Sunday, September 30, 2018
"Wine Saturday" brought the Wine Team to the Philip Carter Winery in Hume, Virginia. The weather was splendid and the wine was tasty. We enjoyed the hospitality of their tasting room as I did my usual drawing. Philip Carter's winery was the first winery I made a drawing from. That was in 2008 and I certainly have come a long way from one winery depicted to more than fifty here in Northern Virginia alone. This is one of my sepia monochrome drawings done on site but I intend to finish this in the studio with Photoshop coloring.
Sepia Pitt tech pen on sketchbook page, 5" x 7", September 29, 2018.
Saturday, September 29, 2018
Around this time of year you can count on seeing the weather change. The rain comes in with blustery winds and dark grey skies. Yellow is replacing green with bursts of red leaves here and there. Here I am experimenting with autumn colors without the cliche pumpkins and cornstalks. At the vineyards the vines are shedding leaves and the grapes are all gone. Autumn is my least favorite season but if you didn't have it, there would be no grape and wine harvest.
Photoshop sketch, 6" x 7", September 29, 2018.
Friday, September 28, 2018
All my illustrations are highly precise, especially when drawn with a technical pen. For once though, way back in my Byzantine period, I experimented with brush drawing, a wide "art" point, and watercolor to make a more impressionistic image of the character Heliodorus and his environment. You can see studies of the character in different positions, as well as the cypress trees which are so typical of the Mediterranean area. I don't think I've ever done this type of illustration again.
Ink and watercolor on sketchbook page, 6" x 9", 1974.
Thursday, September 27, 2018
This drawing is not well-preserved, but it is the only drawing I made in Venice as I was making my way up towards Central Europe. I was on the way to Salzburg, Austria for a convention-style meeting of fellowship holders, of which I was one. Each year the IBM-sponsored Watson Fellowship financed the way of a few dozen lucky American college graduates on their travels, and that was how I managed my voyages.
The location is out the window of a bed-and-breakfast on the Grand Canal. I drew it using a rather light, hard pencil on textured watercolor paper so I didn't get a good solid drawing. However I did all right with the architecture, which is my specialty. You can see what I think are the frameworks for vendors' stands on the piazza at the canal bank.
I did daring travels in that fellowship year that I would never do today. The world is a different place and I don't have a grant. I still have most of the drawings and watercolors.
Pencil on watercolor paper, 7" x 9", spring 1976.
Wednesday, September 26, 2018
And, here's my "re-mix" of the Autumn Equinox piece I created just a few days ago. This is what it looks like with hand-done rather than digital colors. Using water media you just can't get away from texture. And my hand-done letters are far from perfect. Once I've worked with digital, I can't go back to the wooden look of hand coloring. I threw a bit of Photoshop at it anyway because I couldn't stand any color outside of the proverbial lines.
Ink, water-based markers, and a bit of Photoshop, 4 1/2" x 2 1/2", September 26, 2018.
Tuesday, September 25, 2018
I did a lot of art-historical and costume research for my Byzantine tale. These carved stone church interiors are typical of the period. You can see the Greek designs on the pillars and benches. In the center is a little altar and behind it is the throne where the Bishop would sit as he presided over ceremonies.
This drawing was saved among my other European sketches from 1975-76 but other than a note that says that the pulpit was in Thessalonika, Greece, there's no information about where the altar chapel was. I didn't visit Thessalonika and have never been there. I think I copied all the items on this page from pictures in a book, probably at the library of the American Academy in Rome.
Pencil on loose sketchbook page, 7" x 10", 1975-76. Click for a larger view.
Monday, September 24, 2018
When I do these Geometrika I am just doing sketches. They are not necessarily destined to be made into Fine Art Paintings. I could make some of them into finalized works of Art using "traditional" painting with acrylic paint on a board, but no one is rushing to commission any so I'm fine with just making them tiny pieces colored in digitally or with markers. If I made Real Paintings I would be stuck with them taking up space which I have already stuffed full of art and books and the family archives and everything else. I learned my lesson when I had to give away a houseful of beautiful but big and cumbersome paintings by my mother. People like my Geometrika and I often wonder whether I should paint some up anyway and try to re-start a Fine Art Career but at this point I don't have the energy. Also, the people who would buy my art don't have any room in their homes either. So enjoy this digital rendering and expect a re-mix in markers in a day or two.
