Thursday, April 26, 2018

642: a kebab


I haven't visited the prompt pages of "642" recently, so I took a draw. The prompt for this one was "a kebab" and you know I love my Persian food. But this kebab is made of roast planets, suitable for Marvel Comics' planet-eating cosmic giant, Galactus. I believe in Pluto but just for the scientific types I'm carefully labeling it "Dwarf Planet." Sizes of the planets are not to true scale. You can see Mars, Earth, Venus, and Mercury on a smaller kebab skewer. As the Persians say, "Nooshi jaan" or "Bon Appetit."

Black tech pen on sketchbook 642 page, 3 1/2" x 9", April 25, 2018.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Gang of Monks


Alexandria, Egypt in later Roman imperial times was not a quiet or safe city. The streets were filled with people of all ethnicities and classes, with crimes everywhere. Christian and Jewish and Pagan religious factions fought it out in the street, often with the most primitive weapons of sticks, clubs, stones, and roof tiles. Competing bishops commanded gangs of monks to protect them, and the monks were not above joining in the melee. Here we see a bishop, Theophilus, commanding his militia of monks who stand ready to fight those who do not agree with their version of Christ's teachings.

Sepia ink with watercolor and Photoshop touch up, 5 1/2" x 9", 1974. Illustration from my Roman historical fantasy. Click for larger view.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Alien Natives Orgy


This is one of the latest ones I did in the Gregg Press collector's item edition of Darkover books. The tale it illustrates is a familiar one: human re-colonizers arrive to re-settle Darkover for themselves, despite the resistance of native sentient species. This one spends a lot of time on the chieri, the seven-foot-tall hermaphroditic natives who can interbreed with humans and produce psychically gifted children. The, uh, climax of the book involves a mass orgy of humans and chieri, thus re-vitalizing the genetic heritage of both species. You can see the ecstatic chieri at the top of the pile.

The author Marion liked this picture so much that she reserved it for herself in the art show and took it home. I wonder what happened to all that art that MZB either bought for herself or received as gifts. I think they gave some pieces back to me and they are stashed in a closet with all the fan zines I illustrated.

Ink and photostat, 7" x 10", April 1979. Click for chieri view.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Red Geometrika


It's Mid-Century Modern time again! I drive my shiny bright-colored roadster around town, sit in my geometric living room and drink martinis from my cone-shaped martini glass. This is the life of a successful artist! Celebrities in Palm Springs buy and display my work. And I don't even have to dress up. I can wear unique designer clothes made just for me, and I can eat smoked salmon whenever I want to. I can spend my vacations in a sunny place with more celebrities, dealing to sell them more art product. I get my face in magazines which call me "influential" and "important...." WHAT WHAT WAKE UP YOU HAVE TO RETRIEVE THE LAUNDRY.

Markers, colored pencil, Celebrity Photoshop, 8" x 4", April 23, 2018.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Purple Dawn


The colors at dawn a week or so ago were unusually intense. The low-rising sun shone on the budding trees, turning them glowing orange, with brilliant purple clouds above. The effect only lasted a minute or two, as the clouds passed in front of the sun and extinguished the fiery colors. This study was done from memory but I did see the scene as I retired to my owl's den to hide.

Colored pencils, markers, and ink on sketchbook page, finished in Photoshop, about 3 1/2" x 3 1/2", April 22, 2018.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Coffee Sips for Crafters


Every week, usually on Friday, I meet with three other ladies of craft to sip coffee and talk about projects we are doing. I don't do anything three-dimensional so I refer to the sketchbook for an urban sketch. We alternate between independent coffee shops, except for Peet's which is a chain but it's acceptable anyway. This Friday we gathered (minus one Lady who was away on a business trip) at the hipster haven "Caffe Amouri," a college-style snackery and beanery in Vienna, Virginia. My drawing for today shows what was on the coffee table that afternoon. At these meetings we don't have to think or talk about current events or politics. We are there to be creative and share it.

