Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Threads of Time

This is an assemblage via Photoshop of a number of drawings I used to illustrate and embellish a story by science fiction writer C.J. Cherryh. The story and its illustrations were published in the program book for DarkoverCon 1981, when Cherryh was its author guest of honor. The piece, titled "The Threads of Time," was, as I dimly remember, a time-travel detective tale, where a sleuth must track a villain who can shift through centuries or even millennia.

Something has been shifting this millennium and most of us will be glad to crawl away from 2016 but some of what 2016 brought us will be with us for quite some time. I'll just keep making art and hoping that at least someone is looking at it. 

Originals are black ink on illustration board, fall 1981. Clicquot for a larger view.

Friday, December 30, 2016

More Buggies

Here are some more biomorphic vehicles, somewhat inspired by the 1964 New York World's Fair. The bug man was in my dwelling today for regular maintenance and I was glad to report that I have not seen any pests in my house recently, unless you count me. The upper vehicle is called the "Trioptakon" and navigates by three "eyes" on front and back. It is slow but can carry a good load. It is outfitted here with banners for a parade down the Midway of the futuristic fair.

The lower one is the "HawkMoth" caterpillar vehicle and it can carry about eight passengers comfortably. Like its relatives in the "EsCARgot" category it can bend around corners as long as it isn't moving fast. And like all the EsCARgots, it moves slowly but precisely and is a fine carrier. The pointy thing mounted on the roof is actually a pair of sturdy extendable sensors with an antenna, which gives extra view as well as readouts of environmental threats.

Black tech pen ink on sketchbook page. Upper one about 3" x 2". Lower one about 5" x 2", December 30, 2016.  The EsCargot says: Slow is good. 

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Return to the 1964 New York World's Fair

This is a re-post of an image I placed on the By-Product in early 2009. It honors the 1964 New York world's Fair which I visited in my youth. This tribute was created on a Starbucks Coffee announcement sign with acrylic markers, something which I used to do with the permission of the management for fun and coffee. I can't do anything like that now as the signs at Starbucks are all strictly controlled by corporate management. The reason I'm posting this again is that I am finally digitizing my photographs of the Fair for my family and personal archives. I will always love the fantastic mid-20-century architecture of that fair and of all the other "space age" buildings in that style, most of which are now gone. Here's one of the photos, of the Coca-Cola pavilion with its tower and its "World of Refreshment" display. The woman at right is not my mother, though my folks and I were there together. 

A movie from 2015, "Tomorrowland," features the 1964 world's fair, but I haven't seen it.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Ayn Rand comes to Darkover

Darkover fans are creative types and know lots of other writers as well as films, musicals, theater, and opera. They also love to mix genres and stories so that we can get Darkovan film noir, Darkovan opera, Darkovan detective stories, Darkovan horror or romance or humor or satire and even....Ayn Rand! The notorious capitalist champion's grandiose and technocratic output filled the fantasy of at least one Darkover fan who created a Rand-esque character to bring the Rand aesthetic to the world of the Red Sun.

The story takes place during the "re-colonization" of Darkover by the high-tech Terrans. "Marjorie," who was born on Darkover, works for the Terrans and is a highly ambitious type who wants to be the first person to build and operate a super-fast transport system (a space railroad, sort of) linking up the inhabited areas of the planet. As a Rand-ish character based on the railroad boss Dagny Taggart, she intimidates and defies her way through the Terran organizations, sparing no effort to achieve her goal. But what she does not know is that she is from one of the Darkovan clans who have psionic powers. She is from the Alton clan, whose special gift is that during a fit of anger, she can cast deadly mental energy bolts.  In the story, she is confronted by a bureaucrat who will not give in to her will, and she explodes in a rage, almost killing him with her bare hands and the mental energy bolts.

Unlike a Rand figure who would never change or apologize, Marjorie is changed by the revelation of her dangerous psychic powers and learns to work amicably with other people to continue the technical revolution on Darkover. Some of these story points may be inaccurate since I haven't read the story in ages. Note the Randian symbol of the dollar sign on her jacket. The "R" on her belt buckle stands for "Rearden," the name of the construction company she works with. Rearden was the steel works and metallic hero of Rand's "Atlas Shrugged."

Black ink on illustration board, 8" x 10", 1982.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Odd Little Concept Cars

"Concept cars" don't have to be sleek and shiny and smooth-lined. There are the muscle cars with big tires, the super-expensive billionairemobiles, and the futuristic electric-powered vehicles. But when some friends challenged me to create some concept cars, I went to a different idea altogether. My concept cars are biomorphic. They are inspired by living things, going further than just calling itself a "Beetle" as Volkswagen did. Here at the top are two versions of the "Escargot." Based on molluscs, it bends in the middle to get in and out of narrow parking spaces. Sensors on its antennae pick up traffic patterns or bad drivers to avoid. Front view, at right.

The "HoolaRoof" is inspired by tropical fish. Its convertible roof opens up like a set of fins to give a ride in the open air, or a beach umbrella. Your surfboard will fit in the open space. The HoolaRoof comes in a variety of brilliant colors. The two antennae in the rear, like those of the Escargot, sense anomalies in traffic flow, and also can look for parking spaces near the surf shop or tiki bar.

Black technical pen ink on sketchbook page. Upper image, about 4" x 2". Lower image, about 3"x 2" . December 27, 2016.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Post-Santa please return the sleigh

The reindeer are back in the pasture and Santa's delivery job is thankfully over for this year so he returns the sleigh to Colonial Parking, near the Potomac in Washington, DC. A small cruise ship (background) is ready to take Santa, his family, and all the helpers on a reward journey to some nice slow warm place. 

