Sunday, December 31, 2017

ManMouse, BoyMouse, and Derwend

What did I want to be when I grew  up? A comics artist, of course, duh! As soon as I could manage a pencil and colored pencils, I drew pictures of costumes and characters like this set. Of the many that I did, this one and its partner survive in the Archive. They are super-heroes along the lines of DC Comics, and you can see where I've borrowed costume elements. The tunic panels and belt at the waist is very characteristic of late '50s - early '60s comics costuming, as are the pointed headgear and knee-length boots. The yellow helmet on the right is borrowed from the venerable "Doctor Fate." And they have capes, because it's traditional, despite being impractical. The green and yellow character is "Derwend," and I have no memory of him. Note his split-toe hoof-like feet though. He is obviously not human, with bright green skin. "ManMouse" and his son "BoyMouse" have some sort of ultrasonic power ("Iki" and "Squiki"). Maybe they can shrink to mouse size or even smaller. This set dates from the early 1960s.

Pencil and colored pencils on sketchbook paper, about 7" x 6", early 1960s.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

642: a constellation

Did  you know that there are universes made up of only fruits and vegetables? The "many-worlds" physics theory predicts this, and when you bring them into your kitchen, you see that it is true. You see planets of grapefruit and lime, asteroids of potato, stars of carrots, and orbiting garlic. A bunch of celery may show evidence of life. And the appearance of bananoids prove the existence of  "branes" that peel back to reveal the slippery meeting point of different realities.

Prompted from the "642 things to draw" book, "a constellation." Black tech pen ink on sketchbook page, 7" x 4 1/2", December 29, 2017.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Smithsonian Commons Neo-Medieval

And here we haveth the neo-medieval interior court of the Smithsonian Institution's Castle, which is on the Mall in Washington, DC. It seems as if I found myself there, for reasons I have no remembrance. This space is hired out for events and also used as a restaurant. It would make a good location for a Society for Creative Anachronism event, and maybe they've already used it. I haven't been to the Smithsonian in years, and getting there is more difficult than it used to be now that the Washington Metro is under repairs. If I had heaps of dough I'd just take a taxi there, but if you saw how much it costs to get from the urbsubs to center DC city, you'd faint.

Sepia brown ink on sketchbook page, 4 1/2" x 5", January 1, 2001 (01/01/01).

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Winter Sunset, 2017

I do at least one of these mini scenes every year, so here's the "Goodbye 2017" version of the Winter Sunset. It's done from memory and no actual observation was done. The medium is colored pencil with inking. The colored pencil technique I am using here is almost like oil painting, where I can blend colors on the paper. But better than oil, because I can ink over it and not have to wait till it dries. There's a bit of Photoshop in there too but not a lot. I am not going to think too much about 2017 now.

Colored pencil with ink drawing over it, 5 1/2: x 4", December 28, 2017.

"Texchanchan," about the Order of St. Michael: The actual practice of the Order is much less rigorous. They don't keep a monastic-style schedule. The most important thing for OSM is the ongoing conversation and reflections on the e-mail list. Being present on the List is the standard for OSM, that's how we maintain fellowship. There is a yearly retreat but it's in Pennsylvania so it's difficult for non east coast folk to attend. Please e-mail me so we don't have to use my Blog to converse. There is a contact address for me on the Blog front page.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

"Traveling Players" game art

Here's another pointy-eared character from far in Jeremy Wolf's future.(or wait, if Jeremy's space fighting pack were in a spacefaring world, and the Haven game in a Renaissance era, how do we measure the time?). An Elven Thief turns our way briefly, but is watching a wagon pass by with a troupe of traveling entertainers on it. They have acrobats, jugglers, and a strongman in the center, modeled on the famous "Mister T." I guess I can draw better than I could in 1966, before the invention of role-playing games.

Original is ink on illustration board, 8 1/2" x 6", spring 1984.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Comics Panels 1966

I am finding a lot of my old art in the archive. This runs from my childhood, through my teen years, to more recent pieces where I sent copies to my parents. The one you see above comes from about 1966. I can't make a more accurate date for it. There are elements from "Star Trek" (the pointed ears) which place it at least after the first Treks had aired (hence, 1966). Design elements also suggest a mid-century '60s look, with the geometric patterned garb and the spherical lights hanging from the ceiling, things you can also find in the DC Comics of that time, which I was well familiar with. The hairstyles of the characters are "British Invasion," again placing the art in the early to middle '60s.

