Friday, May 20, 2016

Brandeis Graduate Flying Cape

Hooray! I'm a graduate! Well, I graduated from Brandeis University in 1975, so it was a while ago, but this was a tryout for my yearbook picture. I had a friend pose me with my cloak of levitation at the top of a stairway, and she took a number of pictures. I liked this one but did not choose it for the yearbook, since I wanted a face portrait. Forty-one years later I'm still a costume fan and Brandeis graduate. Congratulations to everyone around me who is graduating from college or celebrating other happy occasions.

I'm still in Massachusetts working through the clearing of the old family house and will be there for some time. This picture comes from a pile of photos and memorabilia which will have to be sorted and preserved when I take it back to Virginia. I am too busy with the helpers and art removal to do any art myself. But I'm making progress unloading all the STUFF that has been in this house gathering dust for all these years.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Lythande and the Pit of Hell

Here's Lythande again, Marion Zimmer Bradley's cross-dressing magic user. This time she's gazing down into what ignorant villagers believe is the entrance to Hell. In reality, as I dimly recall the story, it was something more prosaic such as a natural gas leak in an earth crater. This kind of thing does occur and it looks like a hell pit to onlookers. Somewhere this story and my art are stashed away in a closet which also resembles a portal to Hell though a dusty and paper-crumbly one rather than a hell of gas and fire.

Meanwhile it's back to the old family house for more toil and clearing, and I don't know how long it will take. So posting here will either be on hold or will appear sporadically.

"Lythande and the Pit of Hell" is black ink on illustration board, about 6 1/2" x 6 1/2",
winter 1995. Published in "Marion Zimmer Bradley's Fantasy Magazine," 1995.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Modern City in Ruins

This is my first professional job as an illustrator. I did it as the frontispiece of a collector's item book by Gregg Press. Gregg, based in Boston, was publishing high-quality editions of classic science fiction and fantasy literature. One of their main authors was Philip K. Dick, who led the genre with disturbing, avant-garde stories and novels. This illustration was for a collection of short stories, "A Handful of Darkness," published in 1977. Since there were many stories with many themes, I didn't do anything specific. But there was a story set in a post-apocalyptic scenario, so I went with the modern city in ruins. In those days it wasn't as much of a cliche as it is now. There's a lot of technical pen work in this piece, and I'm glad to say it still looks good 39 (!) years later. I later did many more of these black and white Gregg Press frontispieces, not only for Dick but for Zenna Henderson stories, and then Marion Zimmer Bradley, which was a career-maker for me in the 1980s.

Original is black ink from Rapidograph technical pens, 11" x 14" (maybe), 1977.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Slinky Inky Dragon

I do love drawing dragons. They come in so many types and styles. This one here is what I would call a "slinky" dragon, long and sinuous and flexible like the well-known metal spring toy. She has plenty of reptilian heritage but can take to the air like a proper flying creature as well. She doesn't have feathers but does have decorative, mosaic-like scale patterns. I drew her in ink but she'd be lovely in color too.

"Slinky Inky" is black tech pen ink on sketchbook page, 7" x 2 1/2", May 9, 2016.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Elric ink drawing and Barry Windsor-Smith

This is a very early piece of mine from the mid 1970s. It depicts Michael Moorcock's fantasy hero, "Elric of Melnibone" in action. It is done in the style of my favorite comic book artist of that time (or any time), Barry Windsor-Smith. He was a British artist who broke in with Marvel Comics when it was still possible to submit an individual portfolio and get work immediately. He started out imitating the drawing and inking style of more popular comic artists but as he progressed he brought out the wonderful Art Nouveau/Pre-Raphaelite look that made him so great. He was heavily influenced by 19th century illustrators and artists such as Edward Burne-Jones or Alphonse Mucha. 

I copied Windsor-Smith's artwork hoping to learn how to draw like him. This Elric piece was inspired by the work Windsor-Smith did for Marvel's "Conan the Barbarian" stories. Elric appears in one of the stories, in a collaboration that is one of my collection treasures. Windsor-Smith used intricate pen work as well as beautifully drawn action figures and fantastic architecture and scenery. The only problem I have with his art is that his faces are kind of clunky, with small eyes and big long square jaws even for women, again borrowing heavily from the Pre-Raphaelites. But anyway I still want to draw as well as Barry.

Unfortunately something happened to Barry Windsor-Smith, some sort of mental problem. He published his terrifying psychedelic (but non-drug, according to him) experiences in his two collector volumes, "Opus," and since about 2010 he has published nothing. No one even in the industry is willing to talk about what happened to BWS. It's a shame that his great work is not continuing.

"Elric" sketch is black ink on sketchbook page, 1976.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Mid-Century Blue

Here I am again, bringing back that chic Mid (20th) Century Modern to the blogworld. I found myself needing an authentic current art piece for the By-Product, rather than the dusty sheets of faded 1990s art I've been working through. So I went to the markers in the plastic disc and a circle template, and here ya go, a bit of charm. Of course it doesn't stop in the 1960s as this is a "hybrid" piece finished in Photoshop. Y'know this wouldn't be half bad as a large wall-sized canvas but I don't have a slick commercial patron or a celebrity to commission it. Meanwhile I struggle with an annoying dental problem which is keeping me from schlepping up to Boston to resume the clearing of the pestiferous old family house. Until that's taken care of I won't be running anywhere just yet. You didn't need to know that but there it is for now.