Sepia brown tech pen on sketchbook page with Photoshop shading and alterations, 5" x 5 1/2", April 20, 2018.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Mediterranean Heaven in a New Jersey Motel


On my ways back and forth between the DC area and the Boston area I used to stop off in a "sketchy" motel in central New Jersey called the "Red Carpet Inn." This noisy, shabby place was near the Hightstown Ballroom I showed you earlier. There was a very good diner down the street from it, but the best view was in the rooms I stayed in. The rooms were enriched with prints of what looked either like the San Simeon Hearst Palace in California, or more likely a Jersey-ite's view of Heaven. This Paradise would arise from an imagination of Mediterranean heritage, with decorative urns and terraces. Here is a copy of one of these prints, showing urns, angelic Italian landscaping, and a gravity-defying gazebo on a winding, rail-less staircase. In Heaven there is no gravity so you don't have to worry about falling off. 

Sepia brown tech pen on sketchbook page, 3" x 6", June 2002.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Heliodorus the eunuch courtier


In 1975, while I was still a college student, I was working on a work of fiction (with a bit of fantasy) set in the Later Roman Empire. This  fascinating period, from about 250 AD to 650 AD, involved Christians, Jews, Pagans, Romans, hundreds of ethnicities, a complicated Byzantine court system, warfare against barbarian tribes, Persians, and rival factions. Christianity was made the state religion by the Emperor Constantine, and Christian philosophy and literature was at its peak with writer saints like Augustine and Jerome. I could write forever about this era. It was also a fabulous source of design and architecture, with elaborate classical motifs mixing with Asian and Egyptian sources.

The person in this portrait is one of the main characters in the story, Heliodorus. He was not only a main character, but a weird one too: he was a eunuch who had served at the imperial court and had made his way out of slavery to become the owner of a fleet of ships in the Eastern Mediterranean. Eunuchs (castrated males) were a major social group in the secular power structure. I remember doing research about eunuchs with a mixture of horror and fascination. They were useful because they couldn't reproduce and create sons to maintain power. They couldn't serve in the church hierarchy because eunuchs couldn't become priests. And yes, some of them guarded harems. In my story, the mysterious Heliodorus helps my female main character escape various perils, because she is rumored to have a copy of the Bible which has magic powers of prediction and healing.

Heliodorus was originally from a Central Asian tribe related to the Huns (a major enemy of the later Romans) and was sold into slavery and "fixed" in his childhood. I ended up being more fascinated by his character than the girl-on-the-run he rescued. In this portrait Heliodorus is wearing Byzantine court garb with Coptic embroidered designs.

Ink and watercolor on sketchbook page, 6" x 8", January 17-18, 1975.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Peets Table


Here I am at the coffeehouse again, drawing my unsuspecting neighbors. There is endless debate among me and my friends about which coffeehouse is better, Peet's, Amouri, Greenberry's, or the lavish "Cafe Expo." Starbucks, lowly but ubiquitous, gets no love from them. I will go anywhere in coffee-dom. I like Peet's because it has the walls of picture window glass through which I can watch the world. The world inside is good for people watching. This couple, who may be "in the family way," sip in front of the screen waiting for their new little app to be launched into the world.

Sepia brown tech pen on sketchbook page, 4" x 5", April 17, 2018.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Spring Buds at Brandeis


The buds are out at Brandeis University. Not that kind of bud, though there was plenty of wafting smoke to be had, and I never used a single wisp of it. These are tree buds, again done looking out my narrow tall neo-medieval dormitory window. They are all ready to leaf out and bloom. And behind the trees is the famous Castle, now demolished and intended for re-building. To think of all the things that didn't exist when I went to college...including the entire Harry Potter mythos and characters. When I did this image in my art/writing journal, I was already preparing to spend a year overseas for a traveling fellowship. I have it on good authority that Rome still exists, though I'm not sure about the rest of Europe or the British Isles.

Ink and watercolor on sketchbook page, 4 1/2" x 5 1/2", early May 1975.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Spring Visit to Aspen Dale Winery


I made a return visit with my friends to the wine paradise of Aspen Dale in hilly Delaplane, Virginia. We enjoyed sipping their delicious creations as well as snacks to pair with them. After the wine, there is drawing and I did this study of their barn and farm buildings. Note the spring color just starting on the trees in the background. The grass was bright green, and the weather was unusually warm for the season. People and their dogs were posed all about the property celebrating (not the dogs) with glassfuls. Aspen Dale wins my "Most Picturesque" category in my appreciation of wineries.

