Thursday, August 31, 2017

More Crockery

Here's more crockery from the "Rose Room." All of it is cream-colored china with dark red patterns all over it. When I first stayed in the Rose Room the hosts had a whole tea set of that material on the cupboard top but it was chipped and cracked and probably fell apart or got smashed since I haven't seen it recently. The guests at the inn are all well-behaved but you never know what can happen. Crockery arranged in a "still life" is a classic art thing but it is missing an essential element, that is fruits and vegetables. I've painted pictures of those things, too. Cezanne got good mileage out of apples and peaches along with the crock and crumpled-up fabric but if I depicted that subject more than once the boredom factor would be high and I'd have to add a bottle of wine to the still life to make it lively life.

5 more posts till # 3000!

Black tech pen ink on sketchbook page, about 4" x 3", August 28, 2017.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017


I've returned from my short vacation with friends in Central Virginia. The bed 'n' breakfast that I frequent is decorated in Victorian style, with lots of flowery printed fabric and wooden floors. Every room has a theme and color, and the rooms are accented with antiques, like this pitcher and bowl. Back in those days, people washed up with the pitcher of water and the bowl, but thankfully now the rooms are equipped with baths like modern hotel rooms. I stayed in two different rooms, the "Blue Willow" room and the "Rose Room." As an artist I must dutifully depict crockery now and then. This set was rose-red ornamentation on off-white china. 

Blogging resumes now with Post Number 3,000 soon to come! 

Original drawing in black and brown tech pen and marker ink, about 2" x 3", August 29, 2017.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Language Learning Spell

What do you do if you have to get an Elven Craftsman to do some important work for you but neither of you know each other's language? You pay, or roll the dice for, a spell that will give you understanding of what is being said. The understanding lasts as long as it is needed to complete the project, at which point you will have to do some real learning of grammar and spelling.

From a game illustration I did for the long-gone "Gamelords" role-players. Black ink on illustration board, 5" x 6", spring 1984.

No blogging here for a few days while I take a short vacation.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Unfold and sit down

As you know from my winery artwork, I like to work on-site right in front of what I'm drawing. I've done countless sketches of buildings or construction machinery or other things which are outdoors. And most of the time I need something to sit on so I can hold my sketchbook to draw on. I've never been good at just holding a sketchbook in my hand and drawing while standing up. So I have had and used a succession of camping stools light and convenient enough to place where I can sit, and see my subject. Otherwise I am stuck with sitting on  whatever is in the environment like a stairway or some other unsavory surface. I had a tiny lightweight camp seat in Rome when I drew the images you've seen here, but I had to abandon it when I left. In America I've used fold-open metal frames with a fraying nylon seat, or a little tripod from a travel supply company, or L.L. Bean's heavy wooden Adirondack, which I still use indoors. I even had a portfolio with wheels and a fold-down seat, which was a great idea until I sat on it for any length of time, which was unduly painful.

So when I saw this contraption in the delightful J.Peterman catalogue, which deserves a post of its very own, I saw the glory of the camp stool brought to its British greatness. After all, J. Peterman says that Prince Charles himself uses this chair when he is painting watercolors outdoors. So I paid the king's ransom for the "Out 'n' About" travel chair, depicted above in a partially unfolded state. is it? I feel royally comforted sitting in this throne, and my artistic butt so far approves of the tough canvas seat. I haven't brought it outdoors yet, since I just got it. Sketch trials will follow. 

In a pleasant surprise, this item was NOT made in China. It is said to be made in the U.K. This is not one of those dinky fold-out chairs with a cup holder and the logo of your favorite football team. This is English gentleman equipment. You can fold it up into a cylinder with handles at the top and use it as a brace or a cane. Or you can carry it like a photographer's tripod, though I wonder whether people who see it rolled up might think it's a weapon.

