Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Nauplia, Greece, 1975

In the summer of 1975 I traveled through the Eastern Mediterranean visiting antiquities and famous sites. I had my art materials with me: a set of watercolor pencils, and a watercolor field set. (I still have the pencil set!) I was able to visit my destinations by taking an antiquities - oriented tour. Nauplia, an ancient port town in central Greece, was one of the stops. There was enough free time on the tour so I could make some drawings and paintings on site. I drew them in light pencil, then added color with the watercolor pencils, and finished with paint and highlights. This scene is the rocky mountain above Nauplia, with a medieval fortress on top. Some of the town's houses appear in the foreground, with one clay-tile-roofed church dome.

Original art is pencil and watercolor, 10 1/2" x 8 1/2", summer 1975. Click on image for larger view.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Wizards Versus Technocrats

This picture, illustrating Arthur C. Clarke's famous motto "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic," was done as a commission for a community of Boston-area science fiction fans that I belonged to. The idea was that a group of wizards would battle an opposing group of technocrats and come out as equal. Each character, well most of them, were recognizable portraits of Boston fans at that time, including the young man who came up with the idea for the picture. My notes for the picture say that I was paid in barter, with some comic book collectables.

This is a tiny picture so the portraits were even smaller than convention nametag IDs, but I managed to get some character for each one. The Wizards are on the left, the Technocrats on the right. The Wizards are using colorful magic, while the Technos use elaborate weapons systems including the spherical "Death Star" from the then-brand-new "Star Wars." In the background are patterns of color and shape which I now produce as "Geometrika," showing that even then I worked in that style.

The characters, from left to right, are: Wizards: The artist then known as "Hannah M.G. Shapero," in a black cape holding a seven pointed star wand; Aaron Joyner, a young African-American who suggested the theme; a scary Hooded Skeleton of Fate; Andrew Adams Whyte, a local collector and patron in dark red robes, and Kris Benders, in a long black dress. 

Across the divide where the energies collide are: Technocrats: Susan Champeny, wearing headphones, David Allen in a khaki uniform from "Star Wars," Robert Cocrane wearing visored helmet, and Spike MacPhee, proprietor of the "Science Fantasy Bookstore" in Cambridge, Mass. Kris had been Spike's girlfriend but at the time of painting, Sue was in that role.

Some of these people are still active in fandom in the Boston area. Spike is a participant in the online world of "Second Life." Sue and Spike are long parted, and Andrew Adams Whyte passed away more than thirty years ago. As for the picture, Spike MacPhee bought it in 1982 and has it displayed in his virtual art gallery in "Second Life." It's a time capsule of what Boston fandom was like in the late 1970s. I was a wretched graduate student at Harvard at that time, but Harvard and I are long parted as well.

Ink and watercolor on Fabriano watercolor paper, 10" x 4", summer 1977. Click for larger view.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Grumpy Physicist

This peeved-looking person is a major character in my imaginary world of Noantri. He is both a physicist and a high-powered techno-magic user. He is famous for having re-discovered the relationship between magic and conventional energies. Currently he is Director of Research at the Institute of Applied Magic in Surakosai city. You may recall my depiction of Surakosai city ages ago. His name is Tanheu, and he is from a foreign country called Khemi. In my portrait he was 60 years old. He just turned 67 this year, on September 7.

So having attained high status in his field, why does this great scientist look so grumpy? And why is he sitting in a corner without his boots on? And what is he thinking? Well, the writing is a combination of mathematical symbols and arcane scientific terminology. It is in his native language, Khemi, rather than the Common Noantri language. He isn't wearing his boots for the simple reason that he is indoors, and you don't wear your shoes indoors.

And why is the physicist grumpy? Because some problems are so difficult that not even a master techno-mage can solve them. The theorist says, "The math is ugly so it can't be right." The experimentalist says, "Just build us the Superconducting Mage-ionic Particle Accelerator" and we'll discover the Great Unity of Seven Forces." None of this has yielded any results and the Accelerator doesn't exist yet. So he considers what form of approach he could use to solve the Problem of Humanoid Interface, let alone the Direction of Time. What is the approach? That is why he is sitting on the floor. He is waiting for his cats to come to him and give him insights. After all, cats are beyond the laws of physics so they may have information that mere Noantri lack.