This 4-panel set comes from a storyline I barely remember. In this set, the uniformed men (or Vulcans with their pointy ears) are waiting for one of their number named "Jeremy" but when he arrives, he turns on them violently with either superpowers or a weapon, which burns everyone up but Jeremy, who is glowing but otherwise unharmed.

This is where I have no memory. What I do remember is that these men are part of an elite space fighting force modeled after wolves, and "Jeremy Wolf" is their leader. Their pointy ears are not Vulcan, but lupine, and they wear a characteristic uniform with two diamonds on the chest. They also wear a wolf tooth as a pendant. Why Jeremy turned on his brothers so violently will always remain a mystery.

Ink on art paper, 7 1/2" x 7", 1966.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Christmas Rose Remix

I struggled with this re-mix and did not succeed in my estimation. I wanted rose petals but I got something that looks like an underwater monster instead. Yes, monsters are coming to steal your gifts and eat your cat. It wouldn't be Christmas without an ongoing state of existential dread. "Shepherds quake at the sight!" Lovely music, though, as long as you don't stop to see what we are morphing into. I could be turning into someone who doesn't use words like "existential" and "morph." Do you like the color pink? I hate that color and have for most of my life but the little 6-year-old girl downstairs from me drenches herself in it. I regret pinking out here. At least there's one arc of blue.

So I wish you a NON-PINK Merry Sweet Christmas and Fragrant Piney Yule for the Solstice, and watch out for the rose monsters.

Ink and colored pencil, digitally re-worked, 4" x 6", December 2017.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Warriors and Spy game art

Not again! If you're sick of my game art, then just scroll on. Can you imagine how much hand-done art has been generated by just the comics industry alone? Most of it has probably been destroyed except what has fallen into the hands of collectors. I sold most of my game art that you've seen here to collectors for a few dollars apiece. They may still exist, gathering dust in closets and maybe in stacks along with thousands of books. That's where the collectors are. Certainly not playing the game I'm sure.

Original art is black ink on illustration board, 4 1/2" x 5", spring 1984.

Saturday, December 23, 2017


Caffe Amouri in Vienna, Virginia is a hipster haven that makes you feel like your better days at college were still around. The coffee is superior and packs a caffeine wallop as well. On December 22 the place was packed with young damsels and swains as well as myself and my friends gabbing about crafting work. While sipping a warm drink I drew the Steampunk-esque details of Amouri's coffee roaster. They call it "torrefazione" in Italia (tor-e-fats-ee-o-nay for the un-Italianated). That means "roasting" and in the old country they toast the beans right on site so that the lovely aroma of coffee will drift into the street and attract customers. The machine at Amouri was not active while we were there but the owner explained some of its operation.

Sepia brown tech pen ink on sketchbook page, 5" x 5 1/2", December 22, 2017.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Connecticut Porch Stairs

My religious group, the "Order of St. Michael," has a group retreat every year and in 2006 it was at a convent and retreat house in Litchfield, Connecticut. Even though it was late April it was chilly and no flowers were out. The convent houses were built in a characteristic New England style, and I was able to make some architectural sketches of them. Our group didn't quite get along with the sisters at the convent. We burned candles outdoors which was forbidden due to fire regulations but we didn't know that...! We did not have Retreat there again.

Black tech pen ink on sketchbook page, 4" x 8", April 29, 2006.

Texchanchan: I was about 3 when I drew that angel, in 1956. Did I know I would survive and make art into the 2000s? We are lucky! I also thought you might be interested in the "Order of St. Michael" as an alumna of "Sister-List."

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Kiddie Art Angel 1956

I found this in the archive. My mother, an artist herself, saved the "best" of my kiddie artistic efforts and she always encouraged me to draw and paint. I guess you could say that this Blog is one of the results of that. This little winged being looks a lot like an angel but I probably meant it to be a superhero. Note the black boots. I thought that they had high heels but actually they are spurs on bird feet. I might have been inspired by the perennial superheroes "Hawkman" and "Hawkgirl," though I can't prove that except from faded memory. I'm glad my mother saved the angel. She went on in her own career to produce whole squadrons of angels, as I have as well.

Crayon and graphite on pink or orange paper, about 8" x 10", 1956.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Mall Madonna

i suppose this could be considered a "Christmas" theme picture, as there is a Madonna reverently holding her wrapped-up infant in a public space. The space is the Tysons Corner Mall, which I have depicted countless times. It isn't too Christmasy because the mom and child are dressed in summer attire. As for the other girl holding a pocketbook, she's the Holy Child's sister. Nobody knows for sure whether Jesus had siblings, so why not. They are in front of the Disney store where a vast array of sacred images and idols is available for private and family adoration.

