elegant clothing and fur coat from the muddy elements. These bike wings are rather small but I could see larger ones, powered by pedaling and kinetic techno-magic, which would fly through the air. If there was one fantasy thing I wish was real, it would be anti-gravity or the ability to float and drive around in the sky, not to mention those "flight rings" worn by the "Legion of Superheroes" in the thirtieth century. But that is for another posting. 

Black tech pen ink on sketchbook page, 2 1/2" x 3 1/2", June 30, 2016.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Country House in the City

I live in a big city, but if you looked at some secluded sites, you'd never know it. There are old houses and plots of land which are more or less untouched since they were built back in the mid-20th century or even the late 19th century. This house is only a few blocks from my residence. I did the drawing on-site on a hazy, hot, humid late spring day. Later that day there was a huge thunderstorm. 

This is taken from my illustrated journal for 1998. This fabulous volume had a colored pencil drawing on every page. I would never be able to do that nowadays when I am so occupied with family and other matters. However I still use this style in my winery and landscape art. And I have many more colored pencils including beautiful new "natural" landscape colors which you will see in my next winery drawings. 

"Country in the City" is sepia tech pen ink and colored pencil, 8" x 4", May 31, 1998.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Rosicrucian Chapel

In 1614, not that long ago, a New Age fad took over literary Europe. It was promoted by printed posters and broadsides that were pasted up on walls, and by the publication of a manuscript by an unknown author, the "Fama Fraternitatis" or "Story of the Brotherhood." This manuscript describes an occult odyssey and the quest of a secret group of spiritual seekers. In this story there appears a hidden crypt where the original founder of the group lies in suspended animation. The crypt is elaborately described, with seven sides and illustration panels all around a central altar. The images on the illustrative panels are all spelled out in astrological and mythological detail. 

When I was studying architectural drawing in 1984-85 I did some drawings of unusual buildings for practice and this was one of them. A seven-sided chamber is harder to draw than a circular one. I think I managed well enough with this one but as I drew it here it would be quite small and cramped for the worshipers. Also the amount of painted imagery on all the interior panels would be rather eye-straining. 

The interesting thing about the "Fama Fraternitatis" is that no one ever figured out who wrote it or who the Secret Brotherhood was. The "Fama" remained in print and inspired countless occult movements and esoteric orders in subsequent centuries. It is entirely possible that the original text was a hoax, although a well-written and cleverly promoted one. It shows how information, magic, fantasy, and spiritual yearning spread through a culture even without an Internet to "go viral" all over the world. 

Original drawing is pencil on tracing paper, 16" x 20", 1984-85.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Mechanical Doodle

There are no working elements in this mechanical-styled doodle drawing. I just threw together whatever I selected from a sourcebook of 19th century mechanisms. Gears have become popular as a theme in "Steampunk" fantasy. I'm amazed that the Steampunk trend has lasted as long as it has. I've never done any major Steampunk art but have considered doing some as illustrations for the 19th century fantasies I have always enjoyed. But right now I need to get all the material from the old house out of my way. "Duabus" is a Latin word meaning roughly, "To two." I just liked the way the Latin word sounded.

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 3 1/2" x 3 1/2", June 27, 2016.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Naked Birthday

What else would I do on my birthday to celebrate? The Wine Team returned to Naked Mountain Winery in Markham, Virginia to enjoy wines and charcuterie and beautiful weather in the forested hills. And I did this composite page showing Naked's new tasting and event space with wine-red umbrellas. The mini-landscape in the lower right corner was added later in the studio. I consider Naked Mountain to be one of my top five wineries in Northern Virginia.

