Monday, December 31, 2012

Twirly Pasta Sign

"Fusilli" are corkscrew-shaped pasta, more interestingly shaped than just plain spaghetti. Trader Joe's has not just one variety of fusilli, but three, including this whole wheat organic rendition. My lettering for "fusilli" on this sign is made to look like the pasta. Chalk markers on black-painted Masonite, about 36" x 24", December 30, 2012.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

More warrior sketches

I left the sketchbook open on the drawing table in my back room. Every few times I went in and out of the room, I drew a little action warrior sketch on the page. These are not Space Marines as they are not wearing huge power armor suits, just regular combat gear. I intend to do lots more Warhammer-inspired sketches and illustrations. I have no idea whether anyone will buy any of this nor even if anyone will look at it, but I've always been fascinated by warriors and armor. Warhammer also appeals to me because many of the authors are history fans and classicists so they mix in a lot of the Greek and Roman and world history that I used to study in academia. They also use some (slightly altered) names and motifs from Western esotericism so it's quite an erudite game universe, and not a big-eyed anime face to be seen anywhere.

Pencil on sketchbook page, about 8" x 8", December 2012.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Warrior Sketches

I dashed up to New England without a sketchbook, I was in such a hurry. As the parental sicknesses continued, I needed to get one so I bought one at Rite Aid, which I was glad to see carried a few artist supplies for school children. I already had some pencils so that was enough for me.

One of the things which has been giving me welcome distraction in my parent-care situation is "Warhammer 40,000 AD" which is originally a tabletop fantasy war game and now the scenario for dozens of novelizations, mostly written by a group of British writers in Nottingham, where evidently there isn't much else to do. "Warhammer 40K" is a wildly rich universe of grim but colorful fighters who spend most of their lives destroying stuff and each other. This is nothing like real war as we know it; Warhammer combat resembles ancient Homeric warfare with an emphasis on direct encounters between individuals. The characters, the "Space Marines," are impossibly heroic hand to hand weapons fighters, giant super-soldiers with superhero physiques (all male, not a female among them!), wearing carnival-colored huge armor suits which also are depicted in the game playing miniature figurines. 

I filled pages with sketch figures for these warriors as the long nights dragged on. Here's one of them. Page is 7 1/2" x 11".

Friday, December 28, 2012

Celtic Teenager Art

I found this very intricate watercolor of mine just lying on top of some dusty furniture in my sleeping room at my parents' house. It had been there for years, ignored and untouched except perhaps by me. I clearly remember doing this piece. This is what can happen when a young artist (19 years old) with good close vision has a lot of time to do non-paid work. I traced a repeating zoomorphic pattern square from a photo of the Book of Kells (or some similar Celtic illumination) and repeated it 6 times in mirror-fashion on the two red-bordered panels. I also traced the roundel in the center. I designed the top two mirror-imaged crest pieces myself. I used tracing paper which I covered with graphite to "print out" the design when I traced over it. Then I inked the designs with a tiny crow quill pen and colored them in watercolor. The artwork is dated "January 29, 1972" on the back, the day I finished it. 

In those days I was fascinated by Celtic artwork, which I learned about while taking art history courses at university. 1972 was still within the "psychedelic" era of art and graphics, in which Celtic art was used as a source. Nowadays Celtic art and ornament is still in fashion among Pagans and science fiction fans and gamers, tattoo enthusiasts, and costumers, most of these being the same people across the interests. And traditional Celtic designs show up of course in Irish dancing outfits. There is a darker side to Celtic ornaments in that they can also be used as a mask or code for white supremacist beliefs. The Pagans and the fans probably don't know this, and I certainly didn't when I did this work. I would never do this again, because I don't have either the patience or the eyesight to create such a thing.

Celtic piece is ink and watercolor on thick paper, 3 1/4" x 6 3/4", January 1972. Clickonthepic to show obsessive 19-year-old at work.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The dismal room

While at my parents' house, I stayed in a back room that had once been my father's music studio. It became a storeroom, not only for stacks of my mother's large flat paintings on board, but for boxes of debris left after my father's audio or house maintenance projects from decades ago. My father never threw out anything and so he kept every little scrap of wire or board or metal in piles, bags, and boxes. This room also had a small bed where I slept, some other unused old family furniture, dusty art books in bookcases, and this art table which my father built back in the 1960s. All surfaces in this room, which I remember from my childhood as spacious and inviting, were covered with dust, cat hairs, and tobacco smoke residue. The table was loaded down with old art materials from my mother, who had not worked there in a long time, as well as other random metal and plastic debris from my father's old tinkering jobs. 

