Tuesday, January 31, 2017
Another illustration from my game work with "Gamelords." In "Thieves' Guild," the object of the role-playing was, basically, to steal stuff. The writers created scenarios where you could strategically rob various situations or groups. In this scene, as I dimly and probably wrongly remember, the Elves hold a big dance and are all occupied in partying hearty. Meanwhile you and your companions sneak in while they are distracted and you make off with jewelry, fine fabrics, and money from their coat pockets. But do be careful, elven valuables are sometimes protected by a hidden curse!
Black ink on illustration board, 11" x 4", January 1983.
Monday, January 30, 2017
Though the client approved the second sketch I did for the Kabbalah cover, I wasn't satisfied with it. So I cleaned up the "floor" of the design and added in the black and white checkerboard pattern which is commonly described in the book. I made the angels more "angelic" and shaped the central "Tree of Life" into a two-panel shape reminiscent of the "Ten Commandments" which would make a good match with the Ten Sephiroth. I also added curtainlike shaping to the starry blue background. This ought to do it and then I can go to final on this piece.
Photoshop on main system, 7" x 10", January 2017.
Sunday, January 29, 2017
When it comes to picking Cabinet choices, I want the very best. So I go to my advisors at Winding Road Cellars where I can find quality appointees who will perform well at state dinners as well as daily briefing sessions and working lunches. Unlike the current occupant of the position, I take a more dignified and presidential approach to my nominees. I welcome Ms. Viognier for Department of Commerce, Mr. Frank Cabernet for Department of Defense, and especially Mr. Chambourcin, with his combination of French and American roots, as Secretary of State. These and others are fit for service at the Winding Road Lodge where I can spend a Saturday tasting and evaluating my cabinet ideas and plans.
Sepia brown tech pen ink on sketchbook page, 7 1/2" x 7 1/2", January 27, 2017.
Saturday, January 28, 2017
Back in the game world of "Haven," life goes on. The player enters into a busy marketplace in a town square, where just about everything is for sale. A trinket vendor approaches from the left, while a matron in a black shawl orders her hobbit servant to carry some of her purchases. Living in Italy for some years I visited such places daily, coming home with fruit, cheese, and a modern-era bronze statuette of a Goddess, which I still have on my "mythology" book shelf. This piece was done for one of the gaming manuals for the long-gone company "Gamelords."
Black ink on illustration board, 11" x 4", January 1983. Klikonit for a larger view.
Friday, January 27, 2017
You saw this golden angel rendered in Photoshop here some postings ago. Now I'm back with an all-analog, no digital version (except for scanning), done in colored pencils. I like this one better than the first one. I have so many resources. I have four "studio sets" full of a variety of colors - sometimes more than 120 pencils in a set. And then I also have "field" sets where I put pencils in special portable caddies and drink wine while drawing at a winery. I guess you could say I'm an obsessive collector of markers and colored pencils. But I don't just look at them and not sharpen them. I use all the colored pencils I have, and this neat package will be part of my next on-site artistic endeavor. That is, if I don't use the iPad or the Cintiq. The Cintiq has not yet been tried on site. If I don't take the gadget, it's back to the colored pencils. Angels do not count as "on site."
Markers and colored pencils on sketchbook page, 8" x 4", January 2017.
Thursday, January 26, 2017
During the early and mid 1980s, a network of artists and art associations evolved in the affluent suburbs of Boston, Massachusetts. They occupied unused buildings (legally and legitimately) and carried on their work in art studios made from old offices and classrooms. My mother was a member of "Arts Wayland" and later on, "The Center for Art in Natick" ("TCAN"). The Wayland group used an old school, Loker School, as their studio space and headquarters. (The artists had to move out of the school when there were more children who needed it.) In her Loker studio my mother would paint larger pictures and also do a lot of drawing from live models both nude and clothed. The classical model image you see above was one of these models, photographed (with her permission) in 1982 though except for the color it could be an "arty" photograph from 1882. When I was clearing out the old house in Natick I found hundreds of these drawings and photographs. My art-loving cousin Mitchell gave away the best of them but I have not figured out who would want the color slides. I have digitized a large batch of them and am processing the best ones in Photoshop. Here's another which gives an idea of what the studio environment was like for artists and models. This reminds me of a French "post-impressionist" painting.
