Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Canadian Japanese Viking Fantasy

Long, long ago, in 1977 when things were fresh and exciting, I was holed up in a Harvard graduate school dormitory waiting out the summer until I could start up my academic work again. Among the summer people at this place were a number of people studying for a session at various programs including business school. These folk were staying in the dormitory socializing, eating, and drinking, and I got to be friends with some of them. For some unexplainable reason, many of them were Canadians and also fantasy fans. I was already doing fantasy art and one of them saw my work and offered me a commission. He claimed he was of Viking ancestry, though he had always been Canadian living in Alberta. He said that there was territory in British Columbia that matched the fjord lands of Norway and he wanted a fantasy picture of a Viking ship sailing down these waters, guided by whales. He wanted a full moon as well as the Big Dipper constellation in the sky (fantasy, because the full moon and the Dipper never appear in the sky side by side). To add to the cultural mash-up, I painted the scene in watercolor in a pseudo-Japanese-print style. If you look very closely you can see the lights of a village ready to welcome the Vikings home. The ship and three whales are in the lower center.

This photo and any records I have of this piece are barely visible so what you are seeing is heavily restored, in rather the same process as my Roman ruin pictures.

Watercolor and acrylic on Fabriano illustration paper, 7" x 10", summer 1977.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Early Dr. Who adaptation art 1

These were adaptations of stills from early episodes of the British s.f. program DOCTOR WHO starring William Hartnell as the Doctor. They were commissioned by the editor
of FANTASY EMPIRE, a zine devoted to British fantasy TV shows, because the BBC would not allow her to print the actual still photographs. These were done for a survey of the episodes of the series, at least until 1981. I don't know which episodes these were from, but the bad guy is at the top with the Daleks, and the Doctor is at the control panel in a stressful moment.

Ink on illustration board, both images 6" x 4", spring 1981. Published in FANTASY EMPIRE no. 2, October 1981. Click for larger view.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Arterra Winery spring colors

"Wine Saturday" brought me back to Arterra Winery in Delaplane, Virginia, a newer winery that has become one of my favorites. The weather was rainy and dim but that wouldn't stop me and my friends from wining. Arterra is in a hilly forest, and their vineyards are on hidden slopes. The site was filled with the sound of birdsong and we also saw a wild turkey prowling under the trees. The wine was excellent especially the reds. The artistic side was represented by beautiful ceramics made with natural grape leaf impressions. I depicted the view through one of the many picture windows including fresh bright green spring foliage and the brilliant yellow-green of vines just now sprouting their new leaves.

Markers, ink, colored pencil, finished in studio. 7" x 11", April 22, 2017. Click on the image for a closer view.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

April Geometrikon

Because these Geometrika are experimental I never quite know where they are going to go. This one started out as a vertical design in my sketchbook journal and once I had excerpted it out digitally I decided that it would work better as a horizontal piece. And when I added red to the triangle the design looked kind of patriotic with red white and blue, appropriate for April I guess. The pale blue circle represents the Earth as a unified concept, pale blue of sky all over the world wherever the sun shines and the air is clear. And it's Earth Day so why not.

Marker ink drawing on sketchbook page, colored in Photoshop, April 22, 2017.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Noodles Walls

Under the influence of spaghetti and wine I drew this study of the many perspective objects in the back rooms of our local "Noodles and Co." restaurant. This is a one-point perspective. Everything points to a single point somewhere behind that door, where the communion-bowls of the "Flying Spaghetti Monster" are prepared. 

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 5" x 8 1/2", April 20, 2017. Followed by a big splashy thunderstorm.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Shades of Purple: Winter Card in April

I rescued this from another pile of art from the old house. Every Winter Holiday Season (Christmas, Yule, etc.) I make and send out decorative cards with a well-wishing message and a color theme which changes each year. This one was an exploration of shades of purple done on colored paper with opaque gouache paint. My parents saved the ones I sent them. I have a collection of them going back more than 30 years. I picked the one I liked best of each "edition" and saved it with the tree ornaments in a box. I think this one is from 1982.

Gouache on violet paper, 5 1/2" x 8 1/2", winter 1982.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Florence Piazza

My European art is stored in a portfolio which I brought back from the old house along with lots of other art. This portfolio is my best work from my European year 1975-1976 and this one is the best of the best. I sat for hours penciling in the architecture of this beautiful little piazza and then I painted it with watercolor when I got back to my lodging. This is somewhere in Florence. I did every brick and pavement tile separately to get the texture right. There were people in the square passing through while I was there but no one bothered me. I may have used a photo reference but I don't remember, all of it was on site in my reckoning. There are places like this in the USA (probably California) but there certainly isn't anything like it where I live now. Many years later (1990) I would work for an architectural illustration company painting highly detailed brick "McMansions" using this watercolor technique.