Sketch is ink on sketchbook page, about 3" x 3", sometime in 2002.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Fall Festival at Falls Church

The Fall Festival and "Taste of Falls Church" is held in mid-September and is always fun to go to. You buy tickets and then exchange them for tasting-size small platters of food cooked by local restaurants. I especially enjoyed the "Panang Curry" Thai chicken dish served over rice. After my tasting I set up Prince Charles' foldable throne and drew these scenes of the fair. There was a big crowd this year and an excellent Latin band playing. The fair also featured jewelry, crafts, trinkets, toys, and civic causes and worthy organizations. This is the second time I've taken my folding art chair on site and it continues to do well although holding it as I wander through a milling crowd of people is sometimes awkward. And sometimes I ended up poking people with it even if they didn't know it was me so I had to apologize for something not quite conscious. The best way to carry the chair is to hold it vertically by the handles sort of like a walking stick, or horizontally by one of the aluminum structural tubes like a photographer's tripod. Some outdoors chairs have a carrying strap you can wear like a backpack sling, perhaps I could contrive that. Anyway when the chair was on the ground it was pleasingly stable and artworthy. I drew this eater in front of the "Original Corn Roast" machine but he was eating frozen yogurt, not roast corn. I didn't try the corn either. 

There was no By-Product yesterday I'm sorry to say due to a failure at the "Blogger" site. It's all fixed now.

Black technical pen ink on sketchbook page, foliage and corrections in Photoshop. 4 1/2" x 8", September 16-17, 2017.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Geometrikon Caerulean

Artist's got the blues in mid September. Look up, northern hemisphere, the equinox nears. I brought out my most precious markers to do this Geometrikon. This color is very hard to reproduce and it fades quickly when exposed to light. My Geometrika made with markers are preserved in sketchbooks, unless I decide to go permanent and use paint or colored pencil (or digital). I have never tested my colored pencils for lightfastness though I have a whole set which is guaranteed fade proof by the manufacturers. Those are for portraits and work which the client will frame and show. Meanwhile the skies drift into bright blue melancholy, as that awful red is already burning on many trees near me. The lavender spheres in the larger circle are tropical storms.

Colored pencil and markers on sketchbook page, 5" x 3 1/2", September 14, 2017.

You might notice something different on the screen for "Art By-Products." After more than 9 years, I've switched the orange to sky, or caerulean, blue. Do you like it? Comments are welcome about this new sky blue world. 

Thursday, September 14, 2017

My New Blue Blankie

My new blanket arrived today, from the "Company Store." They have consistently sold to me any type of warm and luxurious and colorful home fabrics I could want. This blankie is a light cerulean blue in lambswool, advertised as washable in the home washer. I know that winter is just around the corner and I will need the warmth real soon. You see a drawing of it still folded and placed on a stack of Company Store smaller fabrics in different colors. Wooden camp stool by L.L. Bean. Look for a lot of Cerulean Blue and Sky Blue from me as it is my Theme Color for the upcoming year.

Black tech pen ink on sketchbook page, colored in Photoshop, 4" x 6", September 13, 2017.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Cometary Nucleus

This picture dates back to the early 2000s (early!) when I was still using my airbrush to create astronomical-inspired art. I also used acrylic markers which at that time were a new invention and used for commercial work. The astronomical part is the glowing circle which signifies the icy shine that was thought to be a comet's texture. Surrounding it is an aura of gas which floats off it as it is exposed to sunlight. It would take many more years to actually land a probe on a comet, showing us to our amazement that a comet, at least that one, was a grubby, black, rough chunk of space debris. 

Acrylic on illustration board, 11" x 9", May 2004.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Archimede Restaurant Rome 1976

This sketch from 1976 was done in a restaurant, while waiting for my meal to arrive. "Archimede"  is a famous restaurant in Rome which has been in existence for countless years. Some time during its tenure it was run by a gentleman named "Archimede." I am amazed that restaurants can continue to provide over decades, even centuries if you believe Roman legends. My drawing is in Rapidograph technical pen using a reddish-brown ink. At that time the European Rapidograph was the state of the art in tech pens. I acquired a Rapidograph shortly before returning to the USA but my best drawings were made in Rome. The pin-like tiny points of the Rapidograph were hard to draw with, but I was patient. I still have the old pen but it is just too difficult to work with, since it leaks and dries up quickly. The sepia brown Pitt pen from Germany is now my mainstay.

The food at Archimede was excellent. I never saw anyone remove the wine bottles from the shelf over the door. Wine at Italian restaurants is poured directly from the keg into a glass carafe. I have never tasted truly authentic Italian cuisine in the USA, either, unless it is made by an authentic Italian.

Original drawing is Rapidograph tech pen brown ink, about 7" x 9", Rome spring 1976. Drawing is difficult to see; click on image to see closer detail.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Eclipse Blue

Remember the total eclipse? Huh? It was only a few weeks ago, but Nature had other plans to divert our interest and harass us. We got Hurricane Week instead. You don't need special shade glasses to see a hurricane. This little design sketch fits into a journal place left open for more art on the page, retroactively themed to current events. This is about all the eclipse I ever saw. I tried here to capture the eerie shade of blue in partial shadow. The highest amount of sun coverage in my area was 85 percent. An eclipse doesn't wreck your town though. 

