Sunday, April 30, 2017

Winding Spring

"Winding Road Cellars," one of my favorite Northern Virginia wineries, was the destination for this week's "Wine Saturday." But when I sat down to draw, there wasn't a vine to be seen, just the enchanted fresh green of meadows nearby. Scott, the vintner of Winding Road, would love to purchase the field and grow vines on it, but that isn't going to happen any time soon so it remains a beautiful scene to delight the sippers and draw-ers on the front porch of the wine lodge. 

This is the first iPad drawing I have done in a long time and the device seems to have forgotten how to work with me, or more probably the other way around.

"ArtStudio" app on iPad, 10" x 8", April 29, 2017.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Overgrown African Violet

I have always had plants in my dwellings, even when I lived in a tiny college dorm room. The one you see above is an African violet, the houseplant with the fuzzy leaves and purple flowers which appears in countless windowsills or dreary offices. Most African violets perish of neglect. This one, placed in a sunny window, just sat there for years with only minimal care from me, watering with a touch of fertilizer every few months. It lost a lot of leaves, but it also kept growing, and growing, and blooming in a rather boring magenta color. It got bigger and bigger, put out more leaves and flowers, dropped them and grew some more. Today I gave it some attention, removed handfuls of spent flowers and leaves, and pruned it a bit. Will it still keep growing? African violets are threatened in their original habitat but seem to thrive in mine despite everything. I used to have a collection of colorful African violets and maybe I'll get some more. This drawing is dedicated to the "Random Stuff In My House" theme.

Black tech pen ink on sketchbook page, 8" x  5", April 28, 2017.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Old Dr. Who Fan Art part 2

Here are 2 more panels from my drawing adaptations of early Dr. Who episodes. The top one is from "The Aztecs," and the lower one is from "The Sensorites," from July-August 1964. (Wikipedia has information on everything.) The Doctor is played by William Hartnell. The story goes that Hartnell was annoyed at having to play a silly science fiction character when he was a Serious Actor but when he found out that his granddaughter adored the show he changed his attitude and played the role until he became too ill to continue, at which point he regenerated as Patrick Troughton.

Both drawings ink on illustration board, 6" x 4", spring 1981.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Colors of Spring 2017

Here I am working with some of my fancy new colored pencils, the Irojiten and the soft artistic colors of the art-famous Prismacolor line. I now have many ways to depict the sky, and I love doing sky sketches. Most of my sky images are from memory because the clouds change moment to moment. You might say I have lots of cloud memory storage. I also have a good memory for colors and I wanted to note down the golden green of fresh new leaves sprouting. This only lasts a few days as the leaves mature quickly. I have pencils titled "May Green," "Spring Green," and "Chartreuse Green." The empty area to the left is where journal text was written.

Colored pencils on sketchbook page, about 8" x 5", April 26, 2017.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Green Flames

Sometimes I want to try out a more "graphic" style (flat colors, simpler design) especially for my Holiday cards. My theme color for 1994 was bright green with a copper accent. Each card was hand made painted, not printed so this one was unique. It was my favorite of the edition so I kept it. The green is not "neon" color but the scanner and Photoshop did a good job enhancing it. The copper is a touch of spray paint at center. 

Gouache and metallic spray paint on green paper, 5" x 8 1/2", December 1993.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Canadian Japanese Viking Fantasy

Long, long ago, in 1977 when things were fresh and exciting, I was holed up in a Harvard graduate school dormitory waiting out the summer until I could start up my academic work again. Among the summer people at this place were a number of people studying for a session at various programs including business school. These folk were staying in the dormitory socializing, eating, and drinking, and I got to be friends with some of them. For some unexplainable reason, many of them were Canadians and also fantasy fans. I was already doing fantasy art and one of them saw my work and offered me a commission. He claimed he was of Viking ancestry, though he had always been Canadian living in Alberta. He said that there was territory in British Columbia that matched the fjord lands of Norway and he wanted a fantasy picture of a Viking ship sailing down these waters, guided by whales. He wanted a full moon as well as the Big Dipper constellation in the sky (fantasy, because the full moon and the Dipper never appear in the sky side by side). To add to the cultural mash-up, I painted the scene in watercolor in a pseudo-Japanese-print style. If you look very closely you can see the lights of a village ready to welcome the Vikings home. The ship and three whales are in the lower center.

