Thursday, June 30, 2011

Chieri of Darkover miniatures

Marion Zimmer Bradley made up some native races of sentient beings who lived on Darkover, the world of the Red Sun. The most enchanting was the chieri (pronounced ki-eri), who were very tall, telepathic, graceful, silver-haired mystical folk who wandered around mostly naked, draped only in filmy streams of spider-silk, even in extremely cold weather. Once upon a time, as the lore goes, the chieri were an advanced, starfaring race who left their planet of origin, Darkover, and colonized the galaxy. But over the millennia, due to their low fertility, they died out and the remnant returned to Darkover to wander around the wilderness and act mystical and poetic, sort of like elves. To their romantic advantage, despite the low fertility, they can change from male to female or back again, depending on the gender and/or desire of their partner, and they were able to breed with human colonists, thus giving humans fantastic psychic powers. This was one of the best parts of the Darkover mythos.

I illustrated a number of chieri stories, and made these two miniatures with chieri characters on them. One was a gift for the author Marion, and she may have worn it a couple of times. The other was a commission from a Darkover fan.

Both miniatures are watercolor and ink on Fabriano paper, 3 1/2" x 2 1/4". Top one is fall 1979, bottom one is summer 1979.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Portrait of Rosie

"Rosie" is a Golden Retriever whose family lives down the block from my parents in Massachusetts. I visit Rosie and her people whenever I go up for a family visit. These neighbors knew I did portraits of people and pets so they commissioned me to do a portrait of their dog. Since dogs are unlikely to stay still, like babies and young children, I took a set of photographs and combined the best of them to use as references. I've done a number of human and animal portraits over the years.

"Rosie" is colored pencil on Bristol board, 11" x 14", June 2006.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Celtic Knotwork miniature

Jane Sibley is a real person. I have known her and been her friend for over 30 years. We first got to know each other at DarkoverCon, where she has always had a dealership selling semi-precious stones and specialty food and spice mixes. She has had a life in the Society for Creative Anachronism for all those years as well. She currently markets a wide selection of spice mixes under the name of "Auntie Arwen's Spices" and they are delicious. I have a nice collection of them and they are especially good for meats and vegetables. She is the "Arwen" of the nametag miniature a few posts previous to this. I made this badge for her when she acted as my art nametag agent and sold some pieces for me. The Celtic knotwork is copied from an authentic source and I did it by hand, not a photocopy. In those days I had more time to do intricate stuff like that.

Jane Sibley's nametag is ink and watercolor on Fabriano paper, 3 1/2" x 2 1/4", May 1981.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Ann'dra of Darkover Miniature

This nametag miniature portrait commission makes the character into a powerful magic-user. Isn't that what fantasy is all about? He bought my art back in the days when you could get an original piece for $20 or even less. I made him into a Darkovan "techno-mage," wielding psychic powers which worked like science. I'm still into the techno-mage mythos, but Darkover has faded into ancient history.

Magic-user namebadge is ink and watercolor on Fabriano paper, 3 1/2" x 2 1/4", fall 1981.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Return to Casanel Vineyards

I visited Casanel Vineyards in March of this year, where I was welcomed with family-like hospitality. So for my birthday (June 25) I went back there, to taste wine again including their new sweet white. I got a glass of the new wine and enjoyed it with one of Chef Miriam's excellent "personal size" mushroom pizzas. I also enjoyed talking with fellow wine drinkers at an outdoor table. At wineries, it's OK to talk with strangers. They are there for recreation and are almost always cheerful, having consumed the divine nectar of happiness.

Pitt brown technical pen and colored pencils, sketchbook page about 8" x 10", June 25, 2011.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Arwen Name Badge miniature

This name badge was made for a friend who called herself "Arwen" in the pseudo-medieval "Society for Creative Anachronism" as well as in the Darkover fan community. The "S.C.A" has dominated fantasy fan life for more than 40 years. Even before the Internet, fantasy and science fiction fans had a closely shared culture which was amazingly coherent from one end of the USA to the other. It was a mix of adapted Medieval culture, Tolkien, "Star Wars," and various television programs. It was so consistent that a fan from California could easily finish a sentence started by a fan from Boston. The "Arwen" in this picture is not the character Arwen from Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings," but a very idealized picture of the SCA persona that the client adopted.