Colored pencils and white markers on sketchbook page, 2 1/4" x 5", September 10, 2017. Click for closer view, no shades needed.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Malakki the dwarf jeweler

The game world of "Haven" is what we would currently call "diverse," with people of different races and habits living all together. The usual array of Tolkien-ish types are there such as elves, hobbits, humans, animal-human hybrids, and dwarves. This dwarf is in the jewelry and gem business, as you can see from his desk display and his little scale. He knows the provenance of items brought to him, and he makes the choice as to deal in, or refuse what is obviously stolen material. His image is adapted from an old Dutch painting.

Original image is black ink on illustration board, 4" x 5", spring 1984.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

More Sky Study

I couldn't help myself, I had to draw more clouds. They were so beautiful today and had nothing to do with hurricanes. September is a good month for clouds here in Virginia. I also have an excellent collection of sky blue colors in my colored pencil collection. I have "Light Cerulean Blue," and "Caribbean Sea," and "Ardoise Slate Blue," and "Forget-me-not Blue," and "Horizon Blue," and so many others. Also in this little sketch are the cloud purple-greys such as "Lupine," "Campanula," "Hydrangea," and "Hyacinth," from the luxurious "Irojiten" collection. The darker grey is "Payne's Grey," a classic watercolor shade adapted for colored pencil use. There's more where this came from. Stay tuned for "Autumn Skies."

Colored pencils on sketchbook page, 8" x 3", September 8, 2017.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Starbucks Damsels

I haven't drawn any Starbucks people for a long, long time so here are two. They are young ladies from the high school next door. I am always amazed at these good-looking, clean, and healthy youths and maidens from the nearby school. I call the girls "damsels," as they look nothing like the scruffy girls I went to school with. And I went to a fancy prep school. I was never a damsel; I was a toad. It's a rich school in an affluent neighborhood, so I guess they look so good because they can. And I went to school during the hippie era, when looking fresh and slick was discouraged. The girl at the top was dressed in a sports uniform which was not a cheerleader's garb. A closer look at her companion (not shown here), also in the uniform, showed the logo of the field hockey team. Their colors were red and white.

Black tech pen ink on sketchbook page, 4" x 8", September 7, 2017.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Othmar the Astrologer

In the Gamelords game "Thieves' Guild," Othmar has an astrology practice in the city of Haven. He is an "NPC" that is, non-player character. If a player wants his or her chart done or wants information from the stars as to success or failure, they can go to Othmar. As described in the game manual, he is shabby, ragged, seedy, and ill-smelling, but can deliver useful and maybe even truthful readings and predictions. The incense burners on the table are an attempt to mask his odor. If Othmar is a successful consultant, why doesn't he wash and dress better? It might be a personal choice, or it could be just laziness, which could lead to mistakes. All of which the player has to weigh in, should he decide to test the planets with Othmar.

From "Gamelords" game, ink on illustration board, original drawing 5" x 6", April 1984.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Academy Lamp

Some time ago this year I posted a colored pencil rendering of a glass bottle table lamp at the American Academy in Rome. Well here's another glass bottle table lamp in the same room at the Academy. Behind the lamp is an orange leather sofa and the black hearth of the fireplace in the large parlor. I liked the way I could line up the trapezoid shapes of the hearth and the lampshade at different degrees of rotation. I did this in all colored pencil. The reason I could get such photo-like precision in this drawing is that it's done on a type of very smooth thick paper from the Italian Fabriano makers, that is not available in this country (USA). I keep trying to find an equivalent but haven't succeeded yet, and it has been 42 years. Maybe I can get it by international ordering online.

Portrait of lamp is colored pencil on Fabriano paper, 4" x 6", 1975.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Number 3000

And here we are! This is Post number 3,000 on "Art By-Products." This doesn't necessarily mean 3,000 continuous day-after-day posts, since the By-Product has had to go on hiatus many times during the nine years of its existence. But it does mean 3,000 individual works of art, however small or poor, that I have shown on this Blog. I amaze myself, my friends. I am not the only blogger to keep going for this long; there are others in any number of fields that are offered up by someone who doesn't stop. But I think I deserve at least a place as candidate for the Cal Ripken award for continuous blogging. (This award does not exist. Cal Ripken of the Baltimore Orioles holds the record in baseball for the longest continuous game participation.)

I don't know what the creature is, who holds up the shaggy banner or perhaps a poncho. It looks like a combination of a cat and a dog. A catdog, maybe. Or a lemur? or a dogcat? Or some magical creature from a Harry Potter book. Well, the By-Product is not going to stop, as long as I'm able to do art. The way I see it, as soon as I say that I won't publish every day, then I'll forget to do it altogether real soon. I see it as a worthy exercise in self-discipline, as well as a way to connect with friends and potential art buyers. So here I go, on to the next thousand.

Marker ink on sketchbook page, 6" x 4", September 5, 2017.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Inside the wine cave

A while ago I showed you my color drawing of "Maggie Malick's Wine Cave," an unusual earth-sheltered barrel and tasting room. Here is what it looks like inside. There are steel fermenting vats, boxes and cases ready for delivery, and the tasting bar with attendees. This drawing was also done from a photograph because it was impossible to sit down in the packed space to do a drawing. If I didn't say anything, could you tell the difference between on-site or from a photograph? Possibly, especially if I drew it.

