Monday, October 31, 2011

Autumn Winery

I've returned from a very difficult trip to my aged parents in Massachusetts. I'd rather not talk about personal stuff on this Blog, but I will say that I think my parents need more help in their household than they have. My father refuses all help because it costs money and invades his privacy....and costs money, even though they can afford it. There are mental issues. More than that I will not say in public here.

One of the few bright moments on the week-long trip was my gift for Mother's 90th birthday: a wine tasting at Nashoba Valley Winery in Bolton, Mass. I sat on the wine porch and did this iPad drawing of their grounds with their Chinesey gazebo. I bought a bottle of their delicious "Dry Pear" wine, made from pears. In Massachusetts, only a few varieties of wine grapes will grow, but Nashoba Valley is full of orchards, and wineries make excellent vintages from fruit.

I did a number of iPad drawings on my visit, and I'll feature some of them here. I got caught in the October snowstorm on my way back, taking refuge in a nice Marriott hotel. I just didn't have the desire to make an iPad drawing of all that snow.

Nashoba Winery sketch is done in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, about 10" x 7".

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Traveling Heavy

It's that time of year again, when go up to the Boston area to visit my elderly parents. I don't know whether I will be able to post to the By-product when I am up there. It depends on availability of internet access and time to post. Also, I may not get time to make any art. I will be there for a week. I'll have the iPad so I won't lack for gadgety resources.

Doglike beast of burden drawn in Photoschlep, 22 October 2011.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Deryni Couple miniatures

The Deryni are a race of psychically empowered humans who lived among normal humans in a medieval civilization created by author Katherine Kurtz. Their origins are obscure, perhaps either extraterrestrial or elvish. Purebred Deryni look a bit like elves, with fair hair and brilliant eyes, but no pointed ears. They can interbreed with humans and so a number of empowered half-Deryni exist in Kurtz' world, whether for good or ill. The normal folk persecute the Deryni as witches and heretics. Kurtz' Deryni books contain many graphic depictions of this brutality.

Two of Kurtz' favorite characters are Rhys and Evaine, a married pair of full-bred Deryni. Rhys is a physician and psychic healer. Evaine is a scholar and researcher, the daughter of a great Deryni statesman, Camber of Culdi. In these miniature portraits, Rhys in the symbolic green of a Healer shows the tools of his trade, a scalpel and a bunch of herbs. Evaine holds a distaff for hand-spinning fiber, something which any good woman of any class would do in those days of old.

Katherine Kurtz is married to Scott MacMillan. They're friends of mine, and I did these nametags for them to wear at public occasions and conventions. But I decided to do a character switch with the portraits, symbolic of marital devotion: the man wears his wife's portrait and the woman wears her husband's portrait. This exchange didn't quite go as planned, as there were too many questions asked about why the nametags were switched.

Rhys and Evaine portrait miniatures are ink and watercolor (some restoration in Photoshop) on Fabriano paper, each 2 1/4" x 3 1/2", August 1984. Click on the pic for a bit larger view.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Leesburg Side Porch

This is a well-restored porch in the town of Leesburg. I love porches and would like to live in a house with one, the way I did when I was in Cambridge, Mass. You can do all sorts of container landscaping with it and you can sit outside in good weather and still be under shelter. Porches have been said to increase good community feeling because back in the "old days" before air conditioning people would sit out on their porches and visit each other and socialize. I don't know whether that happens any more anywhere in the USA. This building may be a private house, or it could be a gift shop. I am not sure whether it is completely legal for me to make a publicly viewed art piece from a privately owned house without the owners' permission. I have changed enough details on this house so that it is not easily recognizable.

Leesburg porch picture is brown ink from technical pens on Fabulous Fabriano Paper, 7 1/2" x 10", October 19-20, 2011. Color will be added later. Click on the pic for a somewhat larger view. With a needle-pointed, old fashioned Rapidograph tech pen, you can get a lot of deeee-tail into a drawing.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Tolkien Hobbit Miniatures

Laura and David, the previous nametag people, had (and have) two children. Sam was born in 1984, and Eleanor was born in 1986. Though these are family names, they not so coincidentally were also important characters in Tolkien's Middle-earth mythos. Sam Gamgee was the incredibly loyal gardener who accompanied Frodo on his quest to return the Ring of Power to its origin. Eleanor (spelled "Elanor" in the books) was Sam Gamgee's daughter. She is holding the book of Middle-Earth's history and mythology, the "Red Book of Westmarch." Both these portraits were done when the future owners were just babies, and the faces are, like the previous two, idealized character portraits and not representative of any real person, at least, not in this world.