Watercolor on Canson watercolor paper, 8 1/2" x 12", spring 1976. Please click on the image for a larger view.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Urban Patio

My neighbors across the parking lot have built themselves a little patio in front of their ground floor window. It is shaded by a green garden umbrella and is walled by a wooden fence built out of old pallets. There are chairs and a dining table and some lanterns which shine brightly at night. There are also decorations of Christmas lights which are on all year, not just the holidays. More privacy is provided by a raggedy hedge and in front of that, a garden row of black-eyed susans and other decorative plants. In warmer weather this large Filipino family grills meats outside near the patio and they dine on tempting goodies. All of these improvements to the environment are technically forbidden by the management of the apartment complex but no one has ordered the patio removed just yet. These are the people who own the "Wrapped Thing," a metal-grinder by the wall which is slowly losing its black plastic wrap.

I drew the patio in a rather uncomfortable position sitting in my parked car, and I apologize for perspective mistakes. But there you are, fresh on-site-drawn sketch art.

Black tech pen ink on sketchbook page, some touch-up in Photoshop, 5" x 5", April 17, 2017.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Dyan Ardais and the sweet young thing

Here's more Darkover fan art, starring Dyan Ardais, the villain and sexual predator that fans loved to hate. In this full-page illustration, Dyan is shown with a partner of indeterminate sex and age. He doesn't know this yet, but she's a girl dressed as her own twin brother, in an attempt to win Dyan's affections. Goddess knows what she saw in him, but he was a sharp dresser at least. This image is adapted from the famous Greta Garbo movie, QUEEN CHRISTINA, in which Garbo as a renegade Swedish royal gallivants around her domain disguised as a young man. Once Dyan realizes that this teenager is not a boy, he loses interest in her, which was better for both of them.

Black ink on illustration board, 7" x 10", August 1985. 

Believe it or not I have every fanzine I have ever illustrated. They are sitting gathering dust in a closet, a cultural legacy that only I care about.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Barnard page 7 frame 1 inks

This isn't the usual way I draw things, as you might be thinking. Where is all the detail, the ink cross-hatching, the academic simulation of three-dimensional reality? This is more like a cartoon and that's what I want. This is being inked like an old-fashioned comic book, or even a coloring book, with simple, defined areas that can easily be colored in whether by hand or by computer. Photoshop's "edge-finder" and "filler" can instantly drop a wash of color into any one of these areas. You risk being stuck without the ability to correct, as the quick way bypasses all those confusing "layers," but it looks clean and clear. I'm inspired here by the Belgian and other European "ligne claire" or "clear-line" style, as well as the wonderful work of American Windsor McKay, author of "Little Nemo in Slumberland." 

In this panel, 1 of 4 on a single page, one of the Cloud Creatures presents a fabric object to our main character, who is still unsure of what is going on.

Inks on Fabulous Fabriano illustration board, 3 1/2" x 5", April 15, 2017.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

The Evil Ruins: Cliff faces

Here's another image from the set I did for "The Evil Ruins," a game from Mayfair Games. This was an end-piece and had no characters in it, but you can see faces in the rocks and cliff if you look hard enough. I enjoyed doing this set with its late 19th century retro style and intimations of horror. Someone has recently asked me whether I've ever done any horror art. I think I have but not any time since the 1880s. Yes, 1880s. Maybe it's time for me to try some. Not yet as I am working on Stasheff number 6 as well as my psychedelic sequence on the text of Keith Barnard. Stay tuned, it's not all old art from me here.

"Cliff Faces" from THE EVIL RUINS game is ink on illustration board, 3" x 10", fall 1983. Click for closer view. What happens when I run out of gigabyte storage at Blogspot?

Friday, April 14, 2017

Santa Cecilia Roma 1976

This is what Rome looked like in 1976. I was staying at a pensione (an extended-stay bed and breakfast) next to the Accademia di Santa Cecilia, Rome's famous school of classical music. The big building you see with the arched windows is their concert hall. All day long I could hear the instrumentalists practicing. I was busy making as many drawings and paintings of architecture as I could. This one was the view out my window. 

Watercolor on Canson thin watercolor paper, 7" x 11", spring 1976.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Inhuman Wedding

The "Inhumans" are a genetically engineered form of humanity where just about everyone is a freak. They are ruled over by a super-powered royal family whose current King is "Black Bolt," an awesomely powerful guy who can level buildings with his supersonic voice. You can read about these folks at my previous posting here. The "Inhumans" are in my opinion one of the most underrated story lines in the Marvel Universe.

The story called for Black Bolt to marry another super-hero, Medusa, whose animated super-hair (red, of course) can do fabulous things and can be used as a weapon. My fanzine client gave me the comic book in which the wedding story took place, and told me to draw the couple, re-designing Medusa's wedding gown. They are accompanied by their friend, "Lockjaw," a huge bulldog who can teleport people and things. I incorporated as many royal details and freaky citizens as I could.