Sepia brown tech pen ink and colored pencils on sketchbook page, 8" x 11", June 25-26, 2016. Klik for larger view.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Zoroastrian Fire Pot

I studied Zoroastrianism, the ancient and still-living religion of Persia, during the 1990s. Zoroastrianism is the first monotheistic religion, worshipping the One God Ahura Mazda, which translates to "Wise Lord." (The Japanese cars were not named after him, but after a light bulb titled "Mazda" which was thought to be a word for "light.") The symbol for God in the Zoroastrian faith is a burning flame, which is kept at all times in their temples, fed by sandalwood and other aromatic substances. I wrote a number of articles on the Zoroastrian faith, gave lectures, and made a lot of art, some of which was published. This etching-like drawing of the Sacred Flame on its urn was never published. It shows the sacred fire surrounded by fruits, flowers, and nuts, as it is presented by the Parsis, the Zoroastrians of India. The name "Zoroastrian" comes from the original prophet of the religion, Zarathushtra. I am no longer active in Zoroastrian scholarship but I still have friends in the community and am working on a series of illustrations of the Prophet Zarathushtra for a book about his life and teachings.

Sacred Flame is ink on illustration board, 6" x 8", 1994.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Mister Pear the Chauffeur

I finally got to put pen to paper. Remember, the doodle theme for 2016 is "Transportation" and so here is a little car moseying along on the way to New England. The passenger is Madame Apple (Madame Pomme) and her chauffeur is the longsuffering Mr. Pear, (M. Poire). They are the intelligent folk of Fruitworld, where the Essence Platonique of memory and personality is transferred from one instance of fruit to another, so that they never really die, they just are replaced in the Cosmic Bowl. Le Monde des Fruits is a pleasant, fragrant place, where even in winter there is a touch of sweetness.

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 3 1/2" x 2 1/2", June 24, 2016.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Edouard Bullerjahn's Seaside Edifice

One of my mentors during my study of architectural drawing was an old friend of the family named Edouard Henri Bullerjahn, an American of Dutch ancestry who specialized in yachts, seaside palaces, and elegant interiors. He designed this house, which was never built, as an exercise in style. The squarish block shape was meant to be reminiscent of the famous villas of 16th century Italian architect Andrea Palladio. Since I was learning to work from blueprints, I asked Bullerjahn whether I could do a rendering of his Palladian house. This is the result. I had some trouble with the tall narrow windows which were based on the "Golden Mean" but this is the way they were designed. The villa is intended to be a seaside vacation "cottage" and you can see the ocean horizon at the right of the image. Bullerjahn is long gone, but I will remember him, and perhaps somewhere his architectural designs are archived. I still have the Palladian plans somewhere.

Pencil on tracing paper, about 16" x 12", May 1985.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Industrial and Scientific Structure

During the 1980s I did illustrations for electronics and technology magazines, at the dawn of the Internet era when networking was just starting. One assignment I got was to illustrate all the means of communication that would form this network, in a symbolic way. The commission was to depict in artistic terms a long-range computer/telecommunication network, with individual features such as satellite dishes, computers, personal computers, radio towers, packet switching devices (rectangular white forms, looking like refrigerators), and local area networks inside buildings. In order to ensure technological accuracy, my client allowed me to visit and sketch one of their satellite dishes. The front of the dish wasn't that interesting but the back structure with its adjustable framework was artistically intriguing. I have always had a fondness for industrial and scientific structures. I would love to draw more of them but nowadays they are off limits due to security concerns so I have to draw them from photographs.

Black tech pen ink on sketchbook page, about 5" x 8", August 1986.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016


This drawing isn't well-preserved but after all these years I still like the costume with its floating tendrils of special-effects power. "Mothgirl" comes from early in my artistic life when I was just building up my comic book and graphic story collection. Her costume is black and silver, which is always a great combination. I don't know what I had in mind for the original character but I imagine that the black wing tendrils around her had a psychoactive effect if they touched you, and she could extend or pull them in at will. They also appeared to act as levitation wings. It's been a long time since I drew like this.

