Sunday, January 31, 2010

Snowy Day

Winter is still winterizing, and I was confined to my cluttered dwelling all day. I didn't go out to shovel snow, because it was freezing cold and I just couldn't stand the prospect of toiling outside. I did domestic tasks, including more removal of old papers, and I drew this quick sketch of the terracotta pots on my terrace. If I survive winter, these pots will hold flowering plants in the spring and summer.

Brown ink on sketchbook paper, colored in Photoshop.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Megastructure Melee

The famous Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California has dominated the American science fiction and fantasy illustration world for decades. It has produced the illustrators for almost all the "blockbuster" movies of the last decades (including AVATAR) as well as many of the most popular video games. The Art Center also has influenced avant-garde vehicle and product design.

I have always loved the brilliant, exciting, high-powered Art Center look. I wanted to paint in that style and I still do. The style seems easy to imitate: highly angled, even "forced" perspective, complex details, dramatic lighting. This piece, "Megastructure Melee," is perhaps the closest I came to it, and it's not very close. It's a mixture of airbrush and hand brush work, done in the hope that someone might pick it as a book or game illustration. I exhibited it at the 1988 World Science Fiction Convention in New Orleans. It was bought by some collector and has vanished into nothingness, except for this image of it, retrieved from my dusty slide archive. (Click for slightly bigger version.)

I would have liked to go to the Art Center College of Design, but it was 3000 miles away and very expensive. I would still like to go. But I don't know whether I had (or have) the talent or energy needed to study there. Fantasy art is a young man's game, kind of like professional sports, and you don't start over again when you're in your late 50s. The jobs are also high-risk, low-benefit, exhausting work that expect 24-hour or even longer endurance runs. So I took the more secure route among the organic tomatoes at Trader Joe's, and I reminisce about the time I was a professional fantasy and science fiction artist, and look enviously at the spectacular work (now all digital) of the Art Center College alumni.

"Megastructure Melee," acrylic on illustration board, 18" x 24", August 1988.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Portrait of a Noantri Lady

Her name is Novania and she is a character from my imaginary world of the Noantri. (See my Noantri Blog for more about this.) She is a journalist and historian, with an interest in science writing, and occupies the post of Director of Publications for the Institute for Theophoric Studies at Surakosai. This would be, in our parlance, an institute for techno-magery. She's full of interesting information.

The Noantri are in an alternate universe. They came to our Earth through a star-gate long before modern humans arose, and built a civilization here. They are a different species of humanity, though they share the same form with some different coloration, like blue-grey hair. Most Noantri have some level of psychic ability. The golden leaf-like things in Novania's hair are not her ears, they are ornaments which also have psychic shielding functions. Most Noantri wear some sort of shielding device.

This is done in Photoshop, coloring over a pencil drawing. I'm still learning this technique.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Phoenix Nebula

Here's another picture from a series I did in July 1988. It's airbrush work as the others were, again with enhanced colors. With nebula pictures I usually go with bright primary colors (red and blue mainly) because they are easy to pick out in a dim exhibition hall, and they are somehow "heroic" (Superman's costume is red and blue, because it was easy to print and easily recognizable). I call this "Phoenix Nebula" because the central red area looks kind of like a bird in a flaming nest.

Looking closely at these airbrushed works through the electron lens of Photoshop, I am bemused at how grainy they look. The airbrush sprays particles, not pixels, and the resolution of the painted picture, ironically, is much less than it would be if I used modern digital "painting" techniques. I also used primitive means to get the "cloudy" banks of nebula gas surrounding the central red area. I tore heavy paper in cloudlike patterns and then sprayed over it using the paper bits as a mask. Nowadays Photoshop is equipped with fractal texture generators to do this work. It is possible that paper tears in a kind of fractal edge, depending on what it is made of. Photoshop rules these days but airbrushing is not a dead art, I plan to use the old-fashioned sprayer on my next major work.

"Phoenix Nebula" is acrylic on illustration board, 7" x 10", July 1988.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Nude in Purple

I needed something different to post tonight. Not old art and not Photoshop noodling. I turned to my usual need-to-improve subject, human figures. I chose an image from one of my model books and made my attempt on a piece of purple paper from a collection of colorful small pieces I save in a file. Hence, "Nude in Purple." Sounds like a pulp fiction title. I would like to use up all the little pieces of colored paper, so stay tuned for more efforts, figurative or not.

"Nude in Purple" is colored pencil and markers on purple paper, 5" x 10".

