Saturday, February 28, 2009

Institute Gateway

The Theophoric Institute of Surakosai is located at 91 Imperial Way, in the hills above the city. "Imperial Way" got its name because it runs through an affluent community of settlers, nobles or magnates in the old world Empire, who brought their wealth through the Crossing and built mansions and estates near the new-founded city. This is the main gate for non-cargo vehicles and visitors. The houses in this picture are not Institute houses, but homes for the Keilians who live and work in the area, protected by the power of the Institute. 

Friday, February 27, 2009

Portrait of the Architect

Here's Mereth Kahn himself, holding the datasefer (what we would call a portable hard drive, but with much more capabilities) containing the "blueprints" and visualizations of the Theophoric Institute at Surakosai. Our term "star-chitect" certainly applies to Kahn. 

Not only was he born into one of the premiere architectural families of Khemi, he also was a Theophore, which seems to be an excess of privilege. He managed to combine adepthood with architecture without exploding or becoming a monster. Perhaps it is the natural calmness of the Khemaru people which has saved him from that fate. But his life was not free from controversy; although he contracted an arranged marriage and fathered three children, he left his family and came out as openly gay in a society that did not tolerate such things. He is forty years old at the time I write this, and his story is definitely not over.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Fruit Snacks

"Mid-Century Modern" graphics enliven this Trader Joe's ad for dried fruit bars. I have gotten lots of positive responses from customers about my new signs. I'll stay in the dried fruit department for the next work week.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Outdoor Amphitheater

The Theophoric Institute contains plenty of park-like spaces. This one, behind the Castle, features a landscaped amphitheater. This is used for gatherings, parties, concerts, and performances. There might even be a martial arts exhibition or a theatrical game. 

I am almost at the end of the coloring phase of the Mereth Kahn project. When all the drawings are embellished, I will gather them into a more final form. I'll continue to publish them on the Noantri Blog as well. Sometimes I wish I lived at the Theophoric Institute, but then I remember what it was really like to live at a small intellectual academic community full of gifted but high-strung people, and I'd rather not go there again. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Noantri Restaurant

As the narrative frame explains, there is a restaurant at the Theophoric Institute, both for visitors and residents. It's on the top floor and the view from the Castle out over the bay of Surakosai is impressive. Not only that, the roof of the round "castle" turret serves as an outdoor dining area in good weather. The original concessionaires who ran the place had a menu of skewered meats, grilled fish, grains, and stews, but in the last year it has changed hands and now features more varied fare. The restaurant is named "Sharbel's," after a famous theophore of the previous century who used to conduct much of his business in a restaurant. His portrait is on the wall, along with those of other theophoric and nouetic notables.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Tysons Corner Urban Sketch

OK, here's a couple of bits of, uh, reality. I can be an "Urban Sketcher" too! But I don't produce enough "reality" art about my city area to appear on their group blog. The octagonal tall building in the above sketch is the Sheraton Premiere, an upscale business hotel. I wonder how empty it is these days. Maybe I'll go in there and do a sketch and hope they don't throw me out. I'll draw anything if it's a building. I don't get to talk to architects much, so I don't know whether they really love buildings and are enthusiastic about design. 

I am almost through with my "Architecture of Mereth Kahn" project. I will continue to post images and text from it both here and on my Noantri Blog. I hardly get any comments on my techno-mage architect and his work. When I'm done putting the images together with text and background, I'll have about 20 pages, which I will put together into a booklet of some kind, though at this moment I don't know how I will publish it, nor if anyone would even want to own it. I have spent an unusual amount of time on this, with no expectation of earning any money from it. However, it's exactly what I want to do, concerning my Noantri world, and so I've kept at it.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Water Elements at the Theophoric Institute

Water elements are important in Mereth Kahn's designs for the Theophoric Institute at Surakosai. Clear pools have a calming effect for those who lead stressful lives, even if these are not for swimming or wading. This meditation courtyard, or psychic cloister, is at the back of the "Castle," or main building. It's kept as a quiet sanctuary for people to rest for a while during their working hours. "Retained effects" and nouetic baffles ensure psychic silence and privacy for cloister visitors. 

Inside the Institute's atrium is an open staircase which, on its way to the second floor, leads to an elevated garden "sitting room" where guests and regulars can enjoy a restful waterfall, reflecting pool, and plants. The "natural" stone cliffside and plants conceal a big central pier which contains engineering and maintenance works as well as an elevator. The waterfall helps keep the interior air fresh and provides a masking sound for conversations in the sitting room. The plants are actually in containers which are maintained by the garden staff. The waterfall flow can be regulated or even shut off if necessary.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Alice In Internetland

The year is 1993. The telecommunications avant-garde was buzzing about something that had just been invented called the "World Wide Web." But most of the users were still poking away at black or white screens with green or black letters flickering across them. You heard that real soon now, Internet users would be able to find any piece of information they wanted by using advanced programs like "Archie" and its inevitable companion, "Veronica." Archives, databases, whole libraries would be available online. And all you needed was an Internet address. 