I would guess that very few of the originals of these nametag badges have survived, due to the irregularity of the fannish lifestyle. You are seeing something way back in history, at least my history. It brings back many memories for me, of acting out a fantasy persona in the halls of some suburban motel, pretending I had psychic powers, and creating fantasy identities for other players just like me.

"Arwen" name badge miniature is 2 1/4" x 3 1/2," watercolor and acrylic on Fabriano paper, fall 1980.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Americana in Markham

Markham, Virginia is at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It's about an hour's drive from suburban Washington, DC. On the drive from Tysons Corner westward, I leave the shopping centers, office buildings, apartment blocks, crammed parking lots, and other features of "civilization" behind and retreat into a place where old buildings still exist and round hay bales sit in green meadows. This old post office, which is a legitimate post office and not a tourist reconstruction, is just off the big highway but is in its own little idyllic pocket. There is a railway a few yards away and I watched with awe as a freight train made its way through. Up the hill from the railway is the "Chateau O'Brien" winery. There are some old hotel and business buildings by the track which have been converted to residences. I love drawing places like this.

Sketch page is Pitt brown ink marker and colored pencils, June 23, 2011. Click on the picture for a somewhat larger version.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Goddess of the Summer Solstice

The summer solstice has just passed, and it saw me working on this experimental digital piece, called at the last minute "Goddess of the Summer Solstice." My recent work with life drawing has inspired me to work on paintings/digital works which include beautiful women in revealing costumes or mostly nude. Most of the fantasy art I see features beautiful women, in various states of undress, even if they are in the midst of battle. I want to be a fantasy illustrator, so I also must have these women in my pictures. I am more confident in drawing figures than I used to be, though I still have a long way to go. A well-known illustrator, guest at Balticon, suggested that I combine "realistic" elements with my "geometric" style, and this is one of my first attempts to do this.

This is one of a pair of experimental pictures. This one is digital, in which I take advantage of all the cool tricks that Photoshop's layering techniques and semi-opaque blends allow me to do. The next one in this pair will be done conventionally, on a panel with real acrylic paint. I may use an airbrush if I feel like it. These will both be portfolio pieces, to be shown to potential clients.

"Goddess of the Summer Solstice" is Photoshop, 300 DPI, 8 1/2" x 11", June 2011. Click on the picture for a somewhat larger view.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Free Amazon Darkover portrait

Lo, and in those days, Darkover was still a living world, populated by fans, and the Author of the Universe, Marion Zimmer Bradley, was alive and writing. People would adopt Darkovan identities, and even make real-world affiliations out of fictional Darkovan associations. Such were the Free Amazons of Darkover, a group of women who reject traditional marriage and live together in chapter houses, serving as craftswomen, midwives and healers, and mercenary soldiers. I haven't met any Free Amazons for quite a while, and the idea is still attractive. But constantly disorganized fans living together in a kind of secular convent is a recipe for disaster, so perhaps it's better left unrealized in the real world. The best idea was to hire me to paint your portrait as a Darkovan Free Amazon, as this woman did in the long-lost days of 1983.

"Free Amazon of Darkover" is acrylic on illustration board, 8" x 10," November 1983.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Cat Witch Miniature

The art director for my first professional job was Betsy Groban, and her boss at Gregg Press was Tom Beeler, who is currently a newspaper editor in New Hampshire. Betsy asked me to make a nametag miniature for him (I had already made one for her). She said he liked cats and the "Witch World" series of fantasy author Andre Norton, so I should make a miniature inspired by those things. Hence my "Cat Witch" nametag for Tom Beeler. Beeler also commissioned my rendering of Tolkien's city of Minas Tirith, which I posted here this April. The plant in the upper right corner is a "peace lily" (or spathyphyllium), a house plant in my dwelling. I still have the descendants of that plant now, 33 years later.

"Cat Witch" nametag is watercolor and ink on Fabriano paper, 3 1/2" x 2 1/2", Summer 1978.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Nervous Little Green Truck

I found him in the back lot of my workplace when I went to take the trash to the Dumpster. He was sitting behind Ledo Pizza, probably hoping for a handout or a dropped piece of crust. He was nervous and seemed a bit sad, but he didn't run away when I approached him. I could see by his tags that he was not a runaway but had an owner, but his scruffy appearance showed that he had done a lot of rough work. Not a pampered house truck by any means. He looked at me with the patience and resignation that I have come to expect from vehicles, no matter how bright and cheerful their color is. His work brings him only briefly into my world; in a few days he will go on to other toil. Good luck, little green truck.