Sepia brown ink on sketchbook page, 4 1/2" x 5", July 15, 2002. Click for larger view.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Winter Path of Cerulean Crystal

This is the design for my holiday and New Year greeting cards. The predominant color is cerulean blue, the "theme color" I have chosen for 2018. The view down the archway passage is lit by a single star (or moon) high above in the twilight sky. There is no specific mythic or religious content in this design. It is entirely done in digital medium.

Photoshop, 5" x 7", December 18, 2017. Click for larger view.

Monday, December 18, 2017

December Rose

Sometimes roses bloom in December, here in Virginia. That hasn't happened this year, at least in my knowledge, but here's a rose for the winter solstice anyway. I started with a simple curved line and drew the rest with old-fashioned french curve templates. I know it's not a totally accurate depiction of a flower, but you get the idea. 

Marker ink drawing on sketchbook page, colored in Photoshop, 4" x 6", December 18, 2017.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Cape Cod House August 1978

I did lots of images of local scenes and architecture when I was vacationing with my relatives on Cape Cod in August 1978. I was a graduate student at Harvard back then and doing poorly. I would later leave graduate school and become an artist. I have specialized in depicting buildings ever since and this one I especially liked because of the woodwork on the front gable and porch. I also like the pointy little spires on the roof. Usually these would be iron lightning rods to protect the house from storm blasts. 

This picture took a lot of Photoshop to restore as the colors had faded in the many years it was stored away. I used light brown ink on the original which didn't help preserve it. The paper  has gotten yellow from age. I replaced the light blue of the sky which had totally disappeared. 

Ink, watercolor pencil, and Photoshop restoration on sketchbook page, original is 5" x 7". Click on image for a larger view.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Hobbits in the Kitchen game art

As I have noted before, various humanoid species co-exist in the world of Haven, and for the most part they get along. But there are significant differences in class, allowed behaviors, and economic power. Hobbits, tiny people only a few feet tall, can be very skilled in what they do, including occupations such as policeman or gambling "bookie". These hobbits are skilled in the culinary arts and may create the meals of aristocrats or rich patrons. Their only disadvantage is that they have to stand on boxes or footstools in order to reach the controls of the oven and handle the cooking.

Original drawing is black ink on illustration board, 5" x 5", spring 1984.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Vertical Angles Geometrikon Remix

Here's the remix of the Vertical Angles geometrikon of recent November. I'm experimenting with colored pencil textures and dark blue colors. A little Photoshoppage gives it some visual depth. I like the stained glass look too. 

Markers, colored pencil, Photoshop. Original drawing about 3 1/2" x 3", November-December 2017.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Feminist Zine Cover

"Moon Phases" was a fan publication "zine" devoted to stories about social issues, while still using Marion Zimmer Bradley's "Darkover" world. This not well-preserved cover illustrates a scene in Bradley's "Thendara House" where the Darkovan heroine is invasively examined by a team of male scientists. She is human but her people have lived on Darkover for 2000 years, and have gained psychic powers. They are the descendants of a lost space colony and ended up breeding with the native humanoids of the planet, whose natural psychic talents the half-breeds inherited. The publisher of the magazine wanted me to emphasize the insensitivity of the male examiners who made her stand naked in a test area where everyone could see her. Marion Z B turned out not to be a great person in real life, but her books helped countless young fan women learn about feminism and the challenges of women which are still a huge issue now.

Original art is black ink on illustration board, 8" x 11", July 1983.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017


This isn't a "642," it's a "still life" so to speak, of one of my workspaces I use to digitize and process photos. Many of these things are familiar. All the spaces in my cluttered archivist apartment look like this, to my constant dismay. If only I could have those ideal spacious light-filled workspaces I find in ARCHITECTURAL DIGEST, where the Artist sits at her shiny white desk looking out to a gorgeous natural view, and she is dressed in a Little Black Dress and 5 inch spike heels. Yeah uh huh.

From left to right: Box of plastic gloves to handle dusty material. Flashlight, for viewing negatives. Light up viewer for slides. Air spray can for dust. Power plug strip. Large dry paint brush, for dusting slides and negatives. 2 iPads stacked in the re-charging area. (Main computer not in this view.) Slide holder strip for moving slides into the transcriber. Transcriber, dusty, needs spraying. Artist, bleary at 3 AM.

