Thursday, July 6, 2017

Magic Carpet Con '95

Been there, done that, designed the T-shirt. In 1995 I was Art Guest of Honor at "Magic Carpet Con" in Dalton, Georgia, in the hills northwest of Atlanta. Dalton is a center for carpet manufacturing, hence the name of the convention and my design. I depicted a patterned carpet unrolling from a galaxy, while a fanciful spaceship dashes by. Marion Zimmer Bradley was Guest of Honor at this convention. The back of the shirt says something like "In Honor of Marion Zimmer Bradley." By that time MZB was in poor health and she died in 1999. The shirt design was printed in black on a white T-shirt but I always thought it should have been printed in light ink on a dark background.

Black ink on illustration board, with computer lettering added, 8 1/2" x 10", October 1995.

A note to my handful of readers: "Art By-Products" will be on break for the next two weeks as I do dutiful things in Pennsylvania and the old home place in Massachusetts.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Nipplecon 1994

I debated whether or not to show this image but eh, why not. I used to do the program cover and T-shirt image for various conventions, especially Pagan and New Age gatherings in my area. There was one called "Ecumenicon," and one called "Sacred Space" which had once been "Ecumenicon," and various others in the fantasy fan category. For "Ecumenicon" 1994, the theme was sacred sexuality and the spring Pagan holiday of "Beltane" celebrating fertility. For my model, I used the heterosexual lovers from the "Lovers" Tarot card. This pleasant pair is holding a copy of a Hindu "Lingam" and "Yoni," symbols of sacred sex. "Mysterium Coniunctionis" is Latin for "The Mystery of Joining," used in Alchemical symbolism. She's wearing roses, he's wearing leaves. As was pointed out to me by other fans, the archway behind them looks kind of like a breast. 

The man and woman in this design are real people, a married couple active in the local Pagan community. When I submitted the design, the directors of the convention thought that I had gotten a bit too explicit with nudity, even though the models' names were never identified. The management had to crop the image to hide the nipples, and move the writing up to fill the space. So much for daring social experiments. Some fans called this "Nipplecon."

Original drawing is black ink and computer-printed graphics on illustration board, 9" x 11", September 1993.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

The Pope with Legs

I spent a lot of time in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, in the various years I lived in Rome. I got to know the monuments and images in the grand barn almost as if they were real people. And I continued to do drawings. This drawing is from a different session than the lantern and  saint. After a Pope died in the early modern to modern era (say, 1500s to early 1900s) the cardinals raised by him took up a collection and commissioned a monument to him. This one is one of my favorites, from 1769. The Pope depicted here is Benedict XVI, who reigned from 1740-1758. He's wearing the beehive-shaped papal tiara crown and is blessing the crowd with his stone arm. In those days it was a big thing to carve stone so precisely that it could be mistaken for real textile or cloud or flesh. The sculptor here gave Benedict a flowing gown which outlines his legs rather like the skirts of a Greek goddess. I suppose Benedict must have had shapely legs. The effect is harder to see if you go around to the other side of the statue. You can read more than you would ever want to know about this monument by visiting this site. There are monuments in St. Peter's to more recent popes including the terrifying one of Pius 12, the pope during World War II.

Here's an atmospheric, rather grainy photo of the interior of St. Peter's and the grand altar, taken by me in 1969. I wonder whether this building and interior, with its evocation of Empire, inspires genuine religious faith, or just awe of human workmanship.

Pope Benedict monument drawing is pencil on sketchbook page, 5" x 7", July 18, 1975. For both images, please click for larger view.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Amazon Adventure Darkover

This is an old relic of a Darkover piece that I did as an extra for a published book cover. DAW Books, M.Z. Bradley's publisher, hired me for four covers along with a black and white ink drawing as a frontispiece. (I've continued that for the six Stasheff covers I've done.) The second Darkover cover I did was for "Sword of Chaos," which was an anthology of short stories written by Marion's fans and one by the author herself. This drawing illustrates one of the stories but not the cover story. In the tale, a young "Free Amazon" and a hardened older male Ranger must work together on a mission though they mutually distrust each other. Darkover's "Amazons" were not Wonder Women nor online merchants, they were groups of women who organized themselves outside conventional society to make their way without the constraints of marriage. At one point the "Free Amazons" were on their way to becoming a real-world group of social experimentalist women but with the passing of Marion the groups disappeared, to my disappointment.