Now you know something about me. Whether it's a balloon in a wastebasket or a mini truck in back of a retail building, or the markers I use at work, I believe that all things have some sort of "life." They don't have the biological life of an animal, but they have a story life which I perceive and respect. They are part of a little area of history, not famous relics or slick objects of admiration, but the small, humble things which make up our world and deserve to be treated well. And when they break, age out, or fail, they deserve to be treated with either repairs, recycling, re-owning, or at least a respectful farewell.

This is why, when a marker is out of ink and must be discarded, I perform a very brief "marker funeral," thanking it for its service in our sign-making studio. "Thank you, marker, for your service." I can thank even trivial objects like paper cups if I feel like it, before I pitch them into the trash. Needless to say, my co-workers think I am silly. Hipsters, manly men, rationalists, scientists, and modern civilized urban people like you can laugh at me, but I don't care.

Believing that things have "souls," I believe, leads to an attitude of care and compassion not only for human-created artifacts (which, after all, use up precious and limited resources), but for humans, animals and plants, and the earth we live on, too. But I am not a paragon of eco-sensitivity by any means. I am just caught up in sentimental imaginings. Now you know.

The Little Green Vehicle, by the way, is a Komatsu forklift, rented out by Sunbelt equipment rentals of Virginia. This emotional face is actually on the back of the truck.

And yes, this is a photograph, not an artwork by me. It happens sometimes here.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Piedmont Vineyards

"Wine Saturday" took me (after much aimless driving around the beautiful Virginia countryside) to Piedmont Vineyards in Middleburg. As with all the other wineries, Piedmont is situated in a green and beautiful park-like environment, with many historic or picturesque buildings on the site. The air is filled with birds and their calls. Wine can be sipped in the tasting room and on the open deck. They have a nice variety of wines there, and the standout for me was their "Native Yeast" Chardonnay. This sounds a bit on the biological side, but it makes a creamy, rich Chardonnay given a distinctive touch of oak as well. I took my glass of golden Chardonnay to my car where I sat doing the color drawing up above. As usual I attracted some visitors who were fascinated to watch art sketching being done. After I finished the color one I found a better view of a pyramid-roofed farm structure (a corn crib, for storing animal feed) which I drew with my brown technical pen.

Color drawing is in Pitt brown technical pen and colored pencils, about 6" x 5". Brown drawing of corn crib is in Pitt technical pen, about 7" x 5".

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Forlorn Balloon

This is the only drawing, so far, that I have ever done in a bathroom stall, unless you include graffiti, which I may have done in my best-forgotten high school days. It was made during my recent trip to the Tysons Corner Mall. There was a wastebasket in the stall, which was the larger kind of chamber usually reserved for disabled people or mothers with children. Someone had placed the balloon in the wastebasket, or rather its string anchor, as it still had enough buoyancy to float. Moved by its poignancy, I wanted to take its picture but I had no camera, not cell phone nor iPad 2. So I pulled out my iPad 1 and drew this quick sketch, hoping that someone would not try to claim the toilet stall.

I felt the pathos of this little scene, the cheerful yellow balloon thrown into the trash in this perpetually dim, airless, grubby environment. It spends its last hours here, bravely rising above the refuse, cast off by heedless people. It seemed humanoid to me, the balloon head on its string neck, above the elegantly draped wastebasket body. I always feel a special sadness when I see things like toys or wrapping paper or other cheerful stuff rejected or trod into trash or debris. So now the little balloon, or at least its image, will be remembered, at least for a while.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Patriotic Bagels and Sandwiches

This is from my other signmaking job, if you call unofficially working for barter a job. Mena's snack shop is filled with my designs and lettering. I change this main advertising board every few weeks, to match the time of year. Hence, the pre-July 4th "patriotic" theme. According to Mena the proprietor, customers love the sign and often ask about it. Chalk markers on 3' x 2' board, June 16, 2011.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Plein Mall

The important thing in middlebrow art these days is that your work has to have been done entirely in "plein air," that is, sitting outside in the environment with your paints, depicting what you see on-site. Well, now that I have the iPad, I can create on-site color sketches anywhere without all that messy paint or intrusive easel. (I can also do that with colored pencils, though it's still somewhat bulky.) And instead of working in some pretty "natural" environment, I took my iPad to the mall. So this is a "painting" done in "plein Mall." You can see I'm still learning to control the medium, since my lines and areas are still sort of irregular. But I've got the color matching pretty well. This is a detail of the rotunda in the newer section of Tysons Corner Mall. What is interesting, if a bit dazzling, is that the bright purple color you see in the round coffers of the ceiling is one of any number of colors that light it up. It switches from purple to red to green to blue to white and so forth. I liked the purple best, so I chose that shade for the image.