Sepia brown tech pen on sketchbook page, 7" x 5", original image May 2014, ink sketch September 4, 2017.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Shenandoah Memory

This is what the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia looks like in late August. The greenery is still lush but there are touches of yellow. In the distance, looking very blue, are the famous Blue Ridge mountains. I did this sketch from memory. I didn't use a photograph. I suspect most landscape art is enhanced by the artist's memory. I think this area is one of the most beautiful places in the whole world.

Colored pencils on sketchbook page, 7 1/4" x 8 3/4", August 25, 2017.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Sit down and do art

This is my first drawing done while seated in my new outdoor folding chair. The building is the wine castle and tasting room of Horton Vineyards, in central Virginia. Horton is one of the largest and oldest wineries in Virginia and they make enough vino to sell it in big stores like Costco and Trader Joe's. 

Does the chair work for outdoor art? So far so good. In fact if you notice, my lines are really even and they look like I might have used a ruler, but I didn't. Prince Charles' art throne is so stable that I can place art on my lap and I don't have to balance the panel on something to get good lines. I ran out of page space at the left, just as I got to the elaborate doorway, and I am debating whether to go to digital inking and complete it (from a reference photograph) on the Cintiq, which is wondering why it is not being used more. I probably will make a color-tinted version of this. Horton has a wide selection and I ended up getting a bottle of the astronomically appropriate "Eclipse" sweet red.

Black tech pen ink on sketchbook page, 10" x 6 1/2", August 28, 2017.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Cat dozer

My hosts in Staunton have a splendid antique house with pillared porches on both front and back. They also have five cats who are mostly indoor cats but in nice weather they venture outside to lie in the porch areas dozing. I did this pen study of one of the cats, "Nicholas," dozing at the base of one of the majestic back porch columns. He is a cat dozer, the smaller version of a bulldozer. And what do you call a cat dozer by a column? A "caterpillar," of course!

Black tech pen ink on sketchbook page, 5" x 8", August 25, 2017. Click on image for larger view.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

More Crockery

Here's more crockery from the "Rose Room." All of it is cream-colored china with dark red patterns all over it. When I first stayed in the Rose Room the hosts had a whole tea set of that material on the cupboard top but it was chipped and cracked and probably fell apart or got smashed since I haven't seen it recently. The guests at the inn are all well-behaved but you never know what can happen. Crockery arranged in a "still life" is a classic art thing but it is missing an essential element, that is fruits and vegetables. I've painted pictures of those things, too. Cezanne got good mileage out of apples and peaches along with the crock and crumpled-up fabric but if I depicted that subject more than once the boredom factor would be high and I'd have to add a bottle of wine to the still life to make it lively life.

5 more posts till # 3000!

Black tech pen ink on sketchbook page, about 4" x 3", August 28, 2017.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017


I've returned from my short vacation with friends in Central Virginia. The bed 'n' breakfast that I frequent is decorated in Victorian style, with lots of flowery printed fabric and wooden floors. Every room has a theme and color, and the rooms are accented with antiques, like this pitcher and bowl. Back in those days, people washed up with the pitcher of water and the bowl, but thankfully now the rooms are equipped with baths like modern hotel rooms. I stayed in two different rooms, the "Blue Willow" room and the "Rose Room." As an artist I must dutifully depict crockery now and then. This set was rose-red ornamentation on off-white china. 

Blogging resumes now with Post Number 3,000 soon to come! 

Original drawing in black and brown tech pen and marker ink, about 2" x 3", August 29, 2017.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Language Learning Spell

What do you do if you have to get an Elven Craftsman to do some important work for you but neither of you know each other's language? You pay, or roll the dice for, a spell that will give you understanding of what is being said. The understanding lasts as long as it is needed to complete the project, at which point you will have to do some real learning of grammar and spelling.

From a game illustration I did for the long-gone "Gamelords" role-players. Black ink on illustration board, 5" x 6", spring 1984.

No blogging here for a few days while I take a short vacation.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Unfold and sit down

As you know from my winery artwork, I like to work on-site right in front of what I'm drawing. I've done countless sketches of buildings or construction machinery or other things which are outdoors. And most of the time I need something to sit on so I can hold my sketchbook to draw on. I've never been good at just holding a sketchbook in my hand and drawing while standing up. So I have had and used a succession of camping stools light and convenient enough to place where I can sit, and see my subject. Otherwise I am stuck with sitting on  whatever is in the environment like a stairway or some other unsavory surface. I had a tiny lightweight camp seat in Rome when I drew the images you've seen here, but I had to abandon it when I left. In America I've used fold-open metal frames with a fraying nylon seat, or a little tripod from a travel supply company, or L.L. Bean's heavy wooden Adirondack, which I still use indoors. I even had a portfolio with wheels and a fold-down seat, which was a great idea until I sat on it for any length of time, which was unduly painful.

