Saturday, August 31, 2013

Chaos Monster

One of the interesting things about Chaos creatures is that they don't have to follow evolutionary or even practical rules. They do not have to have body symmetry nor do they need to adapt to any specific ecosystem, since every one of them is different and has no kinship or population or species to uphold. They appear, they reproduce somehow, and then continue on in their solitary ways, living out another kind of evolution as the playthings of Chaotic entities. 

Black ink and white-out on sketchbook page, 4" x 2 1/2", August 31, 2013.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Enchanted City

"Enchanted City" was one of a series I created for conventions. In those pre-millennial years I could make a modest amount of money doing small sketchy pictures on colored paper, such as "Galaxy Goddess" a couple of posts ago, and selling them at conventions. I don't know whether this is still possible, and I haven't tried it in a long while.

This architectural fantasy was borrowed from a Northern European street scene, probably in Germany. There is an enchanted pink Volkswagen in the foreground. I may have been inspired by the newly published "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" but maybe not as I might not have read it yet when I did the picture. Can't remember back that far sometime.

"Enchanted City" is mixed media (ink, pencil, paint) on blue paper, 7" x 10", April 1997.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Maryland Late Summer

I was making sketching journeys well before I started going to wineries. This sketch was done (as my caption says) from photo and from memory, during a trip through Pennsylvania and Maryland in the summer of 2006. I can attest that the landscape in Maryland at this time of late summer has not changed and looks just like this picture. I would spend a lot more time on sketching journeys if I could. But I was better off financially in 2006 and my job allowed more leave time, and my family situation was more stable. Nowadays I'm glad to have Saturdays at the vineyards. 

Colored pencil on sketchbook page, 7" x 4", August 19, 2006. This drawing is in the same sketchbook as my winery drawings.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Chasm of Nihrain

Here's some very vintage art of mine that is not a wine vintage but fantasy art. It's based on a scene from Michael Moorcock's "Elric" series in which the albino exiled sorceror king rides with stone Titans down a mountain chasm into their rock-cut city. The warlike Titans drive yellow chariots and live by firelight. I became a fan of the Elric stories when I was in Europe in 1976. 

This picture was done while I was a graduate student, just back from Europe. I did the art on a little table in a dorm room instead of my studies. I am amazed at how much good art I did back then with so little space and time to do it. Or perhaps I did have more time as I didn't have a day job the way I do now. Graduate school was wasted on me anyway. 

"The Chasm of Nihrain" is ink and watercolor on sketchbook paper, 10" x 14", September 1976. Click on the image for a larger view.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Galaxy Goddess

I did a series of fantasy female nudes for conventions. Fantasy female nudes, if they are done well, always sell. The series was done on colored paper with opaque media, a technique which goes well with many artists, including some of my friends. The colored paper also makes it easier to model a figure with highlights and shadows, rather than having to paint the whole figure up from an empty white space. 

This one is kind of a cosmic water nymph transported into the starry sky, where she caresses galactic arms and drifts in a sea of nebulae. 

"Galaxy Goddess" is acrylic gouache and colored pencil on blue paper, 10" x 7", winter 1994. Some touch-up on the face in Photoshop to make it clearer.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Cave Ridge Vines

Here's another image from Cave Ridge Vineyard. The brown line drawing was done by hand, and scanned in. Then I added the color "painting" with Photoshop. The colors which seem so bright are as true to life as my memory can make them. I had a photograph of the scene but I didn't use it much as a reference because it was taken when the scene was in the shadow of a passing cloud. Memory will bring me sunlit summer and fruitful vines. The image is authentic enough because I was there on site during at least part of the production. Some artists actually bring their laptops and Photoshop to the scene they want to depict, but it's a cumbersome process. Even the iPad has a major "drawback" in that its screen is highly reflective and on a bright day you can't see what you are drawing on it. So since I have a good memory for colors and forms and scenes, I'm working with this hybrid technique, as long as it has grapevines in it.

