Monday, January 30, 2012

Tower of Fantasy

In the mid-1990s, which still seems like the future for me but is astonishingly almost 20 years ago, I did private illustration work for an engineer/inventor who had a fantasy world he wanted to bring to artistic life. He had an elaborate set of plans and ideas for a futuristic utopian community which would integrate science, psychology, design, adventure, and biology, as well as the old-fashioned hippie virtues of communalism, ecological sensitivity, nudity, and free love. The whole world was called "Kallitechnia," a Greek word that I provided for him, which means "Beautiful Craft work" or more relevantly, "beautiful technology."

He paid me to do a lot of concept art on this project, almost all of it in black and white ink drawings which would reproduce well and not cost too much. I was spared the nudity and free love part, thankfully, and got to design a lot of fantastic Art Nouveau-style architecture based on his suggestions. Eventually he wanted to publish an illustrated imaginary-world book along the lines of James Gurney's "Dinotopia," which in those days was new and very popular.

I did a lot of drawings, and was fairly well-paid for them, but eventually the engineer retired and didn't have as much disposable income, and his interests wandered elsewhere, so this utopian project vanished into the mists. None of my drawings were ever published, and I am not that devoted to publishing something which is not my original idea when I already have my own Noantri world to create and illustrate. This bubble-topped observation tower is from one of the "Kallitechnia" illustration series.

Kallitechnia observation tower is ink on Bristol board, 7" x 10", June 1996.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Biblical Dream Interpreter

My uncle Joseph, who died last November, loved art and bought from both my mother and myself. This one was a commission, to honor his Biblical namesake, the Hebrew Joseph. Bible readers will remember that Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers and brought to Egypt. As an adult, Joseph rises into high social circles and is successful in life until he is brought down by a scandalous woman, the wife of his boss. He is thrown into prison for attempted rape but while in prison he distinguishes himself as an interpreter of dreams. His reputation attracts the attention of the Pharaoh, who has Joseph interpret his famous dream of seven fat well-fed cows followed by seven starving cows, and seven ripe good ears of grain followed by seven stunted, withered ears of grain. Joseph interprets this as a portent of seven good weather years to be followed by seven years of drought and want.

My uncle commissioned me to portray the Jewish hero Joseph brought before the Egyptian ruler, declaiming his interpretation of Pharaoh's dream. I depicted the animals and grains as symbols floating in dreamspace, done in a style borrowed from ancient Egyptian wall paintings.

In the Biblical days and even up into modern times, dreams were thought to carry real information about the world and what was to come. Nowadays, the belief in dreams as accurate messages or prophecies has mostly faded away, remaining only among religious enthusiasts.

"Joseph and Pharaoh" is ink and watercolor on Fabriano paper, 10" x 14", fall 1977. This photograph was taken of the art when it was already in its frame and has been rescued from fading and poor imaging, by heroic Photoshop. Click on the pic for a somewhat larger view.

Saturday, January 28, 2012


It is impossible to put something down without picking up something else, which has to be put somewhere else, where something even elser is. Drop it on the floor, then. You are fighting for a cubic foot of space in a set of dusty cubicles where there is no longer space, only pieces and chunks and sheafs of matter, some of which is important and valuable and some of which is not. The important matter, such as bills, clean laundry, and contact information for clients, is scattered in little piles all over the rooms. Get something done! Some of them need to be attended to right away, but you get distracted trying to throw something out. Then you think of that project that was supposed to be progressing, but you can't even see it any more, it is behind other projects that are supposed to be progressing, like the digitization of photographs and tapes and other documents. Despairing of getting anything done, you return to Facebook hoping you will find something new from one of your good friends, but there is nothing there but people passing around old music videos. Back to the room where there is a pile of bills and a bag of dirty laundry. The sink is full of dirty dishes. Get something done. You clean them but then an hour later the sink is filled again because you ate something. You have thousands of books you can't bear to part with. There's one on the shelf now. Time to read it, after 20 years of neglect in your collection. There is an eighth of an inch of dust on the top edge, which you blow off in a cloud of annoyance. The book's open page says, "Get something done." There is dust everywhere, dust on the books, dust on the floor, dust on the windowsill, dust on your collected collectibles. And in all that dust are the mites, millions of them, your little unseen companions. Some of them are equipped with nanotechnological sensors and mini-processors, reporting to the Search Engine that you have not gotten anything done.

