Monday, May 22, 2017

Incredible Shrinking Doctor Who number 8


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

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

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Winery Visit Back to Otium Cellars


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

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

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Geometrikon May remix


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

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

Friday, May 19, 2017

Three Graces of Wonder Woman


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

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

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Dr. Who image 7 "The Time Meddler"


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

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

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

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Fantasy Gazebo


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

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

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Dr. Who fan art number 6


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

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

Monday, May 15, 2017

Geometrikon for Spring


I designed this one to fit in a space in a crowded sketchbook page. Also I like the aqua color which makes me think of spring. This week it is unusually cold for spring and I am busy working on my Stasheff cover which is why you have not seen new material here. There's something vaguely three-dimensional illusion here if you look at the triangles long enough. This is mixed media, the aqua blue texture is simple marker and the lines are marker ink. You can use the very fadeable marker for Art if you scan it immediately afterward. The rest is colored in Photoshop which at this point is deteriorating on this computer and failing to work. Do you think that Donald Trump is the Nietzschean Superman, having become beyond good and evil? See if anyone reads this. Pretty picture!

Markers on sketchbook page and Photoshop, 4" x 4", May 15, 2017.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Dr. Who in ancient Rome adaptation 5


The "Doctor Who" TV show was originally created to educate children and adults about history and historical civilizations. One of the earliest ones was set in ancient Rome as you can see here. The program quickly morphed into a fantasy/science fiction adventure story. This is still from the William Hartnell era, when Who was supposed to be "educational." I didn't get to illustrate any episodes with another Doctor. My favorite is the Fourth Doctor, the brilliant Tom Baker, the one with the "chaos scarf."

Black ink on illustration board, 5 1/2" x 5", summer 1981. A note to Mike: The creatures you liked in the previous illustration were designed by the BBC, not by me. I just adapted them.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Don Orione care home Roma



Only a few weeks before I left Rome, I acquired a Rapidograph technical drawing pen and loaded it with a reddish-brown ink made by Pelikan of Germany. The pen was the metric equivalent of a 4 - 0 very thin point but it made a great line in architectural drawings. I drew every day with this pen, including ordinary Roman scenes like this building, which was next door to my temporary residence. The building here is the "Ospizio Don Orione", a small home for the elderly. From its Website (in Italian) it sounds like a peaceful place to, uh, finish up. The walls are painted that characteristic bright orange of Roman stucco.

I used that technical pen in the USA too but found it too difficult to maintain. The Rapidographs, as any artist/designer who used them will tell you, tend to dry up, clog, or leak. The introduction of the disposable and highly efficient Faber-Castell "Pitt" technical drawing pens in sepia or black solved the problem and that is the drawing pen I still use today, 40 years later.

"Ospizio Don Orione" is brown tech pen ink on thick paper, colored in watercolor and watercolor pencil, 9 1/2" x 7", 1976. Click for a larger view and a peaceful old age.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Doctor Who "The Rescue" fan art 4


Can you believe that every expletive-deleted episode of "Doctor Who" has a Wikipedia entry and a cast and plot description? That's hundreds of episodes. People on Earth have too much time on their hands! Even in 1965 they find clever ways to create monsters on TV, without a computer! This hand-drawn adaptation is from a Who episode from 1965, appropriately titled "The Rescue," when William Hartnell (upper right corner) has to rescue his companions from alien creatures on a desolate planet. I suppose I could become just as learned as some of the Who-Encyclopedists but even I would rather learn calculus or Persian language than do that.

And I wanna know, how is it that something I drew in 1981 is as good as or even better than something I could draw today? 

Original art is black ink on illustration board, 6" x 5 1/2", summer 1981.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Roman roof fantasy


The photos that I am transcribing are from my time in Rome in 1969 but most of the buildings I  photographed were from hundreds of years ago, re-built over and over again during the centuries. Many terraces, roofs, windows and rooms probably hadn't changed since ancient Roman days. This image is a fantasy combination of roofs and walls and arches from old Rome. The red tiles which make up the roof covering have not changed at all. I wish the buildings in my area were that picturesque. But I suppose corporate towers and high-rise apartments have their own picturosity. (Not a real word.) Of all the things I draw I still like architecture the most.

Brown sepia tech pen ink on sketchbook page, 3 1/2" x 3", May 10, 2017.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Foxwife end illustrations


At the end of the story, Jiro finds happiness with his fox wife and she runs off into the moonlight. 


These small sketches were to be placed at various points in the story, just for filling empty spaces. One is the ceramic bowl with the flowers of love floating in it. The middle is a picture of the little foxes that Jiro and his fox wife will have. The right is a traditional Japanese  Shinto torii gateway.