In a New England December the nights are endlessly long, dark, and cold. The house is covered with overgrown vegetation so there is almost no view out the windows, and at night the windows are dead black. I took my favorite cleaning tools, Windex and Bounty paper towels, and busied myself decluttering and cleaning as much as I could. I cleaned the big picture window and cleared the surface of the table. I set up a sketchbook there where I could draw in pencil. Then I did an iPad color sketch of the window and the table.

The house is lit throughout by fluorescent bulbs (which my father in his endless quest for cheap everything) had stocked up on. These bulbs shed a weak, yellow-grey glow over the cluttered rooms. I tried to reproduce this color in my digital sketch here. You can see the reflections in the newly cleaned windows as well as some art stuff on the table. And the blue accent is my trusty bottle of Windex, next to the roll of paper towels. The reflection of the Windex shows in the window. 

iPad "Art Studio" app, December 2012.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Early Superhero

Here's another one of my childhood drawings. You can see that my basic artistic interests have not changed during my lifetime: superheroes and birds. "Birdman" has a bird's head and beak and a humanoid body. I even added sound effects ("Thump thump"). The drawing is done on what used to be called "arithmetic paper," an inexpensive, off-white sheet which was abundant in schools and used for throwaway calculations. Over more than fifty years later the paper has turned golden yellow. I'll save it where I discovered it, though in another place: between the pages of a book. 

"Birdman" superhero portrait is pencil and crayon on paper, 6" x 9", about 1958.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Winter greys

I didn't have much time to do art while I was in New England. Most of my time was spent caring for two sick parents, administrating their hospital care, and talking to concerned friends and relatives. I did manage to get this iPad view done, looking out my window to the back yard and some of the neighbors' house. This is a very typical scene and at that moment there were a few snowflakes in the air too. New England winter often is almost monochrome, just greys with a little bit of muted pine green or leaf bronze here and there. 

All the Christmas/Holiday stuff has just washed over me, I haven't had a moment to think about holidays or do gift shopping or even write any cards. Sorry folks, it's all a blur to me, except for the twigs.

Art Studio app, December 2012.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Woodpecker juvenilia

While I was in my parents' house taking care of my mother, I found numerous saved examples of my childhood art, usually pressed in between the pages of books. This woodpecker dates from the late 50s when I was but a wee thing. But you can see that I was already a bird-lover and knew what species looked like. This woodpecker is unmistakably a Pileated (or even Ivory-billed) as seen by its bright red pointed crest. I didn't portray the body as black, though. I did watch Woody Woodpecker cartoons but this guy is not inspired by the cartoon character. 

Colored pencil on folded construction paper, 4" x 5 1/4", about 1959-60.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Winter solstice return

A couple of my little group of readers who don't read my Facebook updates may have wondered why there have not been any postings on the By-Product for the last three weeks. The reason for my absence is that both my parents became seriously ill almost simultaneously and I had to go up to the Boston area and reside in my parents' house until my mother was well enough to stay there by herself again. My father is still in the hospital and his future is uncertain. Mother is at home being cared for periodically by visiting nurses, friends, and relatives. During the time I was in my parents' house at first I could not access the internet and had to go to an outside source for wi-fi. Later a friend of mine installed a router in my parents' house so I could get internet there. But there were bandwidth problems as well as lack of time, so I couldn't post from there. I didn't do much art while I was in Massachusetts, my whole time was spent on the phone or conversing with caregivers, doctors, service providers, concerned friends and relatives, and my mother. I will spare you more of the depressing details of this ordeal. 

I'm back at my job now, and I'm glad. It's good to be home in Virginia with my friends and co-workers. But the story with my parents isn't over at all, and the situation is unstable. I did this digital piece while on work break telling a co-worker about my parent care situation. The image depicts the skies and trees of New England in the lightless solstice season, done from memory. 