Arts Wayland is still going strong, and TCAN Natick is a major element attracting people to the lively arts in my old home town.
Photographs by Esther Geller, 1982, restored by me in Photoshop, January 2017.
Wednesday, January 25, 2017
Here's something I'm working on for an esoteric book cover. I mean the text and images are esoteric, not the cover itself. It's probably going to be an e-book cover so just like the Stasheff series it has to be visually understood at postage-stamp size on the screen. Some of you readers will recognize the "Kabbalistic Tree of Life" which I have placed in the center. I painted this mystical diagram for a commission in 1986. With the magical powers of Photoshop I can retrieve my old work and incorporate it into a new one. The gold-colored things at the sides are supposed to be angel wings and if the client picks this sketch they will be more explicitly rendered.
Photoshop on main system, 7" x 10", January 25, 2017.
Tuesday, January 24, 2017
It's still winter at Three Fox Vineyards. There won't be leaves on the vines for another three months, at least. The land is at rest under a blanket of mist. Wine and warmth are served together.
This image was done completely from memory. I like drawing from memory, not only because it's possible when not on site, but because I like to see how close I got to the real thing when I return. Working from memory also allows me to add in mood and details I wouldn't have time for if I was under the limits of the site.
Colored pencil with some ink on sketchbook page, touched up a bit in Photoshop, 7" x 3 1/2", January 23, 2017. Click on image for a larger view.
Monday, January 23, 2017
This is inspired by Andrew Highfield's work with esoteric images, something I have been familiar with for many years. He is in the tradition of "Anglo" Kabbalah, where the Jewish mystical images, symbols and practices are adapted to a non-Jewish, image-rich spiritual cosmos. This angel, which is not entirely humanoid, is based on Highfield's concept of the Archangel Raphael, equipped with a bow and arrows as well as biomorphic wings and a golden color scheme.
I'm also experimenting with mixed media design here. I did the initial drawing in light brown marker and then scanned it into Photoshop, where I colored it in. Photoshop allows me to get gradients and color layers without messing up the paper where the original design is. I will color the original with colored pencils or more markers. Once the original is colored in with pencil or other physical color, you can't re-color it without a lot of effort with Photoshop. But digital media gives me a much wider option.
Markers on sketchbook page and Photoshop, 8" x 4", January 23, 2017.
Sunday, January 22, 2017
I did not participate in the big march in Washington. Instead I went to peaceful, quiet Three Fox Vineyards in Delaplane, Virginia, along with some wine-loving friends. Three Fox is situated on very hilly ground which provides beautiful views and is good for growing vines. Wine is available all winter long and their white creations are especially good. We sipped vino and ate cheese and sausage in a tented area like the one above, warmed with a gas indoor heater. It is mating time for real foxes which I hear out my window most nights. They are not drinking wine though.
Sepia brown tech pen ink with colored pencil, some additions in Photoshop on sketchbook page. 8" x 6", January 21, 2017.
Saturday, January 21, 2017
Greetings again! Thanks to the ministrations of an acolyte at the Apple Store in Tyson's Corner, Virginia, my machine has been un-jammed and is now back in action posting stuff to Facebook as well as here at the By-Product. Thanks for your patience and I am glad to say at least one person missed me. I used my iPhone to stay in touch though it was not set up for drawing preparation and posting. It has been a difficult time for those who bother with history and I am not quite sure whether it is my place to try to "resist" the current social and political developments and their twitter-crowing rooster. I remember far back to 1968 with the rise of Richard Nixon and other outbreaks of hate with a horrible war far away. And all I did was electronic music and science fiction. I am not the marching in parade type. I can't see how this blog could have any social impact, but I intend to continue anyway.
Here is the geometrika design from a week or so ago (January 6) done in colored pencils including my elegant "Irojiten" colors.
Ink and colored pencil on sketchbook page, about 8" x 3", January 2017.
