Monday, February 28, 2011

Iris of Angelic Air

Here's a blue frilly iris with angels in the air. In those flowery days I combined irises with just about anything that would complement their extravagant beauty. I was appealing to a specific market, flower-loving lady customers, but I also had to add in a fantasy element in order to place these paintings in fantasy art shows at conventions. I ended up selling them, often for very low prices. My records show that this "Angelic" iris sold for only $15. I wonder what became of it, and the person who bought it at Disclave (then the Washington, DC area regional convention) in 1991.

"Iris of Angelic Air" is watercolor on illustration board, 7" x 10", May 1991.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Start Smooth

I haven't done a Starbucks drawing in some time. Saturday, instead of going to a winery, I went to a coffeery and had a cappuccino with one of their little warm sandwiches from which the egg patty had been removed at my request. The displays in the center of the shop made an interesting jumbly pattern which I faithfully recorded, even with the title "Start Smooth." Almost everyone in the consumer area, such as the one I drew in the background, had some sort of picturephone which they bent over in a now-characteristic pose. In the last two years it seems that the human race has gone from "human" to "human-with-picturephone." Which makes me, who doesn't have one, somewhat less than human. Or more than picturephone.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Ageratum World

A purple T-shirt for this one, perhaps? I would have to see a sample before I started marketing them. Would you buy a flower print on a T-shirt? I dunno, Tristan. Why am I posting all these old flower pictures from 1990 and 1991? First reason, because these are the ones I'm transcribing right now, and I painted dozens of them. Second reason, I'm working on other paintings in my studio which take up my art time but are not finished yet. When they're finished, you'll see 'em. Until then, it's vintage art unless you want to see photoshop doodles or something.

The flowers underneath the iris are Ageratum, a lavender-blue fuzzy flower I particularly like. I gave the iris an iridescent circular halo, which also signifies a "world" or round planet.

"Ageratum World" is watercolor on illustration board, 7" x 10", May-June 1991.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Dragon Warrior of Darkover

During the 1980s I did lots of fantasy portraits of fans, posing in their costumes in a fantasy setting. Sometimes the costumes were real, other times I made them up. The guy here wore this black outfit, as I remember, and I added the details of fur-lined cloak, sword, and mini-dragon. This was a mash-up of Darkover, land of the red sun and glowing psychic crystals, and Pern, land of big dragons you could ride and mini-dragons you could keep for companions. The portrait guy posed at DarkoverCon, which in those days actually was about Darkover. He was a sergeant in the Air Force and was later transferred to Keflavik air base in Iceland, where he could have used that fur-lined cloak. Many years later he re-appeared at Darkovercon. I wonder if he still has his portrait.

The Dragon Warrior portrait is acrylic on illustration board, 8" x 12", July 1985.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Star Cluster Irises

Here's another iris pic for Tristan Alexander's potential T-shirt collection. This was a commission, one of only a few flower commissions I did. It is also one of the few where I used airbrush. The background here is wet-on-wet watercolor, and the iris is brush-painted, but the cluster of glowing stars was painted with airbrush. I tried for maximum prettiness.

"Star Cluster Irises" is watercolor and gouache on illustration board, 7" x 10", June 1990.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Aqua Sky Winter

It's still very much winter. When I took my walk break from work yesterday evening, I saw this unusual shade of aqua near the horizon, behind the leafless trees. Occasionally winter skies have colors that don't appear in other times of the year, such as this almost-pale-green shade. It is the ordinary blue sky near the horizon, where there is thicker air and more particles in the air, so the usual clear blue is scattered further towards green or white. The sun at this low angle appears redder, too. It was much too cold to draw a picture outdoors, and I didn't have my camera, so this is all from memory, with some trees omitted from view so you can see the aqua sky.

Photoshop, a half hour or so, 7" x 10", February 22, 2011.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Iris of the Copper Stars

Here's another iris picture from my flowery past. The photograph was poor and some restoration and color enhancement has been done in Photoshop. When this picture was done, digital imaging and art was just at its beginning. I was working with CorelDraw 2 but only in a flat vector style. Most of my work was in watercolor and acrylic. Now it's the reverse and I only resort to acrylic and watercolor for my "fine art" and architectural work.