Done on the iPad, "ArtStudio" app, 5:00 - 5:30 PM, December 22, 2012.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Loving Couple

I just had Thanksgiving dinner with these folks, so I will post this portrait I did of them many years ago. These two bearded gentlemen are a loving couple who have been together as man and husband for a long time. One of them (reclining) is a fine cook who prepared the Thanksgiving turkey, side dishes, and fruit tarts. I did this portrait of them in September of 1998 and am glad to see them again every year. They live in a state that does not recognize them as a married pair but maybe someday.

Ink on sketchbook page, September 1998.

Monday, November 26, 2012


I'm back from DarkoverCon where I sold 6 of the 10 pieces I had for sale. All of my art sales were to friends who already know and love my work. I can't complain. Thanks friends! Here is a photo of my art show at Darkovercon. Metatron dominates the wall but of course she/he is not for sale. I will have some prints of it for sale if you are interested. Note the string ties which were necessary to keep the picture from falling off the wall, as its frame didn't have any hanging hardware. My dragons were appreciated. Now that I know how to depict dragons fairly well I will move on to depicting buxom maidens and pin-up girls.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Crag Dragon colors

This is the color version of the first dragon in my recent series. The Crag Dragon is vivid green-gold and enjoys the sunlight. He climbs up rugged rocky crags until he gets to a place where he can leap off and fly about. Taking off from level ground would be quite difficult for this dragon, though not impossible. He'd have to get a running start, rather like an airplane. The triangular paddle at the end of his tail possibly gives him some stability in the air. 

"Crag Dragon" is watercolor and ink on Fabriano illustration board, about 6 1/2" x 9", November 2012.

Further notes on "Electron Blue." It occurred to me that all I'd have to do was change some of the text in the header and explain to my vast audience of readers that this was now a more general comment-and-essay blog, where I would write about anything that I wanted, including science and philosophy but not concentrating on it. And my "no politics" rule would still apply. This way I would not have to change the name or lose my myriad (I think about five people) readers.

Meanwhile there is another blog I want to start and that will happen after I get back from Darkovercon outside of Baltimore, Md., where for 34 years of the 36 it's been held, I will exhibit my art and hold my annual room party, "Salon Pyracantha."

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Have a Cookie

I'm doing a lot of these signs for Trader Joe's these days. The store is now well-loaded with holiday treats and more are coming in every day. The "European" cookies are covered with chocolate as advertised and you get a lot of them in a square red metal box. Once the cookies have been consumed, the box is a great container to store your sewing things, your markers, your digital archives, or your stash of whatever.

Acrylic markers on black-painted Masonite, about 30" x 20", November 2012.

Note to my loyal handful of readers: I am planning to shut down and remove the companion blog to "Art By-Products," that is, "Electron Blue 2." My priorities have changed and I don't have the time any more to work with math and physics. I need to concentrate on digital fantasy and s.f. art and my graphic novel. This doesn't mean that I will stop blogging. I will be creating some new bloggish content on this same site, so stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Digital Dragon: Twilight Call

You've seen my ink and watercolor images of dragons, and one hybrid marker/digital dragon, well here's an all digital dragon. This one is calling forth a fiery song to mark the twilight of another day. Dragon fire is pretty good for lighting your way through the night, too. Most of my digital pieces are experimental, I learn something new with each one. I hope to exhibit "Twilight Call" with the rest of the series at DarkoverCon.

Photoshop, 7" x 10", November 2012.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Cranky Dragon colors

Here's Cranky with colors added. I have been looking at big reptiles for dragon inspiration, and I finally found out the difference between a crocodile and an alligator. Crocodiles have long, pointed snouts and eyes that are at the side of the head. Alligators have blunt, rounded snouts and their eyes are on the top of their heads, so they can peer out from the surface of the water while remaining mostly submerged. Cranky is based on an alligator, though of course the dragon form dominates. The traditional dragon head is based on a crocodile, which the Old World artists would have seen, since there are no alligators in the "Old World." I don't think I've ever seen a live alligator, though I have eaten alligator meat at one memorable restaurant meal in Florida. Dragons are not known for their edibility.

Ink and watercolor on Fabriano illustration board, about 10" x 7", November 2012.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

November Dragon colors

Here's the "November Dragon" all colored in. I'm reproducing the old ink and watercolor "storybook style" that I used to use back in the 1970s. I added a little marker work here and there to emphasize some lines. Back in the previous century I used Rapidograph pen as well as dip pen but I am not currently using the difficult and temperamental Rapidographs. With the advent of pigmented marker ink it is possible to use markers in a final piece without it fading away later on. I hope to show this piece at DarkoverCon next week.

