Friday, November 17, 2017

November geometrikon landscape


These are my favorite landscape colors, faded greens and golds either in early spring or late fall, under a cerulean sky. There may be a landform here, and the green gold leaves have probably been shed from grapevines. California, maybe, though I've never seen wine country first hand. Virginia is too hilly to be this fantasy. Except for the sounds of nature such as birds or crickets, it is silent. Pick up your cup of Sauvignon Blanc and enjoy.

Marker linework, colored and leafed in Photoshop, about 6" x 2 1/2", November 17, 2017.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

"Tralg," game character


The game world of "Powers that Be" was populated by a number of different humanoid species, most of them taken from well-known fantasy series such as Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings." Hobbits were re-named "Halflings" and re-settled in urban areas or estates, usually working in lower-class occupations such as kitchen work, gardening, or cleaning. This Halfling is "Tralg," who is responsible for a section of a noble's garden where the magical "Orethail" plant is raised and harvested. Orethail is difficult to cultivate and is very valuable so Tralg has much more social status than a typical Halfling. Halflings may be tiny (average from 2 1/2 feet to 3 feet tall) but they are not stupid and should you need some Orethail, Tralg and his associates will drive, or dig, a hard bargain.

Black ink on illustration board, 5" x 6", early 2003.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Cape Cod Forest


My family used to rent a house on Cape Cod, a different one every summer, for a few weeks so that we could enjoy the seaside and have guests.In 1978 I was one of the guests and of course I brought my art materials. I used ink, watercolor pencil, and watercolor. I wrote about my process on this older post from the By-Product. The house for 1978 was surrounded by the scrub evergreen forest typical of the Cape and there was a deck in the back of the house where I could draw, hence this study of the forest. 

Looking at my old color sketchbook journal I see that it has faded quite a bit even though it is piled up with other sketchbooks and never sees the light. I noticed even when I made the drawings that the pencils were fade-able. I've restored color and contrast in this scan so it can live a long enhanced life in digital luxury.

Ink, watercolor pencil, and watercolor, 4 1/2" x 6", August 1978.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Lord Magistrate Pellicuro, game character


Lord Magistrate Pellicuro has presided over the City's law courts for more than thirty years. During that time he has been renowned for his judicial expertise and insightful verdicts. But of late there are rumors that he may be losing his intellectual power after all these years, since he recently ruled in favor of an allegedly abused woman of "questionable" status. As a player in this game, you can enter the case and hear the details that Pellicuro did, and uphold or reject the determination in a dramatic courtroom scene.

Black ink on illustration board, 5 1/2" x 7", early 2003.

Monday, November 13, 2017

"Mother and Daughter" Lamp


I finally got a new floor lamp for my studio, replacing the expensive one that broke down a few weeks ago. It is a Home Depot stock item, and it is touchingly called the "Mother and Daughter Lamp," inspired by the larger and smaller lights on the same pole. Assembling Mother and Daughter was quite a difficult job, but after two hours I had my two-generational housemates standing up and beaming. This drawing commemorates the work, the light, and the packing materials strewn about the studio floor. The books are everywhere but the smallest case in the back contains jars of signmaking paint. In the lower right is the glowering styrofoam eye that once kept the mother and daughter safe. Light's on, folks!

Black tech pen ink and marker, 5" x 7", November 13, 2017. This is the last drawing in my 2015-2017 sketchbook. Another one is already in use. 

"Texchanchan:" The Philosopher is a minor character in the text. I've taken the mid-70s original text and buried it in a cabinet somewhere. I'd rather not show something from that far back in my creative life. I have plenty more texts and stories to read. Please contact me privately if you are interested.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

"Two Twisted Posts"


"Wine Saturday" took me and the Wine Team to a relatively new (started 2013) winery and vineyard in the foothills, "Two Twisted Posts." This is a small, exclusive, "boutique" winery and their wine was especially good. Virginia winemakers are finally learning to make good Cabernets, both Franc and Sauvignon. It is too cold to sit outdoors on my folding royal seat, so I drew this view of the interior of the tasting room. The tasting master was a very entertaining character named "Kosko," who recited and repeated the story of the vineyard for the guests. The "twisted posts" refer to an early 18th century tavern in England, and the heraldic seal on a wine bottle of that era. I suspect that the motif of the two pillars refers to a Masonic symbol of the Pillars of Earth and Heaven. Freemasonry got its start, some believe, in gentlemen's drinking parties during the same 18th century era as the wine bottle.