So when I saw this contraption in the delightful J.Peterman catalogue, which deserves a post of its very own, I saw the glory of the camp stool brought to its British greatness. After all, J. Peterman says that Prince Charles himself uses this chair when he is painting watercolors outdoors. So I paid the king's ransom for the "Out 'n' About" travel chair, depicted above in a partially unfolded state. is it? I feel royally comforted sitting in this throne, and my artistic butt so far approves of the tough canvas seat. I haven't brought it outdoors yet, since I just got it. Sketch trials will follow. 

In a pleasant surprise, this item was NOT made in China. It is said to be made in the U.K. This is not one of those dinky fold-out chairs with a cup holder and the logo of your favorite football team. This is English gentleman equipment. You can fold it up into a cylinder with handles at the top and use it as a brace or a cane. Or you can carry it like a photographer's tripod, though I wonder whether people who see it rolled up might think it's a weapon.

Drawing of chair is black tech pen on sketchbook page, 4 1/2" x 6", August 22, 2017.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Alien Eclipse

My records show that I blogged this image some years ago, but I can't find it on the blog post entry list so here it is again. This is from the era when I was still doing Geometrika with paint. Here are my favorite blues and purple, with a swath of space adding depth. In keeping with the eclipse theme, the shadow moon form crosses into the metallic gold sun. The little red square with beady eyes is an alien being observing the eclipse. I wanted to know just how simple a design could be and still convey the idea of a life form. Two beady eyes will make just a bright square look alive. 

I saw the eclipse or rather its effects while I was getting routine dental work done. During the darkest of our partial eclipse shadow all of us in the dentist's office ran out to see the world turn an unnatural blue, though the sun was covered by clouds. In a moment when the clouds thinned we could see the half-Sun. Then the big puffy cumulonimbus clouds returned and drenched the town to our east, though no rain fell at the office. But my teeth are now fresh and shiny.

"Alien Eclipse" is 7" x 10", acrylic on illustration board, October 2009.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Altar of Evil

This imagery panel is from the game I illustrated for Mayfair Games way back when, "The Evil Ruins." It depicts a Satanic altar in a ceremony, one of the evil things hidden in the ruins. A priest whose hands are dipped in blood gives a curse to whoever draws near the demonic site. Two black-armored knights with greatswords guard the proceedings. They don't make game illustrations like this any more.

Black ink on illustration board, 3" x 10", spring 1983.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Return to Casanel Vineyards

"Wine Saturday" brought us back to Casanel Vineyards near Leesburg, VA. I have been here many times enjoying the wine and hospitality of the DeSouza family. Over the years I have seen the site and its buildings transformed from an old farm compound with rustic atmosphere to a beautiful resort-style establishment featuring a selection of varieties created by Katie DeSouza, daughter of the family patriarch Nelson. This stone edifice is one of the original buildings on the site, a historic 19th century house which was used as the tasting room before the transformation to a newly built wine palace. The stone house now has wine barrels stored in it. Note the elevated walkway through the trees, which leads to a deck where I sat to sip and draw. Nelson runs a building company and he built the whole complex for the enjoyment of his winery visitors.

Marker ink and colored pencil on sketchbook page, 8" x 10", August 19-20, 2017.

Saturday, August 19, 2017


I've been spending a lot of pleasant hours participating in the Facebook "Legion of Super-Heroes" fan forum. For those who aren't comic book fans, the "Legion" depicted in DC Comics is a group of teen-age super-heroes in the super-futuristic year 3000. Each member has a limited super-power, except for Superboy, Supergirl, and their cousin Mon-El, who have lots of powers. Some members have odd powers, like being able to block gravity or change the color of things at will. An empowered character tries out for a place in the Legion. This young man, "Stormboy," can control the weather, rather like "Storm" of the X-men but far less glamorous. The problem with Stormboy was that he would faint or even be at risk of dying if he saw a rainbow. Badly constructed magic, I'd say. So he failed the entrance exam. I have solved his problem here by giving him special goggles that he would use in case a rainbow formed, which would filter out the colored light that harmed (or appeared to harm) our young wind-walker. Also I loved his costume, a cloud grey tunic and pants far away from the jazzy, revealing garish outfits of the rest of the Legion. Stormboy only had a few pages in the Legion saga, but I remember him with fondness.

Marker ink on sketchbook page, colored in Photoshop, 3" x 5 ", August 19, 2017.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Roma interior details 1975

I had my colored pencils with me everywhere I went when I roamed through Europe in 1975. I still bring some version of a colored pencil art kit when I go places. These two vignettes were done inside the residential section of the American Academy in Rome, whose courtyard you have already seen. You could find that timeworn shelf anywhere in the world, but the glass lamp and ornate orange window frame are definitely Italian. That orange frame belongs to a building next door to the Academy, housing priests of the Claretian order. 