Ink, watercolor, and acrylic border, about 10" x 7", November 2012.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

It tastes like Autumn

This sign is from 2003, when I first started working at Trader Joe's. This is what our shelf ads looked like in those days. The style has changed considerably in the 9 years since I've been working there. And TJ's doesn't carry the maple horseradish mustard any more, though they still have honey horseradish mustard. I have a large collection of photos and scans of signs I've done for Trader Joe's showing how sign directions have changed during my years there. 

Markers on cardstock paper, about 8" x 5 1/2", fall 2003.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Watery Dragon digital hybrid

Here's a return visit from the watery dragon I depicted some posts ago. Now you can see the whole beast as well as some of its bubbly environment. Even though this is an air-breathing creature its home is in the waters so it is adapted to that world, with features of both crustaceans and reptiles.

Now here's the technical question: is it digital or is it traditional? You know the answer if you look at the title, or the post from a few days ago on November 13. I completed my portrait of the creature in Photoshop. I scanned the original, imported it into Photoshop, and drew the rest of it digitally. But can you tell which parts were done in Photoshop and which were done in markers? Of course if you look at a comparison between the two pictures finished and unfinished, you can tell. But if you couldn't see the unfinished picture, only this one, would it be so evident? If you were familiar with Photoshop, you'd be able to tell, but only by looking closely. If you know Photoshop well enough, you can simulate all sorts of "traditional" media.

Some of my fellow artists simply reject digital media outright, as it is an "imitation" and not a "real" art medium. And some clients won't buy a print of a digital piece since no matter how beautiful the art is, it is still a print and always will be, and not unique. I can show and sell multiple copies. So I might have to charge print prices, which are lower, for a digital piece, even if I spent as much time on the artwork as if I had done it in markers or watercolor. Time spent on a piece is a factor though not always for the client. Anyway some of you will see this piece at Darkovercon and appreciate it as it is. 

Finished piece around 8 1/2" x 11", markers and Photoshop, November 2012. Click on the picture for a larger view where you might be able to see evidence of digital artwork.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Georgetown 2004

This early 20th century building (dated 1909 on the top ornamentation) is in Georgetown, Washington DC, on M street. I did the drawing in May 2004 on a sketching expedition downtown. The sketch is done in markers, which is unusual because I hardly ever draw on site in markers. I was in a coffee house so I had a place to sit down and put my markers within reach. I don't take my markers on drawing trips because they take up too much space and I can't stock enough colors. Markers often come in portable sets but these sets are useless for on-site drawing because the pre-selected sets contain only bright colors and no pastel, earth tone, or grayscale shades. If you spend the bucks and get the shades you want individually, you'll soon find your collection getting too big to schlep around to drawing sites. This drawing was done with a limited number of water-based (Staedtler, no longer available) and alcohol-based (Copic) markers. Another problem with marker drawing is that you can't blend them smoothly from one color to another. I had this problem with the blue sky on the picture, which I went over with a semi-opaque white marker when I got home. I wouldn't be averse to trying marker on-site drawing again but I'd have to build my portable selection carefully (and expensively, as Copics cost 6$ apiece). I've moved on to colored pencils for my on-site drawing at wineries and elsewhere, since colored pencils are easier to take with you and you can blend them.

Markers on sketchbook page, about 6 1/2" x 10", May 2004.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

November Dragon

I just finished inking this dragon drawing. I used a combination of brown ink, black ink, and pigmented brown ink markers. The dragon "species" is a traditional quadruped with wings and limbs high off the ground in a stance much more mammalian than reptilian. I present it here only in ink but I will be coloring it in and hopefully showing it at Darkovercon. I admit I've never been to Dragoncon, the huge media/everything SF and fantasy convention in Atlanta. At this moment I do not have enough suitable pieces to show at a big convention. 

"November Dragon" is ink on Fabriano illustration board, about 10" x 7", Novembeer 2012.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Watery Dragon

I tried a different approach to dragon drawing. This drawing is done with markers. I started with a few curved spiky shapes which would be the spiny fins of the dragon, and improvised from  there. You can't see the back end of the dragon but it's there, hidden behind the green fins and spines which camouflage the creature against a background of seaweed. The sea dragon shares elements from both reptiles and crustaceans. Its head and neck are reptilian but its front legs, with grabbing claws, are more like lobster or shrimp limbs. This dragon does not fly, but swims. It climbs out of the water occasionally to hunt for prey or to find a mate and reproduce.