Sepia brown tech pen ink on sketchbook page, 7" x 6", November 11, 2017.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

The Philosopher


I have written before about my novel set in ancient Rome about 400 AD. Christianity was dominant by then but there were still Pagan believers and practitioners. The upper-class and intellectual Pagan folk believed in a non-mythical philosophy somewhat like Neo-Platonism. I have numerous character portraits from the book which I mostly forgot about till now. This gentleman is named Timotheus Macrobius, a believer and teacher of the "old school" of philosophy, written on the scrolls he holds in his right hand. Much of this philosophy got adapted and absorbed by Christian thinkers in the early Byzantine period, but Timotheus held out for the rest of his Pagan philosophical life. The character was based on my Latin professor at Brandeis University, the long-departed Professor David Wiesen.

Ink and watercolor on sketchbook page, 5" x 8 1/2", later 1974. Click for more detailed view.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Ron Miller's Pavilion

On my way back from my southern tour I visited the home of artist Ron Miller and his wife Judith. They lived on a very remote patch of Virginia bay shore near Fredericksburg. It took me two and a half hours blundering around on forest roads to get to their home. Once there, though, it was a beautiful idyllic place where I enjoyed a truly peaceful stay. Despite the remoteness they had delicious food and their main house was full of books and career materials from Ron's work. Ron Miller is in my opinion America's greatest living space artist and he showed me some of his ongoing work in his digital studio. All his art is done on the computer which is an inspiration to me who still uses a tech pen and colored pencil. This building is the "Pavilion," a screened cabin where Ron and Judith enjoyed cooling breezes and nice dinners in the summer. To the right is a drawing of Ron's "Hugo" rocket trophy and his elderly cat, "Wally." Ron and Judith don't live here any more; they moved to an equally idyllic but landlocked place in south central Virginia.

Tech pen on sketchbook page, 8" x 4 1/2", July 6, 2003.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Summer Hill Baptist Church


On my Deep South road trip I made a stopover in Georgia at a medium-sized town southwest of Atlanta called Newnan. My journal says that I identified a number of birds and also observed the local folk in the McDonalds parking lot. I made a drawing of this little church with its mismatched turrets - after all, the Cathedral of Chartres also has mismatched steeples - and wondered who worshipped there. Friendly Google shows me their website, and tells the story of the African-American congregation at Summer Hill. This church is no longer in use and may have been demolished during road construction. They have a bigger, neater church to use now but it doesn't have mismatched steeples.

Tech pen ink on sketchbook page, 7 1/2" x 4 1/2", July 2, 2003.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Courtesan and Agent

"Alya" is a non-player character in one of the games I illustrated many years ago. She is a famous courtesan, still plying her trade even into her middle years. She has had a long career of entertaining the wealthy, noble, and powerful - and of extracting secret information from them with her brilliant wiles. The courtesan, in other words, is a spy. And she is so clever that no one can figure out where the information came from. The rumors are that she is the illegitimate offspring of a high noble, or possibly even royalty. Oppose or accuse Alya at your own risk...she has many friends in high places.

Black ink on illustration board, 5 1/2" x 7", summer 2003.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Autumn Color Study


We waited a long time for the autumn colors and now here they are.The blustery winds are scattering the leaves. The bright orange and yellow flares for just a few days before they fly off into the winds. The Floating Cats have left the Virginia skies to migrate south, and the streets of Massachusetts are adorned with smashed pumpkins.

Markers on sketchbook page, 8" x 3 1/2", November 6, 2017.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Big Bookcase


Do you like books as much as I do? Of course you do! You have hundreds, maybe even thousands, of volumes that you couldn't resist, or that you love, or inherited, or even made yourself. Anybody reading this blog is most probably a bibliophile. So what do you do with all these books? I bought this magnum bookcase in 2002 to hold my art and architecture books, the ones I use frequently. It is in my studio so I can get whatever reference I want right away. The smaller case to the left is currently filled with colorful paint. There are small papercraft solid geometry forms on top of the case. 15 years later (now) this bookcase looks just the way it did then.

Original drawing is sepia brown tech pen ink on sketchbook page, 4 1/2" x 6 1/2", August 14, 2002.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Collage Glitz


My crafter and "Maker" friends invited me to work in their open work space so I brought this project that I have been saving material for. I have been spending literally years collecting beautiful glitzy printed material from tissue and toothpaste boxes as well as metallic craft papers. Finally with the help of scissors and hot glue I was able to cut my glittering papers to a design and adhere them firmly to a pre-painted board. To think that people who buy the products just throw away these fabulous textures and shining surfaces! Also note the mystical inspiration of the graphic text and type on the boxes. Luminous! Revitalizing! Clean! Yes, from my mouth to God's design studio! 