Marker linework digitally colored in Photoshop, 4 1/2" x 2 1/2", September 24, 2018.
Sunday, September 23, 2018
Many of the apartment residences you can visit in Rome are so old that they very well may date back to ancient Roman times. The urban Romans lived in what were called "insulae" ("islands") with apartments on each floor, just the way they do now. This design continued into the twentieth century, producing stacked apartment blocks with balconies and terraces on two sides and an inner atrium or court. The residences you see here are twentieth century luxury apartments which now probably cost a million euros if not more than a million.
This watercolor drawing of mine is not in good shape and I tried my best to correct the fading watercolor and colored pencils. The color enhancement led to greyish areas on the edges which I couldn't correct without destroying some of the design. I don't mind; just let me stay on that top floor.
Watercolor and pencil on Fabriano paper, 14" x 11", 1976. You are invited to click on the image for a larger view.
Saturday, September 22, 2018
Back in the old days of my youth, that is the 1960s, my family had rich friends who were super-kind to us and invited us to stay with them in their fancy New York apartment and their summer resort in Italy. The Italian resort was situated on a hillside by the Mediterranean and the luxury was unforgettable. You could dine day or night on a terrace looking over this lovely view. Naturally I had my sketchbook and my colored pencils with me and I drew this view of the hillside. I didn't capture it all because at the time I was drawing, the hillside was covered with mist which obscured much of the terrain.
I waited until the mist had dissipated and then made another, more complete drawing.
Both these drawings have had digital restoration done for them especially this lower one as the colors of sky and vegetation had faded. The resort still exists and is still in operation... I wish I could go back there.
Both drawings colored pencil, about 8 1/2" x 4", dated June 27, 1969, 2:30 PM.
Friday, September 21, 2018
Here's another background for the wine picture book in progress. Summer skies like this are now moving into fall. There will be art in the center of this composition but I haven't decided what it will be. See the color at the top? It's "cool gray" and I love it. Cool Gray is one of the most difficult colors to simulate in any medium.
Photoshop, 8 1/2" x 11", September 21, 2018.
Thursday, September 20, 2018
As summer ends (sigh) I'm working on what I hope will be my next Virginia wine picture book, "Virginia Under Vine." This border is meant to look like straw and also vines that are done for the year. I can't make it too contrasty because the pictures and text graphics need to show up. I don't know which vineyard will go on this page, probably more than one using this page with a bit of modification.
Photoshop, 8 1/2" x 11", September 20, 2018. This was done on my main computer but I am planning to fire up the Cintiq (remember that?) for more border and graphics creation.
Wednesday, September 19, 2018
This is the companion drawing to yesterday's grand column. Countless artists have depicted the interior of the Pantheon, and a similarly countless number of civic architects have incorporated the Pantheon's interior into government and public arts buildings. The interior of the U.S. Capitol looks a lot like this one. Over the millennia the lavish bronze and marble interior has been replaced and the edifice has been repaired many times. The building survived because it was re-dedicated to Christianity rather than the paganism that inspired the Pantheon.
I sat on an interior stone slab to draw this, and it took me more than two hours to draw just this small sketch. Some Pantheon views distort the interior so that it looks like it was done with a "fish-eye" lens. I decided not to draw the majestic coffered dome and concentrate on the lower levels, which gave me a more "realistic" view. There are Catholic Christian paintings and decorations on the lower walls but they are hard to see.
Pelikan "Special Brown" ink in Rapidograph tech pen, 9" x 7", spring 1976. Recommended click on image to see detail.
Tuesday, September 18, 2018
This drawing of the Roman Pantheon, and its companion of the Pantheon's interior, are in my opinion the best drawings I've ever done, at least so far. I had ideal conditions to draw and did both on the same day. This one depicts the ornate, magnificent capital of one of the columns in the portico. The circular Roman Pantheon, designed by the architect emperor Hadrian, is one of humanity's greatest treasures and it has been standing for almost 2000 years! You cannot come to Rome and not visit it.