Black ink on illustration board, 7" x 11", September 1981.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Roman Ornamentation

In Saint Peter's Basilica, the grand central space of the Catholic Church in Europe, no expense was spared to make it as ornate as possible. After all, the more stuff you add on, the more praiseworthy it is and the more exalted it is in a place of worship. The proliferation of ornament on the walls and domes is directly inherited from the secular buildings of imperial Rome, but here, it is a way to praise God as well as impress the followers.

This drawing of ornamental cornices and wall textures is unusually precise even for me and I wondered whether I had finished it in the studio but since it is drawn on the same page and with the same pencil as the other July 11 drawings, I guess I really did sit there for the hour it must have taken to jot this little study. I must have had a lot of patience back then. Not so much nowadays. 

Pencil on sketchbook page, 4" x 4 1/2", July 11, 1975.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Baby Screams

I must admit that I didn't do this picture out of my revolutionary spirit. A friend of mine challenged me to do it and I came up with the idea and a coffee house of all places. She risks her reputation and possibly even her health and life going into Trumpistan, D.C. to participate in protest marches. She has a whole library of protest signs, some of which I calligraphed in nice block letters. Some of them, worded by family and friends, are funny, some clever, and others are too intellectually complex for a street parade.

But here's the question. Do I really believe that this cartoon Presidential character should be mocked and even removed? Do I share the same contempt for him that so many of my friends and fellow Americans do? This is harder for me to answer than you might think. Sure, in many ways he is loathsome and worthy of disgust. But as a world-builder and fantasy artist I also think of the Turnip as a "mythical" figure, created by some collective imagination that has made a hero out of a con man. If you've read Ayn Rand, you know what I'm talking about. Turnip is someone who has deliberately created his own version of Randian sainthood. She used to complain that businessmen were never portrayed as positive, heroic figures. Now, finally, the "successful businessman" (despite the bankruptcies) has grabbed the soft center of imagination. The mercantile messiah has finally achieved his golden goal. Rand's heroes are beyond good and evil. They can bribe, threaten, even do violence to advance their towering self-interest, and they will succeed. Can we readers do that? I want to be a success! I want to win!

There is a problem though, and that's because this Ayn Rand hero is a twit. Rand is grandiose, but Turnip is petty and small. The celebrity insult games don't give me that Randian rush. Therefore I feel justified putting the Baby-in-Chief in his crib for someone in a milling protest march to hold up high.

Markers on construction paper, worked on with Photoshop, 20" x 16", June 30, 2017.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Saint Peter's Lantern

I love hanging lanterns. I have a number of them in my house, one of which I furnished with an artificial flame. These items derive from the imperial decor of ancient Rome and have been part of Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Christian churches since the beginning of the religion, since they belonged to the non-Christian world before it. Saint Peter's in Rome is filled with them, mostly made of gilded bronze with an artificial flame at the top. I did this pencil study of a particularly ornate one on my Saint Peter's sketching expedition. After all, for a believer, the Lord is your light. It must have been quite a job keeping all these oil or wax lamps lit in pre-electricity days.

Original sketch is pencil on sketchbook page, 3 1/2" x 8", July 11, 1975.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Renovation Roomscape

The management of my apartment building is renovating my kitchen after almost 30 years of occupancy, 25 of them my years. To do this, I and a friend had to take everything, every little dust-covered jar of spices, out of the kitchen. I did this and now everything from the kitchen is everywhere, not counting living room things they had to move to get the heavy bulky stuff across the floor. They replaced the counters, all the appliances (!), the floor, and the cabinets. My oh my what an uproar of hammering and sawing and drilling. The cabinets are not done. Some of them are late in arriving, so more noise is coming. What do you do when your familiar environment is so radically disrupted? Draw a picture of course. That's what I always do. You can see the four circular symbols on the Whole Foods paper bags. Can you find the Ziploc bags? Everything will look lovely soon.

Black tech pen ink on sketchbook page, 4" x 7 1/2", June 28, 2017. 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Saint Augustine in Saint Peter's

During my 1975-76 stay in Rome, I made countless sketches and drawings, usually in ink.  This time I used plain old pencil. On July 11, 1975, I was in the ultimate grandiose environment of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, drawing the sculptures and ornamentation of the Popes' little cottage. (Yes, one of the biggest churches in the entire world.) This guy here is Saint Augustine, one of the founding fathers of the Catholic church and teachings, hence his book. He lived in the fifth century A.D. but this statue depicts him as a 17th century or later Archbishop, when he was carved. This is called "Baroque" style, like the music. When I was studying to be a Catholic St. Augustine was my favorite sacred writer.