Sepia brown tech pen and colored pencil, finished in the studio with a bit of photoshop, April 14-15, 2018.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Graphic Cherry Blossoms


I'm using the "graphic" approach to my blossom picture again this year. "Graphic" means building the image with simple forms and restricted colors rather than making it "realistic." Flowers, fireworks, and the Washington Monument can be depicted with repetitive elements without using artistic illusion to make it look real. I heard fireworks but didn't see them. The famous Cherry Blossom Festival closes this weekend. My neighborhood has blooming cherry, crabapple, and redbud trees so I can enjoy the color right here without going downtown and enduring "cherry blossom congestion."

Photoshop, 7" x 9", April 15, 2018.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Star of Danger


Here's one from the later sets of Darkover images that were published as frontispieces in the long-gone Gregg Press collector's item series. This one is for "Star of Danger," one of author Bradley's earliest Darkover books. In the story, which was aimed at younger readers, the son of an Earth civil servant sent to Darkover makes friends with a local boy. The illustration depicts some of the different characters who appear in the tale.

Ink and photostat on illustration board, 7" x 10", April 1979. Click on image for larger view.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Colorforms 3: Yuri's Night, Red Star in Space


I did this one while listening to a recording of a concert performed in 2009 by my prog-rock ambient friends in a planetarium. The occasion was the commemoration of "Yuri's Night," or the orbital voyage of Yuri Gagarin, the first person to be launched into space and return safely. I am using the mid-century graphic style of "Colorforms," which is easily adapted to digital media. Gagarin's flight was in 1961, during the height of mid-century modern design, and the playable graphics of Colorforms arose during that era. The red star stands for the Soviet space program, which set Earthmen on the way to the moon. But of course "we" got there first. 

Photoshop, about 5" x 5", April 12, 2018.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Brandeis Twigs 1975


I found my sketch/daybook journal from 1975. This was the year I graduated from Brandeis University. This twiggy scene is the view from my dorm room. It is mid-April and there are buds on the twigs but no leaves at all. Behind all the twigs is a crenellated stone wall which is part of the famous "Castle," one of the very few buildings left from before the university campus was built. The "Castle" has been a classroom building, a dormitory, the site of "Cholmondeley's Coffee Shop," and a landmark. A large controversy erupted because Brandeis wanted to remove part or all of the Castle claiming it didn't meet current building codes. The Castle is "iconic" and the last link to the individualists and arty culture of the "old" Brandeis rather than the slick corporate university it has become in the last decades

You can read about this project here. I didn't live in the Castle, but near it.

It's kind of frustrating to see my illustrations and sketches from 43 years ago and see that they are more or less as well done as the ones I do now. I keep going anyway. I only got to draw small portions of the Castle. Most of it is gone now.

Ink and watercolor on sketchbook page, 5 1/2" x 5", April 1975.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

More Coffee in April


Just sit there and sip, and the world will come to you. The upper image is Peet's with the picture windows and the outdoor tables. The temperature is still too cold to sit outdoors. The world will come to the computer users and the coffee drinkers and the creative types putting together their next project.

The red drawing is done with one of my new plastic flexible point pens. It shows the Coffee Corner in my kitchen, with equipment to prepare the mind-altering brew.

Page is 5 1/2" x 8", tech pen and marker, April 10-11, 2018.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Hightstown NJ Country Club Ballroom


I used to make trips from the Metro-DC area to the Boston area more than once every year. The journey was too difficult to drive in one day so I stopped over in central New Jersey. One of the landmarks of my trip was the Hightstown Country Club Ballroom, which could be seen from the New Jersey Turnpike. Originally built at the turn of the 20th century, it became a community haven for dancing and alcohol-free socializing. It lasted as a traditional dance hall until just past the turn of the 21st, when the community changed too much to keep it going. I stopped at it in 2002 just before it was to be removed. I drew its picture and photographed it as well. By that time it was empty most of the time though there was still dancing one or two days a week. The next time I passed by it, it was gone. The space is now occupied by a small convention center (with a ballroom) and a hotel.

Sepia brown tech pen on sketchbook page, 7" x 5", June 17, 2002.

Monday, April 9, 2018

April Skies


We are still waiting for Nature to do its thing and open up all those buds. Some flowers have bloomed and the famous Cherry Blossoms are more or less on display. If we get some warm days it will be pollen time whether we want it or not. I pay attention and keep my colored pencils on hand for sky portraits. The spectacular storm cumulus clouds have not formed yet but I will depict them when they do. I want to provide my viewer(s) with as much fresh art as possible day by day.