"Mothgirl" original was ink on illustration board, about 3" x 4", early 1980s.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Summer Solstice Wine Paradise

"Wine Saturday" brought the Wine Team to Doukenie Winery in Purcellville, Virginia, where the nectar flows freely and the tiny grapes are just starting to form on the vines. Doukenie was founded by a Greek family; the name "Doukenie" means "Duchess" and refers to the original matriarch of the family who came over to the USA to seek a better life. The old buildings and manor house are surrounded by bright green foliage and vineyards. We especially enjoyed Doukenie's white wines including their Sauvignon Blanc. 

This winery drawing set is a bit more lavish than my usual sketches because it will be a gift to a good friend of mine who has helped me in my recent family and house ordeals. It has been scanned and added to the collection which I hope will be published some time next year.

Original drawing is ink and colored pencil, 11" x 9", June 18, 2016. Click for larger view. Happy summer solstice, wine-sippers! For me, this is the best time of year.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Grumpy Bunny

I must apologize for not promptly posting my Saturday's effort, but I just didn't feel like it, having had a lovely afternoon and evening imbibing nectar and drawing landscapery. Don't worry, it will be along at the proper time. Meanwhile, "Grumpy Bunny" will sit in the SpaceFiller spot and slurp his ice tea and make remarks about political or philosophical topics. Again, don't worry, I turned Grumpy's chat mike off so you don't hear what he is saying. You've seen that wicker chair in a couple of chic outdoor furniture catalogues, and I don't know why he has it. Well now the sun is going down and I managed to make a post on June 19 so that I am not slacking off with the By-Product. Do stay tuned for the Summer Solstice Wine Paradise entry coming up tomorrow on June 20.

"Grumpy Bunny" is drawn with Photoshoppe on the Cintiq, 5" x 8", June 19, 2016.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Early Digital Logo Design

Someone in the science fiction fan community asked me to do a logo for what I vaguely remember was a gaming information site. I was just getting started at digital art and had acquired one of the earliest color printers, the "HP PaintJet." I did the logo not for money but just for practice. CorelDraw provided plenty of graphics resources to work with geometric designs. I gave my amateur client two different designs, with a "space architecture" look to them. Which one do you like better?

I like the top one better. After I delivered the designs the client decided he didn't like either of them because they were too complex and not easy to recognize instantly. Which might be true, so that's why you do assignments like this. These designs come from the dawn of digital design, the early 1990s just after the invention of the World Wide Web.

CorelDraw digital designs, printed out on HP PaintJet, c. 1993.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Metro Madness

I went downtown to shop at Blick Art Materials. My companions and I had no idea how bad the Washington Metro was. Going into town was OK though we had to wait while the train was delayed by construction. During the delay I drew the woman at left and the chair assembly. Coming back during rush hour was chaos and confusion as crowds surged around delayed subway cars packing in people including whole families with children. I drew the standing man during another delay. He's holding an umbrella with its wrappings, which looks oddly like a wrapped gun. And that Muslim woman sitting there, she must be dangerous too. Everything is so perilous we should just stay home and order our stuff online. 

Black tech pen ink on sketchbook page, 5 1/2" x 6", June 16, 2016.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

SuperSUV Egidio

I have long had a fantasy about a car that could go anywhere. It could fly (using a techno-magical power source called "neo-nouergics",) it could run on land, and it could even make suborbital space flights if it were loaded onto a rocket. Here is the latest version of my super-SUV, the "Egidio." It has been flown to the icy top of a Himalayan peak, well above the clouds at 29,000 feet. Upon landing, its anchor legs fasten it securely to the ice. The two Egidionauts inside are protected from the lack of air and the extreme cold by the space capsule-style internal atmosphere and life-support system. It is like camping at the edge of space, safe and warm as long as you don't try to get outside! The spacecraft-grade windows offer a great view of the vast landscape below the mountain. A "tailgate" (seen at the rear) protects supplies from the harsh environment. The front view shows the front wheels and the nose. It is drivable on ordinary roads but does not go very fast. The entire vehicle is the size of a small bus or a medium-sized truck. One environment it cannot visit is water; it can float but it can't move on the surface or under the surface. But a submarine-adapted Egidio can't be far behind. The Egidio is designed to be used for rescues, exploration, or just for the adventure of visiting where your old SUV just can't go.