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Dark Star

What happens to a smaller-sized star once it's all burnt out? Larger stars blow up spectacularly in supernovas or at least novas, but for a modest luminary, there is only a long slow decline. I am not sure what happens to these dark star remnants. Are they actual chunks of matter drifting through space, or do dead stars decompose and fall apart into dust? This image is my idea of what one of these cosmic cinders would look like: a round black core, not a black hole, with a cloud of faintly glowing gas around it. I wonder what the "landscape" on the surface of one of these things would be like. Certainly not anything that living beings could visit, as the gravity would be very high and there would probably be lots of residual radiation. That does not constrain imagination, however. It's a world of perpetual gamma-ray winter, where supergravity turns nebula gas into radioactive snow and transuranian elements shine fitfully in icy depths.

"Dark Star" is acrylic on illustration board, 10" x 7", July 1988.

Monday, January 25, 2010

City of the Fallen Colossus

I have been going through my old papers for 2001 in order to sort them out and recycle the unnecessary stuff. In my filebox for '01 I found this sketch, or rather a copy of a sketch. I remember clearly when I did it, and in what circumstances. I was browsing in my favorite comics and used book store and got into a conversation with a couple of role-playing gamers there. It turned out they were looking for a concept artist to illustrate the background for one of their games. I volunteered, and someone brought me a pen and paper. I created this on the spot as the gamer described the scenario.

Imagine a Colossus, a giant hollow metal image of a man a mile long. It is very old, and the advanced civilization that made it is long gone. It has fallen over on its back, still in one piece, and become part of the landscape. Meanwhile the later inhabitants of the place have taken the hollow body of the fallen Colossus as a shelter and have built a city in and around the figure. The heroic legs which once stood over the entrance to the harbor now form a harbor themselves, extending into the water from the hilly shore. The people have built a castle on the midsection, and carved gates and windows into the metal skin. Inside the figure, where people have built homes and businesses and workshops, are huge ancient engines, but no one has any idea how they work. The Colossus has lain there for centuries, perhaps millennia. And then one day, the people of the "City of the Throne" feel an earthquake. But it is not an earthquake. The Colossus is waking up, and wants to rise again!

I wonder where those gamers are now. I am sometimes old and traditionalist, and used to regard role-playing games as a vast waste of creativity. What is the point of playing games in a fantasy world, when one should be either writing books or more importantly, improving the real world with technological innovations? Back in 2001 I was still much involved in traditional fantasy art, painted on panels and sold at conventions and occasionally published. Now I wish I had taken role-playing game art more seriously, though I don't play the games myself. I am constantly tempted to go back to doing fantasy art.

"City of the Throne," ink on plain paper, 11" x 8 1/2", March 2001

Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Pleasant Little Coffee House Scene

I said to myself, You WILL take your sketchbook and do an on-location sketch today, because your bloggees DESERVE it, not more re-hashed old art you did 20 years ago. Right! So I forced myself to sit in Greenberry's Coffee Shop in McLean, Virginia, and forced myself to have a cup of coffee and forced myself to eat a brownie packed with a variety of chocolate chips and nuts. It was hard work, bloggees, but someone had to do it. The result is on view here. I could do worse, but I could do better, too.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Wizard and Dowager

I used to illustrate Marion Zimmer Bradley's stories for "Marion Zimmer Bradley's Fantasy Magazine." These were usually short, amusing, rather sarcastic tales of magic and trickery. Many of them involved Bradley's cross-dressing wizard, Lythande. Lythande had masqueraded as a man in order to study magic at an all-male wizards' school. When she was discovered to be female, instead of throwing her out or killing her, the deal was that she could continue as a wizard but she must never reveal her true gender. She had to pass as a man for the rest of her life. In the stories she didn't seem too broken up about this. Lythande wandered from town to town, making her pittance by playing lute and singing in bars, and doing magical workings when requested. In this illustration she meets up with a local matron, who flirts with her/him thinking that Lythande is a pretty young man.

Ink on illustration board, 6" x 8", April 1997.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Behind the Veils of Reality

This is an image of a reflection nebula with three new stars still veiled in the mists and threads of their gaseous cocoons. When they are fully emerged they will be a triple star system. I named this picture "Veils of Reality." How did I know there would be three bright stars in this image? Let me unveil reality's image for you. I start these pictures with a blank black rectangle. The first thing I do to create space is that I take a brush full of light grey paint and shake it over the black blank. Paint drops spatter from the brush in random patterns. Some of them are bigger than others. By accident, three large drops fell from the brush in a line like this. This formed the basis of the bright stars you see here. I used airbrush and hand brush to create the nebula and bring out the stars. When I create these space pictures I feel like God, throwing stars and light into the void.