"Iris of the Copper Stars" is watercolor and acrylic on illustration board, 7" x 10", May-June 1991.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Cutesy Superstars

This is a project I'm working on for Trader Joe's. It might be rejected, and probably will need some changes. My manager likes cute things. This goes on the shelf to highlight featured products. The previous version of this had two cartoon "paparazzi" with big telephoto lens cameras focusing on the "celebrity" product. This has two smiling supernovas exploding in distant blue galaxies, thus proving that the universe is expanding way too fast and you ought to get more peanut butter and multigrain crackers before everything disappears into the void.

Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, and clipart, with some hand drawn stuff, February 21, 2011.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Elemental Flowers

I mixed my fondness for esotericism and flowers in a series of early 1990s paintings. I paired the ancient Four Elements of earth, air, fire, water with the appropriate showy flowers. This one is in my favorite complementary color combination of orange and blue depicts a Daylily of Fire and an Iris of Water. You can see flames coming from the lily and droplets coming from the iris. Though these are idealized flowers, they are readily available in early summer gardens.

"Water Iris Fire Lily" is watercolor on illustration board, 7" x 10", November 1990.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Lightning in February

Unusually warm weather for February was suddenly chilled back to winter with cold air and thunderstorms, at least in Massachusetts. Vivid lightning reflected off the snow and a downpour failed to melt anything. I painted this picture to represent a summer night storm. I have always seen lightning as pink or purple but those colors are supposedly due to refraction in the air around it. This winter has also seen "thunder snow" where lightning and thunder accompany heavy snow rather than rain.

"Summer Night" is acrylic on illustration board, 7" x 10", June 1991.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Late Winter Sunset

This was the scene out my window as the sun set on Thursday, February 17. It was an unusually warm day for February and the grackle (birds) flock was making a lot of noise, one of the first sounds of spring. I quickly scratched out this study on my Wacom tablet with Photoshop, while looking out the window at the same time as my screen. I may not have been outside to do this study, but I was on site. Rather than "plein air," it was "plein office."

Photoshop, about 20 minutes, February 17, 2011.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Pure and Simple

I haven't drawn a girl for a while so here's one. She's from Playboy, that's one of my resources no matter what. The Playboy volume she appears in is called "Sexy Bare Essentials," an all-photo magazine. Here's how the introduction goes: "...20 gorgeous girls who are unafraid to reveal their bare essence and sensuality without the distraction of lingerie, silly props, or busy backgrounds. You get nothing but beautiful naked girls - pure and simple." This was produced for a specific audience, but they probably never imagined that these unencumbered poses were perfect for artists looking for pin-up models. Thanks, Playboy! The intro text reminds me of some copy I recently wrote for a sign advertising fruit and nut mixes: "pure and simple."

Original pencil drawing is about 8" x 10".

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Creature Jungle Fantasy

There was no By-Product yesterday because I lost my Internet connection, probably because of high winds and tree branches damaging a cable somewhere. You have to think about how fragile the infrastructure is that holds our global web together. Now it's back and so am I. This vintage picture is one of a very few in my entire output that depicts insects. I have a pretty butterfly but also a shiny green beetle, just a little bit grotesque. There's a lot of creatures out there, far more than anything you could imagine, just on this one little planet.

The official title of this picture is "Enchanted Jungle." Watercolor on illustration board, 6" x 9", June 1990.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Enchanted Forest

I do fantasy portrait commissions. At least, I used to in the previous millennium, before my art priorities changed and I got the day job. One of my fantasy portrait commissions was not really centered on the portrait sitter but on her ideal world and the mood it would set in the room where it was placed. My portrait person is a Pagan and a massage therapist so she wanted me to create a beautiful green forest that would express her love of nature and set a serene mood for her clients. So I painted "The Enchanted Forest," which is full of things that the viewer can find if they look closely. The portrait person herself is at the right side of the image. I included elves, fairies, a gnome, woodland creatures (rabbit, cardinal birds, squirrels, raccoon, etc.) and a Green Man.

I've posted this at a somewhat larger size than usual so you can click on the image and find all the little features I placed in the picture.

"Enchanted Forest" is watercolor on Arches watercolor board, 28" x 16", April-May 1996.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Winter Vineyard

Another "Wine Saturday," and some more drawings from the wine lodge looking out at the vineyards and the hills. These scenes are from Doukenie Winery, which is at the very northern tip of Virginia, just a few miles from the West Virginia border. I tasted some nice Sangiovese there. It's unusual for this variety to grow in Virginia, but they've done very well with it. They attribute its goodness to their winemaker, who is imported from Burgundy, France, as well as the grapes in their fields. Right now the fields and vines are still asleep, dreaming of summer.

