Friday, June 30, 2017

Saint Peter's Lantern

I love hanging lanterns. I have a number of them in my house, one of which I furnished with an artificial flame. These items derive from the imperial decor of ancient Rome and have been part of Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Christian churches since the beginning of the religion, since they belonged to the non-Christian world before it. Saint Peter's in Rome is filled with them, mostly made of gilded bronze with an artificial flame at the top. I did this pencil study of a particularly ornate one on my Saint Peter's sketching expedition. After all, for a believer, the Lord is your light. It must have been quite a job keeping all these oil or wax lamps lit in pre-electricity days.

Original sketch is pencil on sketchbook page, 3 1/2" x 8", July 11, 1975.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Renovation Roomscape

The management of my apartment building is renovating my kitchen after almost 30 years of occupancy, 25 of them my years. To do this, I and a friend had to take everything, every little dust-covered jar of spices, out of the kitchen. I did this and now everything from the kitchen is everywhere, not counting living room things they had to move to get the heavy bulky stuff across the floor. They replaced the counters, all the appliances (!), the floor, and the cabinets. My oh my what an uproar of hammering and sawing and drilling. The cabinets are not done. Some of them are late in arriving, so more noise is coming. What do you do when your familiar environment is so radically disrupted? Draw a picture of course. That's what I always do. You can see the four circular symbols on the Whole Foods paper bags. Can you find the Ziploc bags? Everything will look lovely soon.

Black tech pen ink on sketchbook page, 4" x 7 1/2", June 28, 2017. 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Saint Augustine in Saint Peter's

During my 1975-76 stay in Rome, I made countless sketches and drawings, usually in ink.  This time I used plain old pencil. On July 11, 1975, I was in the ultimate grandiose environment of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, drawing the sculptures and ornamentation of the Popes' little cottage. (Yes, one of the biggest churches in the entire world.) This guy here is Saint Augustine, one of the founding fathers of the Catholic church and teachings, hence his book. He lived in the fifth century A.D. but this statue depicts him as a 17th century or later Archbishop, when he was carved. This is called "Baroque" style, like the music. When I was studying to be a Catholic St. Augustine was my favorite sacred writer.

Pencil on sketchbook paper, 4" x 7", July 11, 1975.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Leaves Study 2017

I do one of these every year, attempting to capture the bright green of June tree foliage before it fades to brown in the heat of summer. 2014 was done in markers. This is done in a mixture of media. The lush foliage is the view out my window. Over the years I see more and more foliage. I didn't know that mature trees keep growing. It is hard for me to get to my workstation since it is blocked by bulky components removed during the current renovation of my kitchen.

Markers, ink, and colored pencil, 3 1/2" x 4", June 27, 2017.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Gathering in the Crystal Chamber

In neo-medieval fantasy fiction there is almost always a big scene taking place in an aristocratic or royal council chamber. This is where the leaders of the many Houses, Clans, and factions gather to get some business done. It invites the illustrator to depict lavish architecture, heraldic banners, and a costumed crowd. This version of the Council Chamber scene is from a collection of Darkover fan art that I did in my early days as the unofficial artist of Zimmer Bradleyworld. Usually after too many disagreements a deadly fight breaks out in the chamber but I don't remember whether that happened here. I didn't intend on showing a specific event anyway. I miss Darkover, you hardly see it at all these days or perhaps I am just not looking.

Original artwork was brown ink on illustration board, 8 1/2" x 11", fall 1981. Klik for a larger view.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Cubist Space Station

This piece was excerpted from a Darkover fan zine where I was a regular contributor. It is the cover art but it doesn't illustrate anything in any particular story. Darkover mixed scenarios from science fiction as well as the more common swashbuckling neo-Renaissance material. I did this cubistic space station, orbiting over Darkover, before the "Borg" showed up on the TV screen. 

Ink on illustration board, about 8 1/2" x 8 3/4", May 1984. Click on image for a larger view.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Geometrikon Patriotic Remix

Here we are back with the re-mix of the "Election Geometrikon" of June 19. This is done on paper with the original drawing, using markers and colored pencils. It looks a bit like stained glass, which is OK by me. I wonder whether any modern American politician has won an election while using graphics, stickers, and billboards in a non-red-white-and-blue color scheme. What about another country whose flag is different colors. Let's observe some German political graphics from their upcoming election to see whether they use black, red, and yellow. As a graphic designer I tend to see things through that filter.