Photoshop, "digital ink," about 5" x 5 1/2", January 28, 2012.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Most of a Pin-up Girl

This is as finished as I'm going to go with my first "official" digital nude sketch. The lower legs of this girl were documented earlier, and I didn't feel like combining and attaching them. So she's sitting on a white sheet and covering up her legs or something. I don't want to deprive her of her limbs but she is only a sketch after all. I see many failures in this digital "painting" which will be remedied in later attempts. As for the bikini armor and giant sword, that will be part of subsequent assignments. No one is assigning me but myself, you understand, but I always work better when I have some sort of goal in mind. Later I will even put time limits on my "assignment" to simulate an art school or commercial studio environment. I don't know if I will go so far as to require all-nighters from me just to get the work done on time, but then I'm up all night anyway mostly.

Photoshop, about 8" x 8" (print size).

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Five Doctors Who

In the early 80s I hung out with a number of comic book and British TV fans who had ambitions of creating a little media conglomerate in the Boston area. They conceived of a number of semi-pro fan magazines ("zines") which would cover their favorite subjects as well as show off fan fiction. They commissioned me to illustrate lots of interior illustrations, cartoons, and covers for these publications. Among them was this illustration of the five Doctors Who for their British TV fan magazine, "Fantasy Empire." This was my first color cover and I was thrilled. You can see the famous faces of the first five Doctors, in order of appearance in the series: William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, John Pertwee, Tom Baker (my all-time favorite), and Peter Davison. There have been six more Doctors since then but I confess I am not at all familiar with them.

"Fantasy Empire" ran for a few issues, and then faded away as did the rest of this media enterprise. You have to give them credit for their ambition and good intentions, all on paper with ink in a time before blogs, sites, and social media.

"The Five Doctors Who" is ink, watercolor, and gouache on illustration board, 8" x 11", March 1981. Colors extensively restored in Photoshop.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Horse-like Dragon

My latest page of dragon drawings, copied or inspired by Peffer's book, show a traditional Western type of dragon that looks somewhat like a winged horse, with its large quadruped limbs and horselike head. This type of dragon is similar to the Welsh dragon which is on that country's flag. Some artists have created fantasy anatomical drawings of just what a dragon's musculature should look like, based on animal anatomy. There is a dragon's hoard of "information" about these creatures! I have always been ashamed of liking dragons because they are too large and fierce for what I am supposed to be, which is some sort of service provider. But I do enjoy them! There are many species and the horse-like "Welsh" dragon is only one of them.

Dragon studies are pencil, 11" x 8 1/2", January 25, 2012.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

More Body Rendering

I did the digital rendering of the torso and thighs on this study. It's crude and simple and I will have to make lots more of these before I am confident enough to make a pin-up. I still have the face and hand to do, and after that I'll move on to another figure pose. I just do a little every day, it's better than nothing. Photoshop as usual, 5 layers. If I use more than about 4 layers, I forget what is on which layer, which happened here. I don't know how they keep track of those huge multi-layer renderings.

Monday, January 23, 2012


Here's another of my first attempts at digital art using the MacPaint program back in the mid-80s, printed out on my neighbor's printer. I could make squares and rectangles, (and one oval) simply with moving a mouse around! And the squares and rectangles all lined up, in a way that it would take hours to do with a pencil and a ruler. You couldn't add color into it just yet, but MacPaint had all these interesting and sort of industrial patterns you could put into your shapes. So much fun, but yet I didn't seriously get into computer art till the early 1990s. I didn't make the move to have one of these revolutionary devices until 1991, when I got my first PC.

The digital piece here is titled "Quick-Klee," in honor of Paul Klee, one of my favorite abstract artists. I think Klee would have loved playing with the computer.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Arm and Breasts Render

I'm trying to do a nude who is well-equipped. She is paler than my previous attempt to render a leg, as most models are rather pallid. Only parts are fully rendered. Eventually I'll put a whole body together, and I'll have the "Pin-up Bride of Frankenstein." No, I'll have a pin-up girl image. I am most dismayed that "Bud Plant Art Books," source of great amounts of pin-up and figure study materials for me, is going out of business. I will keep doing these drawings nevertheless. I have enough resources to last me for a good long while. Photoshop, January 22, 2012.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Kandinsky Beat