Sunday, January 15, 2017
Saturday, January 14, 2017
This is another one of my title pages for a story by Marion Zimmer Bradley. This part of Darkover looks like an Italian hill town, some of my favorite world architecture. Italian settings are fitting for the operatic melodrama of Bradley's writing. The story was about a young woman who runs away to become a member of the "Free Amazons," a feminist medieval guild and sisterhood. They are forbidden to carry swords and this is a gun-free civilization, so they carry long knives instead.
This piece is not well preserved; the white streaks are due to reflections off the shiny warped plastic in the portfolio book in which this art copy is unremovably entombed.
Original is black ink on illustration board, about 8" x 10", January 1983.
Friday, January 13, 2017
Photoshop on Cintiq digital inking, 6" x 8 1/2", January 13, 2017.
Thursday, January 12, 2017
I did a lot of gaming art in the early days of role-playing games, where the sourcebooks were simple black and white magazines and the equipment was dice, paper, and pencils. Not like the technocratic games of today where you need to invest hundreds of dollars on computer gear to play. I got commissions to illustrate entire games, like this one. It was called THE EVIL RUINS and took place in a haunted ruined castle. The writers crammed their game progress with all sorts of objects and environments which you would encounter and figure out how to treat them. "You enter a very dusty room with a mounted set of armor on a pedestal...the shield from the monument has the arms of the old dead King...the dwarf in your party hears something in the corridor.....etc." The characters were selected from the usual array of Tolkien races. Here is one of the most cluttered environments from the game.
Black ink on illustration board, 11" x 7", fall 1983. Click on the picture for a larger view.
Wednesday, January 11, 2017
From my stash of 1980s fan art comes this interior illustration, part of a suite commissioned and published by a fan magazine called "Shadow Shiftin'." The zine was devoted to the world and characters of Roger Zelazny's "Amber." "Shadows" were alternative universes where the characters were sort of the same but lived different lives, and the physical world worked differently. In this fan-written story, a middle-aged, middle-class American guy is somehow translated between universes and ends up at the royal court of the perpetually scheming and fighting Amber family. The visiting Earthman is being approached by one of the sneaky dangerous princesses, and he is at the same time realizing that he really is in a castle in the clouds, where "down" is miles, or even universes, away.
Ink on illustration board, 4 1/2" x 10", spring 1983.
Tuesday, January 10, 2017
These little "geometrika" are ridiculously easy to draw and color in. Even a kid could do it - I think I taught my neighbor's 7-year-old son to do them. I remember doing this as a workshop at a science fiction convention, too. When people say to me that "I couldn't draw a straight line with a ruler, I have no art talent," I say "C'mon, let's do this." And I hand them some paper, a pencil, and some plastic graphics shape templates like circles and squares and ovals. "Can you trace this? Can you put this shape on top of this other shape?" Most people can do this, given that they are physically capable of it. Then I say, "Here's some colored pencils. Now you color this in. Yeah, just like all those adult comic books you see in the stores." Usually they can do this, too. So when they're done, and they've made a pretty geometric abstraction, I say, "Congratulations. You just did art." I did this one in digital medium but it's the same if I used pencils or paint on paper.
Now I feel the same way about computer programming and engineering. I say to an engineer/IT person, "I couldn't code my way out of a paper bag. It's all around me but I know nothing about it." Is there an analogy to my process with non-artists, for computer coding or software design or hardware engineering? So far, my attempts to emulate this have been futile. I know people who can design and build a complete electronic music synthesizer with a mini computer the size of your hand. All I can do is color stuff in.
This Geometrika is originally ink on sketchbook page, colored in Photoshop, about 3 1/2" x 3", January 2017.
Monday, January 9, 2017
Back on Darkover, Robert Kadarin continues his adventures. He meets a young boy, named "Valentine," and takes a liking to him. After all, as a mostly-alien that mates with both sexes, anyone young and pretty is fair game to him. The youth even has the same tall, thin figure, suggesting a similar "mixed" ancestry. What Kadarin doesn't know (even though he is supposed to have telepathic powers) is that the boy "Valentine" is really a girl in disguise named "Thyra." This is covered in some of Bradley's material and the fan author continues it. In the end, her gender is revealed and Kadarin falls in love with her as a heterosexual, which ultimately leads to them getting married. Ain't fantasy fiction great!