This drawing was an assignment when I was working at an architectural illustration company. It was the holiday card for Colonial Parking, which manages a lot of parking lots in the Northern Virginia and Washington DC area. The kiosk is especially appealing to me; I love tiny buildings like that. Too small to live in, though, it's just an office.

Black ink with technical pens on illustration board, 8 1/2" x 7 1/2", c. 1989.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Our Lady of the Cosmos - Happy Holidays

You may have seen this icon of mine on my other blog or even at a convention. It's my cosmic version of the Byzantine icon "Our Lady of the Way," or in Greek, "Hodigitria."  The Byzantine prototype of this is “She who shows the way.” The Virgin Mary holding the Christ Child points with her free hand to her child, who will grow up to be the “Way, the Truth, and the Life.” The colors are all brown, blue and silver and black, the colors of Earth, Atmosphere, and Space. Curved lines are derived from conic sections and particle trails. I designed it as a visual reconciliation between science and religion. 

Yes, as a Christmas Madonna the holy child is too old. He's a toddler I guess, not a newborn. Nevertheless, this is the correct pattern for this icon. And may all you cosmic friends of mine have a serene, happy, and creative Christmas and Hanukkah, or whatever Winter-Solstice celebrations you enjoy.

Acrylic on hardboard, 12" x 16", 2002. Click on image for larger view. Prints are available.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Box and Roll

This is what my whole apartment looks like, even though I am not moving. It wasn't just the stuff I brought back from Massachusetts, it's my own stuff that I can't find room for. I literally have no place to put anything down except the floor. On my art desk are my hand-painted artsy holiday cards, which I guiltily know I have not sent in time to celebrate Christmas Day. And then the boxes and containers of Christmas stuff, my artificial mini-tree and its ornaments. The roll of industrial toilet paper is not an ornament. This box contained the tree. The mini-tree is about two feet tall and the ornaments are miniature, too, about the size of grapes. I got the tree in 1987 in Cambridge, Mass. which makes it, if you do the shocking what you found was unbelievable math, 29 years in my possession. One of these days it will fall apart but won't we all. 

Black tech pen ink on sketchbook page, 3 1/2' x 3 1/2", December 24, 2016.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Another version of holiday card

Here's another evocation of winter with my annual hand-painted holiday card. I decided to add leafless tree trunks and branches to it. The pale glow is moonlight or city lights through fog. I'm really beginning to like this color scheme, my "official" colors for 2017. I could re-work it for every season. 

The American abstract painter Robert Motherwell, whose work I love, would lay down hundreds of sheets of paper and paint on them seemingly at random, and then when he was done he would choose the best of them and throw the others out. I do the same thing with my holiday cards. But I don't throw any of them out. The recipients will never know whether I consider the card a winner or a loser. And I'm not an Artist like Motherwell. Just a small craft. This is why I wonder what a "small craft advisory" is. Is someone out there trying to give me advice?

Acrylic paint and markers on black paper, December 23, 2016.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

John Constantine fan portrait

John Constantine is an occult detective in the DC comics universe. Constantine, also known as "Hellblazer," has had a long career since his first appearance in 1985. He was originally designed to look like the British rock performer "Sting." He has never been absent from DC comics since then, going through a dizzying pandemonium of demonic onslaughts, devils' games, multiple murders, magical operations, and any other number of crazy plotlines. Following the "film noir" detective archetype, he usually appears in a trenchcoat with a suit and a tie (often loose like a noose) and constantly smoking cigarettes. There are so many horrific creatures and characters in the Constantine storyline that it would be impossible to depict even the most important of them so I just alluded to them in this fan portrait, which was published in 1987 in a private fan magazine. 

Black ink on illustration board, 8 1/2" x 11", May 1987. Dark fantasy for the darkest night of the year, Winter Solstice.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Artsy Holiday Card

I send out holiday cards every Christmas/Solstice. I make them by hand or design them for printing. This year I am making them by hand, using acrylic paint on black textured paper. Each year I choose a Theme Color or Theme Color Combination which will be my "color accent" for the upcoming year. The color scheme for 2016 was a bright green streaked with yellow which just didn't work. The color scheme/design for 2017 is black with brown/tan and silvery white. Each card is different so what you see here is unique. Some of them are better than others. I added a "winter" motif with white splashes of paint which I later turned into snowflakes. The soft white is added with spray paint. The card opens up to a blank page of black on which I write my holiday regards in white ink. There is no religious content.

I usually end up sending about 20 to 25 cards. I am still making them and whatever cards I send by now will arrive after Christmas and into the new year. If you want one I can send you it but you will have to send me your postal address either by e-mail or Facebook.

2016-2017 holiday card is acrylic on black paper, about 5" x 6", December 2016.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Darkover Re-Colonized

As Marion Zimmer Bradley explained it, the humans and Earth animals and plants on Darkover were brought to the planet in a colonizing expedition. The colonizers were people who wanted to live a "back to the land" or neo-medieval lifestyle, and most of them were of Scottish, Irish, or otherwise Celtic ancestry. There were not very many, no more than a few thousand it seems, as well as the crew of the ship who were not of the same genetic ancestry. Some disaster happened which destroyed their ship and their colonizing resources, forcing the voyagers to live a far more primitive life than they had expected. It took hundreds of years for them to re-invent an effective technology, and this was based not on silicon and metal but on Psi powers, which were a Celtic endowment increased by both inbreeding and secret liaisons with compatible empowered humanoid aliens, the Chieri. 