Colored pencil in my sketchbook, February 12, 2011.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Iris Deva

Female nudes are essential in fantasy art, but since I struggle with them then and now, I decided to see how one would mix with one of my favorite two-colored purple irises. A "Deva" is a spirit attached to a living thing. In popular Asian belief everything that's alive has a little living spirit that animates it. Trees, plants, and even individual flowers can have devas. Devas look like pretty girl fairies, but without the wings.

I used an old life drawing as model here. I like the pose but my model was kind of tall and athletic and she seems a bit muscular for the part of flower fairy. I present it anyway as part of my fantasy flower series.

"Iris Deva" is watercolor on Fabriano paper, 8" x 10", June 1990.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Alien Battle

This offering comes out of my reading an interesting article about generating ideas for creatures and machines by letting Photoshop make conglomerations of random shapes. Then you take the shapes and work them into something a bit more coherent. This above is my first attempt at this technique. The illustration art I admire is filled with titanic beings in perpetual violent conflict, with slashing talons, constricting tentacles, fiery blasts. This art, which is usually used for games like this one, is mind-blastingly complex and active. I want to rise above my dull compositions and fill my screens with this kind of killer action. This one's just a start.

Photoslash, 10" x 7", about a half hour of doodling, February 11, 2011.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Laser Beam Tulip

This is one of my "flower concept" pieces from the early 90s. I would take a conventional flower rendering and put it into a fantasy setting. This one is inspired by the intense, neon-bright red color of some spring tulips. The color reminded me of a laser beam so I painted a tulip as a laser beam emitter. It may not be the most romantic portrait of a flower, but it's an original idea, at least.

"Laser Beam Tulip" is watercolor on Fabriano paper, 6" x 10", June 1990.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Workplace View

Fellow art blogger Stephen Gardner did a quick drawing of his dreary workplace on his blog so I thought I'd do one too. This is one end of my closet-like workspace which I share with two other people. The upright flat thing in the center is a sign I just completed, sitting on a desk while the paint dries. You can see boxes of our archived price tag signs stacked up on a shelf, as well as a sign which says "La Cocina Mexicana," (Mexican Cuisine). There's a grid-like calendar on the wall, and in the foreground is our durable but mediocre color inkjet printer. This is only one part of the space, not the part I work in. Perhaps I'll draw my side of it at a later date.

Sepia toned Pitt technical pen on sketch paper, 6" x 4", February 8, 2011.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Alien Egret

This was the most elaborate of the designs I submitted to costumer and fabric artist Lisa Ashton. It is an egret on another planet with two huge moons. There's something about giant moons that always jazzes up a fantasy illustration. Current fantasy landscapes are rife with them, even though moons or companion planets that close would cause planetary catastrophes from tidal stresses. Never mind that. A flying bird looks nice no matter what. This was never made into an art quilt, at least that I know about.

"Alien Egret" is gouache on illustration board, 6" x 9", June 1990.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Unarian Heaven Processional Way

Well then I've gone and done it, just as an experiment. This is a Photoshop rendering of part of the Processional Way traveled by the Celestial Bride as she approaches the throne for her coronation and wedding. Cosmic courtiers stand on the stairway waiting for Her to pass by. The brilliant white steps are strewn with pink and white roses and petals. Countless angels and doves swarm above in the nebula sky. At the top of the stairway is a blaze of light where She is standing with Her attendants waiting to begin the procession. Remember that this is all in a heavenly realm so no one will get tired walking up or down all those stairs, everyone is in an astral body.

As far as I know, all the visionary texts of Unarius were done without the use of psychedelic drugs (although you never know, they might have a few secret acid trippers). The color scheme in this sketch is described in the books. I enjoy religions which have detailed visionary texts. Fortunately, most religions do have their visionary elements, whether they are monotheistic such as Judaism, Christianity, or Islam, or multi-theistic. Non-theistic Buddhism has also got a wealth of visionary texts so I think it's something that is essential to religion. In fact if a religion does not support visions or art I don't trust it.