Pitt brown technical pen and Photoshop, about 7 1/2" x 5", August 24-26, 2013.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Cave Ridge

After a very nice couple of days with friends in central-western Virginia, I returned home while including a visit to a winery, of course. Cave Ridge Vineyard is hidden away on Shenandoah Valley slopes, in a rural area of extreme beauty. The grapes are almost ready to pick now. I sampled a good number of wines and especially liked their reds. Cave Ridge is too far away for me to make a day trip visit as I do with the Northern Virginia wineries, so I will have to go there on my longer excursions. This drawing depicts one of their wine patios. 

Pitt brown technical pen on sketchbook page, 8 1/2" x 5 1/2", August 24, 2013.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Wood-grain Background

I created this wood-grain background in Photoshop for one of my winery drawing pages. The image is supposed to simulate rustic deck planking or perhaps a picnic table. The leaves are scattered in using a Photoshop "stamp" tool.

Here's how I use the background, adding in my drawing page for Lake Anna Winery, done in  2011.

I hope that this will be part of my wine drawings book which I hope to publish later this year.

Photoshop, 8 1/2" x 11", August 22, 2013.

Note: There will be no By-Product this weekend while I am out of town visiting friends.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Medieval mail

I've been reading some medieval fantasies by Katherine Kurtz, the author of the Deryni books and their world. In Deryniworld, at least in the books I've been reading, it's about 1300.  (There's another storyline which takes place a couple of hundred years earlier.) The Deryni are identical to ordinary folk, at least on the outside, but they can do magic and have psychic powers. I've illustrated these stories for a long time, though not recently. I was inspired to do this sketch of a mail-clad knight or lancer, though most of the current storyline doesn't have battles in it. There's mostly palace intrigue and royal family dramas so far. I chose armor from around 1300. This model, heraldic surcoat over chain mail, is the most well-recognized type of earlier medieval armor. In a few decades knights would adopt the more familiar "shining armor" of molded plates.

Gel and technical pen on sketchbook page, 3" x 4", August 19, 2013. Some additions by digital inking in Photoshop.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Early Mountain Wine Castle

As I said in the previous post, internet billionaire Steve Case has lavished his generosity on the wine world of Virginia. This is a drawing of a section of the wine castle he built for tasting, food, and events. Someone was getting married there as I was drawing this, which is also why I didn't spend more time to color the drawing in. The guests and their cars were on the property and I needed to leave the space. While someone else had a big day, I drew dormers and stonework. I have done a LOT of drawing dormers and stonework in my life. 

So when I brought it home I decided not to leave it just brown lines but to color it in. Well, I did leave it as brown lines in my original sketchbook but I scanned it and colored it in Photoshop, using some watercolor-simulating techniques. This way the original drawing remains in the book but I get my colors too. Here's the same picture with the Photoshop coloring job.

I wouldn't mind going back to Early Mountain and drawing more of this wine castle but this probably won't happen for a while. This is the last of the drawings I did on my recent trip and so now back to more By-Products. 

Original art in brown fine point Pitt technical pen on sketchbook page, 7" x 4", August 11, 2013. Photoshop colorizing added later.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Early Mountain Barn

I visited Early Mountain Vineyards on my way home from Central Virginia. This lavish establishment, funded by internet billionaire Steve Case, has open acres of vine-covered land, old farm buildings, and an impressive brand-new wine castle. There are gardens filled with flowers that attract huge butterflies, and paved courts for events and weddings. A wedding went on while I was drawing the castle, and the bride and groom posed for pictures in front of this old barn. Despite it being an old wooden barn missing some boards, it had been perfectly restored with not an old tire or rusty farm implement in sight. The wine was excellent and the tasting manager offered me many more sips than the original menu listed. 

Pitt brown fine point technical pen on sketchbook page, 7" x 5", August 11, 2013.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The View from Honah Lee

If you sit on the little front porch of the tasting cabin at Honah Lee, you will see this view of the surrounding hills and farm structures. This is an exact rendition of the colors and textures of Virginia wine country on a perfect summer day. I wish I could see this view every day and in all kinds of weather and light. I wish I could have a cottage right next to the vineyard at Honah Lee. I wish all kinds of things. Have another sip of wine. 