Sepia brown tech pen on sketchbook page, 7" x 5", December 13, 2017.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The "Young Stallions" game art

This handsome crew appears in one of the Renaissance-styled games I illustrated in the mid - 80s for "Gamelords." The young men are of high birth and maintain a jousting and combat club. They also cause trouble in the streets in gangs feuding among their various clans. Their aggression has caused them to get the nickname "Young Stallions," which they are proud of, at least until a couple of them get killed. The background is meant to suggest the social background of Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet."

Original illustration is black ink on illustration board, 8 1/2" x 2 1/2", spring 1984.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Winter is Here

This isn't at a vineyard, it's an interpretation from memory of the view out my window, complete with balcony railing, after a modest but snowy snow storm. You see these evening colors in winter, purple in the sky. The trees are taller than when I first moved in here, something I never noticed until these latest few years. I hope the snows are modest all winter long.

Colored pencil, ink, and Photoshop composite, 4" x 6", December 11, 2017. Klik for a larger view.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Purple and Green

One of my artistic friends said how much she loved purple and green together. So I decided I would try these colors in one of my little stylized sketches. The purple and aqua come from markers and the green and blue come from colored pencils. It emerged as a landscape at sunset although the colors aren't that realistic. There are no grapevines in this picture.

Markers and colored pencils on sketchbook page, 2 3/4" x 5", December 10, 2017. 

Saturday, December 9, 2017

The Gloucesterman

I'm a little late on the Blog today but here you go. This is one of my finest sketches in my opinion and have saved it for publication. It was done inside a restaurant in Gloucester, Mass. (pronounced "Gloster") looking out at the marina. The restaurant was the "Gloucester House" specializing (naturally) in seafood. This is one of the only boats I have ever drawn and when the server saw my drawing she was delighted because this fishing boat, the "Gloucesterman," was owned by her son. I wonder where they all are now. I'd love some scallops.

Black technical pen on sketchbook page, 5 1/2" x 4 1/2", June 19, 1999. Click for larger view.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Game Illustration: Betrayal

This is the first of the set of illustrations I did for the game "The Evil Ruins." The story had to explain why the ruins were evil. The history states that a wicked king ruled a grim Northern coastal territory and feuded with all his neighbors. During a particularly vicious war, the king invited his enemies to peace talks at his castle, and when they arrived, sniper archers hidden on the walls murdered them all. This terrible betrayal attracted the demonic forces who put evil spells on the castle. But behind all that was a huge treasure that the wicked king had amassed, and the players are there to find it, gather it, and release it from the curse.

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

Thursday, December 7, 2017

642 Things to Draw

The By-Product will achieve its tenth year early in 2018, believe it or not! It has more than 3000 distinct images and with a few interruptions has been posted every day. So many things to I running out of vintage art, and am I running out of ideas to draw? Or "reality" things to draw, how many wastebaskets or wine glasses can I depict? I found an answer in what might be called a "play sketchbook" for artists. It's called "642 Things to Draw" and I found it on the "art inspiration" table at Plaza Arts. Each page of this chunky book has one or two places reserved for drawings, and at the top is the art  prompt word. My opportunity is to make a drawing inspired by the word. At first I was sniffy about it, since Real Professional Artists don't need kiddie prompts to get ideas. But then, why not. So I now have 642 places to put a clever sketch, each with a different prompt word. Many of the prompts are ordinary things like "salt shaker," or "spiral bound notebook," but others are fanciful. I intend to be fanciful all the way through, using the prompt to do visual puns, funny stuff, scary stuff, cartoons, twisted little draws, and surrealism.

I still have plenty of vintage art to scan and show, so you will never be rid of my fan art. I will also be doing plenty more Geometrika. I'm not giving up reality drawings either. My drawings from 642 will be identified as "642" and since every page is more or less the same size (7" x 9") I'll just quote the prompt word and maybe say a little about the drawing. Here the prompt word is "Footprints." Something is happening to the human who is making these footprints. What is it? The line is part of the divider between two prompt areas.

So get ready for creativity and feel free to comment. The "642" book is published by Chronicle Books in (where else?) San Francisco. 

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Unicorn Fail

And here are the other two panel illustrations for the "King and Unicorn" story. They were published in a fan magazine called "Fesarius" in mid-1984. In the top panel the young King meets with a richly dressed woman who is not an aristocrat but the Madam of the whole town. The lower panel shows the Unicorn's horn becoming less....horny. There you have it. 