Markers on sketchbook page, about 7 1/2" x 11", November 13, 2012.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Mug 'n' Muffin 3

Mr. Mugg and Ms. Muffin look out at the city at sunrise from a rooftop. This is the last of the three breakfast menu signs that I did for the "Mug 'n' Muffin" cafe in Harvard Square, Cambridge, Massachusetts. The city in the  picture is not specifically Boston or any other city, it is just a generic view. 

As with all the other menu and restaurant signs I did in those days, the original work was "used up" in the messy environment.  None of the originals have survived except the three Paco's Tacos signs that I saved and stashed in my archives. As a commercial artist, I have had to get used to the fact that none of my original work, whether for a restaurant or Trader Joe's, will last a long time. Even my best work for these places has to be thrown out to make room for more marketing and menu changes. But thanks to Photoshop I have been able to save my images from oblivion. Now we will see whether digital images last any longer than markers and paper.

"Mug 'n' Muffin" Sunrise Special is (was) markers on posterboard, 21" x 13", winter 1980.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Cranky Dragon

Dragons have moods, just like people. This one is in a cranky mood. Maybe he's hungry. Maybe he's upset. Maybe he's fed up with politics. Don't get in the way of those slashing claws. He is an in-your-face dragon and he won't hesitate to attack if you bother him. 

"Cranky" is drawn in brown ink and some marker on Fabriano illustration board, 10" x 7", November 2012. I will be adding color soon.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Mug 'n' Muffin 2

Mr. Mugg and Ms. Muffin go on a winter vacation in this menu board. They're nicely bundled up as they take in the snowy sunrise. Lovely place to be, but not in Harvard Square. When it snowed in Harvard Square, the snow was quickly turned to grey slush by the many passing vehicles, and you would have to step through icy puddles to get where you were going. One time while trying to get through a puddle my boot cracked at the ankle and let in icy water. That may have been when I decided to move away from this cold urban wasteland, notwithstanding the muffins and tacos.

Markers on posterboard, 21" x 13", winter 1980.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Ink Dragon

I drew a dragon in ink. This is part of a series of dragon pictures that I will be doing for my upcoming show at DarkoverCon. I may do some warriors as well. I am using a style which I haven't done for many years. I call it my "storybook style" because it has often been used by other artists for children's books and mythic fantasy. It is basically an ink drawing colored in watercolor with little or no opaque paint. I like to use brown ink as I've done here. I will color this dragon and its environment in watercolor but first I scanned it in, so I can also experiment on coloring it in Photoshop. Things have changed quite a bit since I last used this style. 

Ink on Fabriano illustration board, 6" x 9", November 2012.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Mug 'n' Muffin 1

Paco's Tacos was not the only place I did menu boards for. The owners of a Harvard Square cafe called "Mug 'n' Muffin" hired me to do three menu boards for their own "Sunrise Special" breakfast. They asked that I create cartoon characters for their specialties, "Mr. Mugg" and "Ms. Muffin." "Mr. Mugg and Ms. Muffin" would be featured in different situations. This is the first of the series I did for the cafe. It features the character couple in a summer, outdoorsy environment. Note the Harvard crimson "H" shirt on Ms. Muffin. 32 years later, I am still doing cartoon characters marketing food and drink.

Interestingly, though the Harvard Square cafe is long gone, there is another "Mug and Muffin" near me near Reston, Virginia. I really should visit there. 

Markers on posterboard, 21" x 13", winter 1980.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Creatures for Obama

I drew these creatures while waiting in line to vote at my polling place. My area of the country, famous Northern Virginia, is a hugely diverse area. The crowd waiting patiently at the polls was literally a "one of each" cross-section of American voters: male, female, old, young, moms with kids, hipster youths, black, white, Latino, military folk, immigrants from India, Philippines, and Trader Joe's crew. 

Some of the creatures I drew were for Romney, and others were for Obama. I am very glad that more of them voted for Obama than Romney. It is a good night for creatures all over America.

