Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Mexican Menu Chac the Rain God

Chac the Mayan rain god sells you tacos and other Mexican fast food. I brought him to the menu board from my collection of Mayan and other pre-Columbian images. Tristan my bloggin' art buddy loves my Mesoamerican style art but he's at Pennsic now, so he won't see this till he gets back. I would love it if Chac could bring us some rain here in the Metro DC area but I'd probably have to sacrifice something living to persuade him, so I'll just wait for the weather to provide.

Chac menu board is markers on posterboard, 21" x 13", winter 1980. Photoshopped out of obscurity and dust.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Big Tree and Cottage

Here's another work break drawing from me. I went a little over the allotted 20 minutes to do this one. The cottage you see here has been remodeled which makes an asymmetrical silhouette to the front elevation. The roof to the right continues well beyond where my drawing ends. There is a large tree in front of the house which fortunately survived the violent "derecho" windstorm of early July. Note the also asymmetrical brick veneer  panels on the facade, which seem to be placed for no reason next to the window, in the middle of a large siding area. I am guessing that they remain from the facade of the original cottage before the rebuilding. The spindly structure at the right edge is a homemade bird feeder.

I love vernacular or amateur-built architecture but I suspect that many of my readers find my studies of it boring. More dragons and human figures are needed, I guess. But whose blog is this anyway.

Pitt technical pen on sketchbook page, about 6" x 5 1/2", July 29, 2012.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Philip Carter's Earthly Paradise

My wine destination this Saturday was Philip Carter's winery near Hume, Virginia. I first visited this place in 2008, when I was just beginning to go to wineries. I had better weather this time. The grapes were ripening under a warm sun, and big billowy white clouds drifted across the sky. Four years after its opening, Carter's winery is producing nectary white wines and juicy reds. I sipped their lovely Viognier while drawing this color study of the vine landscape and the line drawings of things on and around the outdoor patio. A winery is an Earthly Paradise, a foretaste of Heaven, if there is such a thing. If there is no Heaven, at least we have wineries.

Colored pencils and Pitt brown ink technical pen on sketchbook page, 11" x 8", July 28, 2012. Some blue sky added at the top in Photoshop. Click on the pic for a larger view.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Mexican Menu Latina Movie Gal

This "Latina entertainer" image is a lot less familiar now than it was in the 20th century when I did this piece. It's meant to evoke the famous Carmen Miranda, who wore elaborate headdresses and costumes when she performed. The headdresses often contained fruit but here she is wearing leaves and flowers. The film clicker with ID message is also a nostalgic artifact of the past, I don't know whether it is still used anywhere today. Anyway, it fit the generic "Latin" theme of Paco's Tacos. Dimensions and media are the Usual.

Recently my entries here have been visited by a "human-bot" putting up comment spam. This is particularly pathetic in that someone from some miserable foreign country is being paid pennies just to solve the "captcha" gateway and put meaningless little ads on my comment lists. I get so few comments anyway, I hate to get false ones. Many of the readers of this blog will be in the Middle Ages (at "Pennsic") for the next couple of weeks, anyway, so they won't see or comment on anything here. 

Friday, July 27, 2012

Bridge Over Route 50

Before this bridge was built, about two years ago, people from the teeming neighborhood across the big Route 50 highway had to risk their lives if they wanted to cross over the road to shop at the Seven Corners shopping center. In an extensive renovation program which is still in progress, a foot-bridge was built that allowed people to cross over safely. This drawing shows one of the covered stairway towers at the shopping center end of the bridge. You can also see the trestle of the bridge and its railway-style iron archway. This is a nice piece of early 21st century architecture, neo-industrial with its ironwork, rather like its contemporary, Nationals Park, which I featured a week or so ago here. This drawing was done while sitting at Starbucks, beating the heat with one of their new caffeinated iced fruit drinks.

Pentel Pilot G-2 pen on sketchbook page, about 6" x 6", July 26, 2012.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Mexican Menu Seth Speaks

One of my Paco's Tacos co-workers was a fan of the mediumistic entity known as "Seth," who was channeled by writer Jane Roberts. "Seth" dictated a massive amount of texts through Roberts, comprising a whole school of mystical thought which borrows from just about anywhere. One of their main tenets was that you create your own reality, an insidious notion that led to all sorts of bad behavior in the late 1970s. My co-worker commissioned a "Seth" themed Lunch Special, in which the spirit leans over the medium's shoulder and orders a taco. According to the books, this globe-headed ghost was what the spirit really looked like when he was not taking over the body of the human medium. Ectoplasmic Mexican fast food created our own reality.