Colored pencil on sketchbook page, 7" x 5", August 10, 2013.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

A Land Called Honah Lee

"Honah Lee" (yes, it's from the song "Puff, the Magic Dragon") is not a winery, but a tasting room on a hillside full of vineyards. The vines go well up a hill from the little tasting room, up the grassy hill where there are also turkey coops, market gardens, and beehives. Mrs. Preddy, one of the owners, took me on a tour in a noisy red ATV cart, something I've always wanted to ride on. The cart is small enough to go between the rows of vines, so that they can ride and prune the rampant grape branches. The grapes were almost ripe; within two weeks the harvest will start.

Inside the lovable cabin, they serve wines from well-known Virginia winemakers as well as home-made cookies, pastries, and fudge. There are also local vegetables, honey, jams, and sauces. Even more, some of the cases in the display contain jewelry hand-made by the owners' family. These folks are Eric and Brandy, who run the tasting room and much of the farm as well.

My hours at Honah Lee were one of my favorite moments of this summer so far. I did a color drawing page while sipping their rose'.

Honah Lee tasting cabin is colored pencil on sketchbook page, 7 1/2"  x  5 1/2", August 10, 2013.

Friday, August 16, 2013

The Righteous Bedstead

I stayed in a downstairs room at the Inn on Poplar Hill called the "Library Room." It does have books and bookshelves, wrought in mahogany-toned wood, but its main feature is the elaborate carved wooden bedstead. This originally adorned the bed of a judge, who must have been a righteous man. The bedstead is a dark red color, and about five feet tall. The whole room's decor befits a 19th century gentleman, so I was an honorary gentleman during the days I spent there.

Pitt technical pen on Moleskine page, 5" x 4", August 9, 2013.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

No Longer a Stop

The train doesn't stop here any more, unfortunately for Orange, VA. In the old days of the early 20th century, the train on its way to Washington would stop here in this Central Virginia town. Now it's mostly freight trains loaded with coal, wood, chemicals, or other mysterious stuff sealed in containers. Three burly black-and-white Norfolk Southern locomotives pull them along. I saw two pass by while I drew this drawing of Orange's old railway station.

I managed to get this entry posted despite being driven from my apartment to a hotel room by the noise of rats in my walls. They are attempting to chew through the drywall to get into my dwelling. The exterminator has been called and I hope that they come here soon. Only the latest stress factor in what has not been a good year so far.

Orange Railway Station is Pitt technical pen ink on Moleskine page, 5" x 4 1/2", August 9, 2013.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Ramshackle Workshop

I drew this ramshackle workshop in Orange, VA. It is near the train tracks where I was waiting for the Norfolk Southern to pass by. I liked the way the small enclosures and roof planes intersected. On my second visit I observed someone working in the shop (in a room to the left of this drawn part) doing some sort of tinkering.

Pitt fine point black technical pen on Moleskine page, about 4 1/2" x 2 1/4", August 9, 2013.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Poplar Hill 2013

The "Inn on Poplar Hill" is one of my favorite places in Virginia. I have visited there for four years now, usually in August. While I'm there I make a drawing to commemorate my stay, and this one is the 2013 installment. It's the view from the porch steps, with garden flowers at the walkway. There is sometimes an orange cat there too but I didn't draw him. Victoria, the lady of the house, offers chocolate chip cookies or cupcakes for the guests. The Inn is open all year but I have not yet visited it in wintertime. 

"Art Studio" app on iPad, August 9, 2013.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Back from Orange

Orange, Virginia is a bit north of Charlottesville, in the west center of the roughly triangular state. It's an old industrial town with farmland and pasture all around it. I'm back from my annual August vacation there. I wish I could have spent more time there. I'm not a good vacationer. I feel like I have to DO STUFF while I'm there, like draw or read or photograph or sightsee, and so when I come back I'm just as tired as when I left. So I need a vacation from my vacation! It's hard to drop the ways of my frantic, anxious urban environment. But I did bring back plenty of art and did manage to eat good food and drink a variety of wines. 