Pencil on sketchbook paper, 4" x 7", July 11, 1975.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Leaves Study 2017

I do one of these every year, attempting to capture the bright green of June tree foliage before it fades to brown in the heat of summer. 2014 was done in markers. This is done in a mixture of media. The lush foliage is the view out my window. Over the years I see more and more foliage. I didn't know that mature trees keep growing. It is hard for me to get to my workstation since it is blocked by bulky components removed during the current renovation of my kitchen.

Markers, ink, and colored pencil, 3 1/2" x 4", June 27, 2017.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Gathering in the Crystal Chamber

In neo-medieval fantasy fiction there is almost always a big scene taking place in an aristocratic or royal council chamber. This is where the leaders of the many Houses, Clans, and factions gather to get some business done. It invites the illustrator to depict lavish architecture, heraldic banners, and a costumed crowd. This version of the Council Chamber scene is from a collection of Darkover fan art that I did in my early days as the unofficial artist of Zimmer Bradleyworld. Usually after too many disagreements a deadly fight breaks out in the chamber but I don't remember whether that happened here. I didn't intend on showing a specific event anyway. I miss Darkover, you hardly see it at all these days or perhaps I am just not looking.

Original artwork was brown ink on illustration board, 8 1/2" x 11", fall 1981. Klik for a larger view.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Cubist Space Station

This piece was excerpted from a Darkover fan zine where I was a regular contributor. It is the cover art but it doesn't illustrate anything in any particular story. Darkover mixed scenarios from science fiction as well as the more common swashbuckling neo-Renaissance material. I did this cubistic space station, orbiting over Darkover, before the "Borg" showed up on the TV screen. 

Ink on illustration board, about 8 1/2" x 8 3/4", May 1984. Click on image for a larger view.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Geometrikon Patriotic Remix

Here we are back with the re-mix of the "Election Geometrikon" of June 19. This is done on paper with the original drawing, using markers and colored pencils. It looks a bit like stained glass, which is OK by me. I wonder whether any modern American politician has won an election while using graphics, stickers, and billboards in a non-red-white-and-blue color scheme. What about another country whose flag is different colors. Let's observe some German political graphics from their upcoming election to see whether they use black, red, and yellow. As a graphic designer I tend to see things through that filter.

Marker ink, colored pencil, and election sticker on sketchbook page, 4" x 5 1/2", June 2017.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Remote Login is like Mind Reading

It is possible to have nostalgia for the high tech of the future. In 1993 I did a series of illustrations for a book called "Internet Guide for New Users." (Visit here for more of this material.) In this graphic, information is exchanged between two separate computer hard discs (looking rather like hockey pucks here) and it is compared in the text to mind reading or telepathic sharing. That is what you get when everyone inventing this new-fangled "trance medium" is a science fiction fan: psychic computers.

Original illustration is ink on illustration board, about 9" x 4 1/2", May 1993.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Mountain near Salzburg

In 1975-76 I returned to Rome and the rest of Europe on a fellowship for student projects and travel sponsored by the Watson Foundation funded by IBM. In the spring of 1976 all the fellowship holders in Europe were invited to a convention in Salzburg, Austria where we would show off our progress in our projects. My project was a young adult/magic realism novel about a rebellious Roman aristocratic girl (I have written about this on the By-Product recently). We fellowship holders were treated like aristocrats ourselves, dining and wandering through a lordly palace.

 At one point I had some extra time and used my portable watercolor set to depict a mountain in the Schloss environment, reflecting on a picturesque lake. This scene may also have been in the film of "The Sound of Music." I was lucky to see the mountain because most of the time it was clouded over. My presentation wasn't this, it was a reading from some of my text in progress.

Unfortunately, I caught the flu at that convention (as one often does) and was helped to a student refuge in Vienna where I lay helpless for days. By the time I had recovered enough to travel, it was time to leave Vienna for a scheduled meeting with friends in Denmark. I don't remember much about that week.

Picturesque mountain is watercolor on Canson paper, 11" x 9", spring 1976. Heavily re-worked in Photoshop to make a level horizon.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Electrical Eggs design

Many science fiction fans are disabled in one way or another. They like to go to conventions just like non-disabled fans, but often the hotel or convention center venue is not accessible to people with wheelchairs or other assistive devices. Blind or Deaf fans also had some difficulty in the public environment of a convention. In the early 90s a wheelchair-using fan created an association that would be present at science fiction conventions to help disabled fans get around. The whimsical name of the association, "Electrical Eggs," came about because one person who used an electric wheelchair said that she rode on "electrical legs." This was mis-heard as "Electrical Eggs" and thus became the name of the group. I was connected to them by friendship. Every year they published a T-shirt and tote bags with an original egg themed design, which they could sell to get funds. I did the 1994 version, which featured an architectural giant egg which had a helpful ramp for wheelchair users. In the original printing, the writing and art were in dark brown printed on a beige shirt. I still have the shirt though the organization disappeared in the early 2000's.