Original art is ink on illustration board, 8 1/2" x 11", December 1985. Click on the image to see a larger view.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Mall Model

When I go to the Tysons Corner Mall, known to me as "Tysonia," I always want to make a drawing there and usually I do. This time I almost lost my chance to draw as I didn't have a lot of time and it was evening with a lot of people milling about. No one stopped long enough for me to get a good view. Until I saw this tall, portly guy at the opening of the Starbucks I was in. He was leaning against the wall doing nothing, waiting for his family to pick up their drinks. He was modeling for me! Draw him now! So I depicted and had plenty of time for it. Behind him is an imitation gazebo with decorative white chairs, advertising the "Greenbriar" resort complex in West Virginia. A flat-screen TV is mounted on one of the columns, showing ads.

Tech pen ink on sketchbook page, some adjustments in Photoshop, 3 1/2" x 7 /2", April 11, 2017.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

X-Men "Angel" and "Nightcrawler"

I've always been a big "X-Men" fan, no matter what characters or generation they are. Here are two fan renderings of mine, each character from a different era. "Angel" is one of the original X-Men mutant team from the 1960s, a beautiful, super-rich American blond boy equipped with big white wings and the ability to fly and fight from the air. "Nightcrawler," from a later team in the 1970s, is a German born with an alien and "demonic" appearance and a prehensile tail, who has supernatural agility as well as the ability to disappear in the darkness and best of all, teleport short distances. I did these character portraits for the same set of fan zines that dealt with Marvel Comics in the mid - 1980s. Angel's costume is one of my favorite Marvel get-ups. It's a bodysuit in dark blue (or black) and white, where the white part divides the torso and upper legs and looks somewhat like a gigantic sea-gull. The white boots would get grubby fast in land-based battle settings, but on a flyer they look great.

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

Monday, April 10, 2017

Another Spring Vineyard

I didn't get to do a color sketch at "Winding Road"  on Saturday so I did one on Sunday in the studio. This is from memory with a couple of glances at a photograph of the scene. This place is not an exact portrait of any specific place but it does accurately depict the colors and landscape of Markham, Virginia where the vineyards are. This is done in colored pencil including the lovely "Irojiten" pencils which I was raving about earlier this year. What other colored pencil set gives you three different sky blues ("Forget-me-not," "Celeste," and "Horizon,") and three of purplish cloud grey ("Campanula Blue," "Hydrangea Blue," and "Lupine"), a veritable garden of colors! However I had to add the browns and greys to the set as Irojiten doesn't give too many options on the earth tones. I also drew in the vines and stakes and tree trunks and branches with dark brown marker ink and I did a bit of spring green leafy buds with an opaque acrylic marker, one of the marvels of modern art-making stuff. Then I evened out some of the color with Photoshop. So I can't claim to be "spontaneous" or "true-to-life" but is that the purpose of art, to be like a photograph that is done with drawing or paint? Some artists might believe this but most don't.

Multi-media with colored pencil on sketchbook page, 7" x 4 1/2", April 9, 2017.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Winding Road line drawing

Where else on "Wine Saturday" than standing at the tasting bar in spring sunlight. This is my "base of operations," Winding Road, run by the congenial Scott and Linda Culver. The tree flowers are opening and the grass is turning that brilliant shade of green that only happens in spring. That's the green which you can accurately depict using the kids' marker color or crayon that's named "Grass Green." The vines haven't sprouted their new "Vine Green" foliage yet but that will arrive soon. 

The Culvers gave me a tasting of a very small-edition, exclusive Merlot which had been waiting nine years for maturity: a 2008 Merlot which in its mellowness and beautiful red color
("Cherry Red" crayon) is easily the best wine I've ever tasted at Winding Road. I am privileged to have purchased one bottle of this which I will reverently consume at some happy occasion.

Black tech pen ink on sketchbook page, 5" x 5 1/2", April 8, 2017.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Retro-Colorful Geometrikon

Morning is my enemy. Here I am at 6:30 AM, a time when normal decent people are either fast asleep or getting up to do their useful jobs, and I am struggling with at least 5 different passwords and Apple ID's to re-activate an iPad. To do this you have to receive identification e-mails on at least two other machines. I am not going to go on about this any more. You are not allowed to be frustrated or sick of anything. Look at those pretty colors on the geometrikon design. This is a re-mix of an older design from a couple of weeks ago. I have bright Crayola markers made for kids. Somehow the designers of color sets for kids assume that children like bright colors. Well maybe they do but then I will use them to be retro colorful as design was when I was a kid. Meanwhile if you want to get the soft, grey, "natural," earth colors you have to pay a fortune. Or draw it on an iPad, which won't go because you can't unlock it, having forgotten the third last password back two years ago.