Colored pencil on Fabriano smooth paper, 6" x 8", 1975. Please click for a better view.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Japanese Gentleman Bids Farewell

As you can see from any inspection of my artistic output, I would much rather draw buildings than people, since architecture is my specialty. When I have to draw people or animals, I always put buildings first as the background. This is the closing illustration for the story I mentioned last posting about the Japanese detective on Darkover. The Free Amazon, his temporary partner in sleuthing, watches the gentleman walk away, never to appear in her life again. The architecture here is an Italian village, re-built on an alien world.

Black ink on illustration board, 8" x 6", spring 1984. I sure have used a lot of illustration board in my years as an artist.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

A Japanese Detective on Darkover

Some time ago I mentioned that among the endless archives of Darkover fan writing published in 'zines was a story featuring a Japanese detective stationed as part of the occupying Earth force on the planet. This character, whose name I have forgotten, is based on the movie detective character played by Peter Lorre, "Mr. Moto." In the story, the elegant and erudite Japanese is forced to live in rustic circumstances, where he has built a teahouse environment to remind him of home. In the case he must work with a Free Amazon, whose uncouth ways he dislikes, and finally to teach her some manners he performs the Tea Ceremony for her. I had no idea how a Japanese Tea Ceremony was done, so I bought a couple books for research purposes, which I still have, 33 years later.

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

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Mid-Century Moodle remix

After scanning and Photoshop coloring, I color in the tiny drawing with "conventional" coloring and re-scan it for the blog. Here is the "remix" of the "Mid-Century Moodle" from earlier this month. I think this one looks better than the earlier one though the colors in the earlier design were more "authentically" mid-century modern. 

Going through the myriad photos of my family history I love to see the design of the artifacts that the family had in their homes. Some of them are quite chic but others are ordinary. I have not seen any avocado green appliances yet.

Original drawing in black ink, colored with colored pencil and markers, 4" x 3", August 2017.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Wonder Woman of TV

With all the miserable things happening this year and indeed this week, I thought I'd retrieve a vision of goodness and power with an image of Wonder Woman. This is the famous  Lynda Carter, in the role of Wonder Woman popping out of the TV. This is what we followed on TV back in the mid - 70s, not grisly nihilistic sagas of blood, guts, and monsters. This is from a fan article I illustrated many years ago. You saw more of these little vignettes earlier. One of these days I'll get around to seeing the recent Wonder Woman movie.

Black ink on illustration board, 4" x 5 1/2", January 1981.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Ogre of Kallitechnia

One of the weirdest features of seemingly Utopian Kallitechnia were the ogres and the battles that the citizens fought against them. As the Client described them to me, Kallitechnians in their youth and young adulthood were required to do battle with a series of musclebound, monstrous-looking ogres, in order to gain fighting skills and courage to face adversity. The ogres were played by bodybuilders from the outside world who were paid to come to Kallitechnia and play their role, dressed in "primitive" gear and costumes and wielding what appeared to be crude weapons. At the time of the ordeal, which was kept secret until the moment, Kallitechnians were sent through a constructed forest environment where they were attacked by ogres. The utopians had to fight back with whatever they could use from their environment (presumably placed there by the contest runners). The main question for me was, were these battles for real or was it non-lethal and symbolic? The Client didn't answer but my assumption was that the whole ogre battle was staged and designed to scare rather than actually hurt either group of participants. Here is my concept drawing of an Ogre in full ugly regalia. 

This Ogre marks the end of my Kallitechnia series as published in this Blog.

Ogre original is black ink on illustration board, 7" x 10", spring 1998.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Transforming Hellhound

Here's some more art from the game I illustrated for Mayfair, "The Evil Ruins." In this scenario, the players are in a cave and they encounter what looks like a crystal effigy of a very large dog. Pictured here around the monument are, left to right, a Moon Priestess, a Mediocre Wizard, and a Half-elven Thief. As soon as the Mediocre Wizard uses magic, the statue activates and transforms from crystal to flesh and attacks the group. Without a stalwart warrior to defend them, they must either flee or use what resources they have to evade or defeat the reanimated Hellhound. I have the game book with details of the possible outcomes but I don't know where it is. Somewhere in Dustworld, I guess.

Original is black ink on illustration board, 11" x 7", fall 1983.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Tolkien fan art

This piece of action fan art is from the publication of a short fan fiction by Marion Zimmer Bradley set in the world of J.R. Tolkien's "Ring cycle." Interesting that though Tolkien was seriously influenced by Wagner's opera and its own universe, no one writes Wagner fanfic at least that I know about. Maybe in Germany but then Wagner has  unsavory connotations of past dreadfulness and Tolkien managed to launder most of it out of his Anglo-based world.