"Mid-Century Blue" is markers on sketchbook page, colors added in Photoshop, 6 1/2" x 5", May 7, 2016.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Kallitechnia Panorama 2

Mr. Kallitechnia Client asked for two versions, vertical and horizontal, of the panoramic view of his utopian village. You already saw the vertical version, so here is the horizontal version. If you look closely at the layout, you can find all sorts of buildings and infrastructure: a little glass-covered mall at left, a major supply tunnel under the center, a lake shore and a boat house with a climbing cliff at right, and multi-level social spaces. At the top is the climate-controlled dome which connects with all the residences and classrooms. There is also a playing field at lower center and terraces for growing herbs and vegetables. And where would such a place be built? In a place full of utopias and experimental architecture, of course: Kallifornia!

Original art is black ink on illustration board, 14" x 11", March 1997. Click on this image for a larger view.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Lythande: A stranger in the tavern

During its publication history, "Marion Zimmer Bradley's Fantasy Magazine" usually included a story by MZB in each issue. If it was a story about  Lythande, the gender-bending wizard, I got the call to do the illustrations. Lythande, as some of you may recall, is a woman passing as a man while wandering around the countryside helping folks with her magic. She is not a transsexual but she is forced to pass because of the circumstances of her magical training. She disguised herself as a man to train at the all-male university of magic, but her gender secret was discovered. In this system, every magic user has a major secret which must be maintained for their magic to be effective. She was allowed to continue as a magic user as long as she kept her true gender secret.

Here in a story dealing with the discovery of a "portal to hell" outside a remote farm town, Lythande is regarded with deep suspicion by the customers as she sits alone in the local tavern. 

Black ink on illustration board, 6 1/2" x 6 1/2", December 1994. Published in 1995. 

The ink in my fantasy illustrations is not tech pen ink, it is real india ink on a sharp pointy dip pen, and I still do them that way, which is quite inky and messy but looks good when you're done. This is one of my favorite small black and white illustrations.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Abandoned Eatery

Tysons Corner, the onetime rural crossroads turned into burgeoning Edge City, has a few places which have been left behind in the frenzy of development. This is one of them. It is in an area of dull office buildings and car sales and service places. It used to be a "Fuddruckers" hamburger eatery but it is now abandoned. The building is painted in hamburger and condiment colors of reds and yellows but that has faded, like an old amusement park that was once cheerful and active. Note the faux balustrade on top of the main gable in front. It isn't a real terrace. You couldn't take your burger plate up there and sit at a little table overlooking the pleasant vista of parking lots or car storage. There is a motel near the building where guests could eat at the convenient location. Sooner or later this building will be removed and something else more tasteful will appear there.

Black tech pen ink on car fender supported sketchbook page, 8" x 4 1/2", May 3, 2016.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Kallitechnia Water Stairway

The colonies of Kallitechnia were arranged by themes of the ancient Four Elements, that is, Earth, Water, Fire, and Air. Not only was the people's way of life full of their element, the architecture and costume fashions followed the theme. The overall style was Art Nouveau which adapted easily to the elemental philosophy and ornamentation. In this drawing you see a fanciful carved stairway which makes its way through multiple levels of fountains. This is in the Water House, and you can see figures of mermaids, seals, and aquatic creatures in the stairway and fountain designs.

Black ink on illustration board, original drawing 12" x 9", March 1997. Click for larger view.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Snack at Starbucks

In the future, we will drink coffee out of little portable covered paper cups and eat our lunch in the form of a peanut-flavored protein bar in a plastic wrapper. Well here it is, my early evening snack when I creep out of my studio for my one glimpse at the real world, although Whole Foods does not qualify as the "real world." It's an Atkins bar, which is supposed to be nutritious but also contains somewhat dangerous artificial sweetener. I have long since come to the conclusion that any food except colorful vegetables and white meat chicken or tuna is bad for me. That's good food, sure, but I would get tired of it all the time. I can have all the broccoli and almonds I want, which is not all that much. I have been waiting for "People Vittles," a package of chewy, tasty, nutritious snacking that resembles what we feed our privileged cats. This bar is almost there. The low-carb protein bar is made for people who want to lose weight, or who are just too damn lazy to prepare their own snacks. As for the coffee, that's a double espresso macchiato from the worshipful Starbucks, a concoction sometimes referred to as "productivity in a cup." Despite drinking it, I was not very Productive today, not to mention hearing ominous crackling noises coming out of the electrical wall outlet that my Cintiq was plugged into. Pull the plug. The Cintiq gives an almost human sigh as I dismiss Windows 10, and goes dark.

Black tech pen and grayscale markers on sketchbook page, some Photoshoppage on the border, 4" x 4 1/2", May 1, 2016.

2600 posts here on the By-Product since March 2008. I don't know what that means, but it must mean something.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Little Chinese dragon

A dragon is often a combination of different animals, and such is this one, made from feline, reptilian, and annelid qualities. It's a small dragon, no bigger than a medium-sized dog, and is at its best when scampering over mountain crags. Large dragons can use these little ones for protection while manifesting their greatness at the parliament of animals. They also are good at picking up scraps of food or paper, a task which excites them, as this one shows. They're not very friendly to humans but will not attack unless provoked.

Black tech pen ink on sketchbook page, with a little extra Photoshop, 4" x 2 1/4", April 30-May 1, 2016.