"Egidio" is tech pen ink on sketchbook page, 3 1/2" x 2 1/2", June 16, 2016.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Mini Sci Fi

Confined as I was at a desk in a small dorm room, I was able to make ink drawings with some complexity in them. This is an abstract rendition of a space battle between two geometric battleships. One of them is built from triangular elements, and the other has a fourfold structure, hence the title, "3 versus 4" which you can just see at lower left if you click to enlarge the image. It's a tiny little picture but if you look more closely you can see my attempts at textures, drawn with my superfine tech pen point. 

"3 versus 4" is ink on illustration board, 8" x 3", 1977. Click for larger view.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Tree Texture

I do one of these studies every so often to practice and enjoy tree leaf colors and textures. The  Cintiq is up and running again with its texture "brushes" and it's installed in my studio, where I can look out my window and see trees. I love the lush greens of June, before the foliage gets the yellowish hue of hot summer. The birdsong is loud and there are wings everywhere. I'm putting my cacti and succulents out on the terrace. I would have done all this sooner but the house and estate stuff got in my way.

Photoshop on Cintiq, 7" x 10", June 13, 2016.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Loaded Room

I'm not loaded, most of the time anyway, but my rooms are now that I've taken so much stuff back from the old house in Massachusetts. I filled shopping bags with old reel to reel and cassette tapes with the intention of transcribing them to digital. My place now looks like a computer programmer lives there. The drawing covers only part of my room. I have something that few, if any people outside the Library of Congress and John Fede's Audio Recovery have: a working reel-to-reel to digital setup. All I can think of is that I'd better transcribe as many of these tapes while the thing is still working. Well I also think, I've got to remove some of this material from my dwelling as well as the saved papers from 1987 and 1988.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Elric and Zarozinia

This little drawing is from my "Barry Windsor-Smith" period. It's even dated and signed with my initials, HMGS, before I started using my "star monogram" on artworks. The late 1970s were a prime time for heroic fantasy, in comics, books, films, fashion, and heavy metal rock. All those things are kind of dated now with the dominance of the various "punk" trends. I love 'em anyway. This is albino king Elric with one of his doomed girlfriends. Everyone in the Elric stories was doomed.

Black ink on illustration board, about 4" x 7 1/2", 1977.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

The Old Eagle Chauffeur

Flying is questionable. I'd rather drive, as long as I ride in luxury with a chauffeur. Baldo, my eagle driver, spends his "retirement" years transporting me and my friends. Thank you Baldo, and now I would like you to drive me downtown to the art supply shop and the National Gallery.

Also note the Return of the Journal Doodle, which I could not draw during my stay in the Boston area due to exhaustion and simple lack of time. As before, I will re-date them to the date they were made, not the date on the page.

Black tech pen ink on sketchbook page, 4" x 3", June 11, 2016. 

Friday, June 10, 2016

Baseball Doodle

I was really creative in my high school years. Not that my creative output was always good, but I did a lot of it. One of my writing and art destinations was a baseball story which I both wrote and illustrated. The story was about Alex Solomon, a Jewish guy who wanted to play professional baseball. I followed him through his career in the minor leagues. He was a big tall guy who was trying to play infield, a position unsuited for his (modest) talents. His coaches switched him to catcher and he learned to catch pretty well, with some good home run and hitting numbers. But he never progressed, and finally was let go in his second year of playing in the minor leagues.

His minor league team was the "Olean Ospreys," a (mythical) farm team for the Baltimore Orioles situated in the town of Olean, which is in southwestern New York State near the Pennsylvania border. The league they played in was the "New York-Pennsylvania" league. In my text fragments about Alex's life in the minors I wrote about his struggles with hitting and also the difficulty of being Jewish in a team and a culture which knows very little about anything Jewish except anti-semitic prejudice.