I did this drawing while sitting in a deserted town street in the evening. While I was drawing I was also waiting for a train to pass by on the nearby tracks. The Norfolk Southern railway goes right through the center of Orange, though it doesn't stop there. After my drawing was done I was rewarded with a Norfolk Southern freight train passing through with noise and magnificence. A few minutes later, another N.S. freight train came through in the other direction. I love trains and would like to be an artistic railfan. But unlike buildings, they don't stay in one place so I would have to draw my trains from photographs. 

Orange isn't a rich town, though there are plenty of rich people with estates all around it. It's not horsey like Middleburg. But I think there is plenty of potential to turn it into a more touristic attraction, as that part of Virginia shifts from agriculture to wineries and tourism. So far the potential hasn't been activated, but a luxury market for inns and wineries and events and gourmet local food does exist.

I drew this empty storefront with a Pitt fine point black tech pen on a yellow Moleskine page, 4 1/2" x 5", August 9, 2013.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Gnomish Window

A gnome is about to go through a window into freedom. Or whatever freedom is allowed a little earth creature. The By-Product will be taking a little break while I go on a short vacation in central Virginia. I'll probably draw some stuff and drink some wine, as I usually do. See you in a bit.

Photoshop Gnome, digitally drawn and "inked," 4" x 5", August 8, 2013.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Dead God

My career as a graduate student in Greek and Latin was probably doomed from the start because all I really wanted to do was paint fantasy pictures. I did this one, and many others, in my dorm room, rather than study. This is another image from the Elric "Stormbringer" series by Michael Moorcock. It shows a scene from one of the books where Elric, at the left with his demonic sword, and his cousin, from the right with another demonic sword, attempt to attack a hideous, multi-dimensional godlike being. The acolytes of this "dead God" crouch around him begging for protection but all he wants to do is eat them. Note the bodies of acolytes appended to the Dead God, one of them in an "interesting" place (center of picture). Also note the title caption, something I quit adding to my art early on.

I used to do a lot of these phantasmagorical pieces but now all these years later I don't do them at all and even my fantasy art is "realistic." I think this is not just due to choices I made but from general style changes in culture and art. Moorcock's writing arose in the era of psychedelia in the 1960s and 1970s but nowadays that stuff just isn't as popular as it used to be, except for "revival" or retro treatments of it. Just my opinion that is. I wonder what I'd come up with if I re-read Moorcock nowadays. But hey, one thing at a time, I am easily distracted.

"Darnizhaan, the Dead God" is ink and watercolor on Fabriano paper, 10" x 14", September 1976. Click on the pic for much larger view.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Virtual life drawing

I haven't drawn one of these in a long time. But just recently I acquired "Art Models 8" in the excellent photo-album series. These books, with their accompanying DVD, provide "virtual art models" for artists like me who don't usually have access to a live model. You put the picture of your model on the screen and draw with the drawing tablet and Photoshop (or other art software). The results, as here, look just like pencil work. Yes, I did use the eraser and the "step back" command. "Art Models 8" features female and male models in rather "classic" art studio poses, mostly solo but sometimes in a couple with another model. They are multi-racial and are diverse in size and age. This one was a dancer and posed in ballet-like or acrobatic poses. There's plenty more to draw from in just this one book.

Photoshop, about 4" x 6", August 6, 2013.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Elric Face Front

In the mid-1970s I was thrilled by the tales of Elric, the albino sorcerer king exiled from his own country, wandering the earth having adventures and being miserable. I found my first Elric books as British editions when I was wandering through Europe in 1976, having adventures but not being too miserable. I started painting little illustrations of Elric as portrait character and in action while I was still in Europe, and continued when I came home to the USA and became a graduate student, which made me miserable. This little portrait of Elric was painted during my first few months in graduate school (studying Greek and Latin classics). Elric, in the story, is linked with a huge magical sword, "Stormbringer," which is magically alive and eats the souls of whomever it kills. I've given it an eye on the hilt to show its evil life and power. Elric's albino eyes are red, as frequently described by Moorcock, even though the usual color for albino humanoid eyes is pink or a weird purplish blue.