What you see here is not finished. I need a few more bitz o' glitz for accents, and I need a border color, which I have not decided on yet. I'm not sure whether any of these paper elements is permanent. This may fade away in time, but I'll have fun completing this piece.

Found commercial textures, craft papers, pre-painted black board, 16" x 12", November 2017. Please klik for larger view.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Hampton Beach, NH, September 2001


This little sketch comes from a moment in my life which is now part of every American's memory. It was done on September 6, 2001, less than a week before the terrorist cataclysm which changed everything. I was up in New England with my folks after Philcon, and we took a day trip to the little-known resort town of Hampton Beach, New Hampshire. This state has seacoast, though not a lot of it, and a large number of 50s-and 60s vintage hotels along the sea road, which is what you see here. 

Black tech pen ink on sketchbook page, 7" x 3", September 6, 2001.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Remembering Arts Wayland


Wayland is an affluent, woodsy far suburb of Boston. There are many such towns around Beantown and most of them have an arts association, just like my own area has "Falls Church Arts" and "Vienna Arts Society." My family lived near Wayland and as an artist my mother participated in many events, exhibitions, and social gatherings at Arts Wayland. The artists' studios were in a re-purposed school. When the town of Wayland needed the school again for children, the artists had to move out. My mother joined a new arts association in our home town of Natick (next to Wayland) called "The Center for Arts in Natick," known as "TCAN," which is still going strong thirty years later. Arts groups like these exist all over the country and probably in other countries as well.

I have innumerable tote bags and some of them I keep as mementos and souvenirs. In the drawing, back of the larger set of bags is the Arts Wayland tote bag I got as part of their fund-raising activities. It's thirty years old too! Below is a shot of my mother (at center) at an Arts Wayland group art show and gala in 1978.


Drawing, black tech pen on sketchbook page, colored a little in Photoshop, 4" x 7", November 3, 2017.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Thieves' Guild: Tailing the Mark

In a role-playing game, you have the option to be a morally bad person. In the old game "Thieves' Guild," which I spent so much time illustrating, this is the whole point of it. "Thou Shalt Not Steal." Most of the gamers playing this would not actually steal anything, let alone track someone down and mug them. Here in this scene you have a chance to follow a rich-looking gentleman through the Italianate streets, slowly approaching him until you have the right moment. Yes, but why hasn't the man got at least one bodyguard? Are you and your thieving friend about to pounce on someone who is much better protected than he looks? There are many immoral possibilities for our gamer who is so harmless in real life.

Black ink on illustration board, 5" x 7", spring 1984. For a "Gamelords" publication.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Bengal Cat


As you know, I am a cat lover though allergies prevent me from keeping one myself. I like visiting my friends who have cats so I can adore their felines. The spotted cat on the top is a "Bengal," the result of interbreeding with the Asian leopard cat. The breeders wanted a cat with a spotted coat like a wild cat but the temperament and tameness of a domestic one. As generations progressed the "Bengal" breed emerged and is now a very popular cat for feline fanatics. The cat in the lower area is a long-haired Maine Coon sticking its hips in the air. These cats belong to my friends Michael and Elektra, professional cat judges and breeders, who sometimes have up to 20 cats in their house.

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 5 1/2" x 6", December 18, 1999.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Eat your Greens


This doesn't count as "Art;" it is certainly a By-Product. But some of you may find it useful, especially if you are working with colored pencils. These are the "natural" green colors offered by four different makers: Prismacolor, Derwent Colorsoft, Faber-Castell, and "Irojiten." I sorted them out by color and make, and then drew a swatch blending from heavy coating to light dusting. All these pencils have a wax lead base and are very pleasant to use. If you blend them together on your page, it can even imitate watercolor. I am not sure whether they fade; I haven't done a fading test under sunlight. These are the pencils I use to make my winery drawings. With this chart I am able to pick out just the pencil I want. There are other brands available and I have a few, but these are my favorites. The "Irojiten" series are especially lovely and their colors are very close to the exact natural shade of green plants or spring grass or autumn leaves. I have another page of blue skies and clouds. I also did a set of color charts using watercolors but I am not actively using them right now. I suppose I'll do a winter set of greys and browns sometime.