After his time in the minors Alex went to law school and for the next thirty-five years practiced law in Albany, N.Y. He got married and fathered three children, who grew up fascinated and proud of his baseball background. He ran for Congress in the western New York State area but didn't win. He may still be alive somewhere in mythical New York State.

The real Olean, NY team still exists and their name is not the "Ospreys," but the "Oilers." That name refers to the historic gas and oil industry which used to be a big thing in western Pennsylvania and New York State. They play collegiate baseball now. I don't know why I didn't look up the team when I was writing about them. Even in those pre-Internet pre-Google days a few phone calls to western New York State could have given me the information I needed. Play (mythical)ball!

I doodled this sketch of Alexander on the back of a school notebook. He is not wearing catcher's gear, but he is clutching a glove and a baseball. Inscription says, "You can't keep an Osprey down!"

Ballpoint pen on cardboard, 8 1/2" x 11", 1968.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Allegory of the Catholic Faith

I  became attracted to the Roman Catholic faith in, appropriately, Rome. I was living with my parents at the American Academy in Rome, a kind of cultural embassy, in between my high school and college years. I had the run of the city and visited countless churches, sacred sites, antiquities, and shrines. I was at the Vatican many times. The Pope at that time, 1971, was the aging Paul VI. My desire for a religious life didn't come out of nowhere. The biggest attraction for me was the art and architecture this religion had inspired. I was also enthralled by the ritual performances, full of movement, color, and symbolism.

Those who witnessed my turn towards religion mocked it as a kind of spectator thing, that I was just fascinated by "superficial trappings" such as art and theater. I knew there was more to it than spiritual gawking. From the vast amount of art I saw in Rome, I adapted symbols for my own use as well as my art training. The piece you see above was painted in oil paint as a study work. "Still life" arrangements are even now an essential practice in traditional art training. I chose a still life which would symbolize the Catholic faith. These objects (except for the bay leaves) are found on the altar at the celebration of the Catholic Mass. I visited as many Masses as I could to observe the ritual (though as a non-Catholic I couldn't take communion). 

The chalice is the container of the sacred wine believed by Catholic faithful to be the "blood of Christ." The bread, which is here a common Roman roll called a "rosette", is believed by the Catholic faith to be the "body of Christ." These beliefs are absurd to non-Catholics but serve a deep purpose strengthening the faith and spiritual life of Catholics. The white cloth is the altarcloth over the stone slab of the Catholic altar. I added the green laurel leaves to symbolize victory and martyrdom, ancient Roman meanings.

I struggled with the oil paint. The painting looks very smooth and slick but in reality its surface is a mess. When I was almost finished, I accidentally knocked the painting off its easel onto the dusty floor of the basement studio, and the wet paint picked up a heavy coating of grit and dust. I couldn't remove all of it so the painting has a rough texture. The chalice was very difficult for me to paint. I had to paint the distorted reflections of the table items in its silvery curves. 

That chalice was made of brass plated with silver. I took it home with me along with the painting. The art stayed in the old house with my parents, and the "Roma 1971" goblet has remained with me since the painting. I became a Catholic in 1979. But a couple of years ago something distressing happened to the silver plated cup. I found it on the shelf with its bowl cracked right through, so that it could hold no liquid. How could this happen? Was it extremes of heat and cold, or a fall in the recent earthquake? Or does the broken chalice symbolize my lack of faith, as I don't attend Catholic church any more? Perhaps I should sanctify my Cintiq and paint a digital sacred still life, one I can't drop or break.