Geometrikon is markers and colored pencil on sketchbook page, 8 1/2" x 2 1/2", April 7, 2017.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Indian Valkyrie

The comics world loves a mash-up, that is, features from completely different cultures stuck together in one character or place. This Pegasus rider is "Danielle Moonstar," a Cheyenne Indian superhero whose original powers were to make illusions and other people's hallucinations manifest and real. The teenage Native became a member of the "New Mutants," an alternate, younger X-men team. During one of their adventures she met the Norse gods and traveled to Asgard, where her power was enhanced and she was given the identity of a Valkyrie. Wagnerians among you will remember the Valkyries as beautiful armored spirit women who descend from Valhalla to retrieve the souls of those killed in battle. I can just hear the "Ride of the Valkyries" now.

Black ink on illustration board, 8" x 11", December 1985.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Nobbs-ian Sketch

I follow a number of artists' personal sketch blogs and one of my favorites is that of Michael Nobbs. Michael is a British artist living in Wales who is also a kind of "creativity consultant." He is disabled by an auto-immune disorder so he has had to learn to do his art and consulting in strategic small measures of time rather than the thirty-hour crazed marathons of younger and more energetic artists. Nobbs teaches an art way that sets pre-measured pieces of time, 20 minutes each, and then resting after that. He recommends using a timer but a smartphone's time-set alarm app will do the trick. When the artist rests up, they can plot another 20 minutes later on if they're up for it.

This strategy is excellent even for people who are not sick or disabled. If you have a job, or are raising kids, or have someone to look after, you don't have much time for art but almost anyone can find 20 minutes to do a sketch or lay down a few paragraphs. You won't become a screaming success following this way, but you might get some simple satisfaction that you did something creative.

Nobbs likes to draw sketches of ordinary objects and make them interesting. Here's one of my Nobbs-ian drawings. Can you figure out what it is? Twenty minutes ago this sketch didn't exist. 

Black tech pen ink on sketchbook page, about 4 1/2" x 4", April 6, 2017. Step up for the answer.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Dragonfire in a Dungeon

Here's another action scene from my series of gaming illustrations for "The Evil Ruins," which was published by Mayfair Games in 1983. The role players here are from what have become traditional gaming fantasy characters: A fire breathing dragon guarding treasure, a young moon priestess, a dwarf with his axe, an older male wizard, and an elven archer. In this scene the group must enter the dragon's lair, avoid being roasted, and unlock the treasure chest with a mystic sigil that only the Moon Priestess can invoke. Or something like that. This game has long since passed into oblivion. 

Ink on illustration board, 11" x 8 1/2", fall 1983.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Darkover 1800s Style

I got bored with doing Darkover fan art the same way over and over again so I said, What if Darkover were in a fake nineteenth century style instead of the fake late medieval style of the usual scenario? The young heroes would be dressed in Napoleonic military garb, and they would have those curved cavalry swords that look so good in portraits. According to the author, all firearms and projectile weapons were banned on Darkover so you could get a lot of swordplay. That also meant no cannon. I never figured out whether bows and arrows were included. So here are the two young lovers of "The Heritage of Hastur," dressed in their guardsman outfits with epaulets and brass buttons. The castle is a real one whose image I borrowed from somewhere in the British Isles. This was the cover art for a fan magazine, hence the type panel.

Black ink on illustration board, 8" x 11", April 1984.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Geometrikon Equinox Blue Round

As the  Equinox rushed by, I managed to get this design done in honor of the coming of Spring. I am still exploring the range of Ultramarine, including some new markers I bought. These are aimed at impermanent art for kids but since I will scan worthy things I draw with them I am not concerned about fadeable dyes. This is a mixed media piece anyway. Some of these interlocked circles  may appear in my next frames for my Barnard sequential piece. This image includes Photoshop work and it is surprising to me that a simple circle does not come with the usual shapes and "brush" tip shapes but has to be carefully created for geometric use.

Markers and colored pencil on sketchbook page with added Photoshop, 4" x 3 1/2", April 2, 2017.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Blue Fabrix

Readers of this Blog know that Orange is my theme color. I have an orange car, an orange wardrobe, orange beret hats, and even an orange blog background. But recently an unpleasant political figure has been associated with Orange due to the make-up he wears. Because of that I have switched color allegiance to Orange's near-complementary color, Blue. I have been buying blue stuff, enough of it to show the theme. In art pigment names, this color is "Ultramarine," derived from lapis lazuli imported from "outremer," beyond the sea. (The blue-armored "Ultramarines" of the "Warhammer" desktop game are also in this theme.) It's a purplish blue rather than the greenish blue of computer screens.

The fabric shown here is not a shirt. It's a towel, recently acquired because it was bright blue, and fluffy, and on sale at Macy's. It is a fun sketch job to reproduce the chaotic folds of fabrics supposedly randomly dropped on a surface. Supposedly, in that I re-arranged some of them to make a more balanced composition. This is also a practice piece in Photoshop on how to add color to a cross-hatched ink drawing. It involves layers and a combination of transparent and opaque colors. Here's another, much more simply drawn. It may look like a pair of shorts but it is actually a laundry bag in the chosen color. I will consider returning to Orange in a while depending on what happens in the political world.

