Monday, October 31, 2016

Reluctant Bride of Darkover

This was the title art (no lettering was added) to a story by Marion Zimmer Bradley which was published in a fan zine as well as in a DarkoverCon program booklet. The story was titled "Bride Price" and featured a girl who was being forced into an unwanted political marriage. Here she is having a discussion with her hunky new husband, about why she doesn't want to consummate the marriage. If I really wanted to, I could drag out my archival magazines and find out what happened in the story but really I don't. There are sites, believe it or not, which document all these magazines, stories, writers, and artists, along with photos of artwork if it is available. Some of these I don't even remember doing. Was I wasting my time doing all that fan art? Sometimes I was paid for it, other times I volunteered. Does anyone remember it? With all the family archival stuff piled up in my dwelling I don't need to unpack yet another load of 30-year-old memories.

Black ink on illustration board, 8 1/2" x 11", 1985

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Autumn Skies 2016

I did two sky sketches from memory, using two different media. The first one is in markers:

And the second one is done in my new "Irojiten" colored pencils:

The markers give a more saturated, watercolor-like quality to the image, but you can't make an even blend with them. The Irojiten pencils, which are Japanese although they are made in various Asian countries, make a smoother but lighter color treatment. Prismacolor colored pencils are skwushy almost like oil pastels, but these Irojitens have a harder formula for a thinner color coat. The Japanese designers have also clad the wood pencils in a shiny pale enamel that is very pleasant to the touch, and have named the colors poetic names like "Opal Green," "Forget-me-not Blue," and "Sea Fog." I got a limited set for my traveling and on-site art kit but I have just ordered the complete Irojiten set of 90 colors (called the "encyclopedia of colors") for studio use alongside my Prismas and other myriads of colored pencils.

Each picture about 5" x 3 1/2" on sketchbook page, October 29, 2016.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Ecumenicon 2006 program cover

I was Artist Guest of Honor at Ecumenicon 1989 and again in 2006. This conference, which started in the late 1980s, featured mostly esoteric and Pagan subjects and teachers, though I participated as a Christian with Zoroastrian connections. During the 1990s and 2000s the conference dedicated each year to a theme taken from the Tarot's major arcana. 2006 was the "Strength" card. This card usually features a maiden subduing a lion but the symbol I was given to illustrate was a man and a woman performing a solidarity ritual at dawn. I used an Art Deco style and an older Art Nouveau typeface. Searching for it online I have not seen a recent posting about Ecumenicon, the last one being 2014. This one had a longer run than  most.

Original is black ink on illustration board, 9" x 11", spring 2006.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Starbucks Squirters

As you know I'm in a Starbucks coffee house almost every day. It's my way of edging out of my studio so I won't be alone and hidden all day long. I sit and drink my doubleshot or cappuccino and pretend I'm just like all the other people in there with their computers and iPhones. Why pretend? I AM just like all the other people in there with my iPhone. But none of them have a sketch pad. Draw anything, goes the motif. Draw the people drinking coffee. But I'm not confident of my people drawing skills, even after all these years. I can draw things really well, not so much people. There right in front of me are many things. They are vessels for the making of sweet coffee and tea drinks. The pump squirters deliver flavored syrup and the square pitchers have coffee or tea concentrate. As I drew these the barista moved them around in ceaseless application. Finally she took all of the items away and cleaned the metal table they were on. So that was the end of this drawing session.

Black tech pen ink on sketchbook page, 4 1/2" x 6", October 27, 2016.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Horsey Set, part 4

Here's another page from my semi-sequential illustration of the "Horse-Tamer's Daughter" song lyrics. I left the words on the page this time so you can read a bit of the text. You see it's typed rather than typeset, and the typeface is the old typewriter "Courier" face. But you can read it and that's all that counts except for my art of course. Here at right Epona the youthful horse whisperer finds a piece of magical equipment, a farseeing "mirror," which had been lost in haste as the previous magical rulers fled. To the left is the remains of the magical tower which had once been a psychic power station.