Original art is black ink on illustration board, 11" x 14", July 1993. The white streaks are reflections from a plastic cover in one of my archive books. My early wax-transfer art copies got stuck to the plastic page covers in the portfolio books so I couldn't take them out. Digitization solves that.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Medievaloid bad guys

I finally finished the character portrait that goes with the Stasheff book I recently did the cover for. These two lovelies are "Delilah," an evil witch who leads people astray with elaborate illusions, and "Forrest," a disgraced nobleman pretending to be a sympathetic countryside rebel to deceive the compassionate and dreamy young naive characters in the story. This drawing may be tiny, but it was quite a job to do and all the "inking" is done on the Cintiq, still plugging away avoiding constant annoying pop-ups on the tablet screen.

Digital inking on the Cintiq, about 4 1/2" x 7 1/2", June 2017.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Election Geometrikon

Last  Tuesday I cast my vote in a Virginia Democratic primary election. The candidates, for some reason, did not send contemptuous Twitter tweets my way, did not have silly hair, were not billionaires, did not stir up violence, and seemed to be almost normal human beings. We will see what happens if they get elected. Both of them actually had experience in legal and political life. I voted, and got this inspiring sticker which I turned into a Geometrikon in patriotic shades, as July 4 is coming soon. 

Marker ink for the linework, colored in with Photoshop, 4" x 5 1/2", voter sticker, June 2017.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

"Live the Adventure" (If you must.)

One of my friends and art patrons is a "life coach" that is, someone who will help inspire people to do better in life than just sitting around and wasting time. She wanted me to render a logo for her life coaching business and described it to me in detail. It was to be a combination of an old-fashioned rapier style sword, and an Infinity symbol, with two shining 8 pointed stars above and below. I worked at this for a long time before I got to what she wanted. The final logo appeared not only on her business card but on a dark blue bumper sticker which had the motto "Live the Adventure" on it. That was her idea, to encourage her clients and anyone else to be more adventurous in life. As for me, I hate adventures..."Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner!" (as Tolkien's Hobbit famously said) so I just kept it in the realm of fantasy.

Original is black ink on illustration board, 7" x 2 1/2", May 1990.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Tomorrowland Metro stop

I did this drawing of the new Metro station at Springhill Road, while I was waiting for my car to have its regular maintenance done. The station's modernist architecture strongly reminds me of Disneyland and the 1950s-1960s style of "Googie" or the "Jetsons." We're in Tomorrowland, along with the full size moving monorail (no, it's a light parallel rail) on an elevated railway. Where are my silver spandex tights and my bubble helmet? The object at far left is understandably known by people who work there as the "ice cream cone." The cone, known in gelaterias as a "flute," is built out of metal mesh and is supposed to be futuristic art.

Black tech pen ink on sketchbook page, 8" x 4 1/2", June 15, 2017. Apologies for interruptions in posting, internet connection problems.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Exploding Piano

I met Kathleen Supove and her husband, composer Randall Woolf, through my dad's musical network of friends. Kathleen is an avant-garde piano performer who can do all kinds of wild and crazy sounds with more than just the old keyboard. At the time I met her she was just starting out on this career and needed promotional materials. Over the years Supove has done experimental performances in a series called "The Exploding Piano." I designed her a logo and also did this fantasy portrait of her blowing up the black and white keys and polished piano planks. Now, much later, it reminds me of last summer when I hired a specialty crew to dismantle, demolish, and cart away my father's old piano which was no good any more. Kathleen could have done the job more artistically! I don't know what happened to the art I did for her but Kathleen is still around and just as active as ever. She can be found on Facebook.

Black ink on illustration board with plastic transfer pattern, 8" x 10", January 1992.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Granny Chair

The "Inn on Poplar Hill," where I stay to rest and relax, decorates their rooms each in a different color scheme, Victorian style. I am always assigned the "Rose Room," with a theme of crimson roses. The upholstery, curtains, rugs, and bedspreads all have pictorial rose prints. This is one of the few "girly" experiences I will tolerate. This chair, "granny" more than "girly," has eighteenth century-styled red picture prints on it, and dark red fuzzy trim. I don't sit on this chair, I pile it with my clothes and books. Other rooms, more extravagant than mine, are the "Blue Willow" room and the "Magnolia Room." 