Sam and Eleanor's nametag miniatures are the usual configuration. Sam's is from February 1985, and Eleanor's is from February 1987.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tolkien Couple Miniatures

David and Laura were a married pair who loved Tolkien's characters and world. They were some of my best friends during the 1980s when we all lived in Massachusetts. I helped raise their children and we enjoyed many good times together gardening and eating Japanese food in local restaurants. When it came time to do nametag miniatures for them, they asked not for their own portraits but of their favorite Tolkien characters, in these two, Aragorn and Princess Arwen Evenstar. Aragorn is dressed in the heraldic armor described by Tolkien and bears a royal banner, also described in "Lord of the Rings." Arwen holds one of the Rings of Power. This was long before the movie versions of "Lord of the Rings" came out.

Laura and David are no longer together, and we have all moved in very different directions, but I still can remember our good times together when I see these little character portraits.

Both miniatures are, as always, ink and watercolor on Fabriano paper, 2 1/4" x 3 1/2",
February 1984.

Monday, October 17, 2011

"Star-a-Star" miniature

This nametag portrait commission mystified me until the guy explained it to me. He wanted his portrait as one of the "Grey Lensmen," the proto-Jedi Knights of the great early science fiction of E.E. "Doc" Smith. These heroes wandered around the galaxy in their space cruisers, righting wrongs and fighting space crime. According to my portrait person, "Star-a-Star" was the code name for one of the Lensmen characters. It may have also had some computer code significance for the portrait guy. It's been a while (a century?) since I read any of these books so if any one of you knows where this codename occurs, or has familiarity with the "Lensmen" series, I'd love to hear more. I remember having a lot of fun reading the books, and wonder why they haven't been made into films, comics, or games. There seemed to be a lot of good stuff to illustrate in them and I would be interested in it. Anyway, it was all a long time ago...

"Lensman" nametag miniature is ink, watercolor, and gouache, 3 1/2" x 2 1/4", December 1984.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Douglas Skyrocket miniature

In the early to mid-80s I used to hang out with science fiction author Shariann Lewitt. We would build worlds, try out plots, and explore esotericism together. She had ambitions to be a famous s.f. novelist, as I had ambitions to be an s.f./fantasy illustrator. She got further along in her dream career than I did. We drifted apart in the later 80s and she moved to the Boston area where she now teaches writing at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. I did some art commissions for her and this is one of them. She loved test pilots and the "Top Gun" types, and some of her books celebrated this sort of flyer characters. The plane depicted here is the Douglas Skyrocket, an early supersonic jet sponsored and flown by the Navy. I copied the image of the plane from the cover of THE LONELY SKY, a book about test pilots. It is one of the few nametag miniatures that I painted in acrylic paint.

"Douglas Skyrocket" is acrylic on Fabriano paper, 3 1/2" x 2 1/4", spring 1984.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Autumn at Piedmont

I wined on Friday instead of Saturday, and went back to Piedmont winery and vineyards, hidden away in the fancy hunt country of Northern Virginia. Their standout wines are a trio of Chardonnays, one without oak, one with "native yeast" which is the stuff that naturally occurs in their vines and makes fermentation happen. The third is a "Reserve" that is delicate, aged in oak for a longer time than the others. I sat inside the tasting room and sipped Reserve and drew this scene on my iPad. The pyramidal building is a corn crib (storage bin) which is on the property but currently unused.

Drawn on the iPad, "Autodesk Sketchbook Pro," October 14, 2011. Some touchups were done in Photoshop.

Friday, October 14, 2011

More Leesburg Log House

You may remember that in August I posted a picture of an old log house in Leesburg, VA. Well, here it is again, the Donaldson house right on one of the main streets of the historic Old Town. This time I drew it in colored ink which will be painted over in watercolor. For some reason, this drawing makes it look like a toy. I played with "Lincoln Logs" when I was a kid and I built things like this. I'd love to have Lincoln Logs to play with again.