Drawing of chair is black tech pen on sketchbook page, 4 1/2" x 6", August 22, 2017.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Alien Eclipse

My records show that I blogged this image some years ago, but I can't find it on the blog post entry list so here it is again. This is from the era when I was still doing Geometrika with paint. Here are my favorite blues and purple, with a swath of space adding depth. In keeping with the eclipse theme, the shadow moon form crosses into the metallic gold sun. The little red square with beady eyes is an alien being observing the eclipse. I wanted to know just how simple a design could be and still convey the idea of a life form. Two beady eyes will make just a bright square look alive. 

I saw the eclipse or rather its effects while I was getting routine dental work done. During the darkest of our partial eclipse shadow all of us in the dentist's office ran out to see the world turn an unnatural blue, though the sun was covered by clouds. In a moment when the clouds thinned we could see the half-Sun. Then the big puffy cumulonimbus clouds returned and drenched the town to our east, though no rain fell at the office. But my teeth are now fresh and shiny.

"Alien Eclipse" is 7" x 10", acrylic on illustration board, October 2009.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Altar of Evil

This imagery panel is from the game I illustrated for Mayfair Games way back when, "The Evil Ruins." It depicts a Satanic altar in a ceremony, one of the evil things hidden in the ruins. A priest whose hands are dipped in blood gives a curse to whoever draws near the demonic site. Two black-armored knights with greatswords guard the proceedings. They don't make game illustrations like this any more.

Black ink on illustration board, 3" x 10", spring 1983.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Return to Casanel Vineyards

"Wine Saturday" brought us back to Casanel Vineyards near Leesburg, VA. I have been here many times enjoying the wine and hospitality of the DeSouza family. Over the years I have seen the site and its buildings transformed from an old farm compound with rustic atmosphere to a beautiful resort-style establishment featuring a selection of varieties created by Katie DeSouza, daughter of the family patriarch Nelson. This stone edifice is one of the original buildings on the site, a historic 19th century house which was used as the tasting room before the transformation to a newly built wine palace. The stone house now has wine barrels stored in it. Note the elevated walkway through the trees, which leads to a deck where I sat to sip and draw. Nelson runs a building company and he built the whole complex for the enjoyment of his winery visitors.

Marker ink and colored pencil on sketchbook page, 8" x 10", August 19-20, 2017.

Saturday, August 19, 2017


I've been spending a lot of pleasant hours participating in the Facebook "Legion of Super-Heroes" fan forum. For those who aren't comic book fans, the "Legion" depicted in DC Comics is a group of teen-age super-heroes in the super-futuristic year 3000. Each member has a limited super-power, except for Superboy, Supergirl, and their cousin Mon-El, who have lots of powers. Some members have odd powers, like being able to block gravity or change the color of things at will. An empowered character tries out for a place in the Legion. This young man, "Stormboy," can control the weather, rather like "Storm" of the X-men but far less glamorous. The problem with Stormboy was that he would faint or even be at risk of dying if he saw a rainbow. Badly constructed magic, I'd say. So he failed the entrance exam. I have solved his problem here by giving him special goggles that he would use in case a rainbow formed, which would filter out the colored light that harmed (or appeared to harm) our young wind-walker. Also I loved his costume, a cloud grey tunic and pants far away from the jazzy, revealing garish outfits of the rest of the Legion. Stormboy only had a few pages in the Legion saga, but I remember him with fondness.

Marker ink on sketchbook page, colored in Photoshop, 3" x 5 ", August 19, 2017.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Roma interior details 1975

I had my colored pencils with me everywhere I went when I roamed through Europe in 1975. I still bring some version of a colored pencil art kit when I go places. These two vignettes were done inside the residential section of the American Academy in Rome, whose courtyard you have already seen. You could find that timeworn shelf anywhere in the world, but the glass lamp and ornate orange window frame are definitely Italian. That orange frame belongs to a building next door to the Academy, housing priests of the Claretian order. 

Colored pencil on Fabriano smooth paper, 6" x 8", 1975. Please click for a better view.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Japanese Gentleman Bids Farewell

As you can see from any inspection of my artistic output, I would much rather draw buildings than people, since architecture is my specialty. When I have to draw people or animals, I always put buildings first as the background. This is the closing illustration for the story I mentioned last posting about the Japanese detective on Darkover. The Free Amazon, his temporary partner in sleuthing, watches the gentleman walk away, never to appear in her life again. The architecture here is an Italian village, re-built on an alien world.