Black ink on illustration board, 2 panels on page 7" x 10", summer 1984.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Molesting the Unicorn

Once upon a time there was a young king who went on a quest to find himself a bride. For the usual dynastic reasons, she needed to be a virgin. To assure that she was, he took along a Unicorn with him on his royal progress. Unicorns, as is known in fantasy, will not allow any non-virgin to ride them, and are uneasy in the presence of, uh, sexually active people. The king realized he was going to have a problem from the very first village he visited. The Unicorn stood unridden and upset, because every woman from adult to child (yes, children too) turned out not to be a virgin, in fact they were all for sale. Isn't that cute? Now that we are hearing what happens to women of all ages in the presence of powerful men, these "ribald" stories just aren't that entertaining. At least they weren't for me. I didn't like the story, but I did the illustrations anyway. You didn't talk about those things in 1984.

Black ink on illustration board, 8 1//2" x 11", summer 1984. Click for larger view.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Geometric Sunset Remix

Once I draw a geometrikon (or anything) on paper, I have the option of coloring it in Photoshop and then re-coloring the original in colored pencil or watercolor or markers. Using the terminology of recorded music, this would be a "re-mix." Here's the re-mix of my entry for November 17 of this year, done with colored pencils. The color of the background is done in Photoshop. After the mixed media, I leave it alone.

I guess the "Mike" who comments here is the Canadian composer though there are at least two more "Mikes" it could be. Yes, the Amgyal white dwarf planet has been blogged before but in a previous blog I produced from 2004 - 2008. That was "Electron Blue" which was much more wordy and less illustrated than the current By-product. Here is the Amgyal entry from November 2007. That was 10 years ago! Has Mike really been reading this old Blog? If so, I'm amazed. I still have an "Electron Blue" blog but it isn't very active these days. There are always gateways to the world of Noantri if anyone is interested.

Mixed media on sketchbook page, 5 1/2" x 2", November-December 2017.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Amgyal, the dead planet

This is an image from my own imaginary world, the world of Noantri. It is a view of the surface of the planet Amgyal, orbiting a white dwarf star named Tur. This planet, among others, was one of the bases for the Great Gate through which the Noantri people passed to settle on New  Earth.

Amgyal had once been a thriving center of an ancient civilization, a place with beautiful, technically advanced cities and a benevolent technology. Tur was not a white dwarf then. Something happened on planet Amgyal that induced the sunlike yellow dwarf to go nova. Within seconds, Amgyal had been crushed into a radioactive wasteland unable to support life. The black ruins at bottom are the remains of one of their cities.

The line you see at bottom with a few red lights is a surface transport channel. When the Noantri built their gateway system, a project that took centuries, they dug through the ruins to build an underground city which would support a Gate. The surface transport channel was heavily shielded against the radiation from Tur. Only a few technicians or adventurers ever walked on the surface itself, and they could not do so without protective space suits. 

The only life left on Amgyal was bacteria and fungi underground. If the explorers looked hard enough, they could find tiny plants in the old ruined places, which had evolved to survive deadly radiation. Amgyal was locked down to the Noantri public and they were sent through the Gate as quickly as possible to minimize radiation exposure.

Only a few of the Noantri on New Earth, those in the psionic community, know what really happened to Amgyal, and they have devoted their lives to making sure it doesn't happen to New Earth.

Digital on Photoshop, 6" x 4", 2007.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Sunny Corner 1974

In my younger days I was much influenced by early 20th century printed advertising. The ads for home care products were especially attractive to me. These images, originally painted in watercolor, portrayed the mundane kitchen as a place of lightness and enchantment, presided over by a spotless lady in a glowing apron. Imitating that style, I tried to portray my own dwelling in that way. The light-filled corner is softened by sheer curtains. The triangular corner desk, made by my father, bears objects I had brought with me from college: an empty aquarium, a duffel bag, and some of the plants I grew even in my small dorm room. After all these years I can't remember what the central plant with the pink flowers was. I think it was an impatiens.

Watercolor and pencil on sketchbook page, 5 1/2" x 9", July 9, 1974. Click on image for larger view.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Left-Handed Writer Cuts off Own Head: Graphic Details

On a bright warm September day I drew outside and found this scene in front of Starbucks. The girl was absorbed in writing in her journal. I wanted to see her face but my viewpoint and her arm's perspective almost entirely cut off her head. If she had been right-handed this wouldn't have happened. So I got a faceless and rather anxious-looking writer. She couldn't see me, either. It was one of those nothing moments in time which has now been recorded in the journal of life, possibly for centuries. You never know.

Black tech pen ink on sketchbook page, about 5" x 6", September 8, 1999.