"Allegory of the Catholic Faith" is oil on heavy paperboard, 7 3/4" x 11 3/4", 1971. Click for larger view.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Fanciful Warrior

This tiny picture was rescued from a stack of my mother's sketches by my art-loving cousin Mitchell. He posted a picture of it on Facebook and I had to admit that I had no memory of doing the artwork, although I know it is from 1976. The date matches my illustration style of that time, which was done with a very thin 3-0 Rapidograph point with black ink, colored in watercolor. The armor is not historical; its design is inspired by theatrical Renaissance parade armor which would never have been worn in battle. I may have meant it to be an illustration of a character from Vergil's Aeneid. In those days I worked very small because I had no studio space, just a dormitory desk.

Black ink and watercolor on paper, about 3" x 7", 1976.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Ancient Battle Doodle

Like any bored high school or college student, I made doodles and drawings in the margins and reverse pages of my class notebooks. In high school I was already intent on studying Greek and Latin classics and their art and literature. This doodle of an ancient battle is meant to depict the war between the armies of Caesar and Pompey on the Greek coast in 48 BCE. Caesar is on the charging horse at left, labeled as "Caesar" and Pompey (labeled "Pompeius") is cringing on the right, as his forces fail in battle.

The tiny school image is an imitation of a famous battle scene found in the volcano-stricken town of Pompeii. The Roman image, done in mosaic, depicts a battle between Alexander the Great and the Persian King Darius, which I must have encountered in art history class or something like it. This scene is presented on the very interesting site of space artist Don Davis. My ink doodle here is only 8" x 5" on notebook paper. Back in the 60s when I did this I could have no idea how it would be exhumed from mildewed deposits and broadcast to the world on a magic Network that was only a concept at that time.

Roman Battle scene is black fountain pen ink on notebook page, 8" x 5", late 1960s. Click for larger view.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Back from's "Buchla Girl!"

I am returned from the world of dust and clutter now being broken up and distributed or discarded. This is a picture of me from my 1970 high school yearbook photo shoot (photos by my father, silver "Lost in Space" suit sewn by my mother). Behind me is the Buchla modular electronic music synthesizer at Brandeis University where I improvised avant-garde modern music with my dad playing the piano. I am now continuing my work of transcribing all these old tapes to digital files. 

Here is an account of my latest three weeks, taken from my Facebook postings for those of you not on the Gossipmachine:

I have returned safely from my service duties in Natick, Mass. During my three weeks at the parents' old house I: Returned my mother's ashes to the earth in an appropriate place, gave my mother's art to friends, relatives, and collectors, placed the rest of my mother's art in storage with friends, worked through the chaotic jumble of family records and correspondence, disposed of piles of old tasteless videos, gave away music CD's and scores to a representative of a local performing arts school, went through stacks of hundreds of my mother's sketch books finding ones that collectors would want, sold furniture and other items through a "mid-century modern" antique shop in downtown Natick, had book hoards covered with mildew and dust removed with the better-kept ones donated to a library fundraiser, added more to the Brandeis University archives, and filled my car with hundreds of sound heritage tapes for transcription to digital.
In this enterprise I will mention real names, and some of these people are right here on FB: I thank...Cara and Tony Spalla of "Culinary Delights" for the incredible networking ability plus the delicious meatballs, beef, and Chicago Hot Dogs, Gina Fiore of Walnut Hill School for the Performing Arts, Mark Kagan of the Brandeis Music Department, Rodney Lister patron of arts as well as composer, my cousin Mitchell for his patience in reviewing hundreds of my mother's life drawings, Scott and Patrice of "Re-New" gallery and antique store, John Fede of "Audio Video Recovery Systems," and last but in no way least, Bob and Tina Andrews for their astounding efforts doing the physical work clearing rooms of dusty and mildewed stuff. I didn't do any of the harder work. I just talked to people and there are some that I have forgotten right now.
It has been quite the effort and there is much more to be done especially with the papers and archives. I will be going up there again for one more blast, and then I will be out of there.

I'm not 17 any more but I so wish that I could have a synthesizer to play and another silver spacesuit wouldn't be so bad either.

Blogging on "Art By-Products" resumes now.