Black ink on illustration board, 8" x 6", spring 1984. I sure have used a lot of illustration board in my years as an artist.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

A Japanese Detective on Darkover

Some time ago I mentioned that among the endless archives of Darkover fan writing published in 'zines was a story featuring a Japanese detective stationed as part of the occupying Earth force on the planet. This character, whose name I have forgotten, is based on the movie detective character played by Peter Lorre, "Mr. Moto." In the story, the elegant and erudite Japanese is forced to live in rustic circumstances, where he has built a teahouse environment to remind him of home. In the case he must work with a Free Amazon, whose uncouth ways he dislikes, and finally to teach her some manners he performs the Tea Ceremony for her. I had no idea how a Japanese Tea Ceremony was done, so I bought a couple books for research purposes, which I still have, 33 years later.

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

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Mid-Century Moodle remix

After scanning and Photoshop coloring, I color in the tiny drawing with "conventional" coloring and re-scan it for the blog. Here is the "remix" of the "Mid-Century Moodle" from earlier this month. I think this one looks better than the earlier one though the colors in the earlier design were more "authentically" mid-century modern. 

Going through the myriad photos of my family history I love to see the design of the artifacts that the family had in their homes. Some of them are quite chic but others are ordinary. I have not seen any avocado green appliances yet.

Original drawing in black ink, colored with colored pencil and markers, 4" x 3", August 2017.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Wonder Woman of TV

With all the miserable things happening this year and indeed this week, I thought I'd retrieve a vision of goodness and power with an image of Wonder Woman. This is the famous  Lynda Carter, in the role of Wonder Woman popping out of the TV. This is what we followed on TV back in the mid - 70s, not grisly nihilistic sagas of blood, guts, and monsters. This is from a fan article I illustrated many years ago. You saw more of these little vignettes earlier. One of these days I'll get around to seeing the recent Wonder Woman movie.

Black ink on illustration board, 4" x 5 1/2", January 1981.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Ogre of Kallitechnia

One of the weirdest features of seemingly Utopian Kallitechnia were the ogres and the battles that the citizens fought against them. As the Client described them to me, Kallitechnians in their youth and young adulthood were required to do battle with a series of musclebound, monstrous-looking ogres, in order to gain fighting skills and courage to face adversity. The ogres were played by bodybuilders from the outside world who were paid to come to Kallitechnia and play their role, dressed in "primitive" gear and costumes and wielding what appeared to be crude weapons. At the time of the ordeal, which was kept secret until the moment, Kallitechnians were sent through a constructed forest environment where they were attacked by ogres. The utopians had to fight back with whatever they could use from their environment (presumably placed there by the contest runners). The main question for me was, were these battles for real or was it non-lethal and symbolic? The Client didn't answer but my assumption was that the whole ogre battle was staged and designed to scare rather than actually hurt either group of participants. Here is my concept drawing of an Ogre in full ugly regalia. 

This Ogre marks the end of my Kallitechnia series as published in this Blog.

Ogre original is black ink on illustration board, 7" x 10", spring 1998.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Transforming Hellhound

Here's some more art from the game I illustrated for Mayfair, "The Evil Ruins." In this scenario, the players are in a cave and they encounter what looks like a crystal effigy of a very large dog. Pictured here around the monument are, left to right, a Moon Priestess, a Mediocre Wizard, and a Half-elven Thief. As soon as the Mediocre Wizard uses magic, the statue activates and transforms from crystal to flesh and attacks the group. Without a stalwart warrior to defend them, they must either flee or use what resources they have to evade or defeat the reanimated Hellhound. I have the game book with details of the possible outcomes but I don't know where it is. Somewhere in Dustworld, I guess.