Two thousand years later (there is no "canonical" timeline of Darkover) an expedition coming from Earth - a high-technology supermodern space empire Earth - re-discovers Darkover. Despite resistance from the Darkovan humans, the Earthlings re-colonize Darkover and build a spaceport as well as industrial and residential developments.

The story I'm illustrating here takes place in the re-colonization era. An arrogant Catholic priest arrives at the spaceport, intending to research how much the old settlers remember of the Faith. Ultimately the priest plans to return them to the true teaching and practice of the religion. In this scene he literally bumps into his assigned acolyte and assistant and goes right by him, not recognizing him as a helper sent for him. Later in the story the priest has to help in a life-threatening crisis which changes his attitude for the better.

Black ink on illustration board, 8 1/2" x 11", spring 1983.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Mice, Roaches, and Circuits

I have wanted to do something "technological" for a long long time, and since all my friends are technology/computer experts they encourage me and give me things which will teach me electronics. Unfortunately I am inept at technological things, given my age which puts me right on the edge of the "senior digital divide." I will never have the ease and familiarity with our tech that a kid in middle school has now. But I want to keep trying. I apologize to my friends for my timidity and incompetence, and hope that someday I will be able to play with these technological teaching toys. They gave me things which were easier and easier, hoping to give me confidence. Finally they gave me something aimed at the pre-teen crowd, a charming technological primer called "Chibitronics." This involves sticking together electrical (electronic?) circuits with conductive copper tape, paper craft, a coin-like battery, and light emitting diodes (LED's) so that you can make a page that lights up. After destroying many inches of pretty copper tape, I finally managed to follow the instructions and produce a visual circuit with a bright little light.

The Chibitronics people are smart about who will use these kits, namely young girls since their male counterparts are already doing much more complex engineering. When it comes to Chibitronics I feel like I am 10 years old anyway. One nice thing about the design of the Chibitronics kit and booklet is that the authors leave space for the young tronics person to draw and get creative with the tapes and lights. The drawing above is my response to the idea of a little lightbulb that glows right in the book when you make the connection on the battery. If you look closely you can see the drawing prompt which asks, "What does the lightbulb illuminate?" I went at it with my tech pen and drew a crowd of mice and a crawling squad of roaches as well as one black spider, that is, creatures which flee the light. This is actually a two-page drawing on the book which I spliced together in Photoshop.

My ambition is to get better at working with electronics hands-on. I don't know what purpose it will serve other than to keep me off the street. When I was young (1960s) I was surrounded by loads of gear and technological stuff including the awesome Buchla synthesizer but I never handled the hardware part let alone programming or design. In those days most girls including me were not encouraged, or outright deterred from pursuing engineering. But I suppose it's never too late, and a new year is coming, which we all hope will have more light.

Black tech pen ink on Chibitronics sketchbook pages, December 19, 2016.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Wine dispenser

The weather on "Wine Saturday" wasn't friendly to country drivers on icy roads, so the Wine Team went urban upscale in Reston, VA. We visited the "Tasting Room" wine bar in Reston Town Center where a wide variety of international vintages are offered as well as a special tasting of Virginia wines from Boxwood Winery. Boxwood served only reds and they were excellent. Pictured here is a wine dispenser which can serve from a circular array of bottles each fitted into its own holder with spout. It's large, shiny, and looks somewhat agricultural, though the original vineyard is quite a way from Reston.

Black tech pen ink on sketchbook page, 5" x 7", December 17, 2016.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Stormqueen Seance

"Stormqueen," whose given name was Dorilys, was a Darkovan girl with the ability to control, or at least unleash violent weather. Dorilys could also vaporize people if they provoked her. She was eventually put into suspended animation, rather than be killed because she was too dangerous to live. This fan fiction tells a story based on the Stormqueen tale. A group of psychic adepts has learned that Darkover's red sun, which is unstable at best, is about to go nova. They decide that they must free the Stormqueen so that she can use her cosmic weather power to stop the solar storm and nova. To do this they hold a seance (mostly in the nude, for more magic and better fantasizing) and bring her spirit out of suspended animation. Dorilys succeeds in stopping the nova explosion but she does not get to live physically since her power is still a challenge to the planet's existence. This is one of my illustrations for the story, when the Stormqueen appears at the seance wreathed in lightning.

Black ink on illustration board, 8" x 10", June 1986.

Friday, December 16, 2016

"Warlock and Son" Stasheff Cover DONE

It's been in the making for two months and finally it's done, my cover for the e-book re-release of Christopher Stasheff's "Warlock and Son." The book takes place in the magical world of "Gramarye," where the Warlock has adventures with his wife and four children. In this book, Magnus, the eldest child now 21, is anxious to leave his provincial abode, get away from his parents, and find something meaningful to do with his talents. Magnus sets off on a quest for adventure, with his nervous father secretly following him just in case he needs rescue. But Magnus doesn't need rescue just from bandits or enemy armies, he is beset by seductive magical women eager to engage him in dalliance. You see the three most insistent here, surrounding him and grabbing his green tunic: a buxom town wench, a wolf-kin forest dweller with the power to send a man into a suicidal depression, and an Elf Queen who wants to lure him into the timeless vortex of Elf-land. Which one of these will finally vanquish Magnus' fear and disdain? Will Fess, the big black robot horse, come to his aid? Will Magnus finally...give in? The e-book will be ready shortly.