"Seth Session" is markers on posterboard, 21" x 13", winter 1979-1980. Mystically restored in PhotoSeth.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Angel of Millennial Panic

I used to design and send out cards to the members of my religious group to remind them to pay their dues or thank them for having paid the dues. I am the treasurer of the group so this was something I did to make my job a bit less unpleasant for all concerned. I ran out of time to do these some years ago but here is one from 1999 which took its inspiration from the "Y2K panic" that was upsetting the technological world in those days. This is the Angel of Millennial Panic, in a retro-futuristic outfit, surrounded by images of disaster: lightning, a flaming asteroid or comet, an erupting volcano. The Angel is checking his/her laptop to see who has paid the dues before the Cataclysm arrives: "Y2K Bureau of Readiness." The reason the drawing is on a yellow background is that I used "panic yellow" cardstock to make the cards. 

The "Y2K" disaster might have been a fizzle but unfortunately the Cataclysm did happen, it just waited a while until September 2001, after which our panic-stricken lives have never been the same.

Ink drawing printed on yellow paper, 5" x 7", 1998-1999.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Mexican Menu Tabletop

This was a nice graphics concept suggested by a customer. Instead of listing the items on the Lunch Special, I would depict the words as if they were the foods they described. I placed these verbal eats on a rendering of the actual Mexican tiles used in the Paco's tabletops. The food was served and eaten with throwaway plastic, paper, and styrofoam ware. The whole tabletop was drawn as if you were looking directly down at it, just before you snarfed down your Mexican fast food. This is also one of the few, if not the only design of mine in which I used the well-known, graffiti-style "bubble letters." This vernacular typeface is often used in amateur commercial graphics, and still finds its way onto countless pieces of high school graffiti and even Trader Joe's hand-done signs, but never my signs, thank you, I will not succumb to that. 

Markers on posterboard, 21" x 13", winter 1979-80. Extensively restored in Photoshop.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Trader Joe's Hits

Since we went to a baseball game as a company outing, I decided to do a baseball-themed sign for one of our displays. I'm not sure whether this batter is batting left-handed or right-handed. My right-handed reflection in a mirror didn't look right. He's dressed in a Washington Nationals uniform, but due to copyright restrictions I couldn't use the actual Nationals logo. The writing goes in the empty portion of the sign and the price goes on the "baseball" to the right.

Markers on plain cardstock paper, about 7" x 5", July 23, 2012.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Misty Day at Chateau O'Brien

I Wine, Rain or Shine. Saturday was a rainy day but that didn't stop me and my friends from visiting Chateau O'Brien vineyard and winery. While sipping their excellent Petit Verdot I created this iPad sketch of the view across the hills from the winery's tasting porch. You can see the bright green vines and their stakes at the bottom of the picture. The misty clouds trail across the hills, looking like wisps of cotton fiber. 

Autodesk Sketchbook Pro is great for landscaping. It has a whole lot of texture "brushes" which can simulate natural textures. Also the color selection system on Sketchbook is quick and easy to use. There is a new update for the Autodesk Sketchbook Pro app available but it tells me I have to re-purchase the whole app to get the update. It's not that expensive but I'm still a bit annoyed by that. 

Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, done on the iPad, July 21, 2012.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Spacy Shapes

DId a little Photoshop doodle at night, playing around with stuff you can only do in a digital medium. Photoshop can take a single shape, multiply it, scatter it about at different sizes and angles, and then situate it on an image layer so you don't disturb the background while working on the overlay. And the blending is so easy to do. And if you want to change the color or contrast or positioning, all you have to do is select what you want to change and do it. This depicts some non-linear space or aerial hardware above a ringed planet. I've always been fascinated by the idea of a spacecraft that doesn't have any fixed shape, but keeps its components together by artificial gravity or tractor beams, and morphs into whatever form its users need. Yes, I suppose I could re-create this scene with acrylic paint and airbrush, but it would take days to do it, rather than a couple of hours for this one.

Photoshop, 10" x 7", July 20, 2012.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Mexican Menu Amusement Park

My roller-coaster-loving friend suggested the theme of an amusement park for one of Paco's Mexican menus. "Paco's Park" features the "Paco the Pelican" logo in front of rides, cable cars, and colorful park artifacts. Old-fashioned amusement parks, which are not "theme parks" or planned layouts for fun-seekers, have mostly disappeared. An amusement park would have not only rides but a midway full of food booths, games, and trinket vendors. There would be some buildings which housed indoor amusements such as pinball machines and arcade games, as well as smaller rides scaled for kids. The seaside avenue featured more vendors as well as restaurants. The beach was across the street from the park and the sea was ever-present. The smell of delicious greasy food permeated the area, better than just tacos. 