This photo and any records I have of this piece are barely visible so what you are seeing is heavily restored, in rather the same process as my Roman ruin pictures.

Watercolor and acrylic on Fabriano illustration paper, 7" x 10", summer 1977.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Early Dr. Who adaptation art 1

These were adaptations of stills from early episodes of the British s.f. program DOCTOR WHO starring William Hartnell as the Doctor. They were commissioned by the editor
of FANTASY EMPIRE, a zine devoted to British fantasy TV shows, because the BBC would not allow her to print the actual still photographs. These were done for a survey of the episodes of the series, at least until 1981. I don't know which episodes these were from, but the bad guy is at the top with the Daleks, and the Doctor is at the control panel in a stressful moment.

Ink on illustration board, both images 6" x 4", spring 1981. Published in FANTASY EMPIRE no. 2, October 1981. Click for larger view.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Arterra Winery spring colors

"Wine Saturday" brought me back to Arterra Winery in Delaplane, Virginia, a newer winery that has become one of my favorites. The weather was rainy and dim but that wouldn't stop me and my friends from wining. Arterra is in a hilly forest, and their vineyards are on hidden slopes. The site was filled with the sound of birdsong and we also saw a wild turkey prowling under the trees. The wine was excellent especially the reds. The artistic side was represented by beautiful ceramics made with natural grape leaf impressions. I depicted the view through one of the many picture windows including fresh bright green spring foliage and the brilliant yellow-green of vines just now sprouting their new leaves.

Markers, ink, colored pencil, finished in studio. 7" x 11", April 22, 2017. Click on the image for a closer view.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

April Geometrikon

Because these Geometrika are experimental I never quite know where they are going to go. This one started out as a vertical design in my sketchbook journal and once I had excerpted it out digitally I decided that it would work better as a horizontal piece. And when I added red to the triangle the design looked kind of patriotic with red white and blue, appropriate for April I guess. The pale blue circle represents the Earth as a unified concept, pale blue of sky all over the world wherever the sun shines and the air is clear. And it's Earth Day so why not.

Marker ink drawing on sketchbook page, colored in Photoshop, April 22, 2017.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Noodles Walls

Under the influence of spaghetti and wine I drew this study of the many perspective objects in the back rooms of our local "Noodles and Co." restaurant. This is a one-point perspective. Everything points to a single point somewhere behind that door, where the communion-bowls of the "Flying Spaghetti Monster" are prepared. 

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 5" x 8 1/2", April 20, 2017. Followed by a big splashy thunderstorm.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Shades of Purple: Winter Card in April

I rescued this from another pile of art from the old house. Every Winter Holiday Season (Christmas, Yule, etc.) I make and send out decorative cards with a well-wishing message and a color theme which changes each year. This one was an exploration of shades of purple done on colored paper with opaque gouache paint. My parents saved the ones I sent them. I have a collection of them going back more than 30 years. I picked the one I liked best of each "edition" and saved it with the tree ornaments in a box. I think this one is from 1982.

Gouache on violet paper, 5 1/2" x 8 1/2", winter 1982.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Florence Piazza

My European art is stored in a portfolio which I brought back from the old house along with lots of other art. This portfolio is my best work from my European year 1975-1976 and this one is the best of the best. I sat for hours penciling in the architecture of this beautiful little piazza and then I painted it with watercolor when I got back to my lodging. This is somewhere in Florence. I did every brick and pavement tile separately to get the texture right. There were people in the square passing through while I was there but no one bothered me. I may have used a photo reference but I don't remember, all of it was on site in my reckoning. There are places like this in the USA (probably California) but there certainly isn't anything like it where I live now. Many years later (1990) I would work for an architectural illustration company painting highly detailed brick "McMansions" using this watercolor technique.