More ideal conditions involved my pen and paper. In 1976, just a couple of months before I was to leave Rome, I discovered the needle-pointed Rapidograph drawing pen. I could now draw on-site without having to use ink from a bottle. It was better than the earlier Pelikan Graphos which dropped ink. The Rapidograph used a "Special Brown" ink made just for it. Together with a thick, somewhat absorbent sketchbook paper, I could get a full page of details with a clear, "antique" line. (I still have this Rapidograph pen but I've long since replaced it with the much more portable Pitt sepia drawing pen.)
I sat on a cold stone seat to do this column and it took me at least an hour to do it. I didn't use a ruler or any other straight-edge. When I was done I picked up my sketchbook and went inside the Pantheon to continue drawing.
Pelikan "Special Brown" drawing ink with Rapidograph tech pen on sketchbook page, 6" x 9", spring 1976.
Monday, September 17, 2018
Saint John Chrysostom (the "Golden Mouth") was one of the most important figures of the early Byzantine church. He was a famous preacher, an agitator for social justice, and a political contender against the extravagance and corruption of his day. His sermons are still recited and read by devotees in the Orthodox Church. You can read more about him in this Wikipedia article. If you read it you will see that from our modern perspective, some of John's preaching would be considered distasteful or even terrible. But in those days, things were different.
Bishop John, archbishop of Constantinople, fought it out with the bishop of Alexandria, Egypt as to who would be the leader of the Eastern Church. At the time I set my Byzantine tale, the conflict between these two had sent the city into riots and religious-political unrest. John appears briefly, to condemn our heroine for disobedience and even witchcraft. She barely gets away from Constantinople alive, rescued by Heliodorus the eunuch and the Philosopher.
Watercolor and ink on sketchbook page, 3 1/2" x 7 1/2", April 1975.
Sunday, September 16, 2018
You can never draw too many coffee house people. Everyone draws them a little differently. My take on the subject involves geometric forms arrayed in perspective. The drink cup in the foreground is not mine. I found it on the table so I just left it there for art composition purposes. The young lady at the computer didn't know she was being depicted. At one point she popped up out of her chair and rushed out of the room, leaving her computer unattended for quite a while. That shows either trust in a society where someone would not immediately snatch or vandalize an unattended computer..., or foolishness regarding computer security. I didn't touch it, just drew background until she came back.
Sepia brown tech pen on sketchbook page, 4 1/2" x 5 1/2", September 15, 2018.
Saturday, September 15, 2018
The leaves are still on the trees, but the Autumn Equinox will soon be here, along withits colorful fruit and vegetable manifestations. I'll take a fruit manifestation myself. I choose the reddest nectarine and apple, colors that lure beings to eat the fruit of the equinox of good and evil. The sky, though, is full of soft clouds that will soon migrate away. I am not a seasonal person. The pink clouds of autumn fill me with dread, a dread that I can't eat.
Markers and colored pencil on sketchbook page with a bit of Photoshop, 4 1/2" x 7", September 15, 2018.
Friday, September 14, 2018
Yes, it's another illustration from my Byzantine tale. Some of the action in the book takes place in Egypt, where factions of the pious and the fanatical clashed in the desert and the city. Here you see Taurinus the priest, who has appeared before here, in a desert setting, accompanying an elderly bishop and his monastic attendant. The bishop pulls his beard in perplexity as he cannot figure out which militant group they are supposed to meet with. The monk will tell them which crew they will meet. Each one has a different history, and a different theological ideology, and the monk belongs to one of them.
Ink, watercolor, and gouache on sketchbook page, 5 1/2" x 9", 1974. Click for larger view.
Thursday, September 13, 2018
Here's the last of three versions of the Geometrikon Supercar that I've been working with. The bright cobalt blue is the color of my real car, a Honda Civic, and this abstractified vehicle has a Honda logo on the front end. The colors are mainly markers but I found to my pleasant surprise that markers mix well on the page with colored pencils, thus giving me lots of texture to blend and work with.
Markers and colored pencil, 7 1/2" x 4", September 12, 2018.
Wednesday, September 12, 2018
Jan Sandberg was one of my best friends at Brandeis. She was two class years behind me but we hung out as if there was no difference. Jan wanted to be a writer as I did. She was from Buffalo, New York and talked fondly of the place. I did her portrait in my small sketchbook with the brick of a Brandeis dorm in the background. After graduation we went our separate ways. At one point we re-connected online and she said she had published some writing. But I have not heard from her since then. Google yourself, Facebook too, Jan....remember me?