All digital, no pen work beyond the initial concept sketches. Photoshop on Cintiq, 12" x 16", fall 2016. Click for a closer view.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Detail of Stasheff cover

I know, I haven't done any sketching because I've been working on the cover art with deadline approaching. Well anyway here's an excerpt from the upcoming cover which I will finish in a day or so. It's one of my medieval architectural fantasies, this one looking rather dilapidated due to the circumstances described in the book (it has been taken over by a vicious cult). There are a lot of autumn leaves in the picture because the story takes place in the fall, also when I was working on the picture. Fall is over and winter has arrived. 

This image was not created with ink or paint or colored pencil. It is all digital done with the Cintiq pen tablet. The marvelous technology (when it works and doesn't obscure your drawing with a pop-up panel) allows you to use inking and painting skills with a stylus on a pressure sensitive surface. I guess you could tell it was digital by the perfect blending of the sky with no texture. Whole "painting" coming up soon.

Photoshop on Cintiq, fall 2016.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Doctor Who early episode moth people

To be a true fan of the famous British TV fantasy series "Doctor Who" you need to be the equivalent of a Talmudic scholar. The show has been on for decades, since 1963, and there are some people who have seen almost every episode. And there are those who remember or chronicle the plots of almost every episode, as well as the constantly renewing character of the Doctor himself. He has had 12 "official" regenerations over the years. In fact he has been compared with the mythical "Wandering Jew" as he wanders through time and never dies. The WhoMudists can interpret, quote, evaluate, and correct the body of knowledge which by now can fill a whole wall with texts, videos, and a whole house with memorabilia.

I have only seen a few episodes of this series, the ones with the enchanting Tom Baker (the guy with the endless scarf). When I was doing illustrations for comics and TV fan magazines, my clients asked me to do pen and ink renderings of some scenes from the very earliest Dr. Who years. They wanted to publish these but the British would not allow it due to copyright. So here's one of my pen and ink Dr. Who 1960s images starring the old and cranky William Hartnell (the first Doctor, in the center near the moon). I have no idea what's going on here, some sort of moth people, I'm sure that someone out there knows exactly which Doctor, which show, when it aired, and what storyline it was. (OK, looked it up in the Talmud. A show from the mid '60s called "The Web Planet.")

Original drawing was ink on illustration board, about 6" x 5", spring 1981. Empty space is for text. 
Remember folks, in 1981 there was no public Internet. No cell phones. No desktop publishing. No microwave ovens. No CD's. No digital music. No goddamn social media, except what you sent through the mail.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Winter House

The leaves are all off the trees and I can see through the forest edge that in summer hides the neighbors' houses from my view. This piece comes from my lavishly decorated 1998 sketchbook journal where I used not only ink but markers and colored pencils as well. The house you see has been added to since 1998. During last summer and especially this 2016 summer, the residents doubled the size of the house with a completely new building. The railing at the top left was removed and another story was built. They also rebuilt the parking lot at front. All this construction made a lot of noise. I still haven't seen all of it, that will have to wait until I walk over there on my spring birding expeditions. I can't visit though. Lately residents have shooed me away when I attempt to birdwatch in their neighborhood. I guess they think I'm casing the place or planning a terrorist attack. 

I'm considering doing up my 2017 sketchbook journal with color multimedia pieces like 1998. It will be a job but you will see better art. The price will be that I may not post every day. If I don't post every day, I may risk not posting at all. Planning is required.

Ink, markers, and colored pencil on sketchbook page, 6 1/2" x 5", February 2, 1998.

Monday, December 12, 2016

More Comic Fan Life

In 1981 comic books were automatically connected with teenage male fans. Fortunately this isn't true so much any more. Back in the dim mists of the early 80s I depicted a typical gaggle of nerdy teenage boys enjoying the harvest of paper at the comics convention. We didn't know from "diversity" back then but I managed to add one black one and one girl. If you look closely you'll see they are reading immortal titles of the 80s and earlier such as "Brother Power, the Geek."

"Cosplay" hadn't been invented yet; dressing up as a character was just called "costuming." But some guys and gals did dress up at conventions, and some were even professional model types hired to stir up publicity. This one, dressed as the '70s Captain Marvel, is perhaps getting a little too close to a fan, who is not sure about the situation.

I still have my comic books from that era as well as the fan magazine that published these little illustrations.

Black ink on illustration board. Upper one: 3 1/2" x 3 1/2". Lower one, 4 1/4" x 3 1/2. Spring 1981.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Temptresses excerpt work in progress

If you haven't seen fresh new art by-product on this Blog for a while it's because I'm working on a book cover for the Stasheffs. This is the fifth one I've done for them and it's due next week so I'm working hard at it. Here's an excerpt from the cover. It shows two "temptresses" who are there to destroy a lustful, clueless young man who has powerful but unfocused magic powers. At top is a part-alien wolf-woman and below is a buxom peasant maiden who leads him on but loves another. This is not finished and you can see the un - "painted" area which is the image of the young man.

My faces are usually bad but these two aren't terrible. I could do better though. I like the textures that I can get with the Cintiq which is finally behaving except for the annoying pop-up which I guess is inescapable.