Here's an art sketch Weblog by a major professional movie designer, and all his views are done on an iPad.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Excellent Cookie Kid

The "Excellent Cookie Kid" is the sister of the "Fruit Bar Boy" I featured in another Trader Joe's art post. She will appear in the cookie section, above the freezer. These are mostly the crunchy type of cookie, which is best dipped in milk or coffee. When I am checking out people's purchases at the register, I often find cookie packages already broken into, with a satisfied kid and mother wiping crumbs off their chins. That's right, people open and eat stuff while they are still in the store. At least they pay for it...well, I assume that most of them do. I don't see the wrappers, etc. that children leave behind.

The "Excellent Kid" is acrylic marker on black-painted Masonite, about 2 feet square, June 2011.

(TJ's Artist Hub, you're invited to pick this up if you want...)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Coffee Faerie Queen

As a Starbucks devotee, I consume coffee there constantly. Some years ago, I had the privilege of decorating their "Daily Offerings" board with fanciful designs, changing every few months. As long as I decorated there, I would get free coffee from that shop. My model for this one was a beautiful Somali girl who was a barista there that year. She wore Islamic garb but she looked like a fashion model wearing it. I transformed her into the Coffee Faerie Queen, complete with wings and brocade-trimmed robes. I did fanciful designs like this for a number of Starbuckses over the years, but in 2009 their policy changed and only people who actually worked there could do the boards. And all the designs for the boards must be strictly copied from examples in Starbucks' marketing book for that season. But I had a good time being coffee creative while I could. The corner at the upper left was intentionally left blank to accommodate a pre-made Starbucks graphic. This board dates from June of 2006.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Space architecture miniature

Betsy Groban was my first professional editor. She oversaw my first professional jobs, with the collector's-item house, Gregg Press. I did many black and white frontispieces for their reprints of books by Marion Zimmer Bradley, Philip Dick, and Zenna Henderson. She is still in publishing, somewhere as an executive in the children's book sector.

In those days, as I have said in a previous post, I did nametag miniatures for everyone I knew who was at all connected with science fiction and fantasy. I did this one for Betsy, just as a complimentary gift from a grateful artist. The name is inscribed in a piece of science fiction architecture, orbiting a bright but alien yellow sun.

Betsy Groban's nametag miniature is ink and watercolor on Fabriano paper, 3 1/2" x 2 1/4", Summer 1978.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Thunder Wine

I wine, rain or shine. When I started off for my winery visit this Saturday, it was sunny and bright. But as I approached wine territory, the sky got darker and darker and soon I found myself driving through a violent thunderstorm, complete with high winds and hail. The main force of the storm had passed, by the time I came to my destination winery, Chateau O'Brien in Fauquier County. But it was still raining. I drove up the gravel road towards the wine lodge and was waved back by a man holding a purple umbrella. (He was the owner of Chateau O'Brien.) Why couldn't we go through? Because a medium-sized tree had been blown down by the storm winds and blocked the road completely. I parked in the lower, "overflow" lot and crawled over the tree trunk to get to the tasting room. There I sipped some excellent wine, while the thunder still rumbled above the green hills. With a glass of Cabernet Franc and some warm bread, I sat at a table on their sheltered wine porch and drew the drawing above.

