Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Phoenix Chicken

A chicken is re-born as a phoenix on the grill, in my latest ad for Trader Joe's. Acrylic markers on black-painted masonite, about 6 inches by 14 inches. Is the chicken now immortal? If you eat a phoenix, do you become immortal too? Perhaps, with the qualification that every so often, you have to burn yourself up before you can live again. 

Monday, September 29, 2008

Watch where you put that hand

In the spirit of Dodson's conglomerations and combinations, here are Hogarth's guys having a go at acrobatics. Well, I think it is only one guy, with many drawings of him, because all the Hogarth guys look alike. Some of these are not Hogarths but copies from musclebuilder pictures. I knew those would finally come in handy when it was time for me to learn anatomy. Today I learned where the coracobrachialis muscle is. It's in the armpit, clearly shown in the arm pointing upwards to the right. I once lifted weights for a while and tried to get muscles, but I didn't have any instruction so I just ended up pulling things and getting hurt, so I stopped. 

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Iconic Cappuccino

Have you noticed the number one buzzword for 2008? It is "Iconic." You cannot read an article without encountering this word. Journalists love it the way they love "A Perfect Storm." Iconic images, movie stars, buildings, products, ads, computers, logos, and, uh, icons. Here's something iconic for you. This is a sign that I just produced for a local pastry and coffee shop, Natalia's Elegant Creations. It will go in the windows of the shop, right under the gold brocade curtain swags. They served me a perfect storm of a cappuccino, so that I could capture its iconic quality in this sign. The sign is painted with spray paint, acrylic, and acrylic markers, and is about 6 feet long by 2 ft high.

When I brought it in, I found to my dismay that the window I was to put it in was 8 inches less wide than the sign. I had neglected to properly measure the window. Now I will have to carefully remove about 8 inches of the sign, without cutting too much into the design. Therefore "iconic" will become merely "conic," after I selflessly remove the "I." 

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Dodson Conglomeration

This Dodson design exercise required me to draw a whole lot of unrelated objects on the same page and make a conglomeration pattern out of them. I was asked to draw them at different times and places. So this required more time than the usual Dodson. It's colored in Photoshop.
The license plate on the black Volvo says "GOP SUX." I am amazed that the owner got that through the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicle censors.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Muscle Drawings

I'm studying arm muscles and foreshortening from Master Hogarth's book. The figures on the left are adapted from Hogarth. The muscley guy on the right is not from Hogarth, he is from a bodybuilding magazine. Bodybuilder pictures are a good way to learn anatomy, exaggerated as they are. 

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Meeting Sketches

I did these sketches at a general management/employee meeting at my workplace. Note the (full) case of our famous house wine "Charles Shaw," used as a seat. I was sitting on one too. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


This is one of a series of illustrations I did for the long-defunct AMAZING STORIES magazine. It dates from 1991, and illustrates a science fiction/fantasy story by N. Lee Wood. The story takes place in an alternate universe where Japan won World War II and Westerners are subjugated. In this imperial Japan, a Dutch girl (figure in lower left) is a servant to a famous and wildly eccentric Noh theater actor, who always goes about masked like a Ninja. What no one suspects is that the actor is really a time-traveling alien visitor with a very inhuman appearance. The true alien face of the actor is depicted in the scary mask which he wears during the Noh plays. The Japanese writing says "Ginza - Tokyo." I copied it off a T-shirt in my collection. The author later bought the original of this image: watercolor on board, 13.5" x 10".

Anything Japanese is totally chic these days, so I thought I'd rummage in my archives for the one picture I had which used motifs from that culture. Perhaps I'll do more Japannery at some point.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Mediterranean Fantasy

Another of my attempts to portray Italian vernacular architecture in Photoshop. I just got another picture book about Italia which makes me nostalgic for the old country. 
This is a smallish sketch, modeled after a Tuscan hill town.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Summer's Over

This drawing is in my illustrated 1998 journal. When you see the withered plants and the empty pots, and the slanting golden sun still warm, you know that autumn is here. The garden remains are on my terrace, and the scene is very much the same ten years later right now, except that I have flowering geraniums. Many of my plants winter over inside under lights. 
Drawing is in ink, colored with waxy colored pencils, about 3.5 inches square. 