Black ink on illustration board, 7 1/2" x 6 1/2", summer 1984. Click for larger view.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016


Every artist has to do one of these. If they are in New England, where I grew up, if you're an artist, you have to paint at least one lighthouse. If you're in the Southwest, you gotta paint at least one howling coyote and saguaro cactus. If you're in the San Francisco Bay Area, then you gotta do the Golden Gate Bridge. But if you are a genteel indoor-type artist like me most of the time, it's crockery and flowers. I've already painted plenty of flower images so I've got that one covered. When I saw this piece at a local cafe I knew I must have it so I bought it and added it to my collection of Orange Stuff. The catch was, I would have to draw its picture. So here it is, the Orange Teapot. There's this sort of strainer cup inside it which I gather is not for drinking out of but for putting loose tea in. The tab on the cap fits in a hole which anchors the tea strainer so it won't fall off and spill your tea when you move the pot. What to put in it? Orange Pekoe, of course.

Black tech pen ink, markers, and a bit of Photoshopperei, 4" x 3", October 26, 2016. This also satisfies the requirement for freshly done Art By-Product.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Darkover Horse Journey

Most of the time when I post fan or vintage art here, I know when and for what zine it was made and published. But in this case, I haven't a clue. It is just generic, two riders and a pack horse behind them, picking their way through a mountain valley. Well that could happen in any fantasy tale, in fact you pretty much have to have a wilderness journey, just like a thriller movie has to have a car chase. Most of the time, the fan author is not too familiar with horses (except for some lucky ones who are real equestrians) so she passes by the troubles you can get when you're depending on an animal for your transportation. The wonderful (but now wildly and offensively awfully designed) website "TV Tropes" has a whole section about bad horse fantasy writing called "Somewhere, an Equestrian is Crying." Read it and weep - or more likely, laugh. No horses were harmed in the production of this fan fiction. 

....But wait! I found it! From my vague memories I fished out the name of the author of the story, who is a good friend of mine from Darkover time immemorial. From her name I was able to search my art catalogue and find the illustration I did for her story.

Black ink on illustration board, 8" x 10", fall 1983.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Horse Tamers Daughter excerpt 3 and ink rant

My illustrated lyrics for the "Horse-Tamer's Daughter" song were the closest I ever got to doing Darkover themed sequential art. "Sequential art" is a classy way to refer to "comic books" or graphic novels. I dropped in small pieces which matched the line of text nearest to them. In this excerpt the lyrics panel originally would have obscured the body of the horse so I didn't draw it. I still want to do sequential art in this style, black ink drawing with a real old-style dip pen.

However I don't like to draw with dip pen, it's old-fashioned, messy, blot-filled, and hard to correct. For this reason I sunk big bucks into a Cintiq stylus tablet where I could do "digital inking" with no drips and wet napkins messing up and staining my hands. I've done a lot of work on the Cintiq but unfortunately there is a major design flaw in the Cintiq which comes either from Windows 10, Adobe Photoshop, or Wacom the maker of the Cintiq. This is kind of hard to explain but I'll try it. When I set my stylus down and apply pressure to the screen to draw, a little circle appears around the stylus point spot, and then a pop-up menu appears and covers my drawing so I can't draw. This happens almost every time I touch stylus to screen. I have to stop the pop-up by tapping the stylus again. 

I called Wacom and they were at least helpful in saying that it was a known problem. But they were helpless to suggest a remedy and they said to try to contact Microsoft about it. Surely they jest. As for Adobe, they are the least user-friendly graphics software people I know. I searched the Almighty Google for forums where people might have answers, and I did find a few, but they didn't work for me.

I have no idea what is going on and no change or upgrade is forthcoming so I use my Cintiq just as it is, dismissing pop-ups every few seconds when I draw. Thousands of units must have been sold by now so does any other Cintiq user have the problem? One of my favorite artists, Simon Stalenhag, uses a Cintiq just like mine and I would like to contact him about it but he only allows contact through "Tumblr" and I have tried to enter "Tumblr" but failed. OK enough ranting.

Black ink old fashioned dip pen on old fashioned paper, 2" x 6", summer 1984 when no one worried about unwanted computer pop-ups. Click for a larger 2016 view.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Creek's Edge

"Wine Saturday" resumed with the Wine Team's visit to Creek's Edge Winery in Lovettsville, in the very northern tip of Virginia. This winery has been going since 2013 and I am surprised that I haven't found it before. The wine lodge on top of a hill is a masterpiece of Amish craftsmanship. It is made of beautiful wood rescued from old structures in the area and is hand-carved inside and out. The wood is finished with wine-resistant surfacing which is smooth and warm to the touch and the visual richness is enhanced with naturally irregular  edges.