Colored pencils with ink notes on sketchbook page, October 31, 2017. Click for more green.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Gryphon


The Griffin, sometimes spelled "Gryphon," is one of my favorite mythical creatures. It is built from a combination of many different animals. This Gryphon appears to be built of both bird, moth, and mammalian elements. Gryphons are fierce and brave which is why J.K. Rowling created House Griffindor, that is "Griffin d'Or" or in French "Golden Griffin." Let me say right now that I am a Harry Potter fan and I am determinedly of House Ravenclaw. No fantasy test has ever placed me anywhere else. One thing I have noticed in the "Potter" tales is that I haven't seen any art or music at Hogwarts. It must be there, though.

Black tech pens inks on sketchbook page, 4 1/2" x 5", October 30, 2017.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Lythande Performs


Oh Gawd, here's Lythande again. This one comes from a story where at one point Lythande, who sometimes works as a traveling bard as a cover occupation, must perform for an audience of petty aristocrats in a small desolate town. She must keep them entertained and not let them think about magic. This story and all the Bradley ones I illustrated are packed into a closet. If I ever move out of my current residence there will be hell to pay.

Black ink on illustration board, 8" x 7", May 1999.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Paper Bag Abstraction


When it's grocery shopping time, my purchases are handed to me in these classic brown paper bags with handles, whether they come from Whole Foods or Trader Joe's. Sometimes when the load is heavier, the bags are doubled up one inside another. When I get them home, I empty them and stash the bags on the kitchen floor for eventual recycling. This is the bag stash on the floor. I looked at it and suddenly it became an abstract 3-D work of art instead of a mundane food and drink carrier. My challenge in drawing this was to keep the individual bags distinct while rendering the many handles randomly fitting together. I left the printed logos off the bags to reduce confusion.

Black tech pen ink on sketchbook page, 5" x 7 1/2", October 27, 2017.

Friday, October 27, 2017

The Great Athena of Nashville


On my road trip to the American South I visited Nashville, Tennessee. I have friends in the city who were happy to take me around and show me the sights (and feed me the cuisine!). The most spectacular sight I viewed there was this giant statue of the Greek goddess Athena, holding Nike, spirit of victory, in her hand. The making of this statue, inside a replica of the Parthenon temple, is written about here, and it is quite a wonder. I had enough time and space inside the temple to draw a sketch of this awesome icon. There was a park around the temple, and in the park was a little food stand serving some very good Tennessee barbecue. 

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, about 9" x 8", June 26, 2003.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Conspirators in the Theater


Among the upper middle classes of Haven, a conspiracy is brewing. Two gentlemen whisper to each other of plots and schemes, while down on the stage a tear-jerking melodrama plays out. In the dark it's hard to tell who is doing the plotting....or who is a secret informer for the other side. I used a looser, more scratchy drawing style for this illustration, like the style found in pulp magazines or lurid novels.

Original drawing is black ink on illustration board, 9" x 2", spring 1984.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Autumn Geometrikon


These are the tree colors I'm seeing at this moment in the season. The maples in my backyard have an early manifestation of red with more to come. The rectangular panel at center left depicts the red leaves with the green. I embellished the composition with a digital "wash" and drifting autumn leaves. Hundreds of colored pencils entice me to make more color studies.

Colored pencil, marker lines, Photoshop. Original art 8" x 2", October 25, 2017.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

"Blue Thoroughfare" larger version


This picture, called "Blue Thoroughfare," depicts a bunch of asteroids surrounding a "dwarf planet" with nebulas in the background. I did a small version first as a sketch, and then completed this one some weeks later. It's painted with airbrush spray paint, and then with hand-done acrylic with a brush. When I first migrated to the Metro DC area, I thought that I might break into the "fine" art gallery type of art career, using my space and geometric pictures. I joined the "Art League" in Alexandria, Virginia and submitted this one, with another nebula picture in light blue the same size, to a juried show there. The jury rejected both my pieces and when I saw what they did choose, I realized that they just didn't like this type of space art. Evidently not many other folk did either. I showed it at a science fiction convention where it would seem to be right at home, and someone bought it for a much lower price than it deserved. The airbrush is gone, replaced by spaceworthy Photoshop.

Claudia: Thanks for your nice words about my little golden autumn piece. I like to show my art whether it is in a gallery or a high school art room.