My Internet address when I made this picture was AOL, "America Online," was still a prestigious address. "DotCom" didn't exist yet, though it would within moments. In this illustration, made for an Internet magazine, "Alice" stands in front of the vast screen of promise, ready to enter Internetland. Fifteen years later, here I am looking back out at Alice, in a transformed world. 

"Alice" is made with watercolor on illustration board, with collage elements from my first color inkjet printer, 8.5" x 11", June 1993.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Nouergic Workroom

If this building looks like a temple, it's because the design was inherited from the distant religious past, when works of high-energy theophorica (nouergy) were done to overawe the worshippers. In determinedly atheistic, religion-free Surakosai all temples or public places of worship are banned. And this is anything but a temple. Its bunker-like structure is designed to withstand nouergic forces and protect the surroundings should there be an accident. The low stone perimeter around the paved platform is another layer of defense. The purple bulbs on the top of the wall are high-energy "retained effects," materials filled with nouergic force, which are set to direct any accidental or uncontrolled energy up into space. The glowing purple cones on the roof corners have a similar purpose, making sure that things do not get out of hand, and protecting the neighborhood if they do. 

Theophoric energies at high levels emit visible light in different colors, depending on the individual user. In some schools of nouergy, it is considered unprofessional to allow any visible light. The light can be suppressed if necessary, but in non-stealth operations it is often shown as a "tell-tale" for onlookers, so that they are aware that nouergy is being used. In this picture, the glow tells any visitor that high level nouergy is being practiced inside and that it would be unsafe to enter. 

Many people who see nouergic workrooms such as this remark that they look ominous and gloomy. Some of this is deliberate. Just as with other energies such as nuclear power, theophorica has its risks and must be guarded carefully.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Phil Faces the Enemy

During the Eighties decade I did numerous fantasy portraits. This was one of them. It features Phil, who was then the husband of a friend of mine, battling the English at the fourteenth-century Battle of Bannockburn. He wields a claymore, an extra-long Scottish fighting sword, which he owned as a museum replica. I make no pretense of historical authenticity here. Phil is wearing a modern kilt and an anachronistic coat of mail (which he also owned). He collected a lot of weapons both ancient and current, which he loved to show off, and I used some of them as image references. I didn't get money for this picture, in fact I got museum replica weaponry: a stiletto and a broadsword, both of which I recently gave away to people who appreciate them much more than I would. My world used to be filled with this type of fantasy warrior stuff but that has now passed almost completely out of my life. 

Phil is painted in acrylic on illustration board, 11" x 14", done in June 1987.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Larger and Smaller Master's Houses

Here are two more of the neo-village houses Mereth Kahn designed for the directors and upper level staff at the Institute. This complex is for a larger family or group, the largest in the series of three "Master's Houses."

And this is the smallest of the Master's Houses, simply known as the "Little Master's House." It's hidden up the hill in the forest. The current Director of the Surakosai Institute, Tanheu, lives here.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Coffee and Tea Please

Coffee, tea, or Chai? They're all here at Trader Joe's. As for the palm fronds, well, they grow coffee in countries where there are palm trees, right? The background is a metallic bronze, so I added a borderline to the raised red letters so that they would show up against the reddish color. Every element on these signs except the background is carved out of foamboard and painted. This is the seventh big sign I've done in less than a month and I am really tired.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Modern Noantri Village

It's more architecture by Mereth Kahn, but you'd never know it. For some of the Theophoric Institute at Surakosai, he designed old-fashioned village houses for the staff residences. They were designed to look old, but they have all the modern amenities hidden inside. Noantri communications technology does not require unsightly satellite dishes.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Amethyst Pavilion

I like things that glow in the dark. If they are transparent and glassy, even better. In China they build transparent glowing buildings out of ice. My model for this one is a Renaissance stage design. Maybe this one is made out of some form of futuristic structural glass. The artwork is 7" x 10", mixed media on black paper, made in November 2000.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Boring Office Building

Why did I draw this? Because I was there, and I had about 20 minutes to spare. I'm an Urban Sketcher too! Just think, if I had more time I could fill my notebooks and my pricey status symbol Moleskine with boring drawings just like this! But wouldn't you want to be bored by NoantriWorld rather than McLean, Virginia office buildings? I suppose I could compromise and draw some boring Noantri office buildings. And then the question would be, could you tell the difference?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Theophoric Institute Residence

Returning to the Theophoric Institute of Surakosai's new campus: here's one of the two residence halls. More than just "dormitories," they are modeled on luxury hotels and have lots of amenities, including high-tech psychic privacy screening systems. The residences can accommodate up to 70 students. All the students must be over 18 years old. The atmosphere at the campus is not so much a rowdy college but a sophisticated graduate institute of advanced study. 