Black ink on illustration board, 6 1/2" x 9 1/2", 1983.
Sunday, January 8, 2017
This "farmpunk" device is an antique fruit press, which I photographed at Linden's "Hardscrabble Vineyards." It can squish apples and I suppose grapes too. The fruit goes into the hopper above, you turn the crank, and the fruit is smashed and the juice comes out into the barrels, which are then emptied into the fermentation vats. Have you tasted apple wine? It's delicious, although sweeter than the usual grape wine. It has a golden clear color and is not like cider at all. It's winter now so wining is difficult due to weather but I will try to visit at least once this month.
Brown sepia tech pen ink on sketchbook page, about 6" x 6", rendered from a photograph, January 8, 2017.
Saturday, January 7, 2017
In 1971 I lived with my parents at the American Academy in Rome, a venerable institution founded in the 1890s as a haven for American artists in the Eternal City. My father was Composer in Residence and presided over many concerts, playing the piano. I was on a "gap year" between high school and college and had lots of self-directed educational work to do, such as reading Roman epic poet Vergil in Latin. I also had not only colored pencils, but a set of colored inks and metal pen points. I had been doing illustrations using these inks for a while, since the late 60s. Instead of precise watercolor brushwork I did a pen-hatching style dipping my carefully cleaned pen into colored inks.
The image above was done with the colored inks sometime during my stay in Rome in 1971. I favored the surrealistic style which was in vogue in the late 60s early 70s. I can still identify some of the figures I used. To the left is a female action figure who is either Marvel's "Black Widow" (who already existed at that time) or an Italian imitation of her with blonde hair. The panel to the right has a portrait of actor John Gielgud, all done in ink scratching. This was for practice doing faces. I had a photo to work from which is now long-lost. Around Gielgud's face are the Sumerian gods "Ea" (green scales) and "Anu" (at top, red and yellow with black beard). There are costumed heads and a large hand holding a box of cigarettes marked "Reality" out of which pops a headless female torso with winglets. If you go to a Roman antiquities museum you will see dozens of these headless statues. Rome was prime territory for imaginative "pagans" and surrealistic teenagers.
I did several of these colored ink drawings including one of a monastery garden next door, and stopped doing them when I realized that the inks were very fade-able and I wouldn't be able to save the colors. I "graduated" to watercolor which I continue to use to the present day.
Black and colored inks on thick paper, about 12" x 9", 1971. It's a poor photograph, worked in Photoshop as much as I could. The original of this is long gone though the monastery garden drawing has survived.
Friday, January 6, 2017
Wish I were there, right? In the virtual world of art, you can be anywhere, as long as you've got the pencil and the colors. My new sketchbook journal will have not only superheroes and sequentials, but also geometrika. These little abstractions should liven things up so I don't have to draw millipedes or Volkswagens all of the time. I also love doing them. I do the drawing in pen on paper and then color it in, sometimes digitally, sometimes not. Another nice thing about geometrika and superheroes is that I can make them up and not have to go park in a dismal parking lot and sit on my car's tailgate to draw Reality. Don't worry, you'll get reality drawings if you want them and I get the opportunity, if you want Reality at this point in our lives. This Geometrika evokes a tropical beach on a moonlit evening, complete with pink and yellow party decorations, ferns, and a pink glowing fire pit. I didn't know when I started this that it would be a tropical scene, but there you are.
Digitally colored ink drawing on virtual sketchbook page, 8" x 3 1/2", January 6, 2017.
Thursday, January 5, 2017
Robert Raymon Kadarin was a character from the "Re-colonization" era of Darkover. A striking figure as tall as a basketball player, at least six feet nine or ten, he was a relentless agent and power broker between the old colonists and the new Terrans. He also had an active romantic life involving women, men, and probably aliens as well. That was his great secret: he was genetically mostly alien, a member of the "Chieri" folk who were not only very tall but were endowed with psychic powers.