Black tech pen ink on sketchbook page, April 1, 2017.
Top image about 4" x 2 1/2". Lower image about 3 1/2" x 2".

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Magneto X-men villain

"Magneto" is one of Marvel Comics' greatest and most memorable villains. He has been the enemy of the X-men and their leader Professor X for all of the time these characters and stories have been told. Magneto is a master mutant who has power over magnetism (must be hell on any computers near him). Unlike the peaceful Professor and his X-men, Magneto believes that superpowered mutants should dominate over "normal" humanity and rule the world. He has sired a number of mutant children, some of which follow him and others who are more sympathetic to the X-men.

In this portrait I've drawn Magneto as a fashion figure rather than the grossly over-muscled guy the Marvel artists draw. He's wearing an old-fashioned superhero leotard and tights and boots and cape though this is not the usual costume he wore. His colors were purple and red. My fan client also wanted to see his face and hair so I didn't put him in his famous and characteristic Ancient Greek helmet. This was published in a comics fanzine.

"Magneto" is ink on illustration board, 8" x 10", winter 1984.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Harmonies of the Spheres colored

This is frame 6 of my graphic interpretation of Keith Barnard's visionary text, "The Passing of the Soul." The colorful circles and ovals are musical symbols placed in psychedelic perspective. You can see some of Barnard's musical manuscript writing imported into the design at left. At the bottom of the image you see the cloud-cat leading the viewer into the next page which is narrative though wordless. As to what "moladic super-tones" are, your guess is as good as mine. Possibly it's something that Keith heard in the spirit world.

Ink markers, collaged pencil scans, and Photoshop on visionary illumination board, 8" x 5", March 2017. Click on the image for larger view.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

X-men Rogue

This one's another of my superhero character portraits, depicting "Rogue," who has since the early 80s been an off-and-on member of the mutant team "X-Men." Rogue's power is that she can absorb and use other people's powers, memories, and emotions, if she touches them skin-to-skin. This power has turned her into a superhero but has made her life completely miserable. Her costume, unlike most female superhero costumes, covers up everything except her head, so she won't trigger the absorbing powers. I did this for the same fanzine that featured "Rachel, the young Phoenix."

A big part of my comic fan life is comic book and superhero costume and fashion. I love designing and drawing costumes. Here Rogue is wearing a simple outfit derived from casual dance workout attire, taken from one of her early appearances. The character herself is kind of a fashion lover too so she appears in lots of different outfits, usually in colors of green, black and gold. The high heeled boots are standard superwoman's wear though it makes no sense for a fighting character who has to stand on the ground. I designed this portrait inspired by the long tall proportions characteristic of fashion drawing art, a nearly-forgotten type of illustration that is still practiced in the rarefied world of "high fashion." I also designed the typefaces.

Black ink on illustration board, 8" x 11", October 1985.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Geometrikon Domes of Spring

Domes and bubbles are the spheres that shine and emit visionary inspiration, as in the posting just previous to this. This geometrikon or Photoshop doodle is again a hybrid experiment layering digital over a marker drawing. The original line work is blue markers and the colors are Photoshopped in, including the pink petals of the cherry trees, which are blooming now in a somewhat weather-reduced state. The design has some "Googie" elements, inspired by the wonderful geometric-curvilinear space style of Tomorrowland.

Markers on sketchbook page, colored in Photoshop, 7 1/2" x 2 1/2", March 28-29, 2017.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Harmonies of the Spheres line work

The author of the visionary text I am setting to image here is a composer of avant-garde music, so some of the ideas he uses are musical ideas. In this panel, number 6, I incorporate not only stylized musical staffs with whole notes, but an actual sample from his hand-written music manuscript, which was sent through the mighty Internet and processed in the equally mighty Photoshop. One of the Seven Creatures, the golden wildcat, is at lower right. The text will go where the ringed planet is, just above the music writing.

These days I feel that I want to concentrate on sequential art (the poorly named "comic books") when I am not doing commercial commissions. That has always been a prime goal for me, to do graphic novel and sequential work. This has never been respectable "art" in the USA but in the last decades has gained ground as "serious" work. In Europe the "bande designee" or comic frames has always been considered fine art, since in places like France and Belgium and Italy words and pictures and frames have always been a part of their art environment on the walls and stained glass windows of churches and in illuminated manuscripts. 

I also am working on a physically smaller scale, or digitally. The experience of caring for and storing my mother's large, heavy paintings, and giving them away for free to relatives and collectors, has shown me what the future of such a "fine art" production is. That is, lost to everyone except a few private viewers and collectors. I believe that art is communication and that art deserves to be seen and shared, not stashed away for decades in a garage as my mother's work was. With the help of the better functions of the Internet as well as digital storage options (even if they might not last and become obsolete) my art can communicate without being hidden away in a dusty parlor or an obscure attic.