"Blue Thoroughfare" is acrylic on black illustration board, 16" x 20", February 1990.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Golden Autumn Sunset


This scene is a little ahead of time with leafless trees, but I wanted to use these colors, some of them from my new pencil acquisition. Some of the colored pencil makers have beautiful "natural" colors such as "green gold" and "white grey" and even Irojiten's appropriate title "Autumn Leaf." I like to sort them by seasons and so I have the Autumn set at hand now. These little color studies are from memory. Seems like Winter is just around the corner, wasn't it just here? Along the winding road the winemakers are saving the last of the summer wine.

Colored pencil with marker line frame, 4" x 2 1/2", October 23, 2017.  

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Postcards from the Multiverse Original


I recently found some art that I thought had either been posted before or had been lost in a couple of computer destructions. This one, in acrylic and watercolor, was meant to be the sketch for another painting in digital media. The digital version, available here, went to the By-Product in 2008 leaving this one published in an earlier version of this art blog, and all other images of it were lost. (I'm so confused.) Looking again at this 2006 image I don't mind it as much as I did before. The idea is that all these rectangles are portals to multiple worlds and landscapes, which emerge from a transuniversal source up at the top right. This piece was bought by a friend of mine, and she has just moved house so it will be a while before it sees the light of day, or even this universe, again.

Acrylic and watercolor on watercolor paper, 12" x 20", June 2006.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Union Monument in the South


Early on my 2003 road trip through the South I visited Chattanooga, Tennessee, where a good friend of mine lived. Just about anyplace in that area was historic and we only needed a short walk to get to Missionary Ridge, where a deadly battle had taken place. This monument marks the spot where dozens of men on both sides died. The monument itself notes the soldiers from Ohio who fought and died there: "The 124th Ohio Infantry, Hazen's Brigade, Wood's Division, 4th Corps, Lt. Col. James Pickands. November 25, 1863." Ohio, that is, Union. This is a Union monument placed on what had been Southern territory. With all the controversy about the placement or removal of Confederate monuments, few comment that Union monuments stand all over the old Confederate territories. The sharp obelisk and warriors bearing arms, all of them Union, are a reminder to the Southerners just who won that war. Interestingly, many of these statues, made out of bronze or zinc or other metals, were mass-produced during the period of their deployment in public squares, with little difference in detail between North and South.

Drawing is black tech pen ink on sketchbook page, 4" x 10", June 30, 2003.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Lythande and Goblin


Uh huh, another "Lythande" illustration. Am I scraping the bottom of the Bradley barrel? Marion is still dead. This one was from a story published in "Marion Zimmer Bradley's Fantasy Magazine," about her cross-dressing female-to-male wizard. This one had to do with goblin capitalists, I try to remember. Note the cigar in the goblin's hand. I illustrated all the Lythande stories for that magazine until it closed after the author's demise. I actually enjoyed doing these pen and ink drawings and wouldn't mind doing more, though I would probably simulate it with digital inking nowadays. Knocking about the web looking for Bradley texts I found a vast organized collection of titles (but not texts) which lists everything that MZB ever ever wrote including this one. I will not inflict this on you.

Black ink on illustration board, 9" x 8", May 1999.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

What I Saw: Return of the Laundry Monster


It wants my Oriental rugs. And it just keeps growing, and growing.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Sunny Geometrikon Re-mix


Now that's more like it. What are all those blue pencils for anyway? The irregular shape is designed to fit into my sketchbook journal but the words are removed. I suppose I could have done this in digital media but it sometimes looks too precise that way. The lovely wax colored pencils can look like paint if you work with it. These are the blues that aren't sad.

Colored pencil with some white marker, 5" x 4", October 18, 2017.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Street Urchin Game Character


During the course of a role-playing game, you, that is, your character, will need further information. You can find it in a medium like a book or an inscription, or you could use a gadget paid for or found in play, or you could just ask someone. Here, your character engages a street urchin girl to tell him where the next opportunity or contact is. She is from the lowest level of society yet she has native uneducated intelligence. She also may be lying or giving wrong directions. Either way you will want to reward her with a few coins for her information. She doesn't have much of a future; without someone to care for her, she will be snapped up by slavers or pimps or any number of nasty folk. Your character is considering helping her, but he also knows that she may already be part of a vicious gang. Haven is a dangerous place.