Kadarin was a recurring figure in a lot of Darkover fan fiction so I got to illustrate him in various adventures and even his childhood. He's usually dressed in a black Terran uniform and he has the same silvery hair as his alien ancestors. I have portrayed him here looking over the new city and spaceport that the Terrans are building on his old residence.
Original is black ink on illustration board, about 8" x 6 1/2", spring 1982.
Wednesday, January 4, 2017
I've been drawing superheroes and costumes for superheroes ever since my early childhood, using crayon and colored pencil. Nothing much has changed, except that I've switched from crayons to the Cintiq. This costumed figure is "Lightningball," as I knew him when I designed him. To spare the modest slightly, I've re-named him "Lightning Rod," which isn't much better. The Legion of Superheroes had "Lightning Lad," "Lightning Lass," and "Lightning Lord," but I can't use them. My "Lightning Ball" had a velvety black bodysuit with gold trim and gold cape. He had three "rings" on his gloves and boots which concentrated the lightning force. His weapon, the lightning rod here used as a banner pole, could not only shoot bolts but collapse to a shorter staff weapon or fighting stick. The helmet is based on Renaissance parade armor. I don't have any "backstory" for Lightning Rod, at least at the moment.
Having seen this so far, you can guess what my sketchbook journal theme is for 2017. I will be drawing and painting and coloring superheroes, their costumes, and other fantasy characters in comic book style. Most of them will be my own inventions but I might sneak some already existing characters in there too. I will use frames which is good practice. This one is colored in Photoshop but I will also offer up more "traditional" drawings in colored pencil and markers. There will also be geometrix accents on the pages.
"Lightning Rod" is brown tech pen on sketchbook page, 5 1/2" x 8",colored in Photoshop,
January 4, 2017.
Tuesday, January 3, 2017
It's a new year and time for figure drawing. This model is from one of my innumerable photographic nude model books. I'm trying to keep the drawing as simple as possible. I remember drawing nude art models in winter, in my younger days, when we had a heating fan on the platform to keep our model from freezing. This one doesn't need a heating fan because she is only a photograph. This sketch finishes off the larger empty spaces in my 2016 sketchbook journal and I will proceed now to this year's sketchbook journal which I hope you will read about later this week.
Black tech pen ink and a bit of white-out and photoshoppage, 6" x 5", January 3, 2017.
Monday, January 2, 2017
Darkover again! The Red Sun shines on this spectacularly situated Darkovan (actually Swiss) village. I hope to be showing more color work this year, since my new sketchbook format is in color. A Darkover-veteran friend of mine once suggested that I make a collector's item book of my best Darkovan art and it seemed like a nice idea but I am not sure there is enough "audience" for it, not to mention the time it would take for me to do custom work for it and also negotiating copyright with the Marion Zimmer Bradley estate. I am kind of amazed how much work I did in the Darkover mythos including both professional and fan art.
Watercolor and ink on illustration board, 7" x 10", June 1988.
Sunday, January 1, 2017
You've seen this design before, or something within its series of my Holiday/New Year greeting cards. Is it paint, or is it...that awful digital art that shows no human touch? It's machine made, of course. I don't know about the machine makers but the only hands that labored, if "labor" is the right word, on this piece were my own. The amount of time spent making the design is more or less the same as if it were real paint. The only thing that takes longer is that the painted design has to dry before you can put another layer on it.
I have things I want to do this year but at the moment I don't want to talk about them. I will not post twaddle anywhere. I'm grateful for a number of things which I also don't want to talk about, except this one: No more "House of Mildew." It is being re-built by the developers who bought it and its site, so it's No Longer My Problem.
Is art work? I am working on art but is that the same thing? I start a new sketchbook diary today. The format is different as you shall see shortly. Wine art continues though it is slower during the winter. If I have enough, I may attempt to publish Book 2 of the winery series.
The blog continues. Is anyone reading or viewing it? I hope so. This is one of the most moronic posts I've done in a long while. I'll try to be more interesting as the year goes on. Happy New Year Blog readers!
Photoshop, about 5" x 7", January 1, 2017.