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Toiling Figures

These toiling Hogarth figures work tirelessly to demonstrate action positions, while I toil painstakingly to copy them. I cannot take credit for any of these drawings, because I did not originate them, they are only copies. Master Hogarth was able to dash off these muscular guys without even using a model. 

None of Hogarth's action figures are women. His female figures look like peeled potatoes in a sack. After I'm through with his tough guys, I'm going to spend some time drawing action babes.  

Many thanks to the three brave souls who regularly read this Weblog. I have no intention of stopping "Art By-Products," in fact, I may add more text, if I have anything to say, or even if I don't. 

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Happy Cat

This is not very well drawn, but I love it anyway. I did it in 1991 at a friend's house. I love cats but can't have any because I am allergic to them, so I give catlove to other people's cats. The hand in the picture is not mine. 

Friday, September 19, 2008

More Starbucks People

When you run out of ideas for things to draw, there's always the coffee house. Some large people sometimes come into Starbucks. They don't look like Burne Hogarth action musclemen. Sometimes I drink too much coffee. 
I got 2 comments, so I know that at least 2 people read this Weblog. That's a lot better than NO people. 

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Sign of Desperation

I did this sign just before the owners' visit. It joins a host of other signs in the store telling the customers how low the prices are for all sorts of items. Given the financial debacles that have recently happened, retail stores especially in the highly competitive grocery sector need all the help they can get. I was asked to make this sign especially bright and catchy because it will be mounted in a rather low-visibility place. It is done on foamboard with spray paint and acrylic paint markers and is about 24 inches wide. 

The managers have told us signmakers that some "changes" are going to happen with our work and our workspace. This sounds ominous, though I hope it will not be too bad...I will soon find out exactly what "changes" they are talking about. 

As some of the readers of "Art By-Products" know, I have decided to close down my other Weblog, "Electron Blue," after a more than four-year run. It is possible that I may write more text or essays here at "By-products," although its main focus will remain artistic. But I wonder whether I should bother. I don't know whether anyone views or reads "Art By-Products." I also don't know why I seem to have a compulsion to tell other people about my life and thoughts. 

My plan is to take down "Electron Blue" and re-purpose its web machinery as an occasional blog venue to introduce new "finished" pieces. Naturally, it would be called "Quality Art Product." It's also possible I might re-start "Electron Blue" here in the Blogspot system which has a protected comment feature and other conveniences. If you are at all interested in these Web projects of mine, please feel free to leave a comment here at "By-Products."

Thank you, "The Management"....Pyracantha at "Art By-Products"

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Packaged Party Treats

I've been working extra hard at Trader Joe's doing signs for an upcoming visit from the owners of the whole chain. The store must be Perfect and filled with interesting signage emphasizing how good our prices are. This is one that I was instructed to create for the frozen appetizers section. Try the mushroom turnovers, they are so good I could eat a whole package at once.
Made with opaque acrylic markers on a masonite board covered with flat black chalkboard paint. Approximately 36" tall, 14" wide.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Grim Hogarth

Here's my latest copy of a Hogarth action figure. This is a famous one, it is on the cover of the book. Burne Hogarth was for many years the illustrator of Tarzan comic books so he got to do a lot of ape-man action, with grim violent expressions. I've changed the right arm a bit because I couldn't fit my copy of the original onto the page. Hogarth loved drawing fingers and toes, which take on a kind of fetid, claw-like quality of their own. I have shaded out the guy's "business" just the way H. did. This does not stop these drawings from being really gay.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Another Taste of Falls Church

This is another drawing I did of the "Taste of Falls Church" festival. I drew it with markers in my trendy Moleskine sketch book. Some photoshoppage has been done on this drawing to give some logic to the placement of figures: I erased the background lines over which I had drawn the figures, so that they would not appear transparent.

I love festivals of this sort, and would like to go to more. I talked with a crafter who had a table next to where I was drawing. She goes to one of these with her wares almost every weekend of the year. I asked her whether it was a difficult job, and she said that though it had its problems, being a craft vendor at fairs beat working for a bad boss any day.  