This is a fast process. I could paint up to twenty of these small pieces in one weekend. I would lay them out on the floor on a bed of newspaper and spray away. If I was God, then I was creating multiple universes. Or at least twenty places in one large universe. But does God do randomness? In some monotheistic theologies, God controls every atom and event of the Universe. That is one very busy God. But He has all eternity to exert his control, and I only have one weekend.

"Veils of Reality," acrylic on illustration board, 7" x 10, March 1988.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Mexican Beer Mash-up

This mashup of faux-Mexicana and football is part of Trader Joe's marketing campaign for its Mexican beer. Beer and (American) football are some of what makes America great. American football is an indelible gender marker that makes a man a man. There is so much there to talk about that I won't do it. I may advertise the Super Bowl, but I won't be watching it. Am I a bad American? No, I'm a good American, just wait till baseball opening day.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Last page of Atlas chapter 1

Here it is, my long-awaited graphic adaptation of the last page of the first chapter of Ayn Rand's ATLAS SHRUGGED. What, you haven't been awaiting it? All right, not everyone is a Rand fan. This project has been one of my favorites, though. If I had another life to waste, I'd do the whole book. It would take me decades to do, if I were just working by myself. I don't intend to do this. Also, this adaptation is kind of illegal, since it has not been authorized by the Rand people, who hold the copyrights to the sacred scriptures of the prophetess.

Besides, I have my own original world and characters to illustrate. Why spend time and energy graphicizing Rand's world and characters? All right, Rand's characters are hotter and sexier than my dowdy Noantri. But none of my Noantri characters have ever raped anyone, or been raped, thank God. Nor does my techno-mage architect blow up a building because the builders ruined his designs. He works by legal contract, for "No-God's" sake.

But at least I'm showing you a piece of fresh art. Now that Rand's done for now, I can go on to numerous other projects which will be more entertaining and enjoyable, at least for someone.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Reflective Sphere of Influence

Shiny chrome-like objects were the fashion in space art for decades, and they also are a challenge to the traditional artist, how to render the reflections on a curved mirror surface. I was challenged by this problem. I collected many high-shine chrome reflective objects, trying to have a reference. This included Chinese juggling balls, hollow steel which had a jingly thing inside, plated in chrome. I used one of these curios for the main sphere in this picture.

I was also intrigued by the philosophical idea of identity and multiplicity. Can an object be considered one thing if it is actually composed of many fragmentary things held together by gravity or magnetism or whatever? How would such an object work in space? Is it necessary to have one's space station or spacecraft in one large complex form, or can you have a swarm of smaller forms, communicating by electromagnetism? Suppose the central sphere is the power generator, and the orbiting fragments the working bits of the spacecraft. Could this be practical?

I was thinking of all those things while I composed this tiny picture. I also wanted to use a background color different from my usual reds and blues. A fellow artist of that time was fond of a kind of magenta pink called "quinacridone," so I decided I'd use that color in the background in a tribute to him. The title of the picture is "Sphere of Influence," referring to the artificial gravity which holds these fragments in orbit around the center. There is also an artificial repellant force which keeps them from smashing into each other. I think that this would be populated by a very non-human, though technologically advanced, colony of aliens.

"Sphere of Influence" is acrylic on illustration board, 10" x 7", March 1988.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Strength and Hermit

These two images from the CorelDraw Tarot didn't survive retrieval so well, and I have had to do a lot of tinkering to make them look as good as they do. But in these, it's the idea that counts. "Strength" in the popularly used Tarot deck is depicted as a crowned lady closing a lion's mouth. That is so old-fashioned. Strength in our modern world is a super-hero, a muscleman, bright colors, the American way in red, white, and blue. Meanwhile, the Hermit may live in a desert cave, but he's going to have his satellite uplink and Internet connection, whether for good or evil purposes. If I were a Hermit, I wouldn't be without my satellite dish.