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Moroccan Fantasy

I did this quick Photoshop sketch some time ago, of an imaginary Moroccan palace. It seems appropriate to post it now since I am currently reading a famous work of modern American literature, NAKED LUNCH by William Burroughs. A fair amount of its action takes place in Morocco, where Burroughs lived for years, drugging and playing with innumerable catamites (look it up) and somehow managing to do a lot of writing. He really is a fine writer, although not in a Harvard Classics sort of way. Proper Bostonians still find him obscene, gross, and unreadable. He's also quite funny, in a dark sick brutal kind of humor. He avoids pathos or sadness or sympathy by making all of his characters emotionless and loathsome. As for the heroin and the rest of it, I thank William Burroughs for being a junkie (and writing about it) so that I don't ever have to. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Tomorrowland Refrigerated Case

Moving on into Tomorrowland, over the refrigerated case. In the 21st century, we won't have to cook. We'll buy prepared gourmet dishes and heat them up in our microtrons. It'll be just like TV dinners, but better! 

This Trader Joe's sign is larger than the others I've done. It's 6 feet wide by 2 feet tall.
It was quite an effort. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

February Twigs

Tired of NoantriWorld? I'll bet you are. So here's a realistic drawing of winter trees, which I drew in 1975. It is the view out my dorm room window at Brandeis. I could not do any better now, which as I have said is not encouraging for my artistic skill development. I have been so busy lately with day job-related activity that I have not had any time to make new art.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Theophoric Castle

The new Theophoric Institute of Surakosai was built on the site of a ruined Keilian castle from the early days of Noantri settlement. The architect, theophore Mereth Kahn, echoed the old structure with a whimsical touch of crenellations on a cylindrical part of the main building. It was immediately named the "Castle." The Castle contains offices, administration, classrooms and an assembly/concert hall, reception rooms, a private refectory as well as a gourmet restaurant, and other useful spaces. There are no residences or laboratories there, those places are elsewhere on the campus. The Director's office is on the top floor, just right of center. 

Most people who visit Noantri World are confused by the various words referring to psychic adepts or talents. There's no way to make this clear for our own world which has no (provable) psychic powers. "Psychic" or "techno-mage" are approximations, borrowed from popular texts. Given that it will continue to be confusing, nevertheless here's an attempt at clarification.

A Theophore is a person with a rare psychic gift, much more varied and powerful than others. They have what we would consider "super-powers," such as telekinesis or levitation or firestarting. They have to be trained to use these powers, otherwise they cause trouble and probably don't live long lives. Sometimes they are able to train themselves, but they won't be powerful. About one or two in every million births is a Theophore.

A Nouergist is a Theophore who has been highly trained and uses his/her powers in a scientific and systematic way. The best approximation would be "techno-mage."

A Nouetic is a person with non-theophoric psychic powers, not involving manipulation of gravitic or electromagnetic energies. They do countless useful things among the Noantri, for instance with telepathy, remote viewing, healing, and animal care. 

As far as anyone knows, there is no way to make someone into a Theophore who isn't born one. Society is better off for this, as a larger number of theophores will inevitably attempt to take power and seriously disrupt or even destroy a civilization.

All Noantri have some amount of psychic (nouetic) power, no matter how small. Those who are more gifted, as well as theophores, come to institutions such as this one to receive training. The director and the upper level staff and faculty are theophores or highly gifted people. 

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Doo-Wop Dairy

Here's the next one in the Trader Joe's department header series. Doo-Wop dairy! Note that the "dot" on the i is an egg. Cheerful, ain't it? Bright colors for dim times.
Made from carved foamboard, painted and mounted on a painted masonite background., 4 ft. x 2 ft.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Keilian Noantri Village

The Keilians were (are) a large ethnic group of Noantri (exact numbers unknown, as they will not participate in a census) who occupy the Ausonian (Italian) peninsula, islands, and north coast of the Middle Sea. At the time of the Crossing, they had a non-industrial, medieval level of technology and culture. In the more than two hundred years since the Crossing, the Keilians have adopted only a few things from the more advanced Noantri cultures, such as firearms and in some places, electricity. They refuse to be part of modern culture, living outside of cities in villages and outposts. Their social structure is based on large clans which are perpetually at war or allied with each other in a complicated system of revenge and blood feuds.