While my friend rode the coaster, I took many photographs and made many drawings, and the photographs were the image source for this tribute to the classic amusement park. It's all gone now.

Markers on posterboard, 21" x 13", winter 1979-80.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Nationals Park Baseball

I went with a group of my Trader Joe's co-workers to a Washington Nationals baseball game. Trader Joe's treated us very nicely with good seats over the outfield and a voucher to get food and beverages. As a Red Sox American League fanatic, I have no stake in a National League game, so I just watched the baseball and enjoyed my beer. Before and during the game I drew these sketches, one of the media display and "jumbotron" TV screen/scoreboard, and the other of a stadium bar called the "Red Porch," situated in an unusual rooftop pavilion. Nationals Park is one of the newest major league ballparks; it opened in 2008 and claims to be environmentally sensitive and "green." Meanwhile, my own Fenway Park, which is green because it is painted that color, is 100 years old this year. 

Pentel Pilot G-2 pen on sketchbook paper. Upper sketch, 6" x 6". Lower sketch, about 4" x 5". Washington Nationals 4, New York Mets 3. July 18, 2012.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Tysons-Pimmit Library

Torrid temperatures made an outdoor sketch difficult on my work break, so I ducked into the nearby Tysons-Pimmit Library (There's that "Pimmit" again!)  to do a sketch in their main hall. 
This library features interesting mid-80s architecture with industrial girders and upper walls made of glass blocks. The glass walls allow lots of daylight into the big library hall. And it was air-conditioned. My sketch does not do justice to the interlocking angles of the girders and I hope to do more accurate sketches in further visits.

Pentel Pilot G-2 pen on sketchbook page, about 6" x 5", July 17, 2012.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Mexican Menu Spacecraft Abstraction

This is the Dinner Special which went with the space-abstraction Lunch Special. Again, the lettering isn't so good and the photo is poor. But you can see the small spacecraft which I placed against the light blue and white. This atmosphere-capable jet was part of a science fiction world I was working with at the time. This color scheme re-surfaced many years later in my first full-scale digital abstraction, "Bizmac." 

Markers on posterboard, 21" x 13", winter 1979-1980.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Mexican Menu Space Abstraction

You few faithful viewers of this Blog have probably seen my geometric space abstractions here. They are not a new style for me as I have been doing them for most of my artistic life. But I usually didn't make them larger than a postcard. This Paco's Taco board is an experiment in making a bigger abstraction and combining it with words. The motifs of Earth and Space, which I commonly use, are there along with the starry black cosmos. My typeface and writing could have been more legible, but this was just an early attempt. The photo is old and faded and I am not sure what color all those lavender areas were. It might have been grey. All my photos of the Mexican menu signs were inferior from the beginning as I had to take them inside my living room with a single weak flash attachment. It was just too cold to set them up outside in sunlight, which was my usual way of photographing artworks. At least I preserved some idea of what my Mexican Menu Masterworks looked like.

Markers on posterboard, 21" x 13", winter 1979-80. Somewhat restored in Photoshop. You can only do so much.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Concert at Dry Mill

This has been quite a weekend for hearing live music. Thursday (not quite weekend, but sort of) I heard Andrew Acosta and band at the Falls Church Cherry Hill Park concert. Then on Saturday, I heard the oldies-rock duo "Steele and Oglevee" at Dry Mill Vineyard and Winery. The last time I went to Dry Mill, it was 100 degrees out and we wilted with the wine. Today it was just right and I sipped more of their vino goodness. In this drawing of part of Dry Mill's wine lodge you can just see the musicians inside the porch to the right. One is playing a guitar and the other is almost hidden by a big wine barrel. 

Drawing is in brown Pitt technical pen on sketchbook page, about 10" x 7", July 14, 2012.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Hairy Creature

I got my hair done the other day, and I usually do a drawing while I'm waiting for the hair dye to take effect. I've made many "realistic" drawings of chairs and hair dryers and people but this time I did a Creature instead. This is a Hairy Creature since it was drawn in a hair salon. The Hairy Creature has long taloned digits so it can hang onto craggy rocks or tree trunks. With its combination of lizard and lion qualities, it is an excellent predator in harsh environments. When I showed this drawing to the people working at the salon, they said it looked like some of their customers.