When it was time to leave, the tree had been cut up and removed. No vines or people were hurt in the storm. The sunlight had returned. I sat on the tailgate of my car and drew the picture of Chateau O'Brien's gateway, seen below, using my recently acquired iPad. This is the first iPad drawing I've posted to this Blog. To fulfil artistic honesty, I must say that I adjusted and did some more work on it in Photoshop once I got it home. Now to download some wine apps.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Summer Memory Sketch

The "scatter" option on Photoshop brushes is hugely useful. With it, you can add in patterns of leaves which are just random enough but which form branches and masses of foliage. In conventional paint, I do this by using what I call in highly technical language, a brush with a "mushy end." It's a firm bristle brush where you dab paint on by stabbing the loaded tip at your canvas. Photoshop is much less messy. I love painting images of trees and forests. That's the environment in which I grew up. I am still hoping to live in a place in the USA which is warm all year round and has nice green trees. Florida is warm all year round but its trees are weird and I would have to learn some sort of palm frond technique on Photoshop and with my mushy end.

Photoshop sketch from memory, 7" x 10", June 11, 2011.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Saint Leibowitz miniature

1979 was a year of major turmoil for me. I converted to Roman Catholicism after many years of struggle. I finally felt, that year, that God was really calling me to join this church. I still am a Catholic after all these years, though I don't go to church right now.

My guides and friends as I made the journey to the Catholic Church were a group of Jesuits in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I attended their church, which was borrowed from the Episcopals at the Episcopal Divinity School. I made friends with a number of them and attempted to learn the ways of Ignatian spirituality. Saint Ignatius, the founder of the Jesuit Order, has always been an inspiration to me.

Michael was one of my Jesuit friends, and I later designated him as my Godfather - not a Mafia don, but a spiritual mentor. He loved reading science fiction, and when I was doing nametag badges for all of my friends, he got one too. He asked for a character portrait from the famous post-apocalyptic tale "A Canticle for Leibowitz" by Walter Miller. This character appears to a monk spending time in the desert; he is a mysterious prophetic wanderer who may be Saint Leibowitz himself. The Hebrew letters on the Wanderer's hat are L and TZ: the first and last letters of "Leibowitz."

"Saint Leibowitz" is ink and watercolor on Fabriano paper, 2 1/4" x 3 1/2", February 1979.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Geometric excerpt sky

I try not to post too many vintage pieces in a row, so here's part of something I'm working on now. You can't see the whole thing yet because it is not done. There is much more to do on this. Sky blue is one of my favorite colors anyway, I wouldn't mind making a whole panel full of it. This originated with a "wire-frame" geometric design in Adobe Illustrator which I then colored in with Photoshop. I designate the shapes with the "edge-finding" tool and then am able to paint digitally within the selected area. Any stray bits (pixels) can be corrected later. It is faster than acrylic because you don't have to wait for it to dry. But it is still just as painstaking when it comes to detail and texture. One thing lacking in digital work is that I can't use iridescent or metallic paint, so I simulate it with texture "brushwork."

The final piece will be quite different, so stay tuned.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Darkovan glamor girl miniature

The world of Darkover featured ideal fantasy women who were tall, beautiful, flame-red-haired, and gifted with magic powers. Thirty-five years later, nothing has changed. Fantasy women are still beautiful, tall, red-haired, and gifted with magic powers. And buxom, too. I am still waiting for nanotechnology to give us the power to re-shape our bodies into anything we want. Then every fantasy female fan will transform into a gorgeous natural redhead with a fabulous figure.

Marla was a fan in Boston who commissioned a Darkovan fantasy character nametag miniature from me. Marla didn't look like this. She was an engineer, though, so she did have magic powers (to make things work.). I took my Darkovan inspiration from the art of the "Pre-Raphaelites" artist movement of the late 19th century. They depicted tall, beautiful, dreamy, red-headed women in long dresses, often in some form of altered consciousness.

Darkovan character portrait nametag is, as always, watercolor on Fabriano paper, 2 1/4" x 3 1/2”, Spring 1979.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Dog and Cat Portrait Miniature

Vicki was a Boston fan who commissioned a nametag miniature from me. Instead of her own portrait or a fantasy character, she requested a portrait of her dog and cat. She gave me a photograph to work from and this was the result. I added spring flowers and a collar of flowers around the dog's neck. I still do pet portraits but they are larger now.

Vicki's dog and cat are depicted in ink and watercolor on Fabriano paper, 3 1/2" x 2 1/4", Spring 1979.