Colored pencils and marker ink, 4 1/2" x 4", April 8, 2018.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

What I Saw: Counter-clockwise Doom


The Doomsday Clock is in the laundry room. Doom comes counter-clockwise, unless Someone restores the life of the world by turning the clock back the other way. Ancient mystical relief carvings mark the spot where my laundry is washed clean of its iniquities.

April 8, 2018.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

A coffee person at Peets


The afternoon of April 6 was spent at a Peet's Coffee with a friend, and I also did this drawing as I had promised myself I would be Productive no matter what so there it is. The woman with her computer either was unaware of the sketcher or decided to ignore me. Peets has comfy chairs for sitting and sipping but the artist sacrificed comfy for a good view. Just think of how many artists have portrayed the population and environment of cafe's and bars. You can't go wrong.

Sepia brown tech pen (not one of the newly acquired ones) on sketchbook page, about 5 1/2" x 5", April 6, 2018.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Two Byzantine Characters


These two are from my college-years Byzantine adventure story, which is still buried somewhere in one of my cabinets. It's not something I want to resurrect, but the illustrations are still not bad. The character on the left is Demetrius, a member of a private band of guardsmen; the one on the right is Heliodorus, a eunuch who had been a member of the imperial court. Demetrius is not missing a hand; the imaginary model moved.

They are drawn in a medieval-retro style with sepia brown ink in a pointy liquid ink pen that was my standard back then. The pen, called the Pelikan Graphos, had a well full of ink that worked like a regular dip pen feeding a sharp metal point. The Graphos was inconvenient because you had to keep filling it, and ink fell out of it. But it was flexible, unlike the Rapidograph tech pen point. Eventually I stopped using the Graphos and switched to the Rapidograph, and then to the Pitt tech pens I use nowadays. The Graphos is no longer made. (Art materials nostalgia.) But...clever those Japanese...I just bought a set of plastic flexible point pre-fab drawing  pens from Pentel, in different colors. Let's see how this new set performs.

Sepia brown ink on sketchbook page, 4 1/2" x 6", 1974.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Outraged Monks and Deryni Saint


Looking back into the 1980s again for me brings a flood of fan art. I drew a whole portfolio of Deryni fan art, some of them full page like this one. This illustration of a conclave of riled-up monks illustrates a moment in one of the "Camber" books when someone proposes the openly Deryni cleric for sainthood. Little do they know that the real live Camber is the tonsured priest at center right, in magical disguise. The other man with him is his son, the Deryni priest Joram.

Original drawing is ink on illustration board, 8 1/2" x 11", spring 1981. Click for a larger view.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Snow on Cherry Blossoms


This weather did not happen in my area, but it happened elsewhere. I have seen many an April snow in my earlier days. For imaginary weather, I present two faux-Japanese mini poems.

1.    Snow floating by cherry blossoms
            I cannot
       tell the difference

2.    Snow falling on cherry blossoms
            There is nothing unnatural
                  in Nature

Image is Photoshop, about 10" x 5", April 4, 2018.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Cape Cod Foliage


This may look like tropical foliage to you, but it's actually a sumac bush and other native flora on Massachusetts' Cape Cod. My family used to vacation "down the Cape," every summer in a different rental house. These houses were luxuriously maintained and had decks on which we could dine outdoors. The red railing is from one of those decks. I was able to spend some time with the folks during the '70s and '80s and enjoyed not only beaches and seafood dinners but lots of sketch and painting time. This is one of my leisurely views of just plain New England greenery in golden evening sunlight.

Watercolor, ink, and gouache on sketchbook page, 5" x 8", August 20, 1981. Click for a larger view.

Monday, April 2, 2018

K-20 Colorforms


Here I am returning to my virtual set of Colorforms this time with a network in the composition. This is in the "K" series of Photoshop improvisations, using the limits of color and shape from a basic "kit." The idea is to do your best using a limited amount of elements. Then you can add or subtract an item or change the algorithm used to create an effect. For instance the network of lines on this one will not appear on the next one. The colors and the shapes though will remain the same due to their esoteric symbolism. Modern Western esotericism connects these with mystical themes. For instance, a red triangle equals Fire, as it did in the alchemy of old. Air is Yellow, and Water is Blue, though these are not as often represented by circle and square. Wassily Kandinsky, my artistic inspiration in these "K" pieces, was seriously interested in esoteric culture and borrowed many ideas from it.