Marker ink, colored pencil, and election sticker on sketchbook page, 4" x 5 1/2", June 2017.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Remote Login is like Mind Reading

It is possible to have nostalgia for the high tech of the future. In 1993 I did a series of illustrations for a book called "Internet Guide for New Users." (Visit here for more of this material.) In this graphic, information is exchanged between two separate computer hard discs (looking rather like hockey pucks here) and it is compared in the text to mind reading or telepathic sharing. That is what you get when everyone inventing this new-fangled "trance medium" is a science fiction fan: psychic computers.

Original illustration is ink on illustration board, about 9" x 4 1/2", May 1993.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Mountain near Salzburg

In 1975-76 I returned to Rome and the rest of Europe on a fellowship for student projects and travel sponsored by the Watson Foundation funded by IBM. In the spring of 1976 all the fellowship holders in Europe were invited to a convention in Salzburg, Austria where we would show off our progress in our projects. My project was a young adult/magic realism novel about a rebellious Roman aristocratic girl (I have written about this on the By-Product recently). We fellowship holders were treated like aristocrats ourselves, dining and wandering through a lordly palace.

 At one point I had some extra time and used my portable watercolor set to depict a mountain in the Schloss environment, reflecting on a picturesque lake. This scene may also have been in the film of "The Sound of Music." I was lucky to see the mountain because most of the time it was clouded over. My presentation wasn't this, it was a reading from some of my text in progress.

Unfortunately, I caught the flu at that convention (as one often does) and was helped to a student refuge in Vienna where I lay helpless for days. By the time I had recovered enough to travel, it was time to leave Vienna for a scheduled meeting with friends in Denmark. I don't remember much about that week.

Picturesque mountain is watercolor on Canson paper, 11" x 9", spring 1976. Heavily re-worked in Photoshop to make a level horizon.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Electrical Eggs design

Many science fiction fans are disabled in one way or another. They like to go to conventions just like non-disabled fans, but often the hotel or convention center venue is not accessible to people with wheelchairs or other assistive devices. Blind or Deaf fans also had some difficulty in the public environment of a convention. In the early 90s a wheelchair-using fan created an association that would be present at science fiction conventions to help disabled fans get around. The whimsical name of the association, "Electrical Eggs," came about because one person who used an electric wheelchair said that she rode on "electrical legs." This was mis-heard as "Electrical Eggs" and thus became the name of the group. I was connected to them by friendship. Every year they published a T-shirt and tote bags with an original egg themed design, which they could sell to get funds. I did the 1994 version, which featured an architectural giant egg which had a helpful ramp for wheelchair users. In the original printing, the writing and art were in dark brown printed on a beige shirt. I still have the shirt though the organization disappeared in the early 2000's.

Original art is black ink on illustration board, 11" x 14", July 1993. The white streaks are reflections from a plastic cover in one of my archive books. My early wax-transfer art copies got stuck to the plastic page covers in the portfolio books so I couldn't take them out. Digitization solves that.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Medievaloid bad guys

I finally finished the character portrait that goes with the Stasheff book I recently did the cover for. These two lovelies are "Delilah," an evil witch who leads people astray with elaborate illusions, and "Forrest," a disgraced nobleman pretending to be a sympathetic countryside rebel to deceive the compassionate and dreamy young naive characters in the story. This drawing may be tiny, but it was quite a job to do and all the "inking" is done on the Cintiq, still plugging away avoiding constant annoying pop-ups on the tablet screen.

Digital inking on the Cintiq, about 4 1/2" x 7 1/2", June 2017.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Election Geometrikon

Last  Tuesday I cast my vote in a Virginia Democratic primary election. The candidates, for some reason, did not send contemptuous Twitter tweets my way, did not have silly hair, were not billionaires, did not stir up violence, and seemed to be almost normal human beings. We will see what happens if they get elected. Both of them actually had experience in legal and political life. I voted, and got this inspiring sticker which I turned into a Geometrikon in patriotic shades, as July 4 is coming soon. 

Marker ink for the linework, colored in with Photoshop, 4" x 5 1/2", voter sticker, June 2017.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

"Live the Adventure" (If you must.)