We sampled the "deluxe" tasting series where they featured an interesting chardonnay, a spicy Chambourcin, and my favorite of the group, a red blend named "Foothills," which was also described as "Left Bank Bordeaux." I drew the Winery Drawing while sipping this wine which went well with sausage slices and home-made cheese. 

I think I made a nice page at Creek's Edge. My new "Irojiten" colored pencils produce a quiet range of colors which are best with blended overlay layers rather than heavy saturated color. Also Irojiten makes a perfect "cloud violet" which you can see in the lower drawing.

Sepia brown tech pen ink with colored pencils, and some touching up in acrylic marker and Photoshop, 8" x 11", October 22, 2016. Click on image to see a larger view.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

"Awakening" title page

Here we have yet another dramatic episode between the friends (and later, lovers) Regis (light haired one) and Danilo. Regis gets a psychic vision where he freaks out until Danilo comforts him. Fan writing is full of scenes where one character comforts another for pages of dialogue. I have read an excessive amount of fan writing and there is something about men showing weakness and talking at length about their emotions that just makes the fan writers squirm with joy. This is probably because the real men in their lives would rather poke themselves in the eye socket with a screwdriver before talking about their emotions. I have attempted to read long-form fan fic about TV characters and it had the effect of allergy medicine on me: Caution do not operate heavy machinery while using this medication. May cause drowsiness. I guess that's why you need an "Awakening."

Black ink on illustration board, 8" x 10", August 1986.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Gameworld Sun God Temple

Here's another scene from the "Haven" gameworld. There are many religions to choose from, some of them rich and a good target for thieves. The Sun God cult's temple is well-stocked with precious things especially gold which is naturally sacred to the Golden Sun. 

In these old illustrations of mine gamers were satisfied playing from paper books and a handful of dice. The books were well-illustrated but as in this case only with black and white drawings. Nowadays as you all know gaming is digital and a multi-billion dollar industry. Countless artists, many of them from Asia, produce dazzling full-color arrays of illustrations which are used in games you can only play on an expensive machine. 

I missed my chance to do the modern kind of gaming art, with its super-complex fabulous eye-blasting scenarios and characters. But from what I've heard about the industry since then did not inspire me to enter it, including high-pressure short term contracts, uncertain employment, and rampant sexism. I found my small-scale niche instead among the fine arts and craftsmen and haven't regretted not going for the gaming world too much.

"Temple of the Sun God" original is black ink on illustration board, about 8 1/2" x 2 3/4", spring 1984.

Thursday, October 20, 2016


I don't think it was much of a debate, because anything meaningful was said by only one of the participants. I do think that our American way of life is in danger and I urge anyone American who might stop by here to vote in the election and choose the one on the right side of this drawn-from-TV scribble. You may not like her, but she is the best we're gonna get. I don't do politics usually but this agonizing campaign is one of the most depressing moments in modern American history, up there with the prosecutions of Senator Joseph McCarthy and the "Communist Menace." This campaign has even shown real clandestine Russian influence, making it even more surreal. I wasn't able to do accurate portraits of these two but did manage to capture some of the expressions of the debate.

Black tech pen ink on sketchbook page finished in Photoshop, 5" x 2 1/2", October 19, 2016.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Spellcoats Cover

During thee 1980s I did most of the covers for the DarkoverCon program books. In 1985 the literary Guest of Honor was British author Diana Wynne Jones, who was a good friend and whose books I greatly enjoyed. I chose the cover image to illustrate Wynne Jones' "The Spellcoats," which takes place in an analog of Bronze Age northern Europe. The main character, depicted in the drawing, can weave magical spells into textiles and I depicted the program titles as woven spell-words.

Diana was mainly a "young adult" writer but "Y.A." stories are now considered appropriate reading for all ages. They are a welcome break from mainstream "adult" writing steeped in explicit sex and brutal violence. 