Black tech pen ink on sketchbook page, 4" x 5 1/2", June 9th, 2017.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

What I Saw: Theater of the Absurd Swimming Pool

Jumbled chairs and meaningless hose. A set for a performance of "Theater of the Absurd." Soon, the splashing and the screaming. Have an existential summer. 

Monday, June 12, 2017

The Door to Vintage

In my never-ending aspirational quest to upscale my brand and maximize my luxury experiences, I visited a palatial inn and restaurant in central Virginia called "Willow Grove." They have a nice restaurant called "Vintage," built into a historic wood-beamed undercroft. Wednesday is "Tapas Night" at Vintage, where you can get sample portions of many different dishes they make. I drew this doorway while waiting for my set of tapas.

Black tech pen ink on sketchbook page, about 4 1/2" x 5 1/2", touched up in the studio with Photoshop, June 7, 2017.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Pink Condom Truck

Saturday, June 11, was the Pride Parade and demonstration in Washington, DC. After the event was over a lot of participants filtered out into the larger city. Quite a few of them came to  the Whole Foods near my residence and one of the displays in the parking lot was this unusual truck. It looks like a pink microwave oven on wheels but it is actually a portable quarters and office for an organization called "Healthysexual," which as it describes, is a group promoting healthy sexual behavior and disclosure to medical practitioners. The "Healthysexual" website is packed with eye-blasting moving pictures of soft-core human erotic action. The van, presumably, if I presume, was loaded with condoms and other equipment.

I tried to draw this truck while balancing my sketchbook on someone's car in the parking lot, but then the owner came back, started her car without looking at me, and drove off as if I had threatened her. In our culture touching someone's car without permission is like touching someone's body without permission. I had to finish the drawing by reference to an iPhone photo, which is a no-no for Urban Sketchers. I'm such a transgressor.

Black tech pen ink on sketchbook page, colored in Photoshop, 5" x 3", June 10-11, 2017. 

By the way, one or more of you might have noticed that there were no posts here on June 8, 9, and 10. I took these days as a vacation from the urban chaos, the political pestilence, and the Whole Foods parking lot.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Kissing the Dragon

This one's an illustration I did for a story in "Marion Zimmer Bradley's Fantasy Magazine." It is a rather sweet conventional fantasy tale about a seacoast princess who makes friends with a dragon who emerges from the waves. Of course, once she kisses the dragon, he turns into a handsome prince and they live happily ever after. 

Black ink on illustration board, 7" x 7 3/4", September 1992. Click on image for a better view.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Farewell to the TARDIS

This tiny piece is a "drop-in" designed to fill extra space on a published page. I created numbers of them for the articles I illustrated for fan magazines. This marks the end of my early Dr. Who reconstructions. The person waving goodbye to the box-shaped TARDIS is one of William Hartnell's young companions, who is dropped off at her proper time and place after many adventures and perils.

Original is black ink on illustration board, 2" x 3", late 1980.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Birth of Wonder Woman

With all the attention being given to Wonder Woman due to the movie, I brought out my rendering of the Amazon Princess to show just what her origin was. You didn't know that Botticelli was a comic book artist? Of course he was, and a fantastic one at that. Up until the advent of photography and the decline of religion, fantasy counter-real or imaginal and mythical subjects made up the bulk of all human artwork. Sure, there's a lot of "realistic" art before that but by the 20th century "realistic" renderings of mythic subject matter had faded away into more modern ways of seeing. Monet's haystacks buried the nationalistic dragons and Pre-Raphaelite fairies and we were left with endless portraits of bored women and panoramas of gnarly landscapes. If you wanted to paint something mythic in modern times, you would be a popular artist like Maxfield Parrish. Botticelli's wonderful imaginings became an endless subject for parody, just like this.

Ink and watercolor on paper, 7" x 8", late 1980. Restored in Photoshop.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Mid-Century Molecule

Brighten up your 1950s revival decor with this improv of a Mid-Century Molecule. You could even get red accent pillows to match and a Satellite Light Fixture on your ceiling. Those Formica countertops sure look spiffy. Science solves all our problems and we are going to put a man on the moon by 1970!

Markers and colored pencils on sketchbook page, 4" x 3", June 4, 2017. 