Original is black ink on illustration board, 11" x 7", fall 1983.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Tolkien fan art

This piece of action fan art is from the publication of a short fan fiction by Marion Zimmer Bradley set in the world of J.R. Tolkien's "Ring cycle." Interesting that though Tolkien was seriously influenced by Wagner's opera and its own universe, no one writes Wagner fanfic at least that I know about. Maybe in Germany but then Wagner has  unsavory connotations of past dreadfulness and Tolkien managed to launder most of it out of his Anglo-based world.

I did this piece in the style of old-fashioned Victorian/American ink illustration art, of which I never get tired. For more on this Tolkien pastiche, you are invited to visit this earlier posting of this Blog.

Black ink on illustration board, 7 1/2" x 5 1/2", summer 1983.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Geometrikon OMG Lost again in the city

Don't you just love driving in the city? Maybe you really do, but I don't and I have been having to do a lot of this recently. There are some places which I visit over and over again (friends and consultants) and I have never left them to go home without getting lost driving around. OK maybe once or twice I ended up on the road I wanted but not today. The area I am driving in is now under construction, with no end in sight unless you believe that they're really going to be finished by the end of the year. So you have to follow detours to get where you don't want to go. This Geometrikon is a colorful impression of what it's like to drive around here. There's lots of orange, the color of "Road Work Ahead" signs and safety cones.

Black marker on sketchbook page, colored in Photoshop, 3 1/2" x 2 1/2", August 10, 2017.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Faces of Kallitechnia

Just getting this one under the electric wire for "Every Day Posting" service. My Kallitechnia client asked for portrait faces from his imaginary world. I searched through fashion magazines and many other sources until I got just what I thought he wanted. I was real careful with the penwork. But when I submitted the drawing to him he rejected some of the faces you see here, especially the rather macho short-haired man at upper left, and the elderly woman in upper center. He wanted faces like the ones on the bottom level: young, beautiful, with a soft slightly open mouth and a "come hither" expression. And I guess people didn't get old in Kallitechnia. They wouldn't die like in "Logan's Run" but they would have to leave or move to another colony.

Original drawing in black ink on illustration board, 9" x 11", spring 1998.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Maggie Malick's Wine Cave

This image was gathered in 2014, photographed on one of my wining expeditions. But I didn't turn it into hand-done art until yesterday, when I set up a page for the Maggie Malick winery. This winery has one of the most unusual buildings on a Virginia site: an earth-sheltered live turf roofed artificial cave where barrels are stored and wine is poured. Note the stainless steel wine vats sitting near the loading driveway. The tasting room is in the tunnel. In summer the earth topping keeps the interior cool and in the winter the artificial underground temperature is mild. Maggie makes a very nice sweet red blend. This place is worth coming back to, and maybe then I'll get a chance to draw outdoors.

Colored pencil, ink, and markers on sketchbook page, 8" x 6", August 7-8, 2017.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Darkovan Domestic Violence

Marion Zimmer Bradley, whom you know all too well if you have been reading this Blog, was  a daring writer who was well in advance of the usual fantasy writing of her time. She was one of the first fantasy writers who dealt seriously with real problems and afflictions like domestic abuse, sexism, violence against women, and prejudice. She created scenarios that taught readers about feminist issues. She created imaginary but realistic social movements and committed groups which attempted to find solutions for the evils of the world against women. The "Free Amazons" was one of them, where women could find a refuge from the brutality of a low-tech society. This illustration, titled "Girlfriends against Rape," was for a Bradley story in a fan magazine. In the story a young girl runs away to join the Free Amazons only to be betrayed by her own mother who spots her in a marketplace as an Amazon (not the dotcom kind) vendor. The girl is attacked by a male relative who attempts to forcibly take her away from the group.

Black ink on illustration board, about 7" x 5", January 1983.

Sunday, August 6, 2017


You could say that this is a "still life" in the old artistic tradition. Random things appear and are painted. Most still lifes are not random. The artist arranges them. This is mostly random and somewhat arranged. It's a table top at Starbucks with the remains of coffee and a cookie. The cookie wrapper is rectangular, the coffee lid is round. A wooden twig coffee stirrer lies across the lid. I drew this while a Montessori school teacher looked on and she provided the title for the sketch. Then she showed me from her workbook how things are done in a Montessori school. It made me want to be a child again so I could learn my geometry and languages that way.