Drawing is in marker and Photoshop, 7 3/4" x 4 1/2", March 27-28, 2017. Colors soon.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Rachel, the Young Phoenix

The Marvel superhero team the "X-Men" has been through countless changes of character and plot, and terabytes worth of storyline. The first X-Men appeared in the early 60s, a group of super-powered mutants consisting of five guys and one girl, Jean Grey, who had enhanced telekinetic and telepathic powers, and of course, flame-red hair, the standard sign for power in fiction. Her character was re-modeled later on and re-named "Phoenix," with a "resurrection" storyline and upgraded superpowers. With this power she saved the Universe at least once. Later she was involved in a kinky scenario with an evil mutant illusionist and she went over to the black lingerie Dark Side. This induced Jean Grey to be possessed by a consuming entity known as the "Phoenix Force" which caused her to destroy and consume a star and its planet with sentient civilized beings living on it. This was the "Dark Phoenix" who was very bad and had to be destroyed in an apocalyptic battle.

OK with this so far? Jean Grey had been cloned a few times and shows up as her clone in some X-men stories. Every so often there was a storyline resurrecting Jean Grey but she never came back as a permanent character that I remember. But in one line, Scott her mutant teammate and lover and Jean (or her clone) went forward in time and produced a daughter, Rachel, who grew up in a time warp and had similar powers to Jean's. Rachel returned to her own time period and attempted to be a teenage superhero without the dark side. I'm not sure what happened to Rachel the young Phoenix and I haven't explored the endless complications of the X-Men in many years. But she had a good red and gold costume and was able to manifest the fiery bird sign of the Phoenix Force. Whew I think I'm done now. 

This fan art character piece was commissioned for a fanzine run by one of my mutant friends who loved Marvel Comics. I sometimes wonder what ever happened to her. So far the Almighty Intervub has yielded little or no information about her. I am paying more attention to comics and sequential art these days. 

Original art is ink on illustration board, 8" x 11", December 1985.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Terra Nebulo

The weather was dim and grey for "Wine Saturday" but it is always a good thing to visit a winery. This one is "Terra Nebulo Vineyards" in Waterford, Virginia. It is a fairly new winery and their building is fresh and bright. The woodwork is splendid, crafted by a team of Amish builders. The name "Terra Nebulo" sounds like "Cloudy Earth" in fractured Latin but "nebulo" (not "nebula") means bad guy or shady (cloudy) character. The Terra Nebulo logo is an old-fashioned bandit's black domino mask as their area was once known for its bandits. Not raccoons though the creatures wear a similar mask. The wine was nice especially the Traminette (white) and Chambourcin (red). They don't have mature vineyards yet at Terra Nebulo but in a few years, if they can keep the voracious deer away, they will. Here in early Spring there's a hint of green in the grass but no leaves on trees or vines.

Brown sepia tech pen ink and colored pencils, 7" x 7 1/2", March 25, 2017.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

What I Saw

The title is "Three and a Half" if you get my reasoning. After 9 years blogging at the By-Product I am introducing a new feature which will appear now and then - no more often than once a month I think. I got the idea and the "What I Saw" from another blogger on Facebook, a retired advertising artist and editorial cartoonist who takes pictures of the urban environment with his iPhone. The idea being that the urban world is full of fascinating abstract (or unusual) images as long as you just look as you wander around. The ubiquity of smartphones makes it easy to gather these images in. Then you turn, crop, do some photomanipulation if necessary and there you are, art by-product by iPhone. There is sometimes a caption but very brief, not like my rambling bloggy entries. "Three and a Half" was taken behind a favorite coffee shop. 

iPhone photo, 12" x 8", March 24, 2017.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Barnard frame 5

I finished Frame 5 of my sequential art rendering of composer Keith Barnard's "Passing of the Soul." In this one, our main character, lying "helpless on (her) bed," is surrounded by the Seven Creatures. She doesn't know if they are hostile or friendly. The lava and dark clouds symbolize her "hellish existence." But things will change for our soul traveler very soon. 

Many layers of color collapsed into this image. Most of the time I was using flat color fill-ins which are characteristic of sequential art. But with the psychedelic magic of Photoshop I can do anything I want with color and texture without messing up the original ink drawing.

Ink on illustration board, colored in Photoshop, 8" x 6", March 24, 2017. Please click on the  image for a closer look but no hellish existence. 

March month marks the beginning of this Blog back in 2008. "Art By-Products" has endured (with some breaks) for nine years! Can I keep it going and supplied with suitable images? The future is not even known to the Seven Creatures of Light.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Making a FanZine

In those ancient days of paper media, young people and a few older veterans published "fanzines," i.e. homemade fan magazines. You would put the art and graphics and writing together and publish it by using the wonderful invention of the day, the copy machine. Since there are magazines about everything and every interest, there were zines about zines - making, publishing, promoting. This is an image from one of those, an article about creating a fanzine. There is just a bit of satire in it. The original copy, on the left, looks like crap, grubby and taped together. The fan artist next one over (looked like me) was trying to find something that would work for the issue. The publisher is faced with a big box of copied material to sort out, and the editor at right does not realize that his zine has been mistakenly stapled together on the wrong side. I used to edit a fanzine so I know all of this has happened at one time or another.