Photoshop on Cintiq, 4" x 9", December 2016. Click for larger view.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

"Nursing back to health" scene

In a fan story, a Darkovan colonial girl nurses a stranded spaceman back to health. This episode appears in almost every fantasy story, a "trope" to use the current word for it. It's also called a "hurt-comfort scene" and was especially popular among the writers of Star Trek fan fiction. Nowadays the fan writers are still producing such scenes in their writing about male British TV adventure characters like Sherlock and Watson. 

It's much more common to find this scene played between a girl or woman and the male hero, who is often a soldier or a spy. It is always the precursor to a sexual liaison between the recovered man and his caring nurse. In this case there is also the usual corollary, that she gets pregnant by him. The child turns out to be the Liberator of the Colonialists, or the Hero of the Future, given that he has the ancestry from both sides of the conflict.

It's Darkovan fan fiction, but as usual I have little or no memory of the original story. I do like that I put garlic in the picture. 

Black ink on illustration board, 8 1/2" x 11", summer 1984.

Friday, December 9, 2016

The White Oudrakhi

Last month I posted a bit about the "cameloids" in the small desert region of Darkover known as the "Dry Towns." Here's an illustration from another fan story set in the desert, starring a cameloid known as an "oudrakhi." In the story, an all-white oudrakhi is born in the flocks of a tribal herdsman. The white oudrakhi is thought to be a magical creature of destiny so the non-tribal Darkovans try to kidnap it using their techno-magic. The herdsman is trying to fight their magic off with only his curved scimitar.

OK, I have no idea whether that story I recall has anything to do with the "real" story I illustrated which was published in the fan magazine. But I do remember that the herdsman gets to keep his white cameloid oudrakhi, winning somehow against his magical opponents. I do recall that this story treated the tribal Dry-towner sympathetically, rather than portraying him and his people as violent "primitives."

Original art is black ink on illustration board, 8 1/2" x 10", May 1984.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

K-16 Kabbalah Perspective

I haven't done a digital geometric abstraction for a while, so here's one, based on the famous diagram of the Jewish Kabbalah with its "flow-chart" of the ten mystical stations, or Sephiroth. The diagram is often referred to as the "Tree of Life." I decided to put the Tree of Life in perspective, looking from the bottom up. This drawing shows three stations, Tiphareth in yellow and Yesod in purple, with the "earthly" realm of Malkuth at the base. If I wanted to "zoom out" I could fit all ten stations on it, but that might be crowded with too much detail. This design is an early concept for the cover of a book about Kabbalah, a project which is only at the beginning stage. I could also re-create this perspective design in a more "classical" or illustrative style. The blue area at the top would be where the title and author text would go.

Photoshop on iMac main studio, 7" x 10", December 8, 2016.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

When Conventions were Fun

Very early on in my artistic life I did cartoons about comics and fandom for a group of friends in Boston. I didn't go to comics conventions but in those days "mainstream" science fiction/fantasy conventions attracted comics fans and vendors. Conventions were crowded, chaotic, exciting places where for a weekend you could party, share your interests, meet new people and make new friends, and buy a whole bunch of paper stuff. I frequented the conventions for business as well, trying to get illustration work and sell my art. It all comes back to me and these little drawings are an accurate portrayal of the con scene, including the 90 percent male attendance and the one recognizable girl dressed in a cloak, jacket, rustic pants and high boots, with a little cloth dragon fastened to her shoulder. There are still comics conventions, but they are huge shows driven by the commercial media, not the individual creators, and I am not in the picture.

Black tech pen ink on illustration board, 7" x 4", spring 1981. Click to see the accurate details.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Pink Cat

I was wondering what I was gonna post for December 6 and the idea came to me out of nowhere: "Pink Cat." Well you can have a cat that is pink, or a drawing of a cat done in pink color. Some cats are referred to by cat experts as "pink" but that color is only a buff tinged with red. I went with drawing in pink and diluted red color, which I haven't done before so here is a pink cat. She looks a little annoyed, and if I had a real cat she probably would be annoyed at an artist chasing her, which is why I do cat portraits from photographs. But I don't have a cat (allergic to them) so this one is done from memory.

Photoshop on Cintiq, 6 1/2" x 9", December 6, 2016.

Monday, December 5, 2016

More Chaos

Darkover again! In the old days, the 1980s, DarkoverCon was like an indoor Renaissance Faire, with two rooms of lively merchants, music and dancing and parties way into the night, public performances and book-reading and storytelling recitals, a costume show, and an art show filled with professional as well as amateur art. Thirty years later, the hall is the same, but it was empty except for a few wandering stragglers, aged relics of the earlier days, and the notes of a single instrument echoing in the cavernous hangar. I could go on with this but it will make you and me sad.

This is one of my title pages for "Chaos in MacArandale," a fan-written story about a Darkovan boy, disabled by a hunchback and other deformities and who must use a wheelchair, and his brother, a well-built, able-bodied warrior. The disabled boy is studying to be an herbalist, but he will never do deeds of valor like his brother. In the story the brothers find that they have a telepathic link so that the homebound one can share the adventures of the other one out in the world.

At least that's what I think the story is about. It was published thirty years ago and I haven't read it since. 

Original art is black ink on illustration board, 8 1/2" x 10",October 1986. 

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Surrealistic Eyeballs and Chaos

There must be some weird shit going on in my mind because when I put my pen in my hand and said "go", this is what happened. There are insects, a duck, an abnormal building, and eyeballs. There are no pretty women or unicorns or dragons. I think it's a reflection of the chaos all around me. Speaking of chaos, I've wanted to share this with you for a long time. In my town, Fairfax County, there is a landscaping company headed by a man of Asian background, Mr. Chao. When they do work on a house, they put up a sign that says, "Chao's Landscaping Company." I have always wanted to see a site go completely to smithereens because the Chaos Landscaping Company was doing work there.