CorelDraw Tarot, Major Arcana only, done digitally in 1991-1992.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Techno-Wizard's Palace

Enlil the techno-wizard stayed here when he was not at his cottage or traveling. This mansion complex was called "Theophore House" and was built mostly from his design. He didn't own it; it was owned by a coalition of people including his family as well as the Theophoric Institute of Surakosai, of which he was director. Many guests and students stayed here as well. The complex included laboratories, a private apartment for Enlil, guest rooms, a common-room with a big fireplace, gardens, and an enclosed greenhouse garden which you can see at center with all the glass. Theophore House was situated on the top of cliffs overlooking the Mediterranean Sea on the south coast of Sicily.

This Photoshop rendering was done from an earlier pencil drawing in spring 2008. Please click on the image for a larger view.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Techno-wizard's Cottage

Some of you may remember Enlil, the master techno-mage of my Noantri world. I have done many illustrations and character portraits from this world of mine, but I hardly ever show them. Here's one from 2001. Enlil lived a highly irregular life, never staying in one place for too long. He could have lived in a palace, and sometimes did, but he seemed indifferent to lifestyles whether luxurious or minimalist and ascetic. The closest thing to his permanent home in his middle and later years was this cottage, up on a hillside in back of the old Theophoric Institute estate in Surakosai (our Siracusa, Sicily). It had been an unheated, electricity-free gardener's shed before Enlil decided to live there and had it fixed up. There was a small formal garden in the back, and a deck to the right (you can see the railing there) which looked out over the trees to the city down below and the Mediterranean Sea.

"Enlil's Cottage" is on a sketchbook page, 8" x 9", a mixture of ink, markers, and colored pencil, from 2001.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Battle of Elves and Ogres

I may have posted this before, but if so, then this is a newer and better image of the painting. This was a commission from some friends of mine who love my art (they are the best kind of friends). I painted them an action-packed fantasy battle between two humanoid forms, analogous to elves and ogres. This is from the highly entertaining "Pliocene Exile" series by fantasy author Julian May.

"The Grand Combat" is acrylic on illustration board, 20" x 30", finished in 1992.
Click on the picture for a somewhat larger version.

By the way, for those who are interested, I now have an account on the "DeviantArt" site, where you may view assorted works and even buy prints of them. Look for me under the username "Volcannah."

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Hydrogen Alpha Station

This space hardware picture was inspired by concept drawings for what would become the International Space Station. I placed the station in front of a red nebula radiating in "hydrogen alpha" red colored light, hence the title "Hydrogen Alpha Station." It's as much an abstract composition as a space hardware picture. I was stylistically inspired by the high-contrast white spaceships on black and colorful space painted by the veteran science fiction artist Vincent diFate.

"Hydrogen Alpha Station" was painted in March 1988. Acrylic on thick paperboard, 11" x 14".

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Snapea Crisps

"Snapea Crisps" are irresistible little crunchies that are formed in the shape of a pea pod. They are made from peas and rice, with salt added. You can put them in your salad, or add them to a party mix, or just eat them right out of the package, the way I do. If I am left alone with an open bag full of these, I will eat all of them so I have to be careful to share my Snapea Crisps. Also, they are not low-fat so you have to watch your Snapea intake.

Trader Joe's carries them and they are so popular that they are sold almost immediately; they can't keep'em on the shelves. This board advertises a large display of them which got smaller throughout the day. You may notice the "mid-century modern" ad style here, which I employ when I have the opportunity. And also note the pea-green color scheme. Peas be with you!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Barbarienne character study

This is my first attempt at doing a fully rendered character study in Photoshop. I started with a scanned pencil drawing and went over it with "opaque" Photoshoppage. I really wanted to do the kind of absurdly clad "barbarienne" babe which I see hundreds of in other artists' portfolios. I have spent a long time (months) doing this picture, one bit at a time, trying to learn how to render textures digitally. I only used one layer over the "painted" background. If I were doing this picture now, I would use a lot more layers.

As usual, my figure drawing is mediocre at best. I had a photomodel but had to do a lot of re-working to make her look even a bit fantasy-like. What I didn't realize, and have not realized in most of my figure studies, is that "realistic" drawing as if it were from life does NOT work in fantasy character studies. Fantasy character art is like fashion drawing. The proportions of the figure are very exaggerated. In fashion drawing the figures are elongated and ultra-thin, and in fantasy drawing the figures of both men and women are made larger-than-life and "heroic." But in this drawing I'm still trying to be "realistic," which I now know is a mistake. This figure looks as if I had gotten an athletic high-school girl to pose, and she was none too pleased at having to hold the position while I worked out the figure from life.