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Old Roman Houses

Rome has so many layers of architectural history that you could probably trace any building back to ancient times. That would include humble dwellings such as these as well as noble palazzi and Roman ruins. I wonder what kind of furnishings and decor they had within them - maybe you would cross the rustic threshold into a fabulous hidden noble's residence complete with gilded columns, mosaics, and red velvet curtains. The green plastic netting defines a rooftop garden space, and in the original pencil drawing I depicted the old-fashioned wire TV antennas on the roofs. 

This was drawn with a ruler, and painted in the studio when I got home (to my rented room). I brought all these Roman artworks back to the USA where they were stored for dozens of years until I salvaged them from the old family house.

Watercolor over pencil on Canson watercolor paper, 10" x 8", 1976. Click on the image for a larger view. 

Friday, June 2, 2017

Red Points

This is not really a Geometrikon. It is what I used to do as "Dodson Doodles," derived from art idea pages in a "Drawing from Imagination" book. I did a lot of these in 2008 when I was just starting this Blog. You start with a single motif and a limited (but bright) color range and you improvise from there. Here, the motif is a red triangle, and the counter color is light blue. There are accents of purple. Dodsons are fun and easy to do. You can try this at home with markers or colored pencils without worrying about being an "artist."

Dodson "Red Points" is marker and colored pencil on sketchbook page, 6" x 3", June 2, 2017.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Daleks invade Earth

Here's another adaptation from the early years of the Doctor Who TV series. This one is not from TV, though, it's from a film version made in 1965. Doctor Who completists duly note this production and place it within their encyclopedic universe.

The biorobotic "Daleks" are probably the favorite villainous creatures of the Dr. Who world. Stubby, ugly, ungainly cones that look like salt shakers, in the early years they were the best that the BBC could do on a very limited budget. The Daleks emitted deadly rays from their nozzles and spoke only one word (at least at first): "EXTERMINATE!  EXTERMINATE!" That is, exterminate life on Earth. Starting with England of course: in the background are the Houses of Parliament.

Black ink on illustration board, 3" x 4", summer 1981.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Roman Abstraction

These are the colors of Rome - orange stucco and the almost opal-like colors of carved and fitted stonework. In the last month of my Roman stay in 1976, I did as many drawings and paintings as I could of the Roman environment. Many times my sketches turned into abstractions of line and color, rather than just portraits of buildings. I would draw the pencil sketch on site and then paint it in my room later on. I used a ruler to get the watercolor lines but at this point so much later on I don't remember exactly how. I wonder if I could do this kind of drawing again. Maybe on the iPad? The iPad doesn't have the ability to automatically draw straight lines, but the much heavier Cintiq does. I still rely on the old standby: pencil, pen, and paper. Unfortunately I don't have plans to return to Rome any time soon. The world is a more difficult place for me and for everyone than it was in 1976.

Watercolor on Canson watercolor paper, 8" x 6", summer 1976.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Stasheff "M'Lady Witch" cover art

My e-book "cover" for the re-release of Christopher Stasheff's "M'Lady Witch" has been done for some time but I finally got approval from my clients on the picture. This gives me permission to show it on this Blog. It's really an Art, not a By-Product but so there. The story is a romantic comedy set in a magical medieval kingdom. A pretty but socially inept Prince loves a beautiful young Witch, and she loves him too but in a rather arrogant and possessive way. In the book, each of them is tempted by other lovers and obstacles appear in the way of their love, and they must work hard and grow in insight to deserve True Love. In the picture the Witch rejects the love-offering of roses from the dorky Prince, because he has proposed to her in a rude and insulting way. In the background is the Tudor Palace seen earlier here, and the Kinkadian Gazebo symbolizing a wedding. The spring flowers are from the real world as this picture was done in April and May. And as always with the characters of this magical family, the black robot horse "Fess" keeps watch to make sure things turn out right.

Note the resemblance of the yellow-clad Prince to the Archangel Raphael in the Buard Diptych honoring my departed friend, in the posting before this one.

Photoshop on Cintiq, May 2017. Click for larger view.

Monday, May 29, 2017

R.I.P. Patricia Buard


Patricia Buard, my good friend of over thirty years, a founding member of my prayer group the "Order of St. Michael," passed away yesterday. She was a mainstay of my life, and I could always count on her for hospitality and administration help in our Order. She was also a master costumer and had a background in theater and theology. A few years ago she asked me to paint her portrait as a medieval donor, kneeling before the Holy Beings of our Catholic faith. It was an elaborate commission based on a late medieval royal diptych icon. I worked a long time on it but was finally able to present it to her in mid-2015. I am so glad that she was able to see a longtime dream of hers, to become an artwork among the painted angels. Behind her stands Saint Michael, the warrior angel, as well as Saint Anne with the young Mary.