This is the earliest piece of digital art I ever did. It emerged from a heap of dusty old papers which I have been sorting out. I believe that this image is from 1984 or 1985, and was done on a first-generation Macintosh, with the program "MacPaint." My parents' next door neighbor, who was an engineer, bought the new gadget and showed it off for us. He even had a black and white printer to give us paper printouts. I quickly learned to use this program, which at first reminded me of an "Etch-a-Sketch." There was no color, just black and white pixel patterns to fill shapes with. And yet looking at this primitive first attempt, it is not that far a journey to the sophistication of Adobe Illustrator, where I could draw exactly the same shapes with the same ease. Very soon, the "Paint" programs blossomed into the ancestors of the ones we now know and use: "Painter," (now a Corel product), and Adobe Photoshop, the main engine of illustration all around the world. Even the "tool" icons from this earliest MacPaint have been preserved in the Adobe CS series.

You can see that back then I composed "mid-century modern" geometric abstract arrangements, just as I do now, inspired by Kandinsky. Hence, the swingin' title "Kandinsky Beat." The "mid-century" wasn't that far in the past back then. Now, it's considered a bygone age suitable only for period dramas and retro design resources. And the little stump-shaped Macintoshes are now considered retro relics.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Lady in Red miniature portrait

On occasion during my artistic life I have had what you might call "hangers-on" who weren't quite friends but just wanted to hang around me. Now I don't think I'm that thrilling a person that people find my company irresistible. I think it had to do with my ability to make their imaginary worlds and identities real. Patricia was one of these folks. She had me make a number of miniatures, all relating either to herself, her original imaginary characters, or her favorite comic book characters. This is a miniature portrait she commissioned, with her beloved black Labrador dog "Henry." It was done in the format of the "Lowell Trumps," a set of miniature portraits I shared with you some time ago. Pat would come into my house and sit talking while I worked on art. Many times she would "forget" some small item of hers in my house so she had an excuse to come back. We weren't, uh, that kind of friends as she was quite straight and had a sad-sack boyfriend whom she treated poorly. After a while she decided to seek her fortune in Chicago and disappeared into the Midwestern fog, never to re-appear. I have not heard news of her in 30 years.

Portrait of Patricia is ink and watercolor on Fabriano paper, mounted on black matboard, 3" x 5", winter 1981. Colors restored in Photoshop.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Dragon Build

Jessica Peffer's "DragonArt" book takes me through the steps of building a dragon from basic shapes and gestures. These little figures are copied from the "dragon build" that she presents in the book. The more I draw them, the more I will be able to create dragon characters. This is only one type of dragon, of course. Its legs are a bit long, as if it were a mammalian quadruped. But even some reptilian dragons have some features in common with mammals. Real large reptiles like crocodiles or monitor lizards are low to the ground and have short little legs. Dinosaurs had longer legs and I have always speculated that the idea for the Dragon in the first place came from people discovering dinosaur bones. But that can't be true, because dragons appear in very ancient art, long before people knew about dinosaurs. In my "I Can Draw Dragons" unofficial course I will learn to draw and paint both Western and Eastern style creatures as well as the ancient type portrayed thousands of years ago.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Equestrian of Darkover miniature

Brenda was a friend of a friend in the Darkover fan community. She lived in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where for some reason I had many fantasy fan friends. I learned a lot about rural Tennessee culture from Brenda and her group, and I even got to taste authentic moonshine liquor. (Nasty stuff.) Brenda made me a beautiful afghan in a traditional design, and I picked the colors. This was one gift I could return to her. Brenda had had polio in her childhood and used a wheelchair, but she loved horses and so I portrayed her as a rider with her golden steed in the background. She holds the long knife of the Darkovan Free Amazons.

I have lost contact with many of my Southern fan friends, though I still have an excellent Chattanooga friend on Signal Mountain, above the city. I don't know where Brenda is these days or even if she is still alive. But I remember learning about places and people that I would never, ever know about had I not explored places far from my native New England.

Brenda's portrait nametag is ink and watercolor on Fabriano paper, 2 1/4" x 3 1/2", September 1991. Colors restored in Photoshop.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Keyboard Dragon

A neatly coiled tail makes a proper seat for a keyboard-playing dragon. There are many kinds of dragons, ranging from the destructive Dragonzillas to the highly cultured and artistic Dragonaires, with their miniature cousins the Dragonelles. All part of my "I Can Draw Dragons" project. This drawing was done in "digital inking," January 15, 2012.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Digital Pencil Figure 2

Here's another figure study in "digital pencil." Model is from "Art Models 6." I'm trying to learn to control the Wacom tablet and stylus so it looks as much like pencil as I can make it. I stylized the face because I didn't have a lot of time to do this drawing. Life drawings are usually made under time pressure and I want to simulate that when I am drawing on the computer. I used a lot of "digital erasing" too including a feature that controls the amount of drawing that you erase, it's not just there or not-there. A real eraser will do the same thing. Now if I can invent "digital eraser leavings" that I have to brush off the screen, then it will really be like a realistic art studio drawing.