Photoshop, 10" x 7", April 2, 2018.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Fantasy Foursome


As you remember, I've done numerous pieces illustrating Marion Zimmer Bradley's tale of sex and magic, "The Forbidden Tower." This is not because I'm fond of the book, it's that other people are. This piece, in the ornate frame you recognize, is for the Gregg Press hardcover collector's item edition of the text, which was published in 1979. It illustrates the polyamorous consummation of the magical sex rite which empowered the participants to save their community with their magical abilities. An incense burner emits psychedelic vapors to enhance their perceptions and empathy. Above the romantic quartet is the crystalline tower and the cosmic vortex which symbolizes mystical attainment.

Black ink and printed frame on illustration board, 8 1/2" x 12", October 1978. Click for larger view.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

The Shadow in the Coffee house


I sketched this gent in a coffee house where he was very intently reading a paper item on the table. I tried to capture his features when he put his hand down. In my imagination he looked like the pulp action hero "The  Shadow" without his mask or broad-brimmed black hat. I don't think he knew that I was drawing him. I try to make the drawing as simple as possible because I don't have time in the real world to work on realism. The imaginary world pervades the world of mundane reality. "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows....."

Sepia brown tech pen on sketchbook page, about 2 1/2" x 4 1/2", March 30, 2018.

Friday, March 30, 2018

In Just-Spring


It's been Marchy all March, which is only to be expected I suppose. The famous uncapitalized poet e.e.cummings wrote a Paganizing song to Spring in his "In Just-Spring" which was probably a lot more shocking in his days when being a Pagan was inconceivable. Meanwhile the winds blow the clouds of Holy Week across the greening lawns and soon-to-flower trees. I have depicted it again here complete with the red maple flowers that are so sneeze-able. In Just-Spring is made with the beautiful grey colored pencils I've been raving about recently. Soon I'll be rooting in my colored pencil sets for....azalea pink!

Colored pencils and brown ink on sketchbook page, around 4" x 4", March 30, 2018.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Castle Edelweiss


I really like depicting castles. I can improvise a castle out of my imagination or I can select one out of my collection of castle images. Fortunately, just about every fantasy book I've ever read has a castle in it somewhere, so it makes illustration easier. If by some chance the author missed the chance to put one in a book, the artist can always make it up and the readers will love it anyway. This castle is probably on Darkover, judging from the two moons, and I named it "Edelweiss" after the famous mountain flower of Switzerland. It's one of an edition of sketches I did for a show at the long gone DarkoverCon.

Ink and colored pencils on brown paper, 7" x 10", fall 1996.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Cozy Fireplace


Here's yet another image from the "Architectural Art's" portfolio. This one is all my work, no one collaborated on it though I may have already had the outline for the piece. I wanted to give the scene a "historic" look as if it were really in an old house rather than made out of resin in a house built new in the 1990s. There would be a fire in this fireplace but it would burn gas, not wood as modern houses are not allowed by law to have wood-burning fireplaces, which are thought to cause air pollution.

Pencil and watercolor, about 3 1/2" x 3 1/2", 1990. Printed on textured  paper.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Colorforms 2


Back to my favorite insta-art, "Colorforms." The formula today is four of each shape except one white star. Four of each color, square black background. Surprisingly, this took more than five minutes to do. I wanted each color and shape to be where I wanted it to be. Each color had its own Photoshop layer, which is difficult to manage. Back in the 1980s ancient of days, when the crickets were chirping in the sultry nights of Cambridge, Massachusetts, I cut up painted paper ("Color-aid") and stuck it with glue on the black background. I had no idea I'd be doing that with digital media. 

Photoshop, 5" x 5", March 27, 2018.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Woodsy Allegorical Magician


This little picture has been floating about my screen and archive for quite a while. It was originally a male allegorical figure for the Month of November but I didn't think it was seasonal enough. It ended up being fan art somewhere. As it is I used it as practice for coloring drawings in Photoshop. My first attempt at that didn't work out but this one's better. The ink lines are still too heavy in my opinion but hey, this was a long time ago. Oh, you're not supposed to say "hey," it's vulgar. Is it? Must get back to the inks I guess, even if they're digital.