The face, however, isn't too bad. I don't do faces any better than I do bodies, but this one, which looks a bit Italian Renaisssancey to me, is better than my usual. The nice thing about digital work is that no matter how much you mess up, you can correct it with endlessly manipulatable pixels, rather than digging a hole in a piece of overpainted illustration board.

So there you go. I have done my first digital character study. I intend to do many many more, not only stock figures like babe warriors or superheroes or medieval knights or wizards, but also once I have really got this going, I'll digitally depict my own original characters and the world of Noantri. There are plenty of scantily clad babes somewhere in that world.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Golden-APA 2000

My house is overwhelmed with boxes of papers I've saved year by year. They are taking up so much space that I have to pull them out and re-cycle most of the papers in the boxes, expired financial documents mostly. There are statements from accounts that don't exist any more, from banks that don't exist any more. I am told I don't need to keep records for taxes that go back more than 7 years, unless I'm under suspicion of doing something wrong, which I am not.

The papers I keep are from conventions I entered, or clients I did commissions for, or from interesting places I visited. And every so often I find a long-lost treasure. This drawing above is one of them. Maybe not a treasure, but long-lost. Back in 2000 I took over the editorship of a small "participatory" literary magazine called "Golden-APA." For those who know nothing of this extinct custom, I will explain. An APA, which stands for "Amateur Publishing Association," is a "do-it-yourself" magazine where the subscribers send in their own content, all prepared and printed. The editor makes enough copies to send to each member and collates them into a sheaf. Then he/she mails out to the participants the bundles of copies which are now in stapled magazine form. About fifteen or twenty members sent in entries every few months.

There may be a couple of paper APAs still active, but most such literary efforts are now internet-based. In 2000, some of the entries were already sent through internet for later printing. As the editor, I was responsible for the cover design and my own entry, as well as the collating and administration. This image is the first cover I did for my tenure at the APA.

"Golden-APA" was originally founded by fans of Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson's ILLUMINATUS fantasy trilogy. The books are profane, satirical romps through conspiracy theory and American pop culture of the 60s. The "collage" style of my ink drawing mashes together many images from the books imitating the authors' chaotic style. The box at the top was where the title was typeset. This illustration disappeared after publication and I thought I had lost it, but there it was buried in my box of papers from Year 2000.

"Golden-APA" is no more. I closed the magazine down in 2003, due to lack of interest of the participants. They migrated onto LiveJournal and I started the first ELECTRON BLUE blog, which is now active again as ELECTRON BLUE 2.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A Bit More Rand

I have a few more pages to go before I finish the "Ayn Rand Comics" project of adapting chapter 1 of ATLAS SHRUGGED into a graphic novel format. I left off this tale in November due to the work pressures of the holiday season. Here it is back again, for at least a couple of pages. This is page 18.

To re-cap the story of this little workplace drama: Eddie, the young executive assistant, has come to visit his old friend - and boss - James Taggart in his office. Taggart is president of a great railroad network which is deteriorating from neglect and corruption. Eddie tries to impress on James that they must repair the rails on a route, the "Rio Norte Line," which connects to a profitable oil field. James is trying to deny that anything is wrong.

"Ayn Rand Comics" is ink on a sketchbook page, 6" x 8". Lettering added in Photoshop.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Mid-Century Retro Lunch Special

Cheerful "mid-century" colors and motifs decorate Mena's signboard in the bagel shop this winter. We are getting a new board for 2010. This one will be retired to wall duty after being knocked about for three years. I continue to use '50s and early '60s design on my commercial signs. It is quite trendy and you can see it in "retro" style packaging and graphics these days if you pay attention. But I am old enough to remember the original stuff and back then it was considered cheesy and silly. Now it's chic.

Acrylic "chalk" markers on painted Masonite, 30" x 20".

Friday, January 8, 2010

Starbucks At Work

"We're open till 8 PM," said the friendly barista at Starbucks. "You can stay as long as you want." At least until 8 PM. So I took my sketchbook inside and sipped and drew. The "" comes from Schmitz' garage next door. The businesspeople who patronize this place had gone home, and I had only empty chairs to draw. And also the friendly barista, now toiling over mopping the floor. The Starbucks experience, like all the "experiences" you buy at places like Trader Joe's, or Disneyland for that matter, is maintained by hard-working people who work at times you don't, and often behind the scenes. Sip coffee and give them a good thought.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Lovers and Chariot

Here are two more Major Arcana cards from my 1992 CorelDraw Tarot. The "Lovers" card unites the yellow-black path on the Kabbalistic Tree of Life. Other versions of this card have a lot of added symbolism loaded onto them but I wanted to concentrate just on the two figures. I also wanted one to be darker than the other, to signify an interracial couple. I bypassed most of the "traditional" symbolism on the "Chariot" card as well, using the famous Fascist historical character of Mussolini to evoke the headlong pride and power-madness of the "Chariot."