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

Monday, October 16, 2017

Task Light


I love industrial lighting. I'm especially fond of lanterns and desk lamps, if they're old or visually interesting. I like the old-fashioned enclosed hurricane lamps used in pre-electric houses or in railroads. Just a few years ago there was a decorating fad which used reproductions of old incandescent bulbs inside metal grids, like old factory lights. This didn't last long although Starbucks still has them. 

This is a task lamp, a modern version of what workmen used to give a high intensity light to a job close at hand. The bulb is enclosed so that dust and debris won't get in. This particular light has an LED bulb, rather than a very hot metal halide bulb. LED's have revolutionized the lighting world. They are not burning hot which is much better for safety. Similar bulbs are now in automotive headlights. The style of this light does not have that "antique-industrial" look though.

Black tech pen ink on sketchbook page, colored in marker and Photoshop. 5" x 4 1/2", October 15, 2017.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Sunny Geometrikon


Even though I work at night, I made a sunny picture. This little Geometrikon visits the Mid-20th Century once again, telling us that the 1950s and '60s were a wonderful time of peace and cheerfulness. Well if you were a designer, or an upper middle-class kid, that was kind of how it worked. Don't worry about those Commies or those marchers with the signs.

I drew the lines and shapes for this in blue pencil and forgot that it doesn't show up well on the scanner. So I colored it digitally by hand with stylus and it looks like I used crayons. I think I'll re-mix it with colored pencils.

Colored pencil lines tinted digitally, 5" x 4", October 15, 2017.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Castle and Spaceport


Here's a rather late addition to my endless stream of Darkover fan art. It depicts in symbolic-architectural terms the re-imposition of technological colonialism on the settled world of Darkover. After Marion Zimmer Bradley's passing in 1999, fan enthusiasm for Darkover waned. I haven't done a Darkover picture in many many years. As I see it the whole culture of fandom has changed from a print and traditional media society to a video-driven world inhabited by pre-fabricated characters from movies, TV, and best sellers. Where is the "slow" "farm-to-table" movement in fandom, where a less frantic and more original-based culture can be cultivated? You can't buy it online, though you might be able to share it online. The fact that I was barely able to sell this picture for only a few dollars alerted me to these changes, just after the turn of Marion's millennium.

Mixed media (ink, watercolor, colored pencil) on blue paper, 10" x 7", November 2003.

A note to Claudia: Your insights about gaming as the inheritor to the men's fraternal orders is really worth making into an article for publication. These orders fascinate me, they are declining quickly in membership with mostly older members. One difference is that most of these orders were founded and continue with a charitable mission. They have banded together to do good works, whereas gamer groups don't usually have a charitable quality. If you could find such a thing (Warcrafters for hurricane relief!) that would also be very interesting.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Macho Guardsman


This burly type is an illustration for a Renaissance-styled game I worked on in the early 2000s. I adapted him from an old engraving from that European era. I don't know how the guardsman fits into the game, but it would be sad to have him show up and fight just once before he succumbs to the deadly force of our players. "What if the guardsmen win and they slay most of our party leaving but a couple of survivors running away without the treasure...?" That would be a crappy game if that's all that happened. So this poor soul can look great but has to go down in a minor melee. Artist's confession: I've never played any game that I have illustrated.

Black ink on illustration board, 5 1/2" x 7", early 2003.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Horton Wine Castle

The wineries of Virginia have some unusual buildings. This "castle" is one of the more entertaining of them. I had wanted to get a drawing of the Horton Winery's edifice for a while and finally was able to visit for enough time to do the art. As I recounted in an earlier posting, I drew the building while sitting in my new folding outdoor chair.

The first drawing I did was incomplete because there were parked cars blocking my view of the doorway and wall. I had recourse to a few snapshots I took there and have now finished the drawing. This is a "hybrid" drawing. Some of it was done in pen and ink on site. I transferred it into a digital file and worked on it a bit with the Cintiq (remember that?). Then I printed the results onto paper and finished it again with the tech pen. For a drawing like this I decided that "traditional" pen and ink would be easiest so here you are.

Horton Vineyards is one of the largest wineries in Virginia and they are able to place their wines in big stores like Trader Joe's or Total Wine. They have 48 different varieties to choose from including a line of "country" fruit wine called humorously "Chateau Le Cabin." I wonder whether that tower had once been a silo.

Black tech pen ink and digital, 10" x 4 1/2", fall 2017.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Thieves' Guild: The Fence


In "Haven's" game world, as mostly in our world as well, economics has nothing to do with morality. Stolen goods still have value, and the economic system depends not on whether the goods have been acquired lawfully, but whether they are "real" or "fake." The young thief and the buyer of goods both know this, and so the question is, (as the boy crosses his fingers), will the fence pay anything, or throw him out to try again. The outcome may determine whether the guild boss punishes or pays his operative. 