Watercolor and colored pencil on sketchbook page, 5 1/2" x 5", 1974.
Tuesday, September 11, 2018
Back in 410 AD, here's another portrait of Heliodorus, the eunuch from the Byzantine court. I did a lot of renderings of him, because I was fascinated by him. Why was I fascinated by a eunuch (a male castrated in his youth)? Isn't that gross and weird? I liked Heliodorus because he was so weird. There really was a "Byzantine" style of politics and he knew it well. I also admired him because he had been able to climb up the political ladder from a mutilated slave to buying his freedom and making a fortune in shipping. I'm not the only one to be fascinated by eunuchs. Anne Rice, the author of vampire fame, wrote a book called "Cry to Heaven," about a castrato singer in the music world of the eighteenth century. She did a whole lot more research than I did.
Watercolor and ink on sketchbook page, 5 1/2" x 9", spring 1974. Click for larger view.
Monday, September 10, 2018
This is the Geometrikon that you saw in wire-frame just a couple of days ago. The magic of Photoshop enables me to fill in areas of the drawing with flat color panels. Then I can add extra colors or textures into the panels. It "colors" for you, and fills in the areas automatically. There are more sophisticated ways to do this - my drawing here is only one layer and I can't change it once I start. I'm OK with that, just as if I were using watercolor or gouache. And I had plenty of fun with the colors. This piece is inspired by 1950s fantasy rocket cars and concept vehicles. Supercar!
Photoshop on ink wireframe drawing, 7 1/2" x 4", September 10, 2018.
Sunday, September 9, 2018
Here's another view of our male art model, this time standing. He was the tall guy who barely fit onto the page. This time I switched media. I first drew him from life with very light pencil lines. Then I brought the sketch back into my studio (college dorm room) and inked it in with sepia ink. I used my flexible Pelikan Graphos drawing fountain pen which I have discussed here in earlier posts. I wanted the drawing to look like those famous old Renaissance ink drawings done in sepia tone. When the inking was done I erased the pencil lines.
Sepia ink on sketchbook page, 5" x 8 1/2", some adjustments in Photoshop, 1974. Click on the image for a closer view.
Saturday, September 8, 2018
This is how I start a Geometrikon. I get out my plastic line templates and draw some lines with my Pitt drawing tech pen. Then I draw more lines to connect the ones I already have. Some of them are with a ruler, others with a circle or curve template. I add in some motifs from 1950s automotive design and bring it to the scanner. Once I have scanned the wireframe drawing from my sketchbook, I can correct it as I wish. I have a color scheme planned and that's for the next post.
Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 7 1/2" x 3 1/2", September 8, 2018.
Friday, September 7, 2018
You don't often see male art models these days, at least I didn't when I belonged to my mother's art club in the elegant upper room of the Episcopal church in Newton, Mass. I guess most male models were embarrassed to pose nude in front of a group of mostly female artists. Well, this one wasn't. I have numerous drawings of him from our posing session. He was a big guy, well over six feet tall, and sometimes I didn't fit the whole figure onto my page. He also dispelled the notion I used to believe, that a long tall guy would be similarly endowed in the private department. But I guess not. It looks like his head is about to fall off, bent like it is, but honest, that's his neck not broken.
I drew countless models of both sexes and would have drawn more if I had gone to art school instead of college. My parents weren't against it, but I also wanted to study Latin and Greek classics and I regarded art school and artists as "stupid." I don't think either of those choices were altogether good but now 44 years later I wish I had gone to art school. Boston University's art school was the best and stressed figure drawing.
Watercolor and ink on sketchbook page, 9" x 4 1/2", 1974.
Thursday, September 6, 2018
There is an uproar in the land, as we are forced day after day to look at the painted face of the insane Big Brother. The world of politics has been replaced, deliberately and ambitiously, with the games and social brutality of "reality" TV shows, wrestling "drama," and well-endowed babes. That is his power and his expertise! And we eat it up! We love playing the game, what will happen next, what will be the next outrage from the steaming outrage factory? Are you paying attention? Good! Don't look at what has happened elsewhere. It's all a game, and HE is the Dungeon Master.