"Mage of November" is originally black ink on illustration board, about 3 1/2" x 5", October 1984. Colored in Photoshop.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Neo-Classical Door


This is from the same "Architectural Art" portfolio that you've seen recently here. In Virginia and Maryland, and DC as well, you have to build new buildings that look exactly like the old ones. So the area is filled with neo-colonial residences that have a bit of the old look but are actually mass-produced. This door frame, for instance, would have been carved out of wood and painted white, but it is actually molded out of a plastic resin called "fypon." Fypon doesn't decay like wood and you don't have to paint it. The door itself may be real wood, or it might be a synthetic too. Is your house real or unreal? Classical or neo-classical? Historic or imitation? Only the garden plants are real.

Printed on textured paper, original in colored pencils, 2" x 3", 1990.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Giant Foods Fruit Section


It's difficult to make a drawing in a store, especially a supermarket. There is no place to sit or brace your sketchbook, and people are moving around you all the time so you can't draw them  or the displays easily. I somehow managed this one in the nearby Giant Foods many years ago. Notice the film developing kiosk, from before the era of digital photography. I must have blogged this drawing sometime in the past but I can't find it so I'll consider it another vintage image from sixteen years ago. If I drew it yesterday it wouldn't be too different, except for the Giant logo.

Sepia brown tech pen on sketchbook page, 4 1/2" x 7", February 1, 2002. Click on image for a larger view.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Thirty-two Shades of Gray


Here is the chart of gray pencil color samples that I was writing about. It's kind of off kilter but the color reproduction is good enough. A lot of different brands are represented here, with the most being Prismacolors. I could get extensively geeky about describing the different qualities that go with each brand but I may have done this already. Anyway the two major ones are Prismacolors and their rivals from Blick Studio. These colors are rare and not easy to find. They are almost never included in basic color sets although Blick in its understanding of artists has created an all-grey set ready to go. You can find some of these colored pencils at retail art stores, which are an endangered breed. I have collected these over the years and some of them, like the wonderful "Fell Mist" produced by Derwent pencils, will never appear again. With Prismacolors you get three lines of grays, cool gray for seas and clouds, warm gray for stone and city, and brownish French Gray for earth and trees. (What's so French about brownish gray?) These pencils are perfect for landscapes. They are not opaque and only the thickest ones will cover over what you've drawn or are coloring in, so you can use them in all sorts of blends. And they are perfect for the equinox colors we have at the beginning of spring, just before the environment erupts with leaves in the brilliant pencil color of "green bice," which I have on order.

Colored pencils on sketchbook page, 9" x 12". March 2018. You are welcome to select and download this chart for your own coloring reference.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Winter On the Equinox


On the first day of Spring, the Persian New Year, it snowed here in my local area and over the American Northeast. Here there wasn't much snow, only a few inches, but it stuck to the tree branches and ground, confusing robins looking for worms. It was quite decorative as long as you didn't have to go out in it. 

This winter scene, which looks abstract, is viewed out my window. I used my rare and artistical-mystical grey colored pencils for most of this. I have spent quite a while making a sample color chart to give me a guide to the many shades of gray. I wanted to show this chart here on the By-Product but I got into some sort of file labeling problem and it wouldn't upload. I'll try again in a while.

"Winter Forest" is colored pencils, 4" x 4 1/2", March 21, 2018.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

The Ideal Room


Here's another example of the illustrations I did for "The Architectural Art" when I worked there. As I explained earlier, these pictures were group efforts and each person did a separate job. In this case, I was handed the line art design which was already on paper, and I copied it and did the color rendering. The furniture was already there but I chose the color schemes. I like the green quilt on the bed and the green curtains to match. I wanted a warm, inviting look for a room that could be in an upscale hotel or bed 'n' breakfast. It isn't perfect like a computer rendering, but I wanted a more "natural" look. This illustration was used as a sample and was not an image of an actual room.

Original image is watercolor over printed drawing, about 9" x 4", 1990. Printed on textured paper. Click on image for a larger view.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

10 years of By-Products!