Here is the complete diptych. The figures are the Sword of Saint Michael, the Virgin Mary with the Christ Child, and three of the Four Archangels, Gabriel, Uriel, and Raphael. In back of Patricia is a window through which you can see the skyline of Philadelphia, near where she lived. She requested the city view as part of the whole concept. Her craftsman husband, Michael, built a gilded folding frame for the art. This is one way we can hope to keep Patricia's memory alive here among us.

Acrylic on hardboard, 20" x 15", summer 2015. Click on image for a larger view. This has been posted before here but I think it's appropriate anyway.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Dr Who number 10 Marco Polo

This adaptation is from a series where Dr. Who and his companions land on Earth again and find themselves following the famous Italian explorer Marco Polo. As usual they get involved with dangerous politics, this time in the court of Kublai Khan. Marco is on the left while the Mongol bad guy is in the center. The finished TV live action recordings of the series have been lost, so all that remains of it are still pictures, the script, and the spoken audio tracks. The episode dates from early 1964. Many of the audio tracks survived because fans recorded them with tape recorders from the TV. I remember doing the same thing with my favorite TV shows back then but Dr. Who didn't come to the USA until the 70's.

Original art is ink on illustration board, 5 1/2" x 5", spring 1981. 

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Baby Me Art 3: "A Bible Man"

This epic drawing was among the papers I took home from the old parents' house. On the back is the title: "A Bible Man." You can see the figure at the top, a bearded man with a triangular shield divided into two areas, his other arm uplifted in a battle fist. The Bible character is not identified. On the lower level is another, less humanoid figure with a boxy body and flipper feet. This one also has the upraised arm, adorned with a big bicep muscle. This muscle motif shows obvious influence from Popeye cartoons, which I loved to watch on TV. I must have been around 3 or 4 when I drew this.

Pencil on red paper, about 6" x 9", c. 1956.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Disruption of studio

My air conditioner failed during a heat wave recently so the apartment management is replacing it. I have lived in the same apartment for an amazing 25 years, in a place where most residents leave after one year or less, all of them immigrants who either do well and buy their own house, or do not do well and have to go. This is the second replacement of the air conditioner in those years. I love hot weather and heat but even I have limits to my tolerance so this is good. Unfortunately I built my studio with all its paints and storage and books and computers near the AC unit's wall cabinet so they need to move it all to get space for the bulky module to be brought in and installed. This is a drawing of some of my art stuff and storage boxes stacked in the living room while the installation happens. Massive amounts of dust have been liberated.

Sepia brown tech pen ink on sketchbook page, 5" x 5", May 26, 2017.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Dr. Who Fan Art 9: The Keys of Marinus

Doctor Who played by William Hartnell stands in front of a dodecahedronal computer that has directed the lives of its humanoid subjects for 2000 years, but has failed due to a violent attack. The machine can only be revived by finding five keys scattered over the primitive planet, and  uniting them to re-start the machine. (This was 1964, long before the age of floppy discs and lost operating systems.) The Doctor and his companions travel around the planet by a teleportation device from some lost technology, and in each of five episodes they retrieve one key, until they can escape while the computer falls into the hands of invaders and is destroyed by a false key. 

There must be some meaning to all this storytelling, but I just don't have the sacred calling to memorize it all. I used an old-fashioned inking style to do this illustration, a style I would later use in sequential art.

Original drawing is black ink on illustration board, 5 1/2" x 4", spring 1981.

I have FINALLY finished my book cover for the Stasheffs and once it is approved by the clients I can publish it here. 

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Iris Logo for T-shirt

I did a lot of flower studies in the early 1990s and many of them appeared on this Blog years ago. I am especially fond of irises and it is iris blooming time in the northeast USA just now. When a group of friends asked me to do the T-shirt/program design for a convention featuring, uh, erotic science fiction, I designed this rather explicit iris for them. It was printed in white on a purple T-shirt and I still have mine and I still fit into it, too. I have designed dozens of T-shirts in my time, but not so many now since I am not doing the "fannish" thing so much.

Original drawing was ink on illustration board, 8" x 10", June 1991.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Reef Life Doodle

Inspired by tropical fish and coral reef environments I dashed off this color doodle with my simple dye markers. This is an improvisation starting with one curved blue line, the first one at the upper left. The rest is creative exercise, so to speak. Tropical fish and coral reefs are all endangered so I thought I'd honor them before they disappeared.