Watercolor on Canson watercolor paper, 8 1/2" x 12", spring 1976. Please click on the image for a larger view.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Urban Patio

My neighbors across the parking lot have built themselves a little patio in front of their ground floor window. It is shaded by a green garden umbrella and is walled by a wooden fence built out of old pallets. There are chairs and a dining table and some lanterns which shine brightly at night. There are also decorations of Christmas lights which are on all year, not just the holidays. More privacy is provided by a raggedy hedge and in front of that, a garden row of black-eyed susans and other decorative plants. In warmer weather this large Filipino family grills meats outside near the patio and they dine on tempting goodies. All of these improvements to the environment are technically forbidden by the management of the apartment complex but no one has ordered the patio removed just yet. These are the people who own the "Wrapped Thing," a metal-grinder by the wall which is slowly losing its black plastic wrap.

I drew the patio in a rather uncomfortable position sitting in my parked car, and I apologize for perspective mistakes. But there you are, fresh on-site-drawn sketch art.

Black tech pen ink on sketchbook page, some touch-up in Photoshop, 5" x 5", April 17, 2017.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Dyan Ardais and the sweet young thing

Here's more Darkover fan art, starring Dyan Ardais, the villain and sexual predator that fans loved to hate. In this full-page illustration, Dyan is shown with a partner of indeterminate sex and age. He doesn't know this yet, but she's a girl dressed as her own twin brother, in an attempt to win Dyan's affections. Goddess knows what she saw in him, but he was a sharp dresser at least. This image is adapted from the famous Greta Garbo movie, QUEEN CHRISTINA, in which Garbo as a renegade Swedish royal gallivants around her domain disguised as a young man. Once Dyan realizes that this teenager is not a boy, he loses interest in her, which was better for both of them.

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

Believe it or not I have every fanzine I have ever illustrated. They are sitting gathering dust in a closet, a cultural legacy that only I care about.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Barnard page 7 frame 1 inks

This isn't the usual way I draw things, as you might be thinking. Where is all the detail, the ink cross-hatching, the academic simulation of three-dimensional reality? This is more like a cartoon and that's what I want. This is being inked like an old-fashioned comic book, or even a coloring book, with simple, defined areas that can easily be colored in whether by hand or by computer. Photoshop's "edge-finder" and "filler" can instantly drop a wash of color into any one of these areas. You risk being stuck without the ability to correct, as the quick way bypasses all those confusing "layers," but it looks clean and clear. I'm inspired here by the Belgian and other European "ligne claire" or "clear-line" style, as well as the wonderful work of American Windsor McKay, author of "Little Nemo in Slumberland." 

In this panel, 1 of 4 on a single page, one of the Cloud Creatures presents a fabric object to our main character, who is still unsure of what is going on.

Inks on Fabulous Fabriano illustration board, 3 1/2" x 5", April 15, 2017.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

The Evil Ruins: Cliff faces

Here's another image from the set I did for "The Evil Ruins," a game from Mayfair Games. This was an end-piece and had no characters in it, but you can see faces in the rocks and cliff if you look hard enough. I enjoyed doing this set with its late 19th century retro style and intimations of horror. Someone has recently asked me whether I've ever done any horror art. I think I have but not any time since the 1880s. Yes, 1880s. Maybe it's time for me to try some. Not yet as I am working on Stasheff number 6 as well as my psychedelic sequence on the text of Keith Barnard. Stay tuned, it's not all old art from me here.

"Cliff Faces" from THE EVIL RUINS game is ink on illustration board, 3" x 10", fall 1983. Click for closer view. What happens when I run out of gigabyte storage at Blogspot?

Friday, April 14, 2017

Santa Cecilia Roma 1976

This is what Rome looked like in 1976. I was staying at a pensione (an extended-stay bed and breakfast) next to the Accademia di Santa Cecilia, Rome's famous school of classical music. The big building you see with the arched windows is their concert hall. All day long I could hear the instrumentalists practicing. I was busy making as many drawings and paintings of architecture as I could. This one was the view out my window. 