I did this piece in the style of old-fashioned Victorian/American ink illustration art, of which I never get tired. For more on this Tolkien pastiche, you are invited to visit this earlier posting of this Blog.

Black ink on illustration board, 7 1/2" x 5 1/2", summer 1983.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Geometrikon OMG Lost again in the city

Don't you just love driving in the city? Maybe you really do, but I don't and I have been having to do a lot of this recently. There are some places which I visit over and over again (friends and consultants) and I have never left them to go home without getting lost driving around. OK maybe once or twice I ended up on the road I wanted but not today. The area I am driving in is now under construction, with no end in sight unless you believe that they're really going to be finished by the end of the year. So you have to follow detours to get where you don't want to go. This Geometrikon is a colorful impression of what it's like to drive around here. There's lots of orange, the color of "Road Work Ahead" signs and safety cones.

Black marker on sketchbook page, colored in Photoshop, 3 1/2" x 2 1/2", August 10, 2017.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Faces of Kallitechnia

Just getting this one under the electric wire for "Every Day Posting" service. My Kallitechnia client asked for portrait faces from his imaginary world. I searched through fashion magazines and many other sources until I got just what I thought he wanted. I was real careful with the penwork. But when I submitted the drawing to him he rejected some of the faces you see here, especially the rather macho short-haired man at upper left, and the elderly woman in upper center. He wanted faces like the ones on the bottom level: young, beautiful, with a soft slightly open mouth and a "come hither" expression. And I guess people didn't get old in Kallitechnia. They wouldn't die like in "Logan's Run" but they would have to leave or move to another colony.

Original drawing in black ink on illustration board, 9" x 11", spring 1998.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Maggie Malick's Wine Cave

This image was gathered in 2014, photographed on one of my wining expeditions. But I didn't turn it into hand-done art until yesterday, when I set up a page for the Maggie Malick winery. This winery has one of the most unusual buildings on a Virginia site: an earth-sheltered live turf roofed artificial cave where barrels are stored and wine is poured. Note the stainless steel wine vats sitting near the loading driveway. The tasting room is in the tunnel. In summer the earth topping keeps the interior cool and in the winter the artificial underground temperature is mild. Maggie makes a very nice sweet red blend. This place is worth coming back to, and maybe then I'll get a chance to draw outdoors.

Colored pencil, ink, and markers on sketchbook page, 8" x 6", August 7-8, 2017.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Darkovan Domestic Violence

Marion Zimmer Bradley, whom you know all too well if you have been reading this Blog, was  a daring writer who was well in advance of the usual fantasy writing of her time. She was one of the first fantasy writers who dealt seriously with real problems and afflictions like domestic abuse, sexism, violence against women, and prejudice. She created scenarios that taught readers about feminist issues. She created imaginary but realistic social movements and committed groups which attempted to find solutions for the evils of the world against women. The "Free Amazons" was one of them, where women could find a refuge from the brutality of a low-tech society. This illustration, titled "Girlfriends against Rape," was for a Bradley story in a fan magazine. In the story a young girl runs away to join the Free Amazons only to be betrayed by her own mother who spots her in a marketplace as an Amazon (not the dotcom kind) vendor. The girl is attacked by a male relative who attempts to forcibly take her away from the group.

Black ink on illustration board, about 7" x 5", January 1983.

Sunday, August 6, 2017


You could say that this is a "still life" in the old artistic tradition. Random things appear and are painted. Most still lifes are not random. The artist arranges them. This is mostly random and somewhat arranged. It's a table top at Starbucks with the remains of coffee and a cookie. The cookie wrapper is rectangular, the coffee lid is round. A wooden twig coffee stirrer lies across the lid. I drew this while a Montessori school teacher looked on and she provided the title for the sketch. Then she showed me from her workbook how things are done in a Montessori school. It made me want to be a child again so I could learn my geometry and languages that way.

Black tech pen ink on sketchbook page, 4 1/2" x 3 1/2", August 5, 2017.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Young Courtiers of Darkover

Danilo gets the place at court with the elderly nobleman. One of his duties is to entertain the old man with his companionship during the endless winter season and listen to him talk. His best friend, Regis, who is also an apprentice at court, serenades them quietly with his harp. Regis and Danilo will soon learn that their attraction to each other is not just the friendship of two courtiers, but is true gay romantic love. This story, appearing in Marion Zimmer Bradley's THE HERITAGE OF HASTUR, is a fan favorite.

Original drawing is ink on illustration board, 7" x 5", March 1983. Most of these originals were sold for a few dollars apiece at the now-gone DarkoverCon. I wonder how many of them are still extant, given the chaotic lives of many fans.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Mid-Century Moodle

Look! It's a new design. What do you get when you connect the dots in a mid-century modern doodle? A mid-century moodle! With a critter but not a poodle. All those lovely colors appeared on someone's dishes sometime in the 50s or early 60s. The design world is not ready for a revival of the late 60s "psychedelic" swirling garishness.