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Taste of Falls Church

I went to the annual "Taste of Falls Church" festival this Saturday. Local restaurants offer samples of their goodies at booths, and you buy tickets which pay for food at the festival. There are also vendors of jewelry, craft objects, and natural remedies, and some civic and political representation too. It was a chance for me to draw Real People rather than Burne Hogarth's gnarly musclemen. 

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Postcards from the Multiverse

An image from 2006, originally done in CorelDraw and Corel PhotoPaint. I will sound heretical as a professional graphic artist but I believe that the Corel "creative suite" is just as good and in some ways better than the Adobe Illustrator/Photoshop "creative suite." But since Photoshop CS3 etc. is the industry standard and universally considered so, I use it instead of the Corel set. 
This is the sketch for a painting I did in acrylic and watercolor. Geometrics look great done digitally, but people still like something made by hand the old fashioned way.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Green Cats

My latest efforts in the Dodson program continue my cat theme. You've heard of the "Green Man," now behold the "Green Cat." Also featuring "QuetzalCATl," the sacred catbird of the MesoAmerican jungle.  

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Dodsons in Combination

My current Dodson Doodle assignment asks me to combine my mini-characters with some of my earlier doodle examples. So my cat people get to pose against design graphics, and I get to make up more titles.
The "Cat-Eater" is a cheeseburger which has gone bad and is now eating LOLcats.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Vintage 1974

Today's image is scanned from my 1974 sketch and painting book. During the summer of 1974 I often went with my father to play tennis at the courts of Walnut Hill School, now a fancy performing arts academy in Natick, Massachusetts, my original home town. The Natick Tennis Club, where we were members, played there. Sometimes while my father's tennis games went on, I would sit out on the grounds and sketch. Late in August, just before it was time to go back to school, I did this painting of a house and tree on the Walnut Hill campus. I drew it on site and then finished it carefully in watercolor at home. Size is 6" x 9". I didn't go to Walnut Hill, I went to Dana Hall in neighboring Wellesley, Mass.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Urban Twilight

This is another image I did on the evening after the tropical storm passed over. The clouds recede as twilight comes to the wet urban neighborhood. Ink sketch, colored in Photoshop.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Deli Deco

My sign at Mena's "Bagels, Deli, and Donuts" shop goes Deco for September. 
"Liquid chalk" pens on a black chalkboard, set up on an easel facing customers as they reach the counter.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

After the Tropical Storm

Tropical storm "Hanna" (distressingly named after a variant of my mundane name) blew through here on Saturday. It didn't do too much damage, left some flooding, and watered my plants. The skies cleared by evening, and I took a walk outside to see the spectacular cloud formations in the wake of the storm. Here's a Photoshop sketch of one golden wave cloud at sunset.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Naked Football Player

I've been copying a lot of Burne Hogarth drawings. Boy, this guy sure loves to draw men's butts. Here are some burly action figures. The test of this program is whether I can draw well-proportioned, graceful, and realistic figures - without copying anything, just from my imagination. I haven't tried too much of that yet.

Friday, September 5, 2008


This "assignment" from the Dodson book was to create a page full of little characters. I made "Catcharacters," cat people. I have known about cat people for a long time. The ancient Egyptians left behind cartoons on papyrus and in carvings, of cats as humans doing human things. 

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Rocky Breakwater

I didn't get to go on a summer vacation this year. So tonight I present my view of a Cape Cod breakwater that probably dates from 1981. Most of this was done on site, with more colors added later on back at the vacation house. I hardly ever do any ocean scenes, so this is a rarity.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Alien Restaurant

Enjoy dishes made from pure energy at this restaurant from far away in time and space. Photoshop, about an hour's work.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Arms and Legs

Here are some more Hogarth copies. I continue to learn about "dynamic figure drawing" by copying Burne Hogarth's heavy-handed and somehow fetishistic drawings of well-muscled ideal male models. 
There are dozens and dozens more to copy, and I think I'll spare you more of my practice drawings from Hogarth unless they are especially lurid.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Old Cape Cod

In the '70s and '80s of the past century, I was accustomed to taking a late August vacation with my relatives on Cape Cod. I spent much of my time there making drawings of Cape scenes. This one dates from 1978. I drew the house and grounds on site, indicating color lightly with watercolor pencils, and then painted in the colors when I returned to our vacation house. 
For some reason, probably simple impatience, I don't use this style any more.