Here we are, now blogging for 10 years and still going, after more than 3,000 posts. I don't want to compare myself to the "Iron Man" Cal Ripken, but I will say that very few blogs last for 10 years. There have been times when I have thought of quitting but decided against it. When I run out of vintage art to post, what happens then? If I go to a one-in-two days or one-in-three days posting schedule, will I just get lazier and drop it altogether? I can't predict. I like to keep drawing no matter how trivial so don't drop out folks. Thanks for your friendship and faithfulness.

Grayscale markers on sketchbook page, something by something, March something, 2008-2018 and more to come I hope. 

Monday, March 19, 2018

What I Saw: Modernist Laundry


A view of laundry resolves from randomness to expressive color, accented by an Oriental rug background. You can see Kandinsky in his underwear experiencing the process of color movement and changes in contrast. Interior views of domestic necessities work through the presence of a perplexing inhabitant whose taste in color resembles that of a child's playroom. Once the folding and sorting are done an idea of order reappears but only temporarily, as the  ritual impurity of unwashed clothing returns.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Winding Road Meadow


It looks like winter, feels cold like winter, and there seems to be no sign of Spring even though earlier this year there was a bit of unusually warm weather. At Winding Road Cellars you get both wine and weather. I sat drawing from inside and sipping their delicious Cabernet Franc. These gnarly trees and golden meadow are the view from the wine lodge. I did this on my iPad which I don't use very much these days. It works, sort of, but it is definitely obsolete after more than 4 years of service and I'm wondering, should I shell out the bucks and get a new one when all I do with it is draw. The drawings are OK and I like the portability so perhaps I should have a conversation with one of the perky young things at the Apple Store.

"ArtStudio" on iPad, about 6" x 7", March 17th, 2018.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Sea of Space


I have done countless space and astronomical pictures, usually in "editions" and series which I took to conventions and sold at low prices. I was inspired by the space art of those days, which was itself inspired by ground-based telescopes yielding blurry, poorly detailed images. This was, most importantly, pre-Hubble. 

Looking back at my thirty years of space art, sprayed on with an airbrush, I can see that it, like other space art of its day, is out of date. Once the space telescopes went up, and once the "adaptive optics" of ground-based telescopes were deployed, as well as digital photography, you got the most amazing fields of details never before seen. With all those almost biomorphic clouds of dust and gas, illuminated by bright young stars, who needed my old airbrush? 

Interestingly, my more abstract, "graphic"-looking space pieces survived better artistically. This one, a simplified dwarf planet or moon above a nebula, resembles some of the images of Saturn and its moons produced by the Cassini space probe. Artists are still producing space pictures, making realities out of digital information rather than acrylic paint.

"Sea of Space," acrylic on black illustration board, 7" x 10", October 1986.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Nineteenth Century Fan Concept Art


Here's another of my Darkover fan story title pages. This time I tried setting the story not in the faux-Renaissance of the Red Sun but in an equally faux late 19th century. It gave me the chance to render an 1880s-style big dress, and I also had fun with caricature faces such as the two gentlemen at right. I forget what this story was about but from my records this piece was done when I was about to quit doing fan art for pennies and try to make myself a "real" career, which had, looking back, mixed outcomes at best.

Original art is ink on illustration board, 8 1/2" x 11", April 1987.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Gray Outlook

I ordered new colored pencils and they arrived on March 14. The ones that I most anticipated were a collected set of grayscale values as well as different tints of gray, such as bluish "steel gray" or brownish warm gray. You could build a city with these colors, or you could tour through a forest which is still wintry twigs. I will make a color chart for these but this sketch above tries out all of the new colors in an urban-inspired patchwork pattern. The bright yellowish green at the center signifies the coming of spring which despite the snowy heaps and cold windy blasts is on its way.

Colored pencils on sketchbook page, 3 1/2" x 5 1/2", March 14, 2018.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Science Fantasy Bookstore Graphic


As I've mentioned many times in this Blog and elsewhere, my career as a fantasy and science fiction artist started here at the "Science Fantasy Bookstore" in Cambridge, Mass. My first real art patron was Bruce Robert "Spike" MacPhee, the owner and operator of the bookstore. As long as I lived in Cambridge, I knew I'd have friends - and patronage - at this place. I composed many graphics for Spike's store, designs for T-shirts, plastic book bags, and other branded material. This one, which has problems due to the small unreadable writing at the bottom right, features "our place in the Galaxy." Because of the type problem, this design was never used. Spike MacPhee is still alive and active especially in the virtual world of "Second Life," as "Paradox Olbers."