This is all part of this year's human figure and dragon practice campaign. Photoshop, January 16, 2012.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Winged Cat miniature portrait

I continued to do miniature portraits as gifts or commissions, all the way into the decade of the 1990s. This one was a commission for a gift, from one of my Darkover friends to another one. Jeanne was, as all Darkover fans, a lover of books and writing and also cats. In my fantasy portrait, I portrayed Jeanne as a writer with a bright feather quill pen, and her real orange cat got a pair of catwings. Unfortunately, Jeanne was already suffering from Alzheimer's disease when the portrait was given and she didn't have much chance to wear it. Now she's another one of many, many fans who only exist in this world as portrait images.

Miniature is, as always, ink and watercolor on Fabriano paper, 3 1/2" x 2 1/4", November 1990.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Rendered Leg

Are you a leg man (or woman)? Well, this one's for you. It's my first serious attempt at rendering the flesh and shadows and roundness of a model's leg. I'll start with one limb at a time. She is my pre-recorded pin-up model from "Art Models 6," from "Art Model Books," which loves us artists and has given us a volume of lovely lady models in light and shadow. This is so much better than the usual flat light provided in life drawing studios. So I rendered in digital coloring, the pin-up leg from the art model CD. Not traced from a photograph! Two Photoshop image layers were used in this.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Early Graphic Story Attempt, page 2

A few posts ago I put up the first page of my early (1979) attempt at a fantasy comic book/graphic story. It was, as you might remember, illustrated from a script by a Boston-area fantasy writer, Leo Giroux. I managed to get 2 1/2 pages done from this before I had to give up due to lack of skill and experience as well as an overly wordy script. I know I have this relic text somewhere but it is buried under tons of papers and other archival material. The title was "The Jewels of Entythe" (sounds like "Enticing") that being the name of the babe in the green robe showing some tit to taunt master thief Pram Zata, the man in black behind the yellow force-field prison. I was aiming this at "Heavy Metal" magazine and you had to have naked women in your story. I wonder if I could do any better with this now.

You handful of loyal readers may notice that I have gotten a bit more personal and talky in this Blog. I don't get to talk to a lot of people about much of anything these days. Most of the people I used to blab with at work are gone to another Trader Joe's or are somewhere else, and I don't yammer on my cellphone the way everyone else does. (What the hell are they talking about anyway?) So if you hear a bit more from me than just about art, you can choose to go somewhere else for a more entertaining read. The good thing is, I'll never know. Or, you can delight me and comment. Did you know that "Art By-Products" will celebrate its fourth blogiversary this March? That's four years of some sort of art on this page, almost every day of the year, and very few repeats.

Page 2 of "The Jewels of Entythe" is ink and watercolor on Strathmore illustration board, 11" x 15", summer 1979. Click on the image to see a larger view.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


I apologize for the rubbish drawing I posted last time. I've drawn that same pose before much better. I'll try again with another photo-pose soon. Meanwhile, this late posting features some gesture drawings and small draws of dragons, in pencil on paper. Some of these are copied from the "how to draw dragons" book I'm working with, and some are original to me. The one on the lower right, looking at the flaming egg, is one of my own. I'll keep drawing these creatures until I feel confident that I can render one in color. The book has been very helpful and like an old-fashioned art student I copy the guide drawings to gain skills.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Digital Pencil Figure

Today's figure sketch was done in "digital pencil" using Photoshop and my Wacom tablet. I've used this tablet for years now and still have trouble making drawings with it. The stylus slides around too easily on the slick plastic surface, it doesn't have the resistance that pencil on paper has. But if I scan in original pencil drawings, they get a grainy texture I don't like. The model is from one of my "Art Models" books, each of which comes with a DVD loaded with all the model photographs from the book and hundreds more from different angles of the same pose. It's "virtual life drawing" and is all I can manage at this point. I am still trying to find an opportunity to draw from a live model that does not conflict with my day job work schedule. I want a model who will take comic-book, pin-up, and superhero poses for me.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Cinnabar the Adventuress