Original drawing black ink on illustration board, 7 1/2" x 2 1/2", spring 1981.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017


This is the way I feel after reading the news or social comment or other media verbiage and the endless flow of stock photos and memes. Could I just grab a harpoon and soar into the sky ready to stab something? Have a gargoyle. Enjoyle your gargoyle. The world seems full of monsters right now, monsters in suits and ties and the occasional red sheath dress. This friendly critter was adapted from a book of medieval ornaments and characters.

Original drawing is ink on illustration board, 5" x 4", August 1988. Click for a larger view.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

2-Color Wine Logo

Most of the time when someone buys one of my wine books and I am there to see it, I draw a little drawing like this on the blank front end page as a thank-you to the buyer. This is my latest effort for one that I'm about to send off. I was thrilled to hear (from a winery employee) that someone brought my EARTHLY PARADISE into her winery and she loved it. Some people use my book as a guide to wineries and they get it signed like a passport. This one has a date too so my buyers can have a year memory. This one is in only two colors; I've never done a full-color drawing on a book.

I am running out of EARTHLYs. I think I have about 25 left out of my edition of 200. It's time to start working on Book 2: "VIRGINIA UNDER VINE." Right now it's still too cold to draw outdoors.

Sepia brown tech pen ink on book page, colored in Photoshop, 4" x 5", March 19, 2017.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Passing of the Soul Barnard Frame 5

The Seven Creatures of Light surround the visionary in her bed, and she doesn't know whether they are hostile or friendly. Barnard's text describes her experience as "hellish." This is the inked linework for Frame 5 of the sequential piece and I will add the colors next, using Photoshop. I am learning more about doing sequential art as well as working with Photoshop to color ink work. I also found that some of my inks had dried up and the caps had broken. I am using the time-honored tools of a dip pen and a bottle of ink for the foundation of the work, and digital for the color finish and text.

Brown and black ink and markers on illustration board, 8" x 6", March 18-19, 2017.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Thief Boss game characters

Here's another image from the game series I illustrated, "Thieves' Guild." The game was set in a Renaissance-like civilization and the players played thieves, gangsters, wicked women, and other shady characters. In this strip, a thief boss (inspired by Dickens' "Fagin") orders his youthful footpads and pickpockets into a party in a big, well-lit room, to do their business and plunder the crowd.

Black ink on illustration board, about 10 1/2" x 4", 1984.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Fan Vignettes

A psychic power station on Darkover, with an operative manifesting power on the ramparts.

A mountain town of Darkover, with travelers on the road.

I did countless tiny pieces for fanzines and program books, to be added in where they had an empty space and the text didn't fill it. This kind of thing used to be common in collector's item books and I imitated the "turn-of-the-century" (20th century that is) style.

Both are black ink on illustration board. Top one, 3" x 3 1/2", fall 1988. Lower one, 3" x 5 1/2", fall 1984. The village scene was previously published here back in 2008.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Roman Terrace with Flowerpots

There are few cities more picturesque than Rome. Even the view out an ordinary window shows a complexity of levels and enjoyable details. The buildings of Rome, at least the older ones, feature small balconies and decks as well as an interior courtyard. It's a multiple space you can move through, eat lunch, tend a garden of containers and flowerpots. This is the view out the window of one of many different bed-and-breakfasts or "pensiones" I stayed in. Rome's color scheme is a wonderful bright orange stucco or a golden ocher with white trim. When the sky is clear and cloudless, the high contrast of sky blue and building orange is as glorious as a flying flag. I tried constantly to portray this with a solid blue watercolor but I kept losing the solid color with watercolor drips. Finally I used gouache, opaque watercolor, to paint over the sky in a non-drippy way.

I have just liberated the cache of artwork I did while in Rome and other places, during 1969, 1970-71, and 1975-76. As I scan them I will post them for your enjoyment. I had my art stuff with me wherever I went so there are a lot of paintings. It sure is a nicer view than the office buildings of Tysonia. 

Watercolor and gouache on watercolor paper, 7" x 10", fall 1976. Please click on the image for a larger view.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Kaddish for Darkover

As the modern human Terrans re-colonized Darkover, there would inevitably be conflict, which would turn violent and even into full-scale wars. In this fan story, which you have seen before, Henry Levich the orthodox Jewish diplomat and detective tries his best to prevent a war from breaking out between the new settlers and those already there. Unfortunately, he cannot stop it and weapons of both psionic magic and Terran technology are unleashed. Whole cities are destroyed, including this one you see in ruins. 

Levich can do no more than pray for the dead, invoking God's praise in the famous Jewish prayer for the dead, the "Kaddish." This sacred poem has no mention of death or dead people; it is purely the praise of God. In this illustration Levich stands on a hill above the smoking ruins, reciting the Kaddish for those who were destroyed there. He wears the Jewish prayer shawl, the tallit, and his head cap, the yarmulke, symbols of prayer. His assistants and liaison officers from the old settlements look on quietly.