CorelDraw Tarot, saved from oblivion in modern JPEG format, 1991-1992.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Star Dragon

Dragons are a standard item in the fantasy art repertoire, yet this is the only dragon I've ever done that I've really liked. It's inspired by the constellation "Draco," which is always visible in the clear Northern Hemisphere sky. Most dragons depicted in Euro-American art which I've seen are rather clunky for the fierce mythical beings that they should be. They're overloaded with spines and teeth and are equipped with tiny little wings that wouldn't lift them into the air, even if they used bumblebee aerodynamics. My dragon gets to be graceful because it is made out of glowing nebula gas. It doesn't need wings, because it's already floating in space. And if it breathes fire, there's plenty of plasma to serve the purpose.

I am mildly sorry that I can't provide you with brand new art that often, these days. I am working on projects that are either work-related (Trader Joe's) or for private clients where it would not be helpful to publicize it before its release. I'll try to continue showing the best of the vintage until the situation eases up.

"Draco" is acrylic on illustration board, 7" x 10", February 1988. The spacey pictures you have been seeing recently are all from one series, painted at the same time.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Hectic Fires

The Universe (at least, our universe) is filled with things of incredible violence, where life is not present, only enormous spinning energies and vast eruptions. The center of an "active galaxy" can contain a huge black hole, around which whirls a terrific vortex. And from that galaxy, a beam of hyper-energized particles blasts into the darkness. It's all much wilder than anything a living being could dream of. Sometimes astronomers are lucky enough to see these active centers; other times, they show up in radio telescopes. A single particle from one of these blasters can plow into our own atmosphere with enough energy to splatter thousands of other particles from the atoms it hits. This image is inspired by these active galaxy centers. Its original title was "Hectic Fires."

Acrylic on illustration board, 7" x 10", February 1988

Monday, January 4, 2010


This (relatively) new Adobe CS4 is a whiz to use. It actually does what I ask it to do without seizing up or delaying. And it's a lot of fun to explore. This image, which took about an hour to paint, is my attempt at doing one of those abstract futuristic spacescapes that the California concept artists (scroll down the blog pages for more of this guy's amazing work) toss off so easily. I also need to work on digital paintings of human figures and character designs. It's all By-Product!

"Skyways" is Photoshop CS4, 7" x 10" virtual size.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Supernova Moon

The title of this piece was originally "High Conjunction," in which Earth's Moon and the brilliant planet Venus are seen in conjunction by a spacefaring viewer well above the earth's surface. But when I look at it now, it seems more like the appearance of a supernova in a fairly close part of our Galaxy, seen over the Moon and the Earth, or perhaps an Earthlike planet with its moon. If this were indeed a supernova, things might get a bit uncomfortable on the planet. A supernova this close would emit lots of hard radiation which would affect the surface even on a planet with a thick atmosphere. If there were life on the planet, there would probably be an evolutionary turning point as irradiated species died off and other more resistant life forms survived.

"High Conjunction," (or "Nearby Supernova,") acrylic on illustration board, 7" x 10", February 1988.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Party's Over

After months of indulgence, I have finally endured through it all, and have finished my last holiday glass of bubbly wine. I'll have to do a lot of walking and food restriction to remove the extra weight I've gained! But it's freezing cold out there and not very pleasant for my constitutional circuits. This sketchbook drawing was done after the party was winding down, and the glasses were (mostly) empty. Time to get back to work.

Friday, January 1, 2010

The Atomic Muffin

Move right along into a new decade with Trader Joe's Triple Berry Bran Muffin Mix. To quote a famous parody ad, it "gives you the strength to get up and do what has to be done." Be a regular guy or gal and start the New Year off with a bang. Let the Atomic Muffin be your strategic defense!

I have lots of plans and intentions for 2010. Some of them you'll see here, others you will read about in my revived blog ELECTRON BLUE. The link to the Electron is on this blogpage right in the headlines. I will be talking about math, science, and philosophy, with some excursions into art, music, or surrealistic miscellanea. I want lots of people to read it.

Happy New Year, brave readers! Best wishes for 2010.