Pitt drawing pen on sketchbook page, 6" x 6", November 6, 2012.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Purple Moon Wine Sign

Here's another Trader Joe's endcap sign. This time I added some of the standard Trader Joe's shaded-color letters schtick. You see this on TJ signs from California to New York, but I have mostly resisted it because it is, uh, very often used. But I like purple, complementary color to my usual orange, and I don't get to use it on signs that much. And that's right, 4 bucks for a bottle of California wine. It's not the famous "Two-Buck Chuck," which actually costs $3.29 in Virginia, but it's close. 

Acrylic markers on black-painted Masonite board, 30" x 20", November 2012.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Nude Model at Trader Joe's

There are nude life drawing models at Trader Joe's! Who knew I was working in such an artsy place? Well, the model is a photo printed on paper and I am in the art room taking my work break on the iPad, but hey, you can't always do stuff the Authentic Artist Way. A bemused co-worker viewed the final product, but it wasn't the final product 'cause I did stuff to it in Photoshop once I got it home. I'll do as many of these as I can, or perhaps close-ups of hands and faces, as long as I have my half hour to do it. 

"Art Studio" and Photoshop, November 4-5, 2010.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Angry Dragon

It's Dragon Saving time now, and I need to do fantasy art. I've spent a portion of 2012 learning to draw dragons, so I might as well do another. This one is angry, and he's pointing his claws at you. He's adapted from a "front face" dragon build in "Drawing Dragons" by Sandra Staple. This book has been very helpful in my dragonification activity. I would have made the wings bigger on this one but I ran out of room on the page.

I want to do more fantasy art, but the more I look at the dazzling work done by gaming artists, illustrators, and comic artists, (see "Shadowcore" and "Muddy Colors" on the sidebar here) the more discouraged I get. Their action-packed, realistic, brilliant work seems an age...years of training and practice... away from even the best stuff I do. I am so sick of doing pictures of trees and clouds on my iPad. But I seem to have run out of fantasy illustration ideas. This happens to me every so often. I'd better have something by DarkoverCon though. 

"Angry Dragon" is pencil on sketchbook paper, 8" x 8 1/2", November 4, 2012.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

More Mexican Hot Chocolate

It's so cold out now...wouldn't you like some hot chocolate with cinnamon? I had some ultra-rich "sipping chocolate" at "Pitango Gelato" in Reston, VA. They'll be serving it all winter though without the cinnamon. This is the thick melted chocolate treat that Starbucks once marketed as the "Chantico" but discontinued. Trader Joe's sells a sipping chocolate mix that you assemble yourself, adding whatever you want. I went over the top and added whipped cream to my cup.

Hot Chocolate sign is markers on posterboard, about 13" x 10", winter 1980.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Utopian Conservatory

This illustration comes from the multiple series of black and white images I produced for a fantasy writer and engineer who wanted concept sketches and depictions of his imaginary utopian society. The people in this utopia were all young, sexy, and beautiful and got naked a lot (see bathers in the lower left corner). They lived in these great glassed-in conservatories where the weather was always warm and perfect (so you could dress in skimpy clothes all the time). Inside the conservatories were the facades of their communal houses and places of education and entertainment. You could leave the conservatory and enjoy the real outdoors by going out the back doors of the buildings. Nowadays, buildings like this really exist but they aren't utopian pleasure-domes, but commercial megastructures, and no one can go naked there.

P.S. I wonder whether I will ever do a fantasy picture again.

Ink on Bristol board, 9" x 11", September 1996.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

From hurricane to workplace

I am finally home in Virginia after three very stressful days. On Sunday just before the storm I drove from Mass. to my stopoff point in southern New Jersey. I decided to stay there and weather the storm in the hotel even though Jersey was the worst affected by the hurricane. I stayed in my room Monday while the storm raged. The power went out in the hotel, though there was a generator for essential things like hall lights. But there were no room lights, heat, or hot water. I bundled up and stayed in the room. On Tuesday afternoon the power went back on after 17 hours. I stayed Tuesday night and then drove home from New Jersey on Wednesday. I visited my workplace Trader Joe's which had luckily never lost power. My apartment never lost power either. The manager asked me to work some hours so I did that even though I was real tired from the trip. I came home at around 9 PM and will have some nice Trader Joe's beef pot pie. 

Trick or treat indeed! I have had the week (or rather, 9 days) from hell. 
The parents are in bad shape and I don't know how long it will be before an accident or illness forces them to change their lifestyle. 