Black technical pen on sketchbook page, about 3 1/2" x 5", chaotic. December 4, 2016.

Saturday, December 3, 2016


It would seem obvious that to be successful in gaming art you'd have to be an enthusiastic gamer yourself. I had to confess to my client that I had only played a role-playing game once or twice and I didn't enjoy it. My experience with "Dungeons and Dragons" and similar pursuits bored me silly. But I told myself that all these campaigns and action scenes were stories, with a narrative I could illustrate just like any other. 

Here's a very typical moment in game action, where your character skulks through the attics or hidden passages of a building, looking for a gap big enough for him to wait in ambush and then drop down on an unsuspecting victim. Where would games - or any fantasy or s.f. story - be without secret passages? Stuck in between floors covered with dust and mouse droppings. Dust and mouse poop! That sounds familiar doesn't it, and it wasn't a game. Been there Done that and sold the house.

Black ink on illustration board, 5 1/2" x 7", March 2003. I knew that someone would bring up "pareidolia" relating to my previous post, and it probably would be Mike.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Blanket Chair Creature

"It's in my room." "What is, dear?" "The creature. Don't you see it?" "That's just a blanket on a chair, sweetie." Mother doesn't see it. Neither does anyone else. It's a blanket folded up on a chair. But it's alive! That's what I still see and I'm a grown-up now! The same faces show up on snarling car front ends and rolled-up newspapers. They're everywhere. The world is full of beings, emerging from visual or audible chaos, and I can see and hear them. Some of them are friendly, most of them are neutral, and a few of them are downright nasty. I caught this one wading through a roiling sea of dirty laundry. Is it friendly or not? I'll have to do it...I'll have to take the blanket off...the....

Black tech pen ink and a bit of demonic Photoshop, 3 1/2" x 4", December 2, 2016.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

November Trees on a Dark Day

Yesterday, the last day of November, was a dark day, with almost no light but a lot of rain. I wanted to depict the last bright leaves out my window so here is what I see when I am at the computer during the day. Most of the leaves are down so I won't see this again for a year. My Cintiq keeps telling me in a rather whiny way that she needs an Internet connection to update her various software contraptions. I don't have wi fi in my dwelling, it failed one day after some other miserable update and I never bothered to get it back but I need to. Or I can go mooch off some friends' wi fi or I can go to Starbucks and feed Cintiq some updates with her coffee. I'm glad November is over but the consequences may last a long long time. 

Photoshop on main system not Cintiq, 5 1/2" x 6", November 30, 2016.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Dame Ingaria

I apologize for the lack of fresh new art these days but I had to get the art show done and start working on the next Stasheff. I promise you I'll design some amusing material for you as a distraction from the politics of the absurd. This sinister looking lady is sinister. She is Dame Ingaria Colanto, an aristocratic character from the "Powers that Be" game that I illustrated back in 2003. She had no qualms about poisoning her opponents but she was very kind to animals and kept her little lap dog with her at all times. 

This is originally a black and white ink drawing which was colored in with "Painter," a grand illustration/fine art program that I used back then. "Painter" is still around and its 2017 version has just been released. I am wondering whether it will run on my Cintiq and whether it will be free of the extremely annoying pop-up problem that Photoshop has. There is a new version of the Cintiq coming out shortly as well, but I suspect that it would have the same problem with Photoshop. This is all very expensive equipment and I don't feel like sinking more money into over-engineered bug-ridden graphics specialties.

Original drawing was ink on illustration board, colored in Painter 9, 4" x 5", March 2003.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Back from Chessiecon

A note before you read this: Much of the following text was posted to Facebook earlier last evening. I added more for your edification. What does "edification" mean anyway. Something that will instruct and improve your life. Might as well hope so. 

I'm back from Chessiecon and I am happy to report that I sold at least 7 pictures, some of them to my best customers. The prints of my Christopher Stasheff covers dated 2016 show that I am still active as a professional artist and my digital work will attract people.
The art show gallery was crammed into a tiny room which I and others found disappointing, but when the circumstances were explained to me I understood and didn't complain. Seain Gutridge (sorry for spelling) proved himself a heroic administrator for the art show, defying a balky computer and finding a place for my art when I didn't have a registration (because unlike in previous conventions I was supposed to pre-pay and register). This was all taken care of. I was also bemused that all the art had a consistent theme of "composite creatures" and fantasy animals, such as little black mice with monarch butterfly wings. If this was a deliberate theme decision I didn't get the program and my art contained no fantasy creatures except Fess, Stasheff's robot horse. It all was OK at the show's end.

I also had a great time with Friendly Mathematician David and his glamorous lady Gloria. They brought with them two young professional opera singers, a mezzo soprano and a soprano, who filled my party room with music and laughter. There was plenty of wine too.
Chessiecon was very underpopulated, the attendance seems to decrease every year, but they are planning to hold another one next year. It's always a great way for me to see my friends face to face when they are usually just print on a screen. 

The photo above which is of mediocre quality but so was the whole room, is my exhibit. The larger one, the pink sky image, sold to a friend and collector. Another friendly collector bought the one with the black horse head. The green nebula was bought. I also sold three prints in the printshop and one to a gallery administrator before it was even shown. So that makes 7 prints or arts sold out of 12 items that I offered for sale. Not bad for a very underpopulated convention where I doubt there were more than 200 people attending.