This little scene takes place in a Peet's Coffee Shop. There is a canvas bag stuffed with craft items, a cup of coffee, and a brave resister making demonstration slogan posters on the sturdy coffee table. The resistor's hand is at left, coloring in a poster which might catch the eye of a newspaper or TV photographer, or even a passing Senator. The work is small, but every little increment counts. And if you are an American, please vote in the upcoming election. Don't play the game. Vote.
Sepia tech pen on sketchbook page, 5" x 5", September 6, 2018.
Wednesday, September 5, 2018
When I went to Rome and other parts of Europe on my fellowship year 1975-1976, I also went to Egypt. There were some Egyptian scenes and people in the book I was writing so I was justified in going there. I stayed mostly in Cairo and of course I visited the Egyptian Museum where the treasure of King Tut-ankh-Amon was on display. These drawings were done right there at the museum where I concentrated on design examples with my notes about color. My medium, pencil, was unusual as I usually drew in ink. On my travels for some reason I had a sheaf of unbound papers as my sketchbook rather than the spiral-bound kind. I did a lot of drawings in the museum. Most of them are somewhat faded but I think you can see what I was sketching.
Pencil on sketchbook sheet, 7 1/2" x 11", August 1975. Click on image for larger view.
Tuesday, September 4, 2018
You've seen a lot from me illustrating the early 20th century fantasy author Marie Corelli (1860-1925). Here's another one. This depicts the emerald pillars that lined the lavish throne room of Lysia the snake-priestess, whom you may have seen a few postings ago. Corelli describes this throne room as being a combination of Roman and Babylonian, probably inspired by historical fantasy films such as D.W. Griffith's "Intolerance" as well as opera and theater productions all over Europe and Britain. Corelli's architectural fantasies thrilled me and I couldn't get enough of it. I even chose to bring my Corelli book and art stuff to Rome with me (where I would be spending 1975-76 on a fellowship grant) so I could be inspired by imperial Roman buildings and decorations. At the American Academy in Rome I discussed Corelli's throne room with an architect. Corelli's pillars were supposedly made from transparent glass or emerald, and yet managed to bear the weight of the roof. The architect said that glass, let alone emerald, could not bear weight so I would have to fake it by putting the real weight-bearing wall behind the pillars which were independent of the structure and thus bore no weight at all. The whole structure was based on the Pantheon in Rome, designed by the architect emperor Hadrian.
Green ink and watercolor on sketchbook page, 4" x 5", April 1974.
Monday, September 3, 2018
Many Virginia wineries are situated in the Shenandoah Valley and other places on or near the famous Blue Ridge mountains. The best vineyards are on slopes, and over the last decades pastures and tobacco farms have given way to vines. This little scene depicts the majestic skies of Virginia over those blue mountains and a vineyard on the hill. The glass contains Cabernet Franc wine, the official red grape of Virginia. This image will go into my second winery art book, "Virginia Under Vine."
Colored pencils and sepia tech pen on sketchbook page, 5" x 5", September 2, 2018.
Sunday, September 2, 2018
This sultry Byzantine hero, a seagoing warrior named Demetrius, was introduced as a love interest for runaway Aurelia, but despite peril and beauty, she just didn't go for him. She had a spiritual quest on her mind, not dalliance or earthly love. That bit there wouldn't succeed as a proper "Young Adult" device. All the Young Adult stories I've read have at least some romantic or erotic elements. Nobody in the 21st century wants to read about a heroine that rejects the Handsome Hero in favor of an unearthly icon. That was one of the main reasons why I never finished the book. It would have been fine in the fifth century AD, when this tale was set.
Ink and watercolor on sketchbook page, 4 1/2" x 7", February 1975.
Saturday, September 1, 2018
The weather's changing, to my regret, and it has been a thundery day and night as September comes in. I see that dreadful Number One on my wall calendar and think it won't be too long before I stuff myself into my shabby black jacket again until May. I lost most of my summer this year to my medical ordeal and I just want to put it behind me so I can begin working on my usual fare, wine barrels and tables set with cheese and Cabernet. Or geometrika. The Photoshop doodle today is a portrait of a moment of light.
Photoshop, 10" x 7", September 1, 2018.