Image is black ink on illustration board, about 7" x 10", August 1985.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Gameworld High Court

"Haven," the city in the game series I illustrated for "Gamelords," was a mixture of Renaissance intrigue and swashbuckling, and political infighting. Despite its Renaissance or "early modern" society with nobles and mercenary bands and small city-states, it seemed to have modern gender roles, probably to please modern female players, if there were such a thing. The "High Court" of Haven, like the Supreme Court in our world, had at least one female member, something our Court didn't have until the 20th century. But then we don't have the variety of humanoid species that Haven did. Not only do they have a human woman but they also have a dwarf (left center) and a pointy-eared elf (Chief Justice, in center). I wonder whether the Haveners had as much trouble nominating members to their Court as we Americans do for ours.

Black ink on illustration board, 9" x 4", Summer 1984.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Scary Squash


It's that time of year again, when an entire Earth hemisphere perpetrates a mass cutting and slaughter of plants, euphemistically known as "the harvest." Fruit is stripped from helpless trees, and vast fields succumb to blades of monster machines. Seed-nourishers are ripped from their patches and cut from their vines. The vegetable violence is horrific, but it is justified in order to feed the masses of animals and humans. 

But the plants know. They know that their lives are enslaved to the plant consumers. The air is filled with the distressed pheromones of the green world. The melons are carried off like spoils of war, the carrots ripped from Mother Earth screaming. It is not is leaf and fruitage and rootage.

She knows, the squash knows. She has been cleft in half by the deadly metal edge, and now you see her revenge. The inner jaws are waiting for you. She will carve you as you have carved her. The Squash is on the way!

Black tech pen ink on sketchbook page, 3" x 4", October 17, 2016.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Cleindori cover

"Cleindori" was the typical Marion Zimmer Bradley heroine. Tall, thin and graceful, with a wavy crown of flame-red or strawberry-blonde hair. She was based on the girls of Pre-Raphaelite paintings of the 19th century. She was what real Darkover fans thought they were, in their own secret imagination. And she was always a victim: of abuse, rape, violence, rejection from society, and sometimes murder. She lived in a proper attitude of combined sensuality and terror. 

Marion Zimmer Bradley lived a difficult life and made things even worse for those around her. I'd love to see a biography of her. From what she told us she grew up in grinding poverty somewhere in New York State, picking strawberries as a child laborer. She was part of the hippie and Pagan community in California's Bay Area and was the center of a tangled web of eccentric and weird people in her home compound, "Greyhaven," which I visited in 1985.

"MZB" was mostly friendly to me, and I was honored that the author of the books often publicly said that my work was the closest to the image she had conceived of Darkover. I did a fair amount of professional work in the Darkover world and countless units of fan art. This fanzine cover for a zine named "Moon Phases" is for an issue devoted to the character "Cleindori" who is a psychically empowered director of a "Tower" where the psychic stuff goes on. She gets murdered in a melodramatic way I have forgotten. I haven't done a Darkover art piece in a long, long time and have no plans for any. Artistically you can see that this one comes from my "Barry Windsor-Smith" period of work.

Original art is black ink on illustration board, 8 1/2" x 11", January 1987.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Kiddie Art as Paul Klee

This is dated "April 1956" on the back (which also has a drawing on it) in my mother's handwriting. Mother gave me pencils and paints as soon as I could hold them and I made art before I could write. I didn't know anything about Paul Klee when I was three years old, but back in his era Klee was fascinated by children's art, that is, art made by children. He felt that kiddie artists had a freedom from old stale models, having never been formally trained. This picture has a strong resemblance to Klee's attempts to paint like a child, and is one of the first paintings of mine to survive. I wonder though whether my mother showed me pictures of art or her own art for me to be inspired by. If she showed me Klee images that would be a neat piece of artistic recursion: artist imitating child who is imitating artist. He's still one of my favorite artists.