Pitt technical drawing pen on sketchbook page, about 6 " x 6", July 12, 2012.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Andrew Acosta Band Concert

Falls Church puts on a free outdoor concert series on Thursday evenings during the summer. The musicians play in an old barn at Cherry Hill Park near the city hall. It's a great time for families (and their dogs) to enjoy the balmy weather and good music. I attended the July 12th concert, which featured Andrew Acosta and the New Old Time String Band. They played an hour and a half of bouncy, happy music while I sketched them and the crowd. The concerts with various popular artists go on till early August. 

Pitt black technical pen on sketchbook page, 6" x 6", July 12, 2012.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Mexican Menu Night Girl

"Night Girl" presided over the Dinner Special at Paco's Tacos. This is not the "Night Girl" of the "Legion of Substitute Heroes," but an allegorical figure, inspired by the fantastic art of Alphonse Mucha. She is an idealized version of me, the artist. I never looked like that ever, but this is fantasy. I cast myself as Night Girl because I am nocturnal and thus inhuman and despised as lazy by the good people who work and live by day. In this character I am wearing a fabulous gown by Yves St. Laurent, which I found in a fashion magazine and adapted for this role. Night Girl is surrounded by traditional symbols of night and drugged sleep, such as the purple Deadly Nightshade on the left border (this plant actually grew in my garden in those days), and red poppies (opium). In the background is the full moon and shapes that could be either waves with moonlight sparkles, or hills with shining white wildflowers. Night Girl holds a black rose, symbol of anarchy and mystical rebellion. All this to sell you chili and nachos.

"Night Girl" is markers on posterboard, 21" x 13", winter 1979-1980. Click on the night for a larger view. Heavily restored in Photoshop. This, along with Daylight Girl, remains in my collection.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Cottage Balcony

Another work break drawing, in which I combined my walk time with drawing time. This is a rebuilt cottage in the same neighborhood ("Pimmit Hills") as the other cottages I've drawn. It is either rebuilt or entirely replaced, as it's bigger than the original residence designs. Note the small narrow windows, some of which have shutters (first floor) and some of which don't. The central balcony is an interesting feature. It looks rather unstable, built out of white pickets, but someone has gone out onto it as there is a pile of fabric (click on the pic to see this) draped over the front railing. The balcony overhangs the door but is not a real portico as there are no columns supporting it. It's another example of vernacular architectural invention in an older neighborhood.

One or two of you might ask, "What's a "Pimmit?"" The name occurs on many streets in my area, such as Pimmit Drive and Pimmit Run Lane. It dates back to Colonial times. John Pimmit was a land owner in this part of Virginia. A stream runs through the area, and it is still called "Pimmit Run," a "run" being an old word for "stream." 

Staedtler technical pen on sketchbook page, about 5" x 5", July 10, 2012.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Mexican Menu Daylight Girl

I'm back from a conference with my religious group and ready to post more Memorable Mexican Menus. This is one of a pair I created from a request to do allegorical figures of Day (Lunch Special) and Night (Dinner Special). This is Daylight Girl, inspired by the mystical fantasy tales of late 19th/early 20th century writer Marie Corelli. Corelli often used this character to symbolize light, beauty, and purity. She's a little angel girl with long blonde hair and a floating iridescent dress. She holds a bouquet of tiny white flowers and is surrounded by roses and lilies. The sun is behind her, as well as flights of angels in a cloudless blue sky. In the background are grassy hills sprinkled with colorful wildflowers. Esoteric Christian symbols surround the sacred scripture of the Lunch Special.

My co-workers HATED this picture. I used it a couple of times and they constantly made fun of it. They said the girl's expression was sickly and they hated the sentimentality of it. I finally had to withdraw it from the collection and I still have it somewhere in my archives.

"Daylight Girl" is markers on posterboard, 21" x 13", winter 1980. Click on Daylight to see a larger view.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Mexican Menu Balloons

This one was another suggestion from the Paco's Tacos customers. Colorful hot-air balloons float in the clear blue sky, advertising the Lunch Special. The little distant balloon at the upper right hand corner has my artist logo on it. I include it somewhere in whatever work I sign. It took a lot of blue marker to make this sky. You can never blend markers evenly, so this is as close as I got. Dimensions and so forth, same as the other PacoBoards.