All illustrations ink on illustration board. Top one here, 8" x 3 3/4". Bottom ones, each about 3" x 2 1/2". July 1981.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Stasheff excerpt Tudor Palace


The text of Christopher Stasheff's book that I am currently illustrating called for a "Tudor palace," so I gathered info from the Great Vastness of Information to find me something that looked "Tudor." Twenty years ago I would have looked it up in one of my reference books. I have little idea what "Tudor" architecture was or how it developed, but if Google Images says it's Tudor, I am not gonna disagree. This is a small excerpt of the cover art with the palace on it. Most of the cover are character portraits which I haven't "painted" yet. All my Stasheff covers have some sort of architecture on them, and also feature an image of "Fess," the black metallic robotic horse, which I am painting now.

Photoshop on Cintiq, work in progress, May 2017.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Jiro and the Broken Bowl


A sorry moment in Jane Yolen's story, as Jiro in a fit of rage smashes a precious ceramic bowl. I don't remember why he did this, but there was a symbolic flower in the bowl which may have been a love token. I know if I searched hard enough and paid enough for an out of print book I could find Jane Yolen's text. My bibliophile friends could help me. As for the people who commissioned these illustrations, I don't want to know where they are now. What they look like now is SHOCKING.

Ink on illustration board, 8" x 6", July 1981.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Baby Me Art 2: Spacecraft


Here's another drawing from Baby Me, about 3 years old maybe. The drawing looks like it might be a big spaceship, with a little rider astronaut at the top. Or it could be a car, it has headlights at upper right. The bent rectangular shapes on what is either the body or an airwing originally looked like a keyboard to me but I think they are architectural. It seems to be a mixture of animal and airplane. Remember that in the early 50s rockets, like me, were in their early youth.

This piece was drawn on what I believe was blue paper. This has faded to the grey you see here. With the techno-magic of Photoshop I restored the blue. But, alas, I cannot restore my youth. That's OK, I remember too much to want to do that. Here's the blue version:


"Spacecraft" is ink on blue paper, about 10" x 8", 1956

Blogapology for these weeks, no fresh art because I am working on a book cover for the Stasheffs.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Old Doctor Who Fan Art part 3: "The Reign of Terror"


Here's more old fan art from my work reconstructing images of Dr. Who scenes for a fanzine. This one is from "The Reign of Terror" in which the Doctor's time machine takes him and his companions to the time of the French Revolution. They are immediately involved in the counter-revolution with much intrigue and deadly action. The Doctor, at left, is dressed as a French official and two of his companions are being led to the guillotine, from which they are saved at the last moment. This episode was one of the very first, from 1964. 

Black ink on illustration board, 6 1/2" x 5", Spring 1981. This is an OLD piece. I don't see many contemporary illustrations done in this pen and ink style, and even I don't do that much of it.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Jiro and the Foxwife


The secret to Jiro's new wife, as any Japanese person will tell you, is that she is a were-fox, who turns into a fox at night. This explains her mysterious disappearances as well as her clever, sly behavior. You can see her fox ears and tail on her head disguised as a headdress as well as a paw hidden in her kimono. This is another illustration in the Japanese print-styled set I did for author Jane Yolen's folktale story "The Foxwife."

I have foxes in my urban back yard and not only are they not dressed in kimonos, but they make a lot of noise which sometimes sounds like a human scream, which makes me wonder whether the foxes can be just as angry as Jiro. They also bark and howl which might alarm even a folktale spouse.

Black ink on illustration board, 8" x 5", July 1981. My records show that these illustrations were given to Jane Yolen as a gift. I wonder whether she still has them, or even remembers them.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Via Anicia Roma


Here is another of my Roman watercolor studies from 1976. I tried to capture as many textures and colors as I could. The dark red wall sits upon the old brick foundations of a noble Roman family house of the late era about 400 AD. They were called the Anicia family hence the name of the street you can see on the stone sign is "Via Anicia."

The Anicii were important to me because I used them as characters in a historical/fantasy novel I wrote most of in college and in Rome. I never finished it but here, as much as I can remember, is the plot, with some embellishments from now added for it to make sense.