Homage to Klee is pencil and watercolor on construction paper, 8 1/2" x 11", 1956.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Roomscape October

Dedicated sketchers are supposed to be able to draw anything in front of them and make it look interesting so here's another little corner of the clutter pile that is my abode. Boxes make me think that something good is coming to me but in reality I am sending things away in the box. I am taking books off my shelves one by one and giving them away. One down that leaves about 2000. Too many books but even if I don't read them right away I still want them. Next to the box is a folding stool with folded blankets and towels as a seat cushion. I spent much more than the contents are worth to send some books and photo prints to a friend in another country. That's the way it is. Want some books on esoteric, philosophical, or artistic subjects? No, didn't think so. You say you want this one? Oh no, I won't give that one away even if I haven't opened it in five years.

Black tech pen ink on sketchbook page, about 4 1/2" x 4 1/2", October 14, 2016.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Playing Chess with the Devil

Here's another fan art title page from one of the Darkover zines. The story wasn't very Darkovan; it was more myth and fable than action adventure. A king has to play chess with a Mephistophelean evil character, to save his kingdom. The text, as all of them, is packed away in my closet awaiting liberation as an archival object. I wonder if there is an archive of Darkover fan material. I was thinking of compiling the best of my Darkover art into an archivable and possibly art book publication but it would be a huge amount of work. I don't even remember whether the Devil or the King won the chess game. From the board it looks like the King prevailed.

Black ink on illustration board, 8" x 10", April 1987.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Glassware and Plants

It's in my room. A lot of it is. My dwelling is packed not only with archival material and art stuff but my various collections of colorful glass and wearables. So here I am lacking ideas for drawing, why not the glassware? It's bright orange or bright blue or red or rainbow colors and it looks cheerful when the sun shines in and through it. There are also some ratty old plants there. One of them is the descendant of a plant that I got in Cambridge, Mass. in 1977, believe it or not. The "Peace Lily" has seen better days. I think about giving it a radical re-pot job, maybe I will someday. Or maybe I'll just finally dump it. But that would be wrong to destroy a living plant. In the background is part of my vintage lightning rod with its twisted iron rod and a blue glass reflecting ball.

Black tech pen ink on sketchbook page, 4 1/2" x 7", October 12, 2016.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Horse Tamer's Daughter 2

The song goes on but I digitally erased the words from my graphic design because the type was rather messed up. This panel shows the power-grabbing wizards who invade the town to take over the place and kidnap young people with magic powers, such as the girl in the song. The girl, who I named "Epona" after the Celtic goddess of horses, can call the wild creatures to her by the power of her mind. 

I really would like to do a graphic sequence from the Darkover world but when I suggested it to Marion Zimmer Bradley she burst into anger (she had a really bad temper) and said she HATED comic books and would never allow her work to be treated this way. I wonder whether this still holds true since MZB is dead. I could ask, but I don't know who to ask.

Black ink on illustration board, about 7" x 5", summer 1984.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Geometrika 2 circles

These things don't really fit together to make a working mechanism, they only look like works. Kind of like my life right now. Is scanning and processing hundreds of old photos WORK? I don't get paid for it and I doubt whether anyone but me and whoever is in the photo care about it. But there's something compelling about those old photos, it's like detective work to figure out when and where it was taken, information provided by garments, house details, and my own surprisingly vivid memories. Same with these blog entries, and the images on them. My successors won't have to do this kind of one-by-one restoration because everything here is already digitized and speck-free and perfectly color-balanced. After all these years I don't know who else but my handful of fan friends sees this Blog. I wonder what would happen if I posted a recipe for gefilte fish and chicken soup from the Jewish cookbook I rescued. It could happen, bubbeleh.

Black tech pen ink and marker on sketchbook page, 3 1/2" x 4", October 10, 2016.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Occultist Nun

Even though Marion Zimmer Bradley was a Pagan for most of her life, she also had a strong Christian background, though heavily tinged with esotericism. In fact in her elder years she claimed to be an Anglican Christian. So you might say that MZB's works and world were a combination of esotericism and Christianity. She created a sect of alternate Christians for her "Darkover" world called the "Christofori," inspired by the mythical Saint Christopher who carried the Christ Child across a raging river. And here and there in her books there were people who looked like, or even claimed to lead, a monastic life. Among the Sisters or nuns were the Priestesses of Avarra, a Goddess similar to Hekate, goddess of the underworld. They specialized in pharmacy, herbal healing, and potions, lived in cloisters, and wore habits. Even though they were Goddess worshippers their lives resembled that of Christian nuns. This drawing is of one of those Sisters, who wears a star and a crescent moon but also bears a cross-handled sickle knife for gathering sacred plants. I made this lady look a bit like me because I thought that if I had to be any character in Darkover I would be one of these Sisters and not have to fight it out with swords or be forcibly married to some brutal lord in a castle. And I would know which plants did what things for what reason, quite useful knowledge without having to be a witch.