One of my friends and art patrons is a "life coach" that is, someone who will help inspire people to do better in life than just sitting around and wasting time. She wanted me to render a logo for her life coaching business and described it to me in detail. It was to be a combination of an old-fashioned rapier style sword, and an Infinity symbol, with two shining 8 pointed stars above and below. I worked at this for a long time before I got to what she wanted. The final logo appeared not only on her business card but on a dark blue bumper sticker which had the motto "Live the Adventure" on it. That was her idea, to encourage her clients and anyone else to be more adventurous in life. As for me, I hate adventures..."Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner!" (as Tolkien's Hobbit famously said) so I just kept it in the realm of fantasy.

Original is black ink on illustration board, 7" x 2 1/2", May 1990.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Tomorrowland Metro stop

I did this drawing of the new Metro station at Springhill Road, while I was waiting for my car to have its regular maintenance done. The station's modernist architecture strongly reminds me of Disneyland and the 1950s-1960s style of "Googie" or the "Jetsons." We're in Tomorrowland, along with the full size moving monorail (no, it's a light parallel rail) on an elevated railway. Where are my silver spandex tights and my bubble helmet? The object at far left is understandably known by people who work there as the "ice cream cone." The cone, known in gelaterias as a "flute," is built out of metal mesh and is supposed to be futuristic art.

Black tech pen ink on sketchbook page, 8" x 4 1/2", June 15, 2017. Apologies for interruptions in posting, internet connection problems.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Exploding Piano

I met Kathleen Supove and her husband, composer Randall Woolf, through my dad's musical network of friends. Kathleen is an avant-garde piano performer who can do all kinds of wild and crazy sounds with more than just the old keyboard. At the time I met her she was just starting out on this career and needed promotional materials. Over the years Supove has done experimental performances in a series called "The Exploding Piano." I designed her a logo and also did this fantasy portrait of her blowing up the black and white keys and polished piano planks. Now, much later, it reminds me of last summer when I hired a specialty crew to dismantle, demolish, and cart away my father's old piano which was no good any more. Kathleen could have done the job more artistically! I don't know what happened to the art I did for her but Kathleen is still around and just as active as ever. She can be found on Facebook.

Black ink on illustration board with plastic transfer pattern, 8" x 10", January 1992.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Granny Chair

The "Inn on Poplar Hill," where I stay to rest and relax, decorates their rooms each in a different color scheme, Victorian style. I am always assigned the "Rose Room," with a theme of crimson roses. The upholstery, curtains, rugs, and bedspreads all have pictorial rose prints. This is one of the few "girly" experiences I will tolerate. This chair, "granny" more than "girly," has eighteenth century-styled red picture prints on it, and dark red fuzzy trim. I don't sit on this chair, I pile it with my clothes and books. Other rooms, more extravagant than mine, are the "Blue Willow" room and the "Magnolia Room." 

Black tech pen ink on sketchbook page, 4" x 5 1/2", June 9th, 2017.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

What I Saw: Theater of the Absurd Swimming Pool

Jumbled chairs and meaningless hose. A set for a performance of "Theater of the Absurd." Soon, the splashing and the screaming. Have an existential summer. 

Monday, June 12, 2017

The Door to Vintage

In my never-ending aspirational quest to upscale my brand and maximize my luxury experiences, I visited a palatial inn and restaurant in central Virginia called "Willow Grove." They have a nice restaurant called "Vintage," built into a historic wood-beamed undercroft. Wednesday is "Tapas Night" at Vintage, where you can get sample portions of many different dishes they make. I drew this doorway while waiting for my set of tapas.

Black tech pen ink on sketchbook page, about 4 1/2" x 5 1/2", touched up in the studio with Photoshop, June 7, 2017.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Pink Condom Truck

Saturday, June 11, was the Pride Parade and demonstration in Washington, DC. After the event was over a lot of participants filtered out into the larger city. Quite a few of them came to  the Whole Foods near my residence and one of the displays in the parking lot was this unusual truck. It looks like a pink microwave oven on wheels but it is actually a portable quarters and office for an organization called "Healthysexual," which as it describes, is a group promoting healthy sexual behavior and disclosure to medical practitioners. The "Healthysexual" website is packed with eye-blasting moving pictures of soft-core human erotic action. The van, presumably, if I presume, was loaded with condoms and other equipment.

I tried to draw this truck while balancing my sketchbook on someone's car in the parking lot, but then the owner came back, started her car without looking at me, and drove off as if I had threatened her. In our culture touching someone's car without permission is like touching someone's body without permission. I had to finish the drawing by reference to an iPhone photo, which is a no-no for Urban Sketchers. I'm such a transgressor.