Black ink on illustration board, 4" x 6 1/2", January 1983.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Unity Temple New Orleans


New Orleans is full of wonderful architecture and this is one of the most unusual sites there. It is the "Unity Temple," a gathering place, school, and worship space for an eclectic, "New Thought" spiritual group simply called "Unity." They respect all religions and invite teachers from many different traditions to speak there. "Unity Temple" was right down the street from where I was staying in the affluent "Garden District" so I had to go see it. I visited with the current leader of the group and she took me on a short tour of the place. The architecture is based on overlapping circles, a symbolic motif, although it looked like a stack of dinner plates to me. The architect, Leonard Spangenberg, was a disciple of Frank Lloyd Wright and had studied with him at Wright's famous architecture school, "Taliesin West." The Temple was finished in 1961, at the height of mid-century modern curved geometric modern style. I was told that the conservative neighbors hated the design for being out of place stylistically, but couldn't stop it from being built. 

Original drawing is black tech pen ink on sketchbook page, 6" x 3 1/2", July 1, 2003. This was drawn from a postcard photograph as I didn't have the time to do a proper drawing on site. Click image for a larger view.

Monday, October 9, 2017

New Orleans in the Storm


In the summer of 2003 I did a long road trip through the states of the Deep South: Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama,Georgia, and South and North Carolina. I wasn't trying to prove any political point, I was just curious about a part of my country that I had never visited before. I had a lot of fun looking at the landscape, eating local food, and drawing a lot of pictures. I used the same ink-and-colored pencil technique I would later use for my winery drawings. 

New Orleans was one of my important destinations but what I didn't know, since I was not connected to Internet and not watching TV, was that a tropical storm named "Bill" was also about to visit New Orleans. Just after I landed in New Orleans the rains came. I didn't mind the deluge, and toured the town anyway. I had a late lunch at a restaurant in the French Quarter called "Pere Antoine's" (not the famous "Antoine's") where I had a mediocre submarine sandwich and drew this picture of the street under the pouring rain. I tried to suggest the torrent through vertical pencil strokes. I was sitting at a table under a sidewalk porch roof and the restaurant staff were agitating me to move back into the restaurant so they could close up the outside panels against the wind and rain. I finally complied once I had hurriedly finished my drawing. There were some flooded areas from this storm and I now call it the "rehearsal for Katrina." I wonder if I'll ever get back there.

Tech pen black and brown inks with colored pencil, 6 1/2" x 9 1/2", June 30, 2003. Click for larger view. I'm sure I've published this picture somewhere online but if I don't remember where, you probably don't either.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Archival Pumpkin Spice


It's Pumpkin Spice Time again, which I admit is not my favorite flavor nor my favorite time of year. This is what my commercial art used to look like when I was not doing it for Trader Joe's. I used to decorate advertising panels for local Starbuckses. I didn't get paid but I could get any coffee drink I wanted for free. This one is based on Indian and Persian paisley designs. The elaborate design attracted many customers and compliments. Trader Joe's wanted a much simpler style as can be seen on the earlier years of this Blog.

I just realized that many of my best commercial and fine pieces were never published on "Art By-Products." They were published on "Electron Blue," my original blog, which is now replaced by the not-very-active "Electron Blue 3." The  Electron ran from 2004 to 2008. If you are interested in studying mathematics and science, you may be amused or even encouraged by my accounts of my self-teaching struggles. I replaced it by the By-Product which does not usually deal with mathematics and science. The By-Product, as advertised, started in 2008 and here we still are. Seems like no time at all. Rather than grub about in my archives, there are plenty of saved images in the blogs of the past for you to enjoy here on the By-Product.

Liquid chalk sign markers on metallic panel, about 24" square, September 2006.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Raccoon-ish Critter

It may be a raccoon, or some other creature related to it in this world. The critter's expression is rather like how I'm feeling these days. You can find real raccoons guarding and plundering the neighborhood dumpsters all year round. In the winter you can see the prints of their tiny human-like hands in the snow. 