Black ink on illustration board, about 4" x 6", 1985.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Quick Mall Draw

I thought I'd have more time to draw a proper sketch inside Tysons Corner Mall, but after all the sushi and beer I consumed I didn't get to it. Also on Friday night the mall is mobbed and there is no place to sit down. I finally found a metal folding chair and dashed off this few minutes of sketchery. Not enough detail, I guess, but I especially liked the "Tear Down Your Home" sign because I am still stuck in legal limbo with the buyers of the House of Mildew, I  have to pay insurance and electric bills for a house that is empty and scheduled for demolition. I feel sorry for the old house and look forward to having it put out of its misery. In Northern Virginia (the N.V. on the sign) they are building new houses everywhere none of them anywhere in my price range, not that I would buy one anyway. A model face glowers from another large advertising billboard hanging in the mall space. 

Black tech pen ink on sketchbook page with some Photoshop work, 6" x 5", October 7, 2016.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Skating Sketches

As I'm going through the packed stuff in my own closets, I find collections of neglected art copies, usually fan art I did years ago for zines that don't publish any more. All fanzines have been made obsolete by Internet lists and forums, but that's OK, I don't have all that time to do fan art any more. There were zines for figure skating enthusiasts too and the editors of one of them asked me to do a series for their "Brian Boitano" themed issue. I've published on this Blog some costumes from this skate fan series but here's a rendering of Brian himself doing ballet on ice. The inkwork here isn't as bad as I thought it was then. Here's another of "Determined Heroic Brian."

Boitano won the gold medal in the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. His victory was one of the greatest sports moments I've ever witnessed. I still think Brian Boitano is the best American male figure skater, ever.

Pen and black ink on illustration board, September 1990.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Nerdcon 1992 Poster Girl

Yes, that would be me. Not in 1992, but in 1969 which would be a high point in nerdiness for me as well as the ossumness of the Buchla synthesizer and my trip to Europe. I'm wearing my shabby grey sweater and a similarly shabby turtleneck. Fashion and I were not friends in those days. (Or any days, I guess.) I have those hideous black "cat eye" glasses that were popular about 10 years previously, and my hair is frizzy. I'm carrying Heinlein's "Stranger in a Strange Land," published first in 1961, which was the rage among the more intellectual types in the ritzy private school I went to. 

"Nerdcon" wasn't a real con, it was a party to be held at "NotJustAnotherCon" at the  University of Massachusetts in Amherst. The invitees commissioned me to do the program cover art which would also be on the invitations and T-shirt. So "Nerdcon" was a mini-convention inside another convention. I must have gone to it but I don't remember much about it, even without alcohol. This was a college convention so drinking was illegal. As for NerdMe, fortunately by 1970 I had gotten rid of those horrible specs and wore a more modern set.

Original art for this was ink and computer lettering on illustration board, 11" x 14", September 1992.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Geometrika Works

Working with shape templates is an interesting by-road for pen and ink doodles. It's not something I often see in other people's art. But when you want to fill one of those spaces in the sketchbook journal and you don't want to draw another chariot, this will fill the square. Over the years I've collected quite a lot of graphic design templates, from simple circles and ovals to squares, hexagons, and other engineering-oriented geometric forms. Now that drafting and design are done on computer, that leaves the old templates for the artist to play with. This one has a bit of Steampunk influence in it, and it's also inspired by fantastic watches now sold to overly rich collectors. I'll call this template-driven mechanical style "Geometrika" and you might see more of it if I get ideas.

Black tech pen ink on sketchbook page, 3 1/2" x 3 1/2", October 5, 2016.

A note to Tristan and other readers: I have often thought of doing a book of my Darkover illustrations. If I get to "Chessiecon," the successor to DarkoverCon, I might ask to see if there would be any market for it after all these years. There would also need to be copyright work done with the Bradley estate.