I did this sign for TJ's on Wednesday. The current requirements for end-cap (large) sign graphics are that the name of the product and the price be as large as possible, with a minimum of text and no pictures whatsoever.

Acrylic markers on black painted masonite, 30" x 20", October 31, 2012.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

After Sandy

On my way back to my home in Northern Virginia, I was delayed by the catastrophic storm of "Hurricane Sandy." My disaster plan was to hole up in my usual stop-off hotel until the storm was gone, and that is what I did. I have spent two days cooped up in a hotel room in southern New Jersey, the "ground zero" of the storm, including 17 hours without power on the night of the worst of it. During the storm there was not much to see. But on Tuesday, October 30, around 5 PM, I did this iPad sketch from my large hotel window of the remaining clouds from the storm, trailing behind looking threatening but not producing any more rain. Some of the fall foliage, as you can see, remained on the trees despite the high winds. The hotel is full of people from the area who have no power, have had their neighborhoods and houses flooded, or even worse. I am going to try to get home on Wednesday, October 31. 

ArtStudio on iPad, October 30, 2012.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Random iPaddery from Massachusetts

Sitting in my parents' dingy living room with an iPad in my hand, I will draw anything I see. Here is a study of the door at night time, and the orange folds of my jacket draped over a couch. I'm trying to learn not only the "straight-line mode" for drawing architectural elements, but also to render fabric. I need to know how to depict fabric to clothe my fantasy characters in. Next picture I did somewhat better in the fabric depiction.
As winter closes in I will be doing more fabric and interior studies on the iPad. These are done in ArtStudio, which remains my favorite art app. I'm also pleased that my laptop running Photoshop is doing well with my portable Wacom "Bamboo" tablet.

I am almost done here in Massachusetts and will now drive into the storm, hoping to weather it out in New Jersey using a hotel as a refuge.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Can't get enough autumn leaves

On my work break in back of the neighboring library, I had a good time with "Art Studio's" leaf texture brushes and the gold-green shades of autumn. But here it is getting toward late October and it got kind of cold. Indoor iPaddery is coming up. 

I will be going up to the Boston area this week to visit my aged parents, a trip I am not looking forward to. I might be able to post some iPad work to the By-Product while I am up there, but I can't promise anything. So there may be some interruptions in service. Please stand by.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Autumn Wine Village

I returned to the "Village Winery" on "Wine Saturday" and again partook of their unusual and delicious fruit and berry wines. I took a glass of their apple/raspberry/elderberry wine, nicknamed "Triple Threat," out into the sunlight and did some iPaddery. The windowless building is an air-conditioned wine barrel room, where the fermentation and aging take place. There is autumn gold at the Village, and fresh green grassy meadows where families played and ate, and in an enclosure were Blossom the cow and a number of goats. Cats played around the old barn and out back in the coop were a flock of chickens, from whom the Village gets eggs to sell. It was a rural paradise, almost unreal in its brilliance. 

The management of the Village is trying a recent trend in wine packaging: they are selling their wines now in 3-liter boxes. The wine is in an airtight plastic sac inside the cardboard box, and it is poured through a spigot. According to the winemaker, the wine will not spoil even over weeks or even a month or so, because the air is kept out of the sac assembly. And with the cheaper packaging, you get more wine for less money. I bought a box of their apple wine and I will see just how well it is preserved as I consume it.

Village Winery scene is done on ArtStudio for iPad, with some work done on Photoshop in the studio. October 20, 2012.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Mykonos Signs

Paco's Tacos was not the only place I worked for that winter in Harvard Square. "Mykonos" was a gift shop specializing in Greek arts and crafts. I did these two signs for them, advertising later hours. Each week, usually on Thursday, the shops of Harvard Square stayed open late and kept a mildly festive atmosphere. I used the icon image of St. George slaying the dragon for this one, including metallic gold marker for the background.

This one depicts the famous Vlacherna Monastery on the island of Corfu, Greece. It is situated on a tiny island just offshore. 
I don't remember how much I got paid for these signs, but one thing I received for my efforts was a Greek fisherman's hat which I wore for quite some time, before switching to a more artistic beret.

