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.