I like the idea of a Jewish main character on Darkover. The author wasn't even Jewish but she did her best to portray him authentically. She only got one thing wrong, as I remember the story: she has Levich chanting the Kaddish rather than speaking it. I am not sure you are supposed to chant the Kaddish. As usual with Jewish theory and practice, there are multiple opinions on the matter.

Ink on illustration board, 8" x 10", December 1984.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Geometrikon "Different Skies"

Some years ago a group of my ambient and prog rock fan friends held an annual meeting at a fabulous futuristic resort place in Arizona called "Arcosanti." They would schlep as much sound gear as they could and jam for a week as well as socialize and get a bit rowdy. At the end of the week they would put on a concert for themselves and for the people staying at the resort. The name of the festival was "Different Skies" and most of their concerts have been preserved in digital files as fond memories of their favorite times playing in the band. I don't think they hold this event any more.This geometrikon is called "Different Skies" because each cell of the geometrikon depicts another manifestation of the sky, from bright daylight blue and clouds to red and pink sunsets to dark night. Sharp eyes might pick up the shape of my recent "Ruby Towers" with a bit added to it and re-colored.

Markers and colored pencil on sketchbook page, March 14, 2017.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Rome Restored

Most of my Roman photos from 1971 have deteriorated severely and this one was the most faded. Only the murky purple of dead Kodachrome is visible. But here is Photoshop to the rescue, resurrecting old colors and bright contrast. Then what do you do when Photoshop is not enough? The details on the big  archway, as you can see from photo 1, are faded out almost completely, and there is nothing left to show from the sky, which as I remember was clear and blue that day. What do you do? You improvise and digitally paint in what you  remember, since I was there at the time of the shot. Photoshop offers many options in transparent color which I used like watercolors. I re-painted the tree green and edited out the ugly purple with a "color replacement" feature that turned it a more natural cool grey. And since the original detail on the arch was gone, I painted in not only the sunlit brick colors but all the details of the brick and stone archway, on my Cintiq's stylus screen. Remember that ancient Romans used tablets and styli to write with, just like my Cintiq, except that there was more stuff inside the modern computer tablet.

So is this a painting or is it a photograph? It's both I guess. I wonder whether my digital file will last as long as these buildings and the relics of Rome found by antiquarians and archaeologists. When I was a young kid living in Rome I wanted to  be an archaeologist when I grew up. Well I'm not digging in Roman dirt but at least I can restore the ancient images.

Photoshop on 1971 digitized image, March 14, 2017.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Amber Coronation

I sure did a lot of fan art during the 1980s. This one is part of a set that I did for a fanzine devoted to the "Amber" stories and characters by Roger Zelazny. The story is about a large group of brothers and sisters, all sired by the same King but with different mothers. They can travel between dimensions and they all fight for the right to rule the universe through their dimensional powers. It's more Renaissance intrigue and swashbuckling than medieval "Game of Thrones" style storytelling. In this fan-written story, one of the Amber siblings (here, in black) invites a mundane friend of his (man in suit and tie on left) to be his guest in the world of Amber, where they witness the coronation of the new King.

Black ink on illustration board, 8" x 5", spring 1983. Click for larger view of characters.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

The Catman's Tail

Here we are again with one of my title pages for a Darkover zine. As I have pointed out, Darkover planet had a number of indigenous humanoid species which human colonizers had to contend with. The "cat-men" were one of them, a felinoid species which was intent on  retaining its territory despite being well-outnumbered and out-weaponed by the human colonists. I used 17th-century Renaissance engravings as an inspiration for this story which I have mostly forgotten.

Ink on illustration board, 8" x 10", October 1986.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Geometrikon "Ruby Towers"

Here's a Photoshop doodle with a Geometrikon. I'm experimenting with color layers, "cutting out" the red image from its background, and using the smooshy-pixel "Smudge" tool. There are lots of colors to play with, as in chartreuse clouds and red spires. Soon it will be time to do more cloud studies. But wintry days are not over just yet. 

Black tech pen ink, colored in Photoshop, 5" x 9", March 11, 2017.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Big Picker

I found this in the Whole Foods parking lot, where some sort of service was being done. This is a very new and modern "cherry-picker," designed to do work at treetop level in urban environments. An interesting feature of this is that the operator will stand in the "gondola" cage at the end of the lever, but there is no second operator down below in the engine capsule area. I had not noticed that feature of a cherry-picker. The controls for the whole thing are in the cage.

This was done in the parking lot while I was sitting on the tailgate of my car, my usual place for urban on-site art. But it is still only March despite the unusually warm weather, and it got too cold and dark for me to draw more details on this craft.

Black technical pen on sketchbook page, 4 1/2" x 5 1/2",  March 8, 2017.