Watercolor on Canson thin watercolor paper, 7" x 11", spring 1976.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Inhuman Wedding

The "Inhumans" are a genetically engineered form of humanity where just about everyone is a freak. They are ruled over by a super-powered royal family whose current King is "Black Bolt," an awesomely powerful guy who can level buildings with his supersonic voice. You can read about these folks at my previous posting here. The "Inhumans" are in my opinion one of the most underrated story lines in the Marvel Universe.

The story called for Black Bolt to marry another super-hero, Medusa, whose animated super-hair (red, of course) can do fabulous things and can be used as a weapon. My fanzine client gave me the comic book in which the wedding story took place, and told me to draw the couple, re-designing Medusa's wedding gown. They are accompanied by their friend, "Lockjaw," a huge bulldog who can teleport people and things. I incorporated as many royal details and freaky citizens as I could.

Original art is ink on illustration board, 8 1/2" x 11", December 1985. Click on the image to see a larger view.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Mall Model

When I go to the Tysons Corner Mall, known to me as "Tysonia," I always want to make a drawing there and usually I do. This time I almost lost my chance to draw as I didn't have a lot of time and it was evening with a lot of people milling about. No one stopped long enough for me to get a good view. Until I saw this tall, portly guy at the opening of the Starbucks I was in. He was leaning against the wall doing nothing, waiting for his family to pick up their drinks. He was modeling for me! Draw him now! So I depicted and had plenty of time for it. Behind him is an imitation gazebo with decorative white chairs, advertising the "Greenbriar" resort complex in West Virginia. A flat-screen TV is mounted on one of the columns, showing ads.

Tech pen ink on sketchbook page, some adjustments in Photoshop, 3 1/2" x 7 /2", April 11, 2017.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

X-Men "Angel" and "Nightcrawler"

I've always been a big "X-Men" fan, no matter what characters or generation they are. Here are two fan renderings of mine, each character from a different era. "Angel" is one of the original X-Men mutant team from the 1960s, a beautiful, super-rich American blond boy equipped with big white wings and the ability to fly and fight from the air. "Nightcrawler," from a later team in the 1970s, is a German born with an alien and "demonic" appearance and a prehensile tail, who has supernatural agility as well as the ability to disappear in the darkness and best of all, teleport short distances. I did these character portraits for the same set of fan zines that dealt with Marvel Comics in the mid - 1980s. Angel's costume is one of my favorite Marvel get-ups. It's a bodysuit in dark blue (or black) and white, where the white part divides the torso and upper legs and looks somewhat like a gigantic sea-gull. The white boots would get grubby fast in land-based battle settings, but on a flyer they look great.

Black ink on illustration board, 8 1/2" x 11", October 1985.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Another Spring Vineyard

I didn't get to do a color sketch at "Winding Road"  on Saturday so I did one on Sunday in the studio. This is from memory with a couple of glances at a photograph of the scene. This place is not an exact portrait of any specific place but it does accurately depict the colors and landscape of Markham, Virginia where the vineyards are. This is done in colored pencil including the lovely "Irojiten" pencils which I was raving about earlier this year. What other colored pencil set gives you three different sky blues ("Forget-me-not," "Celeste," and "Horizon,") and three of purplish cloud grey ("Campanula Blue," "Hydrangea Blue," and "Lupine"), a veritable garden of colors! However I had to add the browns and greys to the set as Irojiten doesn't give too many options on the earth tones. I also drew in the vines and stakes and tree trunks and branches with dark brown marker ink and I did a bit of spring green leafy buds with an opaque acrylic marker, one of the marvels of modern art-making stuff. Then I evened out some of the color with Photoshop. So I can't claim to be "spontaneous" or "true-to-life" but is that the purpose of art, to be like a photograph that is done with drawing or paint? Some artists might believe this but most don't.