Blogging will now Resume.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Horse's End, part 9

After the astral battle the invader wizards concede and give up their plans for the village. Epona and her team of otherwise untamed horses have saved the day. From the strength and amount of power Epona delivered in the fight, they have decided to leave her and the village in peace and not attempt again to take over.

The villagers repair the ruined tower and agree to support Epona as the guardian of the region, together with her herd of magical horses. She will live in the Tower which will be provisioned and maintained for her. Sounds like a good life if you can tolerate cold and are fond of horses. If I had a superpower "being able to talk with animals" would be one of my choices. So she would have friends and protectors out there by the gloomy loch. In my drawings I tried to evoke the dark cloudy rugged rocky landscape of Scotland. Also in the lower right corner is part of the castle ruins with a stone carved with the arms of a great magic-using clan of distant past. In the song it is suggested that Epona was an unknown or  unrecognized offspring of that empowered family.

This brings to a close my sequential treatment of "Horse Tamer's Daughter." Looking at it again after 32 years it doesn't look that bad to me. Interestingly my current assignment also includes a depiction of a horse. But this one is a robot.

Black ink on sketchbook page, 8" x 10", summer 1984.

I'll be at "Chessiecon" convention this weekend, no blogging till next Tuesday. Happy Thanksgiving to those readers who celebrate it.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Council Chamber

I did the illustrations for a tabletop role playing game, created in the early 2000s. It was set in a kind of modernist Renaissance at a seaport city full of intrigue, corruption, and a bit of weirdness. I did a number of character portraits and action scenes, as well as page border illustrations and some environments and interiors. I've posted some of them here but not this one I think.  This is the grandiose Council Chamber where the powerful members of the oligarchy meet to impose their will and exploit the resources of the city. Just like now, Indeed. I received some money for my illustrations but I also got paid in mathematics tutoring by the game designer. At that time I was still working through my self-training in mathematics. In this portrayal of an environment I had to create the idea of a big space with small art.

"Council Chamber" is black ink on illustration board, 10" x 6 1/2", early 2003. Clickonit for a closer view.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Dyan of Darkover and the Blind Keeper

I apologize for so many Darkover postings but it is that Darkover time of year when "Darkover Grand Council" drew a fantasy-loving Bradley fan crowd. I could fill a whole art display panel with Darkover art and sell it, too. So here's one from a fan publication starring a known Darkover character, the future bad guy "Dyan Ardais." Here he is flirting and sharing magic with a Keeper of one of the Towers, the psychic power stations you are familiar with. She is blind but she can see with her psychic powers as well as read people's minds. Keepers take vows of celibacy like nuns (abstinence is said to strengthen psychic powers) and they dress all in red. Marion B. poured forth many a chapter on the sexual/psychic travails of Keepers who found Love and had to quit the duties of the Tower. Dyan later found a nastier type of Love with young men as a sadistic overlord.

Black ink on illustration board, 7" x 10", May 1985.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Horsepower, part 8

At the exciting part of the tale, Epona the Horse-tamer's Daughter sends forth her group of horses in astral form as fighters against the invading team of wizards. Despite her lack of magical training, Epona and her horses rout the invaders and save the independence of the village. 

The drawings you see here are designed to be in the border. I blocked out the poorly lettered lyrics text, which I didn't write. I still want to do more sequential art, whether Darkovan or not. 

Black ink on illustration board, 8 1/2" x 11", summer 1984. Click the image for a larger view.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Miracle Valley

"Wine Saturday" was spent under threatening clouds and blustery winds. The Wine Team was happy to find shelter in the wine lodge at "Miracle Valley" vineyard in Delaplane, Virginia. We sipped warmed and rich red wines as a shower of winter's first sleet blew outside. I drew this image in one of the tasting rooms. No more outdoor winery drawing till Spring! I met the congenial and lively winemaker and host, Joe, who remembered me visiting from five years ago! I won't wait that long before I go there again. 

Brown sepia tech pen ink on sketchbook page, colored with "Irojiten" colored pencils, 7 1/2" x 5 1/2", November 19, 2016.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

The Female Comics Fan

Early on in my professional artistic life I was friends with a group of fans in the Boston area who published somewhat "scholarly" and well-written fanzines about comics and comic book people. I would draw them cartoons for a few pennies and work on humorous illustrations for the text. This one comes from an entire magazine issue devoted to the question of girls and women as comic book fans. Why weren't violent super-hero or spy or war or horror comics appealing to females? Why were female super-heroes unpopular, and even written out of stories if they became too powerful? Why were females in comics depicted with grossly exaggerated bodies? No surprise, these are still questions that are relevant in the comics world though great progress has been made. The comic creator community is much more gender-diverse than it used to be but there is still an overload of males in the business. There have been attempts all along to make comics that appeal to girls and women, with varying success, as I've drawn here with "Ms. Meteor." But I've always been a comics fan no matter what the theme is, and the fangirl you see at left is (except for the bushy hairdo) a self-portrait of what I looked like in my high school days.

Black ink on illustration board, 6" x 7 1/2", mid to late 1980. That's 36 years, folks. 