PostNote: Have you wondered what "Fabriano paper" is? No? Well, I'll tell you anyway. Fabriano paper is made from cotton fibers in Italy. The company which makes the paper has been in existence since the 13th century, amazingly. The paper is thick and absorbent, and also takes ink drawings well without the ink spreading or oozing. It is a very nice surface for watercolor over ink painting. I still use it after more than 700 years (I mean, 34 years...). Is anyone reading this? What do I have to do to get someone to comment on my work here? How about a kitty and a doggie.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Blaine of Darkover Miniature

By the late 1970s I regularly attended science fiction conventions where I showed art and sold some of it. I also got portrait commissions from fans who wanted their fantasy identity on a nametag miniature. A Darkover fan named Blaine commissioned his portrait as an Earthling visitor to Darkover, who "went native" and learned how to use the magical blue-glowing "matrix stone" crystals. He asked that the picture be adapted from the Michael Whelan cover to the Ace edition of THE BLOODY SUN by Marion Zimmer Bradley. This was commissioned at Boskone 1979 in February, and was done in the spring of that year.

"Blaine of Darkover" is ink and watercolor on Fabriano paper, 2 1/4" x 3 1/2", spring 1979.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Sunset Hills Vineyard

The wine destination this Saturday was Sunset Hills Vineyard in Loudoun County, Virginia. They have an extensive set-up with a number of restored farm buildings and houses. There are plenty of vineyards, now just finishing their flowers and setting fruit. There is also an old stone springhouse and a patch of forest. The large barn you see here is a mid-19th century structure which has been renovated and turned into a rustic-luxurious tasting room and event area, with two elevated porches in the back for outdoor sipping. There is also a pavilion for more sipping, which was where I was when I drew this. I wasn't under the pavilion though, and as the oncoming purple clouds show, rain arrived while I was drawing this. I had to pack up my art stuff and finish it later, in my studio. Sunset Hills produces some very nice reds and my inspiration today was their Cabernet Franc Reserve.

Sunset Hills drawing is Pitt brown technical pen and colored pencil, 10" x 6", June 4, 2011.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Pink Car

On the "First Friday" of each month, there's a little festival in downtown Falls Church. Stores stay open late, there's an art show in the local gallery, and in the lot outside the gallery during the warmer months, there's a party open to everyone. A band plays, there are craft vending booths, and there is a gathering of beautifully restored or modified vintage cars and hot rods, driven by their proud owners. I love these vehicles and never get tired of drawing them. This drawing shows a pink and white 1956 Ford Sunliner, and a 1930s-era Dodge in back. I am old enough to remember seeing these pastel-colored, two toned cars on the road. They were considered a bit tacky then, but now, like so many other relics of 1950s design, they are treasured collector's items.

Sketch is black Pitt technical pen on sketchbook page, color added in Photoshop, about 9" x 6", June 3, 2011.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Digital Nude

I don't get to go to life drawing sessions right now, though I do hope to find some more of them soon. Meanwhile I must content myself with photographs of well-posed models from my various resource books, and my Wacom tablet and Photoshop rather than pencil and paper. I never got to ask my live models to take superhero or pin-up poses but that is what I want to draw. How do you turn a realistic live model into a pin-up girl? Most pin-up artists used photographs of professional models who already had the look, the figure, and the cosmetics for pin-up cheesecake. Right now I have a lot of figure drawings but have not drawn any pin-ups, warrior babes, or superheroes.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Nycteris character miniature

Some people who commissioned nametag miniatures asked for a portrait of their favorite fantasy character. This was one of those. The figure here is "Nycteris, Isis of the Snows," an original character made up by the client. "Ted" was the male partner of a fan couple who I spent a lot of time with in Cambridge in the '80s. He cultivated imaginary worlds, some of them related to role-playing games. He's still in Boston somewhere, and I met him again at the Boston Worldcon in 2004. I don't know what happened to his imaginary worlds and characters.

"Nycteris" miniature is watercolor on Fabriano paper, 2 1/4" x 3 1/2", February 1978.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Hunt Valley architectural detail

The Hunt Valley Inn in Towson, Maryland, site of the Balticon convention, is full of quirky architecture. Conventioneers who visit this place often get lost in its labyrinthine halls. Some conventioneers call it the "Rabbit Hole" or the "Habitrail." But its twists and turns allow the rooms to have more privacy and serenity than the usual hotel room, since every room has a view of a little courtyard with greenery. These courtyards can be entered through side doors and small landings such as this one. There may or may not have been an architect involved, but I am fond of this building despite its chaotic layout.

Sketch in black Pitt technical pen on sketchbook paper, about 6 inches square.