Donaldson house is ink on Fabriano paper, 10" x 8", October 13-14, 2011.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Ornate Leesburg Facade

This ornate 19th century building facade was created by craftsmen in Leesburg, Virginia who wanted to show off their woodworking skills. It is the Norris House, which is now a bed and breakfast inn. The innkeepers are British expatriates, hence the Union Jack flying next to the Stars and Stripes. I had a nice conversation with them when I photographed the building for my reference, and I'd love to stay there someday. This drawing was done from one of the photographs I made on that day. (The usual disclaimer apology for not doing the drawing on site like a "real" artist.) Leesburg is full of interesting architecture and I am starting a series of architectural studies which will be shown in a gallery there.

"Norris House" is technical pen in brown ink on Fabriano paper, 8" x 10", October 12-13, 2011. Color will be added shortly.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Christian Wizard miniature

There has always been a connection between religion and magic. Magic seeks to influence reality by symbolic actions, and so does religion, though its attempts to influence reality (or God, if you wish) are more pleading than commanding. The "Deryni" series of author Katherine Kurtz, set in an imaginary medieval world where magic works as well as engineering, explore the boundaries between "legitimate" religion and "occult" magic. This nametag blank is a portrait of a non-specified wizard from the Deryni world, who conjures by magic as well as praying to God. Is that a good combination? The Inquisition would say no, but the fans say yes.

"Deryni Wizard" nametag miniature is ink and watercolor on Fabriano paper, 3 1/2" x 2 1/4", summer 1981.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Autumn Flyer Sign

This is what I've been working at for Trader Joe's lately. The design is not mine, it was done by a co-worker in the sign crew. The making of the signs was my job. The assignment was to make 12 identical signs, with the same design on both sides (it needed to be adjusted a little bit to reverse). That's 24 sides. The base material is Masonite, which was first primed with spray primer coat. Then I traced the design onto the boards. A helpful crewmember with a skill-saw cut them out to the shape you see. Then I painted them with spray paint. Due to bad weather which made it impossible to spray outdoors, I had to take them into my apartment and spray them all in my living room, on a surface of cardboard sheets and newspapers. When they were dry, I returned them to Trader Joe's and painted the details on the leaves with acrylic. Then after that I painted the yellow leaves and lettering onto the signs. That's 24 sign faces in about, uh, 42 hours. In an ideal workshop with enough space to work on them all simultaneously, I might have taken less time. They are now done and will be hanging in Trader Joe's Tysons today.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Koori's Nametag

When I was in Ireland long ago, I saw people (especially in the rural areas) who had hair so red it seemed literally to glow like neon lights. Their skin was pale pink and almost translucent, but they were not albinos. I suspect they were a little inbred, but this coloration would be worth it. I have never seen that color type anywhere else. Now imagine thousands and thousands of people with that rare coloration, and you have the population of fantasy heroines, both written and artistically depicted, emoting and enchanting their way through the genre you love and cherish, as the brown-haired unheroic non-entity that the reader is.

This nametag portrait of a Darkovan lovely was made for a fan who used the pseudonym "Koori," which was the name of a (non-red-haired alien) character on the 1979-1981 TV show, "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century."

Nametag miniature is ink and watercolor on Fabriano paper, 3 1/2 " x 2 1/4", July 1982.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The View from Willowcroft Winery

I brought the iPad back to a winery, being more confident now that I will not hit the wrong button and delete my drawing. I visited Willowcroft Winery, a very rustic place hidden away up a high hillside among estates and pastures. Willowcroft has one of the best views of any winery I know, and this is the view, done on site, plein iPad. I admit to a bit of Photoshop reworking after I brought it into the main system, but not much. The golden glow of sunrays over the mountains really exists, although it looks like special effects. The weather was absolutely perfect. I watched the hills change color as the sun set. Willowcroft, the oldest winery in Loudoun County, features a good selection of whites and reds, including an excellent off-dry Riesling blend and a spicy, warm Chambourcin, one of my favorite red varieties.

Willowcroft View is Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, about 14" x 10" original size, October 8, 2011.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Red Mercury Cougar

I took the iPad to "First Friday" where they show the vintage cars in the parking lot of "Art and Frame" gallery in Falls Church. This was a 1970 Mercury Cougar, beautifully restored in its original cherry-red color. I like the way the 1970s car designers bunched up the rear fenders over the back tires, so the shape resembled the back haunches of an animal ready to spring or pounce. You don't see a lot of new cars with that level of style.