Markers on posterboard, 13" x 10", winter 1980. Much work done in Photoshop to restore these images.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Graphic novel panel finished

My loyal handful of followers may remember my posting of an ink drawing on September 15. That was from page 43 of my ongoing graphic novel about the wizard and the volcano. Now I have finally finished this page and here's how that ink drawing turned out. I painted in watercolor directly on the ink drawing, and glued in printouts of the type. Page 43 has its problems, but at least it is finally done and I can go on to page 44. I estimate that Chapter 2 will go to about page 50 (not counting title pages and dividers) and then I will start working on publishing it.

Ink, watercolor, and printed paper collage on Fabriano illustration board, about 5" x 4", summer-fall 2012.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Autumn Storm iPad

Autumn rains moved in as I sat with the Universal Sketchbook (the iPad) on the work break bench. I tried to match the purple of heavy rain clouds at twilight. The screen is so reflective that you have to consider it when you are matching colors. I ended up making it a bit lighter and greyer in Photoshop in the studio. I love the combination of purple skies and autumn foliage, here just a burst of red at the roadside. Autumn colors seem so garish. The rains came a few minutes later.

"Art Studio" for iPad, October 2012.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Mexican Hot Chocolate

It's hot chocolate time here in the northern parts of the USA, and Trader Joe's is once again offering its super-rich "sipping chocolate" mix. Once upon a time, Starbucks offered a sipping chocolate called "Chantico," which I adored but it was discontinued because people were too damn "healthy" to indulge in such a chocolate dream. Back in Paco's era winter was warmed by this concoction, which I remember being pretty good, though I preferred the sweet Mexican coffee with cinnamon. My Mesoamerican image collection gave me lots of amusing figures to fill my ads. They were both grotesque and charming and I could easily put a cup of hot chocolate in their hands. I also enjoyed using old Art Nouveau typefaces. 

Markers on posterboard, about 12" x 10", winter 1980.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Gruntle, a sea creature

A chilly autumn evening, dark rain clouds rolling in, and another iPad creature on my work break. I started with random squiggles and they suggested the form of the creature to me. It evolved into a compact, but well-decorated sea creature, probably a nudibranch. I drew the black and white version on the iPad, and then exported it to my main system for colorization. Its "face" seemed rather disgruntled to me. But rather than being disgruntled, I decided to be gruntled instead, so this little guy is named "Gruntle."

Here he is colorized in Photoshop, but without any seascape or coral reef in the background. Gruntle probably isn't very large, maybe about a foot long. He doesn't have much of an intellectual life, but that's OK.

Autodesk Sketchbook Pro on the iPad, colorized in Photoshop, October 15, 2012.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Intergalactic Chicken Wings

I mentioned before that the people who started Paco's Tacos were from Buffalo, NY and that they were the first restaurateurs to introduce "Buffalo Chicken Wings" to Boston. I was asked to do some posters advertising this now-familiar snack. This one had the fancy graphics and my marker interpretation of galaxies: chicken wings in space. The "Intergalactic" bit is astro-culinary hype. If you were really consuming your chicken in intergalactic space, there would be no light except for a few pale smudges where the other galaxies were. You'd be floating in the middle of a huge, dark expanse with nothing but your snack to remind you of Earth back home. Endless darkness, cold, icy void...Boston in winter!

Markers on posterboard, 21" x 13", winter 1980.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Another Pin-up Babe

Yes, I never give up. I will continue to draw pin-up babes and fantasy women till I get it right. I have lots of "fotomodella" books full of pictures of models from times past, when boobs were real and lingerie was tacky and women were not fitness-freaky, muscular and wire-thin. I like working in ordinary pencil a lot more than digital with the Wacom tablet. Many digital artists start with a real pencil drawing, and they scan it in just as I have here and then color it in. I will try that soon.

Pencil on sketchbook page, 4" x 7", October 14, 2012.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Hot Chocolate Kitten and Angel

At Paco's Tacos, kittens and angels serve you hot chocolate. Would you like it any other way? What is more comforting than kittens, angels, and hot chocolate? I wish I had some right now. 

Markers on posterboard, about 12" x 10", winter 1979-80. Lots of work in Photoshop.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Winter Hours

I did more than menu boards for Paco's Tacos. If there was something that needed explanation or information, I would make a sign to convey that message. You can see here that I was interested in cloudscapes even back then. Note my signature monogram star to the lower right. I still sign my art with that graphic. Well, the winter hours are coming next month, Sunday brunch and all. Some things don't change.

Markers on posterboard, about 12" x 10", winter 1980.