Friday, November 18, 2016

Cameloids of Darkover

Darkover was a planet mainly covered by snow and icy glaciers, uninhabitable by humans except for a band around the equator. There was a variety of climates and terrains on that band. That included a small but significant area of desert, the warmest place on Darkover, which was nicknamed the "Dry Towns." In that area, desert animals thrived, and human cultures lived lives similar to Bedouins, nomads, or oasis dwellers. The people of the Dry Towns rode imported horses but also used native creatures similar to camels, you might call them "cameloids." Another reason why Marion Zimmer Bradley invented the Dry Towns was so that she, and later her fan fiction writers, could write tragic stories about the mistreatment of women in tribal cultures. 

This illustration, which I rescued from a fan site since I had no copy of it for myself, shows the main character, a young boy, riding on a cameloid as part of a caravan. He's looking back at us readers and seems to be having a good time. 

Black ink on illustration board, 8 1/2" x 11", October 1986.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

More Roomscape

This is what's in my studio right now. Bags and boxes of either tossed stuff or saved stuff. The wastebasket. The oriental rug. The graphics stool. Books and trays. And an oversized ceramic cup which is really more like a bowl. This is only one corner of what's in my dwelling. Seems like what I throw out is replaced or augmented by more that springs out of the corners like an avalanche of dusty foam. But the Sketchbook Police say you got to draw what you see (like the "Fiction Writing Police" who insist you have to write what you know) so here you go at least for now. 

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 5" x 5", November 17, 2016.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The Dead Sea Scrolls

Among the family papers and items I brought back from the old house was a tightly packed sheaf of paper rolls, all of them from my father's photography in 1959 to 1962. I knew they existed from earlier explorations but I had not seen them all. Now I am unrolling these cylinders and looking at what is on them. I am also scanning and digitizing all of them to have a record of the images whether I have other prints or not.

These are "contact prints," which in the era of film was the best way to view fresh new photo sessions all at once. You took the developed film and laid it on heavy coated photographic paper, pressed it down with a slab of glass, and used a bright light or your enlarger to make a photo print. These were the results of countless snapshots, all black and white, that my father and mother took as we lived in Rome and toured Europe in our Volkswagen bus.

I know I have the negatives of at least some of these somewhere, so I don't have to rely on the contact print. Some of these photos were taken on my mother's miniature Minolta-16 camera and the negatives are very small. I hope that I can find a way to digitize all of these images or at least the better preserved ones. 

This drawing depicts individual unrolled scrolls of ancient images (1959-1962) after I scan them and drop them on the floor. You can see the dark prints on one side of the heavily curled paper. I nicknamed them the "Dead Sea Scrolls." Unlike the holy texts though, eventually I may discard the contact prints, which is what usually happened to them after the photo session was done.

Black tech pen ink on sketchbook page, 6" x 3 1/2", November 16, 2016.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Porthole at Sea

There isn't much to do on a smaller ocean liner for a teen-ager. My family traveled to and from  Europe by sea, but the ships were not the vast floating entertainment cities that barge around the globe these days. The reason we went by sea was so we could pick up or transport our car, a Volkswagen Campmobile bus which was our family car touring and camping through Europe. The cars were stored in the hold of the ship, tied down like the other cargo.

In 1969 I was a junior in high school age 16 and we had designated the summer of '69 as a European trip so we were there for three months. We sailed on a Norwegian ship, the "Sagafjord," which stopped at Copenhagen, where we disembarked and went to stay with friends. We didn't have the car until it was delivered to us at the Danish home of our friends: a red Volkswagen bus with a white top that popped up to become a mini-tent. 

I didn't stay idle on the Sagafjord, since there was always something to eat. But I spent a lot of the week-long voyage reading ("Wuthering Heights," which I hated) and drawing, since of course I had my colored pencils with me. I made this drawing of the porthole in our cabin. It was right near the water line so I could observe all the colors of the sea. It looks like it was a cloudy day when I did this porthole portrait. The bright red color is rust, and you can see some damage around the frame of the port. The Sagafjord may not have been in the best of shape, but the smorgasbord was great. The ship is long gone and very few liners make the transatlantic journey any more.

Colored pencil on sketchbook page, 8 1/2" x 11", some restoration in Photoshop, June 1969.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Darkover Noir

Constantly creative Darkover fan writers got notions to mix the genres. Darkover was already science fiction and fantasy with a strong strain of Romance. But the fans explored other genres by transplanting them to Darkover, such as detective stories including ones with an interestingly ethnic detective. For instance, there was a Japanese sleuth based on Peter Lorre's famous "Mr. Moto" character. The fans also wrote "noir" mysteries set in Darkover complete with dark psionic magic. The best-written of the Darkover detectives was the Jewish detective, Henry Levich, who works for the Terran Intelligence Agency overseeing Earth's relationship with the re-colonized Darkover. This is an end-piece, based on the famous last scene of "Casablanca," where Levich and his Darkovan contact agree that "this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."

Ink on illustration board, 8" x 5", December 1984.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Classical Art Model

I haven't drawn one of these in a long time so here she is. She is originally a model in the excellent boon for artists image series, "Art Models" books. Her moment under the lights has made countless artists happy because they had a model to draw when no life drawing was available. She has doubtless gone on to other pursuits and will never know that she helped so many artists. Likewise those of you who are feeling depressed over current events, if you can do something or make something or fix something, you must keep doing it and also showing it and making it known because you never know who you might help without your being there at all. I learned this over the years and have to remind myself of it every so often. Even if my drawing isn't so great, as long as I did it and made it known.

Ink on sketchbook page with a little bit of Photoshop correction, 5" x 7", November 13, 2016.