"Unarian Processional Way" is Photoshopadelic, 3000 pixels x 2100 pixels (10" x 7"), February 6, 2010.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Celestial Bride

The "Unarius" group in Southern California has produced some of America's finest, and most psychedelically rich, visionary texts of the twentieth century. The "Conclave of Light Beings" (Unarius Press, El Cajon, California, 1973) recounts many channeling sessions between Ruth "Uriel" Norman, the leader of the group, and various partners who ask questions and offer their own visions. The heavenly realms are filled with fabulous architecture, ethereal light effects, grand theatrical gatherings, glorious costumes, and plenty of artistic and musical references. Ruth, her partners, and other Unarius members all have had many incarnations throughout history, often as famous artists or musicians.

The most spectacular set-piece in "Conclave" is the wedding between "Ioshanna," an incarnation of Ruth, and "Michiel," or Leonardo da Vinci. This heaven-shaking event is described in a breathless stream of description, leading up to the appearance of the Celestial Bride. Here are some excerpts from the passage of the Bride:

"Then she appeared! From out the distant golden corridor, through the central arch, slowly moved forward the lovely young female form. She was gowned in an exquisite, sheer, diaphanous chiffon of the finest shimmering gossamer! The robe billowed out and seemed to float about her for several blocks behind, as she slowly moved....up the center of this great cathedral thoroughfare. The translucent material of her gown, which was of the whitest of white, radiated the crystaline energies of which all things are formed in these colorful dimensions. The lovely golden hair cascaded in graceful waves far over her shoulders, from the top of her lovely head to below her tiny waist. It seemed to glisten as though made of the finest of webs of the material in the chiffon. The strands of hair seemed to be of a fine, spun glass crystal. Her eyes were luminous and of deepest blue...Her face was very transparent - as alabaster and most ethereal...
It is she! It is now realized by all, that the lovely Being who is in the center of focus, is the (present) Unarius Channel Ioshanna!" (Conclave, pgs. 130-131)

The model for this is the same lady who posed for me in the big blue dress as the Earth Goddess. She really did look like the Celestial Bride, complete with shining gold hair and lovely blue eyes.

I am tempted to bring some of these visions to modern viewers via the crystalline energies of Photoshop!
This early vision of the Bride is mere ink and watercolor on illustration board, 7" x 12", May 1988.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Iris of the Moon

In the early 1990s I created a lot of ladylike flower paintings. They appealed to a portion of my clientele and I could sell them all. I haven't done a flower painting for many years now, I want my output to be more macho. I still like this blue-purple color scheme though.

"Iris of the Moon" is watercolor and gouache on illustration board, 6" x 9", June 1990.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Valentines Menu

It's not my favorite holiday of the year, but I am obligated to make signs about it, so here is this year's version of the Valentine's Day sign. Share bacon or Virginia ham with your loved one at "Bagels, Deli, and Donuts."

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Punksy Phil Didn't See It

That's right, "Punxsutawney Phil," the Groundhog Day Woodchuck, did not see his shadow on February 2. This is unusual. Most years, he sees the shadow and goes back underground. As the legend has it, if Phil does not see his shadow, then spring will come early. But what is the truth about this? Here it is. If Phil sees his shadow, we will have a month and a half more winter. If Phil does not see his shadow, winter will end in six weeks.

I draw one of these little guys every Groundhog Day. I have been experimenting with doodles, which give me permission to draw things I don't usually draw because they are insignificant. I can't always be Serious.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Cosmic Rays and Atmosphere Layers

This is another of my art quilt designs for Lisa Ashton. The abstract design is meant to depict cosmic rays, or highly energetic charged particles, raining down on the earth through the layers of the atmosphere. Some of the areas of the cosmic rays, in red or pink, are actually painted in metallic paint, which would be represented by metallic cloth when the quilt was made. The photograph was poor so this image had to be extensively restored in Photoshop, from my memories of what the original looked like. I don't know whether this was ever made into a quilt.

"Cosmic Rays and Atmosphere Layers" is 6" x 9", gouache and metallic paint on illustration board, late spring 1990.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Snacks for Kids

I haven't been doing too many signs for Trader Joe's lately, but here's one for the nut and dried fruit section. My manager likes and wants cute and funny stuff. What I didn't count on was that the cartoony kid in the picture snarfing down a fruit bar would be thought of as a portrait of a real kid. Immediately on my displaying the sign, a youngster laughed and put his hand up to his mouth just like the painted image. And one of the employees swore that he had seen this boy among the customers just the other day.

Acrylic markers on black-painted Masonite, around 30" x 20", January 2011.