The most interesting thing about the Keilians, from the mainstream point of view, is that the "ancient" Keilian society is actually fabricated. They are the result of a nostalgic "recreationist" movement among a group of Noantri in the old worlds. These groups, often academics, decided that they would rather live in a more "natural" way than as technical urbanites. They built a hypothetical society based on simulations they were already doing as role-playing, and eventually moved to uninhabited sections of known planets, or even new colonial worlds. There they divested themselves of the old culture and worlds and dropped back into the "past." More than a thousand years later, they were re-discovered by the Ingathering movement which brought the Noantri to New Earth, and they made the Crossing through the Gateway with the other Noantri.

After a while, a proportion of the Keilians, especially the ones near cities, have succumbed to the temptation of modern living and have adapted to the mainstream technology. In Surakosai, where Keilians dominate, they still stay away from high technology but do most of the construction and infrastructure building. Some have also become prosperous selling natural resource products such as timber, fish, minerals, and furs. Keilians live under a different legal system than other ethnicities in Surakosai; for instance, those accused of a crime still have the option of exonerating themselves by defending themselves in arena combat. These combats are open to the public and often attract big crowds.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Mountain Landscape

This is an imaginary landscape, where I have never been. It is a "speed-paint" where I have an hour or less to produce something in Photoshop, so this took less than an hour. I am trying to re-create the "texture brushes" that disappeared when my Photoshop took a dive some months ago. Somehow, the textures I've created so far look a bit like pastel, thankfully without the noxious pigment dust. I ran out of space, otherwise I would have put a little cabin into the picture.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Technomage Landscaping

Well hey, if you had the power to reshape a landscape by your mind-controlled high energy techno-magic, why hire blasters and bulldozers to do the job? Actually, when they built the Theophoric Institute campus, there was plenty for everyone to do, including the heavy equipment guys. Here's Enlil the great, cranking up the Energies before carving a terrace out of solid rock. 

As with the rest of the series, ink drawing colored in Photoshop, about 5" x 4".

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Iconic Retro Food Signs

I made these four signs in one day. That means spraying primer coat on four 2 ft. x 1 ft. masonite boards, waiting for it to dry, spraying color coat, waiting for that to dry, cutting shapes out of foamboard, spraying them and waiting for them to dry, and then inscribing them with acrylic marker. Then I assembled them using industrial-strength two sided gel tape, without which our store would completely fall apart. They are to be installed at an angle from the larger boards which you have just seen, so that viewers see some sort of signage from both sides of the display. It's kind of hard to describe; the signs when installed make a wide obtuse angle, with one leg of the angle being much smaller than the main sign. 

The style is "retro" or "googie" or "doo-wop" which is perfect for Trader Joe's signage. There are plans to "doo-wop-ify" most of the large signs in the store, for that playful, cheery, relaxed beachside feeling, so much at odds with the hostile world just outside the doors. Meanwhile, I'm tired.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Sign Produce

And here is the next one in the series, for "Produce" that is, vegetables, salads, and some refrigerated fruits and berries. I am really knocking these out fast because there is an executive inspection of our store on Wednesday and we have to be Perfect as well as upgraded with new signage and displays.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Meat Department Sign

Here's my latest large sign for Trader Joe's departments. "Meats" features a torch and a hibachi grill for your urban Luau. I have been spraying a lot of paint. As with the other signs, this is done in carved foamboard mounted on a painted Masonite base. Be a "Patio Daddy-O" and grill a steak today! Well, maybe not just today with the snow and the ice and the rain, but in a couple of months. I'll bring the guacamole and chips.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Noantri Street

Here's a frame from my ongoing graphic novel, THE FLAMING RAMPARTS. It stars Enlil, who you will find a few entries earlier. I started it in 1999, so it's ten years old and still only half done at 40 pages. I haven't worked on it in quite a while, so I have left it in the middle for now.

The story is basic: a volcano in a populated area threatens to erupt, and Enlil who is working with the scientists, tries to prevent the devastation with his theophoric powers. Along with this basic story is an unscrupulous energy company, a foreign seismologist who may or may not be a spy, and a young scientist who is on the verge of awakening to his own psychic talents.

I keep hoping that I will get back to working on this, but I also have other projects including the architecture series which I have been posting here. I'd like to finish this someday. All I need is the planning.

THE FLAMING RAMPARTS is done in ink and watercolor on 10" x 15" pages of illustration board (extra thick Fabriano paper), though I am contemplating coloring the rest of it in Photoshop rather than messy watercolor.