Black tech pen ink on sketchbook page, 4 1/2" x 3 1/2", August 5, 2017.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Young Courtiers of Darkover

Danilo gets the place at court with the elderly nobleman. One of his duties is to entertain the old man with his companionship during the endless winter season and listen to him talk. His best friend, Regis, who is also an apprentice at court, serenades them quietly with his harp. Regis and Danilo will soon learn that their attraction to each other is not just the friendship of two courtiers, but is true gay romantic love. This story, appearing in Marion Zimmer Bradley's THE HERITAGE OF HASTUR, is a fan favorite.

Original drawing is ink on illustration board, 7" x 5", March 1983. Most of these originals were sold for a few dollars apiece at the now-gone DarkoverCon. I wonder how many of them are still extant, given the chaotic lives of many fans.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Mid-Century Moodle

Look! It's a new design. What do you get when you connect the dots in a mid-century modern doodle? A mid-century moodle! With a critter but not a poodle. All those lovely colors appeared on someone's dishes sometime in the 50s or early 60s. The design world is not ready for a revival of the late 60s "psychedelic" swirling garishness.

Original drawing is marker ink on sketchbook page, colored with Photoshop, 4" x 3", August 3, 2017.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Retro Fan Art

Ever since I got back from Massachusetts I've felt tired and dragged out, even though I've been back for two weeks now. The air conditioner which was repaired last week is working fine now. I know I'm supposed to be doing art but instead I've been aimlessly wandering around my home trying to make sense of all the new deposits of clutter brought back from the old residences. And my car is still loaded with more stuff too heavy for me to lift by myself. Heard this before? So if you see old fan art on this Blog please excuse my failure to deliver fresh stuff. This ominous scene is from a Darkover fan story in which Danilo, a favorite character, interviews with the notorious nobleman Dyan Ardais for a position at court.

Black ink on illustration board, 7" x 5", March 1983.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Scenic Route

I used to do a lot of these small space pictures. I would mass-produce them in batches of around 20. I started with a stack of small illustration board panels in a 7" x 10" size, painted black. I laid them all down on newspapers covering the floor. Then I spattered the "stars" on by shaking a brush filled with paint at them. When that was dry I pre-mixed paint in blue, red, or some other color, filled my airbrush (an archaic spray-painting device) and sprayed nebula and floating gas patterns all over the panels. When these were dry, I chose which ones to add a painting to and which ones were just space scapes. This one here, for instance, I chose to paint over with a spaceship. It's called "Scenic Route," suggesting that the riders in the luxury space yacht are taking in the "scenery" of a lovely nebula area. Of course in reality the nebula would be imperceptible to the passengers' eyes, but I suppose they had an enhanced view generator. 

Nowadays these space concepts have been rendered obsolete by the views from real places and telescopes on earth or orbiting in space. Sure, artists still do space pictures, but the real Hubble imagery is far more detailed and exciting. And most digital artists have never used an airbrush. I discarded mine some years ago, I regret to say. Photoshop and Hubble rule.

Acrylic on black illustration board, 7" x 10", January 1988.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Costumes of Kallitechnia

I ended up doing quite a lot of work in the '90s for the "Kallitechnia" project. During the last round of drawings I was asked to show some of the costumes that the Utopian people wore. This would include anything from work garb to ceremonial attire. According to the client, these Utopians followed a Neo-Pagan religion which varied depending on which "tribe" they were in. These figures above show some of the concepts I illustrated. From left to right: Businesswoman assigned to dealing with the outside world, Landscaping worker with plant trimmer, Renaissance Faire couple with party beverages, Pagan Couple celebrating a symbolic enactment of the "Great Rite" with cup and sacred blade, and Techno-Magic User manifesting energy. There was a fantasy element to this world where magic was practiced in a scientific way.

Original art is black ink on illustration board, 14" x 10 1/2", March-April 1998.