Most of my friends in the science fiction/fantasy community have imaginary worlds of their own, populated by characters they made up. I'm no exception, I have one too. Some of these worlds are borrowed from TV, movies, or texts, and some of them are original. Often these imaginary worlds are used for role-playing games. This character is from an original world and gaming scenario shared by a group of my friends who flourished in the Boston area in the late 1970s. Meant to be an avatar of an Egyptian cat goddess, "Cinnabar" has the requisite red hair, dagger, and sexy figure of a fantasy adventuress. And she's got an Abyssinian cat as well (lower right corner). The text block says "Cinnabar" though it has been lost in the bad photograph. I borrowed this figure and her dress as well from a fashion magazine photograph.

I made this picture without permission of the character's owners and that taught me a lesson I'll never forget. Never do a picture from someone's imaginary world and then show it to them, hoping they will buy it. In this case the gamers did buy the picture, but it caused bad feeling all around the circle and I never did it again.

Well folks I've got a New Year's resolution now. Since I need to work on my dragons and human figures so much, I resolve to draw at least one dragon and/or human figure a day, no matter how tired I am from the day job or distracted I am by the endless temptations of the internet and media. If I do something good, I'll post it here. Eventually, I'll try to put a fully rendered digital illustration together. If that is good, I'll post it here. I also would like to get a fantasy illustration published this year, although that's a goal rather than a resolution. My drawings will be either in pencil or "digital pencil." I will also be looking into online workshops or courses in digital illustration. They do exist but I don't know what kind of schedule, workload, or price they have.

"Cinnabar" is watercolor on Strathmore paper, 4" x 8", Spring 1978. Rescued from a very deteriorated color slide.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Hairy Eyeball

I usually follow a guideline for this Blog which says that it should contain no more than half vintage material, that newly created stuff should be posted alternately with those dusty old slides which I process one by one. But I haven't been able to meet my quota and I am sorry for that. It's winter and even though the weather has been far from snowy or even dreary, I haven't been able to do much of anything artistically. And just recently on Saturday I had a very disappointing setback which I am still dealing with emotionally. I had signed up for a class in making concept and game art which was to take place every Saturday afternoon throughout the winter until early March. But when I went to the art studio where it was to be held, I found that it had been canceled because not enough people (only two) signed up for it.

As you handful of readers and/or friends know, I want to be a professional illustrator/concept artist, and I want my work in digital media to be of the quality that is featured on the (juried) site "CGHub". I want to sell my fantasy art and/or get it published. I also want to do my sequential art, as I have said before. But I realize that for me to get as good as those artists, I need more training in all kinds of drawing and digital work. Most of those young professionals have been to elite art schools in Asia or California. If I had the money and the time, I would go back to art school and learn everything that didn't exist when I was younger, and also do endless life drawing figure studies from real models. (You may remember that I did have the opportunity to draw a live model in the spring of 2011. Why didn't I ask her to do a "pin-up" pose when I had the chance?) I need to find more models to draw, at a time when I am not at work on the day job.

I feel incompetent and out of it, and that's not a good thing because I have one large commission to work on. The frenzy of the "Christmas season" brought no peace on earth nor any good will on my part, just more clutter all over a dwelling which is far too cluttered already, not to mention exhaustion at the day job dealing with long lines at the cash register. Most of my work at Trader Joe's is now working the cash register, not doing signs. The current management wants the signs done in the early morning, and I don't work in the early morning.

I know I'm just making excuses for not making any progress. The managers of the studio suggested I contact the artist who was supposed to teach the class and ask whether he gives private tutoring or classes elsewhere. I sent an e-mail but have not heard back. I am considering doing some online classes but I don't know how that works. There are loads of "tutorials" for digital art and I'm sorry to say that most of them do not tell me what I need to know. I feel as though I am going to have to start all over again studying drawing and painting, this time all on the computer. At this point I have little interest in doing "conventional" painted work, unless the client specifically requests it. Since I am not selling any of my work, I just don't have room to store stacks of paintings on boards or canvas. Works on a hard drive don't take up space or collect dust. Any portfolio of new art will be online, not in a dusty flip book.