Black tech pen ink on sketchbook page, colored in Photoshop, 5" x 3", June 10-11, 2017. 

By the way, one or more of you might have noticed that there were no posts here on June 8, 9, and 10. I took these days as a vacation from the urban chaos, the political pestilence, and the Whole Foods parking lot.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Kissing the Dragon

This one's an illustration I did for a story in "Marion Zimmer Bradley's Fantasy Magazine." It is a rather sweet conventional fantasy tale about a seacoast princess who makes friends with a dragon who emerges from the waves. Of course, once she kisses the dragon, he turns into a handsome prince and they live happily ever after. 

Black ink on illustration board, 7" x 7 3/4", September 1992. Click on image for a better view.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Farewell to the TARDIS

This tiny piece is a "drop-in" designed to fill extra space on a published page. I created numbers of them for the articles I illustrated for fan magazines. This marks the end of my early Dr. Who reconstructions. The person waving goodbye to the box-shaped TARDIS is one of William Hartnell's young companions, who is dropped off at her proper time and place after many adventures and perils.

Original is black ink on illustration board, 2" x 3", late 1980.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Birth of Wonder Woman

With all the attention being given to Wonder Woman due to the movie, I brought out my rendering of the Amazon Princess to show just what her origin was. You didn't know that Botticelli was a comic book artist? Of course he was, and a fantastic one at that. Up until the advent of photography and the decline of religion, fantasy counter-real or imaginal and mythical subjects made up the bulk of all human artwork. Sure, there's a lot of "realistic" art before that but by the 20th century "realistic" renderings of mythic subject matter had faded away into more modern ways of seeing. Monet's haystacks buried the nationalistic dragons and Pre-Raphaelite fairies and we were left with endless portraits of bored women and panoramas of gnarly landscapes. If you wanted to paint something mythic in modern times, you would be a popular artist like Maxfield Parrish. Botticelli's wonderful imaginings became an endless subject for parody, just like this.

Ink and watercolor on paper, 7" x 8", late 1980. Restored in Photoshop.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Mid-Century Molecule

Brighten up your 1950s revival decor with this improv of a Mid-Century Molecule. You could even get red accent pillows to match and a Satellite Light Fixture on your ceiling. Those Formica countertops sure look spiffy. Science solves all our problems and we are going to put a man on the moon by 1970!

Markers and colored pencils on sketchbook page, 4" x 3", June 4, 2017. 

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Old Roman Houses

Rome has so many layers of architectural history that you could probably trace any building back to ancient times. That would include humble dwellings such as these as well as noble palazzi and Roman ruins. I wonder what kind of furnishings and decor they had within them - maybe you would cross the rustic threshold into a fabulous hidden noble's residence complete with gilded columns, mosaics, and red velvet curtains. The green plastic netting defines a rooftop garden space, and in the original pencil drawing I depicted the old-fashioned wire TV antennas on the roofs. 

This was drawn with a ruler, and painted in the studio when I got home (to my rented room). I brought all these Roman artworks back to the USA where they were stored for dozens of years until I salvaged them from the old family house.

Watercolor over pencil on Canson watercolor paper, 10" x 8", 1976. Click on the image for a larger view. 

Friday, June 2, 2017

Red Points

This is not really a Geometrikon. It is what I used to do as "Dodson Doodles," derived from art idea pages in a "Drawing from Imagination" book. I did a lot of these in 2008 when I was just starting this Blog. You start with a single motif and a limited (but bright) color range and you improvise from there. Here, the motif is a red triangle, and the counter color is light blue. There are accents of purple. Dodsons are fun and easy to do. You can try this at home with markers or colored pencils without worrying about being an "artist."

Dodson "Red Points" is marker and colored pencil on sketchbook page, 6" x 3", June 2, 2017.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Daleks invade Earth

Here's another adaptation from the early years of the Doctor Who TV series. This one is not from TV, though, it's from a film version made in 1965. Doctor Who completists duly note this production and place it within their encyclopedic universe.

The biorobotic "Daleks" are probably the favorite villainous creatures of the Dr. Who world. Stubby, ugly, ungainly cones that look like salt shakers, in the early years they were the best that the BBC could do on a very limited budget. The Daleks emitted deadly rays from their nozzles and spoke only one word (at least at first): "EXTERMINATE!  EXTERMINATE!" That is, exterminate life on Earth. Starting with England of course: in the background are the Houses of Parliament.

Black ink on illustration board, 3" x 4", summer 1981.