Black tech pen ink with Photoshop corrections, 3 1/2" x 4", October 6, 2017.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Roman roof features


Most older Roman buildings aren't very tall. They top out at around 3 or 4 stories, just like the imperial Roman apartment buildings whose foundations they are built over. If you're on a higher floor,  you get a view over the roofs of the adjacent buildings, with interesting architectural features. This view has the typical clay roof tiles of the Eternal City, along with chimneys and an old TV antenna. The church steeple in the background probably belongs to a foreign congregation such as Germans or French, as the Romans don't build things like that for their own. They preferred the more ancient dome form. 

Watercolor on Fabriano paper, 7" x 5", 1976.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Internetville 1993


In 1993 the Internet was just getting started, and was mostly in the hands of scientists, military, and tech-minded bulletin board users and science fiction fans. That year I was commissioned by a client who ran a tech magazine to illustrate his upcoming book, "The Internet Guide for New Users." This was one of the full-page pieces I did for the series (other smaller ones have been published here on this Blog). I was instructed to list and depict all the possible uses for this upcoming world-changer: university teaching, high-speed communications, entertainment, information sharing. It was a happy utopian vision which, like others, did not foresee some of the most important consequences of "Internetville." What really came to Internetville? The infinite Mall of Cyberspace Shopping, the tyranny of Big Data, the destruction of the recorded music industry, outsourcing of technical and other labor, the degradation of information into "fake news" and sinister propaganda, and of course, porn.

Original art is black ink with computer graphics stuck on, 8 1/4" x 10 1/4", May 1993. Please click on image for a larger view.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Elric on the Road


I know little or nothing about motorcycles, other than that they make a lot of noise and look great and shiny when well-maintained. I know more about Elric, the albino fantasy king who loses his kingdom and wanders through the world having dreadful adventures. Elric's author, Michael Moorcock, set his Elric fantasy in an elaborate Gothic-late medieval world populated with alternate human races and plenty of monsters, but what if Elric had lived in our modern world? Instead of riding a horse, he'd ride a big bike like this one. I don't know what part of a motorcycle does which, but I can copy from a photograph, no problem. Some bike enthusiast could tell me just where I went wrong on the machine, but Elric, with sunglasses, demon-sword, and smoking joint, is all mine to design.

I have no idea why I did this piece. I think I drew it purely to attract buyers at a convention. And I also don't remember when I did it or which convention I did it for. If I ever find out I will be glad to tell you.

Original is black ink on illustration board, around 8" x 8", possibly 1980s.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

K-17 Cerulean Crystal Sky


Digital art allows me to make any sort of shape and color and layer it over other colors which would melt if I were using real paint. I can take a whole "page" full of my favorite cerulean blue and overlay it with crystalline planes in whatever color I want, even pink. This is a color experiment sketch restricting my color choices to light pastels over the bright blue. The "K" designation is for a series of geometric abstractions done in digital media, most of which have been published on this By-Product. "K" stands for "Kandinsky," a 20th century pioneer in geometric abstract art. 

Photoshop, October 3, 2017. Click for larger view.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Character in a Cluttered Room


Here's another one from my game illustration days. The description of the non-player character says, "A courtesan in a cluttered room." The courtesan business in the city of Haven is perennially profitable but this practitioner seems rather demure, even spinsterish in her room full of cluttery things. You never know, maybe that sort of character would appeal to the milder, older but lonely customer, who might pay her just for the pleasantry of an afternoon without the effort of bedding her. It's a game, it's up to you.

Black ink on illustration board, 5 1/2" x 6 1/2", July 1984.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Return to Rappahannock Cellars


Autumn is just beginning, and "Wine Saturday" took me again to Rappahannock Cellars, where the leaves of trees and vines are turning that special green-gold of the season. Here's another view from the salon window over one of their many vineyards. Evening sunlight washes the scene in fall color. On the viewing and sipping deck outside, a sunshade sails in the breeze.

Sepia brown tech pen ink and colored pencil on sketchbook page, about 5" x 8". Click on image for larger view.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Family Drama of Darkover


Back on Darkover, the family dramas continue. Sometimes the soap opera aspect overwhelmed the swashbuckling and the magic. Here, the woman on the left is asking the gaunt, scarred, careworn Free Amazon on the right where her daughter is. Thirty years ago her daughter had run away from an abusive family situation to join the Free Amazons. What the woman doesn't realize, of course, is that the Amazon she is talking to is her daughter, all grown up. The daughter dies tragically after having revealed her identity on her deathbed. I don't write 'em, folks, I just illustrate.

Original drawing is black ink on illustration board, 7" x 5", summer 1983.