Original drawing in ink with photostat type glued in, about 8" x 10", July 1986.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Architectural Art Portfolio: Gable


In  my frenzy to survey my archival holdings, I found these portfolio samples from when I was working at "The Architectural Art." That was a commercial art company that produced renderings and house portraits for the real estate market. They employed "perspectivists", including me, to create these, using the blueprints as guide. Most of these drawings and paintings were for the upscale and luxury sector, as it was the era of "McMansions." The decorative gable that you see here was done in colored pencil which was not our usual medium. Also, the art here is not all mine. We worked as a team on the illustrations so someone did the windows, someone else did the roof and brick veneer, and another someone did the landscaping, which isn't seen here. I think I did the gable and the roof.

I worked with this group for two years, 1988-1990. I should have stayed but I was unhappy toiling on the same thing over and over again with the pressure to produce work quickly. I did freelance work for them after 1990. Nowadays all architectural illustration is done on a computer but I have never learned that super-realistic technique. Every so often I do a house or landscape portrait (as well as vineyard and wine lodge art) so I am still an old-fashioned perspectivist.

Colored pencils, about 3 1/2" x 4 1/2", 1990.

Monday, March 12, 2018

642 the moon


"642's" prompt was really basic: "The moon." As if no one had ever done a picture of our Moon before. "That's one small artwork for man, one 20-minute doodle for mankind." But I thought not of moon landings but a moon dog, a stubby-legged pooch of some sort whose job is to waddle around the house and garden and keep you company. Also, there was a famous eccentric composer who lived as a street person in New York, and he was "Moondog" as  well.  I'm a cat lover myself but I can make a few exceptions for dogmoons.

Black marker and tech pen ink on sketchbook page, 3 1/2" x 4 1/2", March 11, 2018.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Composer's Birthday


My father, composer Harold Shapero, celebrated his 87th birthday in 2007. It's already been a while, but he passed away in 2013. His birthday honors at 87 included a concert at which he performed some of his own music. This is a sketch from that concert. You can see my annotations on the sketch: where, when, and who. The bald guy at the keyboard is my father. I still have the sheet music of what he played that afternoon.

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 8" x 5", April 29, 2007.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Pretty Castle


When I was still doing the convention circuit I would make an "edition" of small originals to sell there. They were no bigger than 7" x 10" and would be mostly watercolor and ink. Since I like to depict architecture, I would usually do an architectural theme although costumed people or horses and knights were another favorite. These little pix took only a small amount of time to do and always sold to collectors. I tried to make them as pretty as possible, especially castles, and I left the monsters and the fantasy pin-up babes to other artists. This, titled "Dawn Ramparts," is one that I did for a show called "Magic Carpet Con" in north Georgia (USA) where Marion Zimmer Bradley was the guest of honor. So I did "Darkover-ish" art and did well with the collectors down south. The convention faded away after the passing of Marion, but the images remain.

Watercolor on illustration board, 7" x 10", April 1995.

Friday, March 9, 2018

The Tube in the Room


I acquired this vacuum cleaner around year 2002 and it is still working fine. This is probably because I am so lazy I don't use it very much. Today I used it on the cobwebs but they were stronger than the tube and wouldn't relent, don't know why. What you see here is a drawing of the device as it is sitting in my cobwebbed room. I'll try again later. It's good on dust and particles. I'm supposed to work hard on house cleaning but all I really want to do is hire someone else to do it for me. The tube is not sucking up a hapless towel, it is just covered by it. Gotta find the plug, if you don't plug it in, it won't go. My housekeeping sucks worse than this machine.

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, about 5 1/2" x 3 1/2", March 9, 2018.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Alaric Morgan Deryni portrait


Here's another portrait from the Deryni Portfolio of 1981. This blond stalwart is Alaric Morgan, author Katherine Kurtz's heroic knight and protector of the royal family. He swashbuckles his way through many a book, and in "Childe Morgan," the most recent Deryni tale published, shows his valor (and magical powers) even as a boy of fourteen. He appears in so many Deryni adventures that I sometimes think that he is the real hero of the books and not the young king he protects.

Original art is black ink on illustration board, just now colored in Photoshop, about 2" x 3", fall 1981.