Original drawing is marker ink on sketchbook page, colored with Photoshop, 4" x 3", August 3, 2017.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Retro Fan Art

Ever since I got back from Massachusetts I've felt tired and dragged out, even though I've been back for two weeks now. The air conditioner which was repaired last week is working fine now. I know I'm supposed to be doing art but instead I've been aimlessly wandering around my home trying to make sense of all the new deposits of clutter brought back from the old residences. And my car is still loaded with more stuff too heavy for me to lift by myself. Heard this before? So if you see old fan art on this Blog please excuse my failure to deliver fresh stuff. This ominous scene is from a Darkover fan story in which Danilo, a favorite character, interviews with the notorious nobleman Dyan Ardais for a position at court.

Black ink on illustration board, 7" x 5", March 1983.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Scenic Route

I used to do a lot of these small space pictures. I would mass-produce them in batches of around 20. I started with a stack of small illustration board panels in a 7" x 10" size, painted black. I laid them all down on newspapers covering the floor. Then I spattered the "stars" on by shaking a brush filled with paint at them. When that was dry I pre-mixed paint in blue, red, or some other color, filled my airbrush (an archaic spray-painting device) and sprayed nebula and floating gas patterns all over the panels. When these were dry, I chose which ones to add a painting to and which ones were just space scapes. This one here, for instance, I chose to paint over with a spaceship. It's called "Scenic Route," suggesting that the riders in the luxury space yacht are taking in the "scenery" of a lovely nebula area. Of course in reality the nebula would be imperceptible to the passengers' eyes, but I suppose they had an enhanced view generator. 

Nowadays these space concepts have been rendered obsolete by the views from real places and telescopes on earth or orbiting in space. Sure, artists still do space pictures, but the real Hubble imagery is far more detailed and exciting. And most digital artists have never used an airbrush. I discarded mine some years ago, I regret to say. Photoshop and Hubble rule.

Acrylic on black illustration board, 7" x 10", January 1988.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Costumes of Kallitechnia

I ended up doing quite a lot of work in the '90s for the "Kallitechnia" project. During the last round of drawings I was asked to show some of the costumes that the Utopian people wore. This would include anything from work garb to ceremonial attire. According to the client, these Utopians followed a Neo-Pagan religion which varied depending on which "tribe" they were in. These figures above show some of the concepts I illustrated. From left to right: Businesswoman assigned to dealing with the outside world, Landscaping worker with plant trimmer, Renaissance Faire couple with party beverages, Pagan Couple celebrating a symbolic enactment of the "Great Rite" with cup and sacred blade, and Techno-Magic User manifesting energy. There was a fantasy element to this world where magic was practiced in a scientific way.

Original art is black ink on illustration board, 14" x 10 1/2", March-April 1998.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Rappahannock Cellars vine branch

The "Wine Team" didn't expect sunny weather, since the day before had featured deluges and floods all over Northern Virginia. But by the time we got to Rappahannock Cellars, the skies were clearing and the vines were shining. We sipped Rapahannock's excellent selection in the  "members'" beautiful room. Most wineries have a "members club" where if you promise to buy a specified amount of wine per year, you get privileges, like the nice room. This view is through a big picture window in that room and there is a gnarly discarded vine branch sitting as an ornament on the windowsill. 

Colored pencil and markers on sketchbook page, 7" x 6", July 29-31, 2017, finished in studio. Click for winy view.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

American Academy in Rome courtyard

The American Academy in Rome is a place where chosen American scholars and creative artists can spend a year or more in the Eternal City doing special projects and studies. I was a guest there in 1975-1976 using family connections to stay there. While at the Academy, I did numerous works of art including this one, a portrait of one of the inner walls of the open courtyard. The Academy building was designed by the famous American architects McKim, Mead, and White, but it was done in a classical Roman style and looks like the ideal world of Rome as interpreted by early 20th-century American architects.

Watercolor over light pencil drawing, 9" x 11", 1976. Click on image for a larger view.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Patriotic Abstraction

I found a spot in my sketchbook journal which I left empty for image drop-ins. This page contained the entry for July 4 so even though this is retrospective from the 29th I'll do something appropriate for July 4. Many times this year I have been ashamed of some of the people who are supposed to lead our country but when it comes to color, image, and abstraction I don't have to be explicit. 

Markers on sketchbook page with Photoshop background, 5" x 4", July 29, 2017.

Friday, July 28, 2017


It's a pop-in doodle in the sketchbook journal for a space I didn't fill while on the road. The background is adapted from "Mister Mourao's" architectural visual-jazz while the demon is copied from a handbook of pre-drawn fantasy characters and creatures. I feel like this demon right now as my apartment's brand new replaced air conditioner is still not working.

Black tech pen ink on sketchbook page, 3 1/2" x 3", July 27, 2017.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

What I Saw

Bright banners hung out to dry in the twilight.