Dye markers on sketchbook page, 4" x 5", May 23, 2017.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Incredible Shrinking Doctor Who number 8

This one's adapted from a 1964 episode, called "Planet of Giants," where the Doctor and his companions are miniaturized and have to contend with ordinary house creatures such as flies and a cat which are now the size of cars and houses. The menace is a newly developed insecticide which is revealed to kill all life, not just insects. The travelers manage to communicate from their miniaturized state and are able to escape back to the TARDIS where they are restored to normal size.

Original drawing is ink on illustration board, about 5 1/2" x 5 1/2", summer 1981.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Winery Visit Back to Otium Cellars

We were going to go to the Virginia Wine and Craft Festival this "Wine Saturday" but decided not to, due to the high price of admission and the chilly overcast weather. Instead we went to an old favorite, "Otium Cellars," where unusual and delicious German varieties are offered. We sipped in the hand-built wooden tasting room, watching the beautiful horses who live in Otium's show barn. Cheese, crackers, sausage, and fine wine made a good decision out of a dropped festival. I got to meet a dressage rider and her big brown horse, "Bee." As always I had my art stuff with me and did Winery Art including, if you look closely, a golden horse with white face and tail.

Sepia brown tech pen ink, colored pencils, finished in studio, May 20, 2017. Click for a larger view.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Geometrikon May remix

I do the drawing first in black or brown marker and color markers. Then I scan it and send it over to Photoshop for coloring in. I blog that and save the original line drawing. After a while I color the original drawing in colored pencil and markers, and re-post the image from the paper final, which is what this is. So you and I get two color and texture schemes for the price of one. This "re-mix" has some spacey and metallic inspirations. Better than a jaw-dropping visceral dumpster fire I suppose.

Markers and colored pencil on sketchbook page, 4" x 4", May 2017.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Three Graces of Wonder Woman

The "Three Graces" is an ancient theme used for art work since Greek classical times. It shows three lovely ladies holding hands, each one representing another virtue or good thing such as "Splendor," "Mirth," and "Good Cheer." When I was doing fan art for zines back in my earlier days my clients had me illustrate an article about the evolution of Wonder Woman. When the character was first created she had a bit of "Wild West show" about her with her lasso and a ruffled skirt. Other later costumes from the fifties showed her in circus garb or a shiny bustier. Wonder Woman continues to evolve and is now about to appear in yet another superhero movie though the costume is quite different from the old styles. I illustrated Wonder Woman's changes by showing her as a triple version of herself (but not "Triplicate Girl") and I made her into the classical Three Graces.

Original art is black ink on illustration board, 5 1/2" x 6", summer 1980.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Dr. Who image 7 "The Time Meddler"

This image is adapted from one of the last Who series that William Hartnell played in. The time frame is 1066 AD, just before the Battle of Hastings and the Norman Conquest. A rogue Time Lord, disguised as a monk, is causing trouble on Earth, interfering with the time stream and introducing non-period technology like the light bulb he holds at the top left corner.

I experimented with pen strokes on this drawing, using them a bit more loosely like some of the early 20th century pulp or society illustrators. Hartnell is at center.

Black ink on illustration board, 5 1/2" x 6", Summer 1981.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Fantasy Gazebo

The background of my current book cover work depicts spring gardens as well as the "Tudor palace." I took inspiration from the legendary and fantasy-prone Thomas Kinkade to create the environment. But this is, more or less, a real environment, my own area in springtime. There are azaleas of many brilliant pinks and lavender, dogwoods in white, and an abundance of spring green. Then it is all gone. Kinkade is only right once a year. The gazebo symbolizes a wedding since this story from Stasheff is a romantic comedy. The yellow thing at left is part of a character's costume. I should be done with this soon and you'll get to see the whole thing.

Excerpt from "M'Lady Witch," cover in progress, Photoshop. May 2017.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Dr. Who fan art number 6

William Hartnell looks like an old orchestra conductor in this one, but he's more than that, he's Doctor Who. This episode, which features the biorobotic enemy the Daleks, as well as a museum displaced in time, is from 1965. Just in case you need to know the storyline and characters here, it's at another Talmudic site, "Wikia" fannish. These costumes are made from what looks like construction paper, but not the Doctor's bow tie.

Original drawing is black ink on illustration board, 5 1/2" x 6", July 1981. I had no clue in 1981 that I would be transcribing these old illustrations to digital and sending them forth into a vast world of information I could not envision.