Multi-media with colored pencil on sketchbook page, 7" x 4 1/2", April 9, 2017.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Winding Road line drawing

Where else on "Wine Saturday" than standing at the tasting bar in spring sunlight. This is my "base of operations," Winding Road, run by the congenial Scott and Linda Culver. The tree flowers are opening and the grass is turning that brilliant shade of green that only happens in spring. That's the green which you can accurately depict using the kids' marker color or crayon that's named "Grass Green." The vines haven't sprouted their new "Vine Green" foliage yet but that will arrive soon. 

The Culvers gave me a tasting of a very small-edition, exclusive Merlot which had been waiting nine years for maturity: a 2008 Merlot which in its mellowness and beautiful red color
("Cherry Red" crayon) is easily the best wine I've ever tasted at Winding Road. I am privileged to have purchased one bottle of this which I will reverently consume at some happy occasion.

Black tech pen ink on sketchbook page, 5" x 5 1/2", April 8, 2017.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Retro-Colorful Geometrikon

Morning is my enemy. Here I am at 6:30 AM, a time when normal decent people are either fast asleep or getting up to do their useful jobs, and I am struggling with at least 5 different passwords and Apple ID's to re-activate an iPad. To do this you have to receive identification e-mails on at least two other machines. I am not going to go on about this any more. You are not allowed to be frustrated or sick of anything. Look at those pretty colors on the geometrikon design. This is a re-mix of an older design from a couple of weeks ago. I have bright Crayola markers made for kids. Somehow the designers of color sets for kids assume that children like bright colors. Well maybe they do but then I will use them to be retro colorful as design was when I was a kid. Meanwhile if you want to get the soft, grey, "natural," earth colors you have to pay a fortune. Or draw it on an iPad, which won't go because you can't unlock it, having forgotten the third last password back two years ago.

Geometrikon is markers and colored pencil on sketchbook page, 8 1/2" x 2 1/2", April 7, 2017.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Indian Valkyrie

The comics world loves a mash-up, that is, features from completely different cultures stuck together in one character or place. This Pegasus rider is "Danielle Moonstar," a Cheyenne Indian superhero whose original powers were to make illusions and other people's hallucinations manifest and real. The teenage Native became a member of the "New Mutants," an alternate, younger X-men team. During one of their adventures she met the Norse gods and traveled to Asgard, where her power was enhanced and she was given the identity of a Valkyrie. Wagnerians among you will remember the Valkyries as beautiful armored spirit women who descend from Valhalla to retrieve the souls of those killed in battle. I can just hear the "Ride of the Valkyries" now.

Black ink on illustration board, 8" x 11", December 1985.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Nobbs-ian Sketch

I follow a number of artists' personal sketch blogs and one of my favorites is that of Michael Nobbs. Michael is a British artist living in Wales who is also a kind of "creativity consultant." He is disabled by an auto-immune disorder so he has had to learn to do his art and consulting in strategic small measures of time rather than the thirty-hour crazed marathons of younger and more energetic artists. Nobbs teaches an art way that sets pre-measured pieces of time, 20 minutes each, and then resting after that. He recommends using a timer but a smartphone's time-set alarm app will do the trick. When the artist rests up, they can plot another 20 minutes later on if they're up for it.

This strategy is excellent even for people who are not sick or disabled. If you have a job, or are raising kids, or have someone to look after, you don't have much time for art but almost anyone can find 20 minutes to do a sketch or lay down a few paragraphs. You won't become a screaming success following this way, but you might get some simple satisfaction that you did something creative.

Nobbs likes to draw sketches of ordinary objects and make them interesting. Here's one of my Nobbs-ian drawings. Can you figure out what it is? Twenty minutes ago this sketch didn't exist. 

Black tech pen ink on sketchbook page, about 4 1/2" x 4", April 6, 2017. Step up for the answer.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Dragonfire in a Dungeon

Here's another action scene from my series of gaming illustrations for "The Evil Ruins," which was published by Mayfair Games in 1983. The role players here are from what have become traditional gaming fantasy characters: A fire breathing dragon guarding treasure, a young moon priestess, a dwarf with his axe, an older male wizard, and an elven archer. In this scene the group must enter the dragon's lair, avoid being roasted, and unlock the treasure chest with a mystic sigil that only the Moon Priestess can invoke. Or something like that. This game has long since passed into oblivion. 