So as usual I apologize for not producing quality art product and by-products in the last month or so. I will try to work on sketching my dragons and nude women and a winery here or there. If you want something else artistic from me, just ask. For now, it's just a Hairy Eyeball (done in Photoshop) for you.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Celtic Couple miniatures

Robbi and Curtis were dear friends of mine in the fannish and costuming community. They still are dear friends though they retired to remote Oklahoma where I am unlikely to visit any time soon. When I wanted to give them miniature portrait badges they requested that they be depicted as an ancient Celtic couple. He would be a warrior and she would be a healer with her box of medicinal herbs. Both of them had been in the military where Robbi was a public health nurse and administrator.

I recently spoke to them on the old technology of the telephone and found that they were not in good health, in fact Robbi was bedridden with severe auto-immune disorders. They have only a little money and aren't near cultural opportunities. I tried to convince Robbi that internet overcomes isolation but in her mind it is too impersonal and she won't use it for personal communications.

Robbi and Curtis miniature portraits are the Usual Configuration, December 1986.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Northpoint Rose' Wine

I wined on Friday this week, at my favorite hilltop wine haven of Chateau O'Brien. Earlier in 2011 I did an architectural concept sketch for Howard O'Brien, the owner, who was planning to create an artificial barrel cave dug into the side of a hill on the property. He traded me a case of his best selected wines for it, and I still have a few bottles left. I saw the art in a stairwell near his office, but so far, due to bad weather, the construction has not happened yet. He's planning to start in early spring, if all goes well. I sipped the Chateau's "Northpoint Rose' " and drew this quick study of the rustic woodsy interior with its stone wall areas, and a color sketch of the leafless hills in orange sunset light.

Winter wining is so difficult that I probably won't do much of it. It is already getting dark when I visit the winery, and I have to make my way back home in darkness, heavy traffic, and construction, all after "de-wining." There are always plenty of urban wine shops to visit, though I wish I were able to get to the countryside more often. Right near Chateau O'Brien is a little neighborhood in which the owner of a number of houses is renovating them. These are historic buildings, some from before the Civil War. Some of them are homes to rent. There is a problem, though: a freight train roars through the neighborhood every couple of hours, including early in the morning, and the tracks are literally only a couple of yards from the front of the houses. You would really have to love trains to live there. It's a fascinating place anyway and I hope I'll be able to make more drawings there when it's warmer out.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Early Graphic Novel Attempt page 1

From the very beginning of my artistic life, I've always wanted to do sequential art, also known as graphic story or just plain comic books. The trouble is, I've never completed one. I've done a lot of pages but somehow don't have the perseverance to get the whole thing done.

This piece is one of my earliest attempts as an "adult" artist to do a graphic story. One of my fantasy fan connections contacted a Boston-area fantasy writer, Leo Giroux, Jr., who wrote me an adventure/horror script to illustrate. The story was set in a typical Renaissance-style fantasy world with all sorts of humanoids and creatures and opportunities for magic and violence. The hero was "Pram Zata," a master thief and brigand who lusted for the royal princess (red-haired, of course) and her famous collection of huge rubies as well as other gems and treasure. Her name is "Entythe," an unpronounceable word which sounds like "Enticing." Of course, there is a terrible secret about this femme fatale. (She is a witch who rips people's hearts out and turns the hearts into giant rubies.) I was trying for a style and subject matter that would appeal to the "Heavy Metal" magazine people. You can see a portrait of the author Giroux in the upper left corner.

I managed to get two and a half pages done of this tale. Giroux was not a comic book writer nor a script writer and his dialogue and narration were way too wordy for a graphic treatment. I tried to include everything he wrote in the design but as you can see it ended up being overburdened and busy, at least by the simple standards of the day. You can read Giroux's script if you click on the picture to enlarge it.

If I were to re-do this story now I would edit the daylights out of Giroux's script and make the design simpler and easier to follow. But I'm trying to figure out how to finish my own graphic novel set in my Noantri world. I swear, if I had big bucks and didn't have to do any day job, I'd just sit and do graphic story all the time. It's what I want to do most in art. Somewhere in my large and dusty collection of files, there hides this script by Leo Giroux as well as at least one more by an old writer contact. Giroux has long since passed into the other worlds, and the other writers have scattered to the four winds, but at least a few images remain from the projects we tried to achieve.