Another note. So you want to know what "F.S.P." stands for on the diagonal bar. Well, one of my art professors, the late David Ratner of the Boston University art school, used to draw these hilarious little cartoons where the three letters "F.S.P." showed up, as in a word balloon or a shirt or a sign, etc. I finally asked him what "F.S.P." stood for. So...just choose three common rude 4-letter words that those letters stand for and you've got it. I carry on the tradition.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Horse-Tamer's Daughter

This title page was not for a prose story but the lyrics to a song. "The Horse-Tamer's Daughter" was set on Darkover, in a remote area where one family worked with wild horses, capturing them and taming and training them. (The horses were introduced to Darkover by the human colonists.) The young lady has a psychic gift of working with animals especially horses, and this ability is amplified when she finds a lost magic talisman left in a ruined tower. Eventually she and a band of equines are able to drive off an invasion by a group of power-seeking wizards.

The song was very popular among Darkover fans and is probably still in some fan ("filk") singers' repertoire. I was commissioned to illustrate the lyrics in many pages so this is one of many. It was published in a fan magazine called "Fesarius" in 1984. 

Black ink on illustration board, about 7 1/2" x 3", summer 1984. You can hear the song here on YouTube.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Magic Bishop

Here's some more vintage artwork from my "Deryni Portfolio." I did a whole collection of black and white character and scene drawings from the works of Katherine Kurtz, way back in the Middle Ages. This character is a Bishop who is secretly one of the magically endowed Deryni. I know it's "InkTober" month encouraging artists to make ink drawings one a day but I am overwhelmed with photo processing and when I get to the studio it's on the Cintiq which allows me to do "digital" inking which looks just like the real thing except for the mess and the blots and the sticky points. But it's not real ink, it's magic.

"Bishop Arilan" is real black ink on illustration board, 2" x 4 1/2", 1981.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Two to Conquer Darkover

Marion Zimmer Bradley's "Darkover" was a violent place, full of vengeance, vendetta, battles, stabbing, dueling, intrigue, and swordplay. Fans loved it this way, although "Two to Conquer" was more violent than usual. It  had a complicated plot about an Earthman visiting on Darkover and the endless battles to rule the "Hundred Kingdoms." The main character was a brutal warrior type, depicted here in faux-Celtic armor and weaponry. I did this elaborate portrait for the cover of "Jumeaux," a fan magazine that flourished in the mid-1980s. 

Original drawing is ink on illustration board, 8 1/2" x 10 1/2", mid-1980s.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Clutterscape of Saved Stuff

Ever since I got back from the House of Mildew in Massachusetts, I have been living with all the stuff I brought back from there. There is so much stuff that I cannot see the floor. I have to creep through pathways and little canyons to get to my art table or computer. I am living in Hoarderland right now.

If I try to undo some of this or sort it out, it just means more clutter everywhere because there is literally no open flat space to put anything down. So I have to put it on top of something else, thus hiding it from my view. I have been working on the photos, and now there has been an explosion of photos, with boxes of paper prints stacked all over anything that won't fall down.

Why keep this stuff you might ask. Because this is not trivial crap that I have bought for my own vanity, nor is it some sort of intentional collection. This is the record of lives, valuable lives of my parents, self, and family, and I want them to be remembered. Each photo is a moment that I remember, or I heard my mother and father talk about. It is my duty and my honor to save these memories and put them in Digital Land so that they will be preserved for at least a few years longer. No one knows how long digital files will remain. 

The current push in our cluttery society is to get that Zen Mindfulness which I see on all the glossy magazine covers. We've got to be MINDFUL of everything. And keep our dwellings mindfully maintained, with mindful vacuum cleaners and mindful kale salad. And some Japanese lady will tell us that I don't need to keep that picture of my friends' long-deceased cat. But I am not mindful. I am chaotic, at least now. I want to make order but it's taking a long, long time. I drew this sketch of what my living room looks like now, full of shopping bags and crates and boxes and stacks. It's actually a composite of two drawings, mindfully done from a small place I could mindfully clear from a Zen piece of furniture. 

Pentel Japanese tech pen black ink on sketchbook page, composed in Photoshop, 8" x 5", October 1, 2016. Click for somewhat larger view.