No By-Products this weekend, I will be away at a conference. Back on Monday, if all goes well.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Books and Rocking Chair

I was in Leesburg last Friday to pick up the Metatron painting and right down the street from the gallery was this friendly little shop full of books and craft items, built into an old house like so many other Leesburg shops. This is "Books and Other Found Things," run by a sweet couple originally from Hawaii. They have designed their shop to be as "homelike" as possible, as if you could live there in a kind of country-culture fantasy. They specialize in old children's books though they have volumes in many categories, such as thrillers and mystery fiction, history, and gardening. They have only been at that location eight months and are hoping to create more decorated shop rooms upstairs. I did this drawing of one of their book corners. This one is in the front room facing the street, across from the Donaldson log cabin which I depicted some time ago.

Later that evening, after I had returned from a pleasant if overheated day in Leesburg, the recent storm struck with sudden disastrous force and deprived me of electric power and blogability for two days.  

Pitt technical pen on sketchbook page, 6" x 9", June 29, 2012. Drawing took about an hour to complete.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Cookie Truck

In the neighborhood where I do my work break drawings there is the home base of a cookie truck. "Captain Cookie" lives and parks his truck at one of the characteristic cottages. On Monday I found Captain Cookie himself, working on the truck. I asked permission to draw the truck so here it is. The back doors are open so you can see the refrigerated cabinets for the ice cream and milk. The truck is painted a pretty shade of light blue and decorated with hand-painted writing and pictures of cookies. Captain Cookie, along with his sidekick the Milkman, sells cookies, milk, and ice cream out of this truck as it visits popular areas in Washington, DC. Unfortunately, he is not rated (legally) to sell his wares in Virginia. But he did bring me some fresh ones from the kitchen. These are big, chewy, rich cookies and come in many traditional varieties, such as chocolate chip, peanut butter, oatmeal raisin, and many more. I ate two of them and gave the rest away to my co-workers. I cannot, due to professional reasons, make a public judgement as to whether these are better than Trader Joe's "soft bake" cookies. But if you are in DC during the day, look for the blue truck. As it says on the truck, "Saving the world, one cookie at a time."

Staedtler tech pen on sketchbook page, color added in Photocookieshop.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Metatron, Angel of Mathematics

As you know if you have read many of these posts, I have been working on a Big Painting which has taken up a lot of my time. This major project is now done and presented to its client, so I can now show it. It is a “FuturIkon” in the same series as my Four Archangels of 1996 and my “Our Lady of the Cosmos” from 2002. This is not a By-Product, it is Fine Art, but I'm showing it here anyway.

Metatron is an angelic being from the Kabbalistic tradition, though the name is probably of Greek origin, not Hebrew. Metatron is the leader of all angels, possessing a rank higher than the numerous choirs and echelons of angels and personified concepts. He/she is privileged to stand at the “right hand of God” and lead human beings towards the good. Metatron is not a warrior angel like Michael. Rather, he is thought of as the celestial scribe.

In my futuristic interpretation of Metatron, he/she is not only a scribe or a protector, but the keeper and personification of the most fundamental of sciences, Mathematics. Without mathematics, the world would not exist. Even modern mathematicians and philosophers sometimes say that mathematics existed before the world came to be, an ancient and angelic notion. Therefore I designed the image of Metatron to be built of mathematical symbols and shapes. The Angel’s body and environment is made of forms such as conic sections (parabola, hyperbola, circle, and ellipse),  and trigonometric fundamentals such as a right angle and a 30-60-90 degree triangle as well as an equilateral triangle. There are also exponential curves, straight lines, twisted graphs of relativistic space forming the “wings” of the angel, and a Fibonacci spiral. The Angel holds in her/his hands a diagram from the Kabbalistic tradition called the “Cube of Metatron,” which encompasses, in its intersecting lines, basic solid-geometric forms such as cube, tetrahedron, octahedron, and pyramid. It is also a six-pointed Jewish star.

The Angel stands over a stylized Planet Earth, as well as atmospheric visionary fragments and the blackness of space. The border is composed of many colors of metallic and iridescent paint, reminiscent of many precious metals in a mosaic arrangement. This painting is acrylic on masonite board, 18” x 36”, finished in late June 2012. It took more than eight months to paint. Now, finally, I can present it to you after all this time. Click on the image for a larger view.

By the way, I missed two days' posting on this Blog due to not having any electric power after a destructive storm. It was like living in the 19th century for two days. No air conditioning. Candlelight at night. No phone. No refrigeration. No Internet! I'm glad to have returned to the 21st century.