Ink on illustration board, 11" x 8 1/2", fall 1983.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Darkover 1800s Style

I got bored with doing Darkover fan art the same way over and over again so I said, What if Darkover were in a fake nineteenth century style instead of the fake late medieval style of the usual scenario? The young heroes would be dressed in Napoleonic military garb, and they would have those curved cavalry swords that look so good in portraits. According to the author, all firearms and projectile weapons were banned on Darkover so you could get a lot of swordplay. That also meant no cannon. I never figured out whether bows and arrows were included. So here are the two young lovers of "The Heritage of Hastur," dressed in their guardsman outfits with epaulets and brass buttons. The castle is a real one whose image I borrowed from somewhere in the British Isles. This was the cover art for a fan magazine, hence the type panel.

Black ink on illustration board, 8" x 11", April 1984.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Geometrikon Equinox Blue Round

As the  Equinox rushed by, I managed to get this design done in honor of the coming of Spring. I am still exploring the range of Ultramarine, including some new markers I bought. These are aimed at impermanent art for kids but since I will scan worthy things I draw with them I am not concerned about fadeable dyes. This is a mixed media piece anyway. Some of these interlocked circles  may appear in my next frames for my Barnard sequential piece. This image includes Photoshop work and it is surprising to me that a simple circle does not come with the usual shapes and "brush" tip shapes but has to be carefully created for geometric use.

Markers and colored pencil on sketchbook page with added Photoshop, 4" x 3 1/2", April 2, 2017.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Blue Fabrix

Readers of this Blog know that Orange is my theme color. I have an orange car, an orange wardrobe, orange beret hats, and even an orange blog background. But recently an unpleasant political figure has been associated with Orange due to the make-up he wears. Because of that I have switched color allegiance to Orange's near-complementary color, Blue. I have been buying blue stuff, enough of it to show the theme. In art pigment names, this color is "Ultramarine," derived from lapis lazuli imported from "outremer," beyond the sea. (The blue-armored "Ultramarines" of the "Warhammer" desktop game are also in this theme.) It's a purplish blue rather than the greenish blue of computer screens.

The fabric shown here is not a shirt. It's a towel, recently acquired because it was bright blue, and fluffy, and on sale at Macy's. It is a fun sketch job to reproduce the chaotic folds of fabrics supposedly randomly dropped on a surface. Supposedly, in that I re-arranged some of them to make a more balanced composition. This is also a practice piece in Photoshop on how to add color to a cross-hatched ink drawing. It involves layers and a combination of transparent and opaque colors. Here's another, much more simply drawn. It may look like a pair of shorts but it is actually a laundry bag in the chosen color. I will consider returning to Orange in a while depending on what happens in the political world.

Black tech pen ink on sketchbook page, April 1, 2017.
Top image about 4" x 2 1/2". Lower image about 3 1/2" x 2".

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Magneto X-men villain

"Magneto" is one of Marvel Comics' greatest and most memorable villains. He has been the enemy of the X-men and their leader Professor X for all of the time these characters and stories have been told. Magneto is a master mutant who has power over magnetism (must be hell on any computers near him). Unlike the peaceful Professor and his X-men, Magneto believes that superpowered mutants should dominate over "normal" humanity and rule the world. He has sired a number of mutant children, some of which follow him and others who are more sympathetic to the X-men.

In this portrait I've drawn Magneto as a fashion figure rather than the grossly over-muscled guy the Marvel artists draw. He's wearing an old-fashioned superhero leotard and tights and boots and cape though this is not the usual costume he wore. His colors were purple and red. My fan client also wanted to see his face and hair so I didn't put him in his famous and characteristic Ancient Greek helmet. This was published in a comics fanzine.

"Magneto" is ink on illustration board, 8" x 10", winter 1984.