Page one of "The Jewels of Entythe" is ink and watercolor on Strathmore illustration board, 11" x 15", summer 1979. Click on the image to see a larger view.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Larry Niven's Warlock

This is a very old picture of mine, so old that its number in my art catalog is a single digit. (4, if you must know.) It was done for one of my early arts patrons, who features it in his online gallery. This image is from a story by well-known science fiction writer Larry Niven. He tried his hand at fantasy sometimes, purely for fun, trying to re-create fantasy concepts on a scientific basis. This series of stories, which my patron especially liked, take place in a universe where magical power, or mana, is a non-renewable resource that is permanently used up by magical workings. In this scene the main character, the Warlock, interrogates a young werewolf who had broken into and entered the Warlock's dwelling. The Warlock holds a glowing glass dagger, a powerful magical weapon. The title of the story is "What good is a glass dagger?"

My art patron is still active as a writer and blogger and supporter of the arts, often in the virtual Internet world of "Second Life." His gallery is here, where you can see other works by me dating way back to my early days in Cambridge, Mass. even when I was still a graduate student. By the way, the lighted brass lantern which you can see hanging at the upper left center of the picture, is a real lantern which still hangs in my studio right here where I'm typing this.

"Warlock and Werewolf" is ink and watercolor on Fabriano paper, 6" x 9", fall 1977.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Winter Worker

I have a strange fascination with heavy work garb. This includes rain slickers, farm wear, construction gear and clothing, work clothes, and coveralls. I have a number of catalogs for this kind of thing that sell everything from construction shelters and equipment (I also love bulldozers, garden tools, earth movers, and on-site office trailers) to whatever you would need to get the job done. This is a study of a worker in a winter coverall, without the hood attached, copied from a model in one of my catalogs. It's done in "digital pencil," something I am trying to learn. Later I will color him in.

One of the origins of my fascination with industrial gear and sites comes from my heritage of "Socialist Realism," a type of art from the 20th century which glorified manual labor and old-style industry. In some countries, especially ex-Communist countries where the government had a lot of this art produced and published, this style is considered "ironic chic." The only things you cannot be, as an "ironic chic" designer, are honest or authentic. Our information age cannot show us heroic workers building the cities of the future, only computer users poking at their keyboards at three in the morning. And you don't need heavy winter coveralls to do that.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

My Friends Were Vampires: miniatures

My miniature portraits often featured couples in a fantasy or historical identity. But sometimes I was asked to portray them as Undead Creatures, or vampires. This pair of women had a wide-ranging interest in vampires. They played them in role-playing games, they wrote vampire fiction, and they commissioned me to illustrate it. Here are my portraits of the sanguinary ladies. This was long enough ago that I have lost track of them. I don't know if they are still together. Katheryn, on the right, changed her name to a poetic Tolkien-Elvish name, by which she is known nowadays. This was one of the inspirations that moved me to take my new name, "Pyracantha." If she could do it, so could I, and possibly for the same reasons, that I wish to have a poetic new name that didn't have any of the ugly associations that come to me with my old given name.

Vampire couple are the usual miniature portrait configuration; created in January 1990.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Sky Hunt

As you know, I am very fond of "sequential art" and want to keep doing it. I haven't been very successful in continuing my graphic novels, and I am still looking for a way to work on them despite everything else going on in my life. Meanwhile I experiment with markers. There are such things as "abstract sequential art" in which there is no dialogue or recognizable characters, but there is still a sequence of events. This is what I am experimenting with here. A wide selection of these was published in 2009, in the artsy book "Abstract Comics" edited by Andre Molotiu. Most of them are in the "fine arts" genre, but some of them, such as the vintage entry from the famous cartoonist R.Crumb, are heavily pop-influenced. It's an interesting way to approach sequential art, which has been up until recently reviled in America as stupid and childish "comic books."

This sequence here, "Sky Hunt," is inspired by a bird seizing its prey in the air. It's natural-historical but also abstract-arty. The smaller black-bordered bar near the blue circles is meant to suggest the bird's calls.

"Sky Hunt" is 7" x 8 1/2", markers and colored pencil on sketchbook page, January 2, 2012.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year Midwife

This is a commissioned portrait of a lady who is a midwife in "real life." The portrait depicts her as a Renaissance midwife holding a swaddled baby. I tried to make the details of the interior reflect a warm European ambience. I think her dress would be a bit too fancy for the actual birth but in this picture I imagine that she is presenting the child to the family after a successful delivery.

"Renaissance Midwife" is 14" x 18", ink and watercolor on illustration board, March 1994.

Many thanks for my handful of faithful readers and I wish you all an art-filled, creative, prosperous New Year 2012.