Mercury muscle car is done in Autodesk Sketch Pro, October 7, 2011.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Fanciful Wine Bottles

This is just a little sketch with some colors splashed in with Photoshoppe, exploring a few ideas about hand-blown wine bottles and glasses in fanciful shapes. It isn't a fully realized final piece. It will also appear on my Noantri blog, because this wineware is from an alternate universe.

Ink sketch and Photoshoppe, about 2.5" square, October 6-7, 2011.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Cats of the Four Elements

Usually my clients who commissioned miniatures wanted their own portrait and name on them. But one fan from New Jersey wanted her cats to have their own portrait nametags. She had four of them, and from what she described of their personalities, I decided to place them in the theme of the four traditional elements. As was common in those Celtic-centric days of fandom, two of them had names from Celtic mythology. My tag for "Black Powder" was the only tag where I ever used pre-made ("press-type") lettering. My tag for "Tallitu" had a bit of shaping around the edge, since like the others, it was not going to be used as a real nametag badge. The cats are all gone, but as always I wonder what happened to the person and her miniature art.

4 nametags of the usual miniature shape and medium, collected and arranged in Photoshop, April 1982. Click on the pic to see it a bit larger.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Digital Chalk Drawing

I'm experimenting with soft edges in Photoshop figure drawing. What I want is something that delineates the figure around the edge without being too dark and line-like. The edges of a figure are often darker, especially in bright light, but they blend into the solid form of the body and that effect is hard to get in pencil or other media. But chalk and charcoal blend easily so I tried to simulate that effect in Photoshop. I have hardly ever used chalk or charcoal to draw with because they are so messy. But the pixel blender works great (as long as you set it just right and don't use it too much) and you don't get gritty dirty dust all over you. The model here is from one of the excellent "Art Models" resource books for artists. I like working in this muted sepia color.

Photoshop, original size about 5" x 7", October 5, 2011.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

C.J. Cherryh character miniature

C.J. Cherryh, a veteran science fiction author, was very popular among the fans in the late '70s and early to mid-'80s. And even now, Cherryh is still writing away. Back in the fannish past, images from Cherryh's books popped up in science fiction convention art shows and were easily recognizable. Hence this nametag miniature, on which I depicted one of Cherryh's warrior space tribesmen, a mri. This is not a ninja but a desert fighter along the concept of the Tuareg of the Sahara. The miniature was among the bunch I gave to a friend to market at various conventions.

Mri fighter miniature is ink and watercolor on Fabriano paper, 2 1/4" x 3 1/2", summer 1981.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Pin-up Nude Digital Study

Here's yet another of my attempts to do a pin-up style nude in digital media. She's derived from a photograph taken by the famous pin-up photographer Bunny Yeager. I'm trying to get the skin color right even though the model photograph was black and white. I know this isn't perfect but I think it's better than my previous tries. The face isn't bad either, though I had trouble with her neck. I'll keep trying for pin-up progress.

Photoshop, about 10" x 7", October 1-2, 2011.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Tange Album Cover Series

Longtime readers (all four of you) have seen my cover art for the Scottish electronic music maker "Tange" before. Tange is now about to release a series of his live improvisations. He asked me to make a single cover which could be produced in a different color for each album in the series. This is the result for the first four.

Even though the design is intentionally retro (inspired by 1960s "modern music" album covers) it is the product of Photoshoppage. I created the starfield in the background, then imprinted the flower-like pattern warped into an oval from a circular original. Then I added the warped keyboard, which was originally a straightforward picture of an electronic keyboard, in fact one of the ones that Tange plays. Finally, the original color was modified through the "Hue" control to produce a different color in the two-color design. The "modern" type came last. All of these elements could be quickly changed at any point, something which the graphic designers of the past would have to slave for hours to do. Click on the pic to see a somewhat larger version.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Critter Encounter

I like designing and drawing fantasy critters. They're not fierce or scary, they're curious. They are often mash-ups of Earth creatures which wouldn't happen. For instance, the guy on the right has characteristics of both an armadillo and a bee, and the thing on the left is sort of a mollusc with a spider's face. Are they going to fight? Try to eat each other? Or maybe just sniff at each other and walk away? That's critter politics. I draw these at odd hours on odd bits of paper, with no artistic purpose in mind. That's right, Emikk, it's the critterdoodle of the forgotten minutes.

Original drawing is about 5" x 1 1/2", Pitt technical pen on sketchbook page, September 27, 2011.