The scene is Rome, 410 AD. Aurelia Anicia, age 15, is an educated young lady of the Anicia family (yes, based on me) who escapes from her family as she tries to run away from an arranged marriage to a money-grubbing young noble. She falls under the influence of a powerful, rich ship-owner (think Aristotle Onassis) who is a eunuch from the imperial court and an ex-slave, named Heliodorus. He is rumored to have in his possession a magical manuscript (the title of the novel would have been "The Miraculous Manuscript" or "Codex Mirabilis"), a Bible which can not only heal people by touch but predict the future by opening a random page and pointing out a sentence. He allows Aurelia to examine it and decides that he will offer it to the archbishop of Constantinople, with Aurelia as its keeper. They sail, along with many of Heliodorus' friends and allies, to Constantinople where a major religious dispute and street war is going on. After many adventures including fending off a pirate attack they arrive in Constantinople and gain access to the Archbishop, John Chrysostom. The Archbishop views the manuscript and declares it a fraud, and threatens to lock Aurelia up in a convent for blasphemy. During a riot Heliodorus and Aurelia manage to return to their ship and sail away from Constantinople, carrying the precious manuscript. At one port stop Heliodorus is found by fanatics trying to get the manuscript and is stabbed in an assassination attempt. Aurelia finds him dying but since she still has the book she invokes its magical powers of healing and he survives. They set sail again and in the middle of the night, giving up on this madness, Aurelia drops the book overboard, considering it too powerful and blasphemous to keep in the world. Heliodorus, when he finds out, decides to simply send her back to Rome where a barbarian invasion is imminent. Instead, she foretells that Heliodorus is doomed unless he sends her back to Jerusalem where she will join the scholarly circle of Saint Jerome. Having destroyed the miraculous book, she now has the powers of it attached to her. She persuades Heliodorus to change course. At the end, Aurelia is seen at the bow of Heliodorus' ship heading towards Jerusalem, while Rome burns under the Vandal attack.

Not all of this is the original plot, I've changed a lot of it, but no, I will NOT re-write this text, once is enough.

"Via Anicia" is watercolor on Canson paper, 8 1/2" x 11", painted in Rome, summer 1976.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Jiro of Japanism


When I first got into science fiction and fantasy fandom the dominant ethnicity was Celtic and anything "Celtic" was thrilling and heroic. That was something that is the heritage of the Romantic literary and political movements of the nineteenth century which has recently re-surfaced in a dark way. But the other thrilling ethnicity was Japanese, something which came to the English-speaking world on its own promotional hype of anime, games, sushi, manga, samurais, and Toshiro Mifune films. Back in colonial days it was called "japonisme," (French coinage) which inspired much of 19th century Art Nouveau and Impressionism in painting, graphics, and design.

Japonism, or Japanism, hit hard in the 1980s and hasn't gone away. We enjoy all sorts of imports, even if we never play a video game or pick up a samurai sword. I drive a Honda wagon (built in the good old USA), I love sushi (made by a Thai emigre in a mall) and many of my best art materials such as my Irojiten colored pencils are made by Japanese companies using Asian workers. 

This piece, "Jiro the Angry," was done as an illustration to a Japanese folktale, re-told by the renowned children's author Jane Yolen. The story is about an artisan named Jiro who has what we would now call "anger management" problems. He marries a mysterious woman and finds something astonishing about her. The rest of the story is in anthologies none of which I have found. My illustration was for a fan magazine which was unfortunately never published. This is a series, more will follow.

I did my best to imitate a "Japanese print" or Kabuki theater style. I remember poring over this whole world of design I had never known about, just as the Europeans did during the period of "japonisme." And the Japan-ery is still going strong, just ask Hello Kitty or any anime enthusiast.

"Jiro the Angry One" original is ink on illustration board, about 8" x 5", July 1981.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Baby Me Art 1: Ocean Creatures


Some of the art portfolios retrieved from the old family house were drawings and paintings made by me in my early childhood. Even though my mother was an artist, you couldn't see from these pieces that I would eventually follow in my mother's artistic path. I suppose that I was about three at the time I did this study of octopus-like sea creatures. There's a bit of design that looks like a thumb at the bottom and maybe that's what it was. I got my ideas from all sorts of things, like children's books or TV (yes, there was plenty to watch back then) or other people's art. My mother was all enthusiastic about my attempts at art and she encouraged me even before I could read or write, and kept the results until they re-appeared, 60 years later.

"Ocean Creatures" is crayon and pen on red paper, 5 3/4" x 8 3/4", about 1956.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Geometrikon April Remix


It's a bit of a cliche, and a bit "modernist stained-glassy" but I remixed the April geometrikon from a couple of weeks ago. They are fun to make anyway, and it's a way of playing with colors without having to mess with sticky paint or Adobe Photoshop's endless complexities. I really like the mid-blue (light cobalt blue) in many of the areas here. It's one of the friendliest colors I know. Everything goes nicely with it. 

Original drawing is marker ink on sketchbook page, colored pencils, and a touch of marker color, 7 1/2" x 2 1/2", April 2017.