"Elric Alert" is ink and watercolor on Fabriano paper, 5" x 3", fall 1976. 

A note on my art numbering system. I have numbered and catalogued my creations ever since 1976. My first numbered painting, catalogue number 1, was a fall 1976 watercolor miniature of Elric brandishing his magical sword. This was lost when its owner moved. Catalogue number 2 is this picture, which is still locatable in the collection of the person who bought it. That makes this picture the earliest in my catalogue to have a picture and to be featured on the By-Product. I am currently at catalogue number 1,013.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Noantri Resort Town

The person who commissioned this picture said, "Paint anything you want." That was quite a commission as I'm used to art directors and clients specifying every last detail. I decided to paint him a scene from my imaginary world of Noantri. Here on the balcony are a pair of elegant, privileged Noantri, dallying in a seaside island resort reminiscent of the Greek islands. The evening sunlight turns the town amber in the last minutes before sundown. After the sun has set this couple will set out for a sophisticated night on the town.

"Noantri Resort" is acrylic, acrylic watercolor, and ink on illustration board, 18" x 10", September 1982. Click on the image for a larger view.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

The Fabulous Mercedes

"First Friday" is a festive occasion in downtown Falls Church (and elsewhere in the area) on the first Friday of each month, where art galleries are open, businesses and restaurants stay open late, and there are cultural and entertainment events outdoors. One of the First Friday features in Falls Church is the car show and get-together in the parking lot near the "Art and Frame of Falls Church" gallery. A rock band plays and collectors bring their beautifully restored vehicles as well as cute hot rods and antique cars. This Mercedes luxury sports car has made many appearances at the show. Its owner is a retired military and commercial pilot and this is his pride and joy. The car is a Mercedes SLS AMG, (just check out that price tag!) with gull-wing doors and a lushly appointed interior. There is a set of custom-made red leather luggage made to fit in the trunk. Someone did well in the world and rewarded himself with a car that could be worth more than your house.

Pitt black technical pen on Moleskine sketchbook page, 7" x 4",  August 2, 2013.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Summer Cloudscape

It was a beautiful splashy summer day on Thursday with passing showers and big puffy clouds. The showers, sometimes with a bit of thunder, were local so you could see them from a distance through clear sky. The cumulus clouds built into cumulonimbus storm clouds with lightning flickering inside them. As I was driving through the neighborhood I saw these cumuli building up in the early evening. This study is done from memory. 

Photoshop, about 7 1/2" x 3", August 2, 2013.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Headquarters of the Ouranian Order

The Ouranian Order, in my Noantri world of "New Earth," is made up of mathematicians, physicists, philosophers, and musicians, and a few geometrical visual artists as well. This group meets to discuss their subjects, gives concerts and lectures, and sometimes offers expert advice to media and public officials. They gather in library-temples and celebrate rituals which aim to attune the participants to the cosmic order of the universe. The Order has both males and females, including many married couples, and they all tend to be upper-class since their education level is so high. The Order is originally of Khemaru origin though it is open to all ethnicities. Their symbolic colors are black and purple and their ritual garb is almost all black with some purple trim.

Though the Ouranians deny it constantly, the public media and popular rumor insist that the Ouranian Order is intent on world domination through control of people's minds and invisible influences on behavior, cybernetic networks, and international conspiracies. The Ouranians reply that the world is too complex, and people's minds too simple, to be worth dominating.

This building is one of their headquarters, a combination of library and temple on the outskirts of a major Noantri city. The tower in the background is a communications facility, assuring independent Dataworld connections for all the members of that temple.

"Ouranian Temple" is ink and watercolor on illustration board, 7" x 10", May 2002.