Saturday, June 16, 2018

Blue and Orange Geo

Blue and Orange are my favorite color combination these days and I place them wherever I can enjoy them. They are complementary colors and if you stare too long at one of them you will get an after-image in your eye in the other color. On the artist's color wheel they are opposite or 180 degrees apart from each other on the circle. See, art has something to do with math after all. This geometrikon has textures I am experimenting with but I also wanted to work faster.

Markers and colored pencils on sketchbook page, 4 1/2" x 2 1/2", June 16, 2018.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Phantom Lady

 I gave it a try, I really did. I tried to do action superhero figures. The "Phantom Lady" was a 1940s-era  superhero-ine who had (engineered) powers of casting illusions and shadows, and  could become (or seem to become) immaterial. She wore the common "boob straps" type of female superhero outfit. I think the engineering of the outfit was more fantastic than that of casting shadows. I have seen cosplay attempts at this with varying results. I was trying to prove to myself, as I said, that I could draw action figures. I've done lots of drawing from real models (life drawing) but I generate "realistic" drawings rather than the sexy cartoons for comics. My art school trainers wanted that realist style of drawing. Meanwhile, the little drawing to the right ("Oops") shows what could happen if Phantom Lady tried to fight while wearing her high heeled boots.

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 8" x 8", 1993.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Dig we Must

I  was thrilled to emerge from my studio and out of the building to see this fresh new Kubota excavator parked in front. The management was having repairs done to the foundation and brickwork of the building. I suspect it might be damage going all the way back to the earthquake of 2011. I immediately grabbed my folding chair,("Prince Charles' Throne") set it on the front stoop, and drew as residents passed to and fro, peering at my sketch. This digger is bright red but I opted for monochrome for a quieter look. There was dirt spilled all over the grass and the parking lot. I had a brief talk with the operator, who I recognized from his work replacing my balcony glass door. He said that he and his crew were "professional mess makers." I would so love to get in that glass control cabin and work the machine myself. Dig we must! I dig it.

Sepia brown tech pen on sketchbook page, 7 1/2" x 4 1/2", June 13, 2018.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Hair Chairs

Often when I get my hair done I will make drawings while I'm waiting for the hair dye to do its job. Today was a slow day at the hairdresser's so the chairs were empty. So I drew the hair chairs rather than the people and there weren't many people there anyway. Hair chairs are not the same as office or art chairs and are adjusted to humanoid shape and proportions. Thanks to the skill of Lisa my hairdresser I look human again and not like an alternate form of hominin.

Sepia brown tech pen on sketchbook page, 5" x 7", June 12, 2018.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

DarkoverCon 5 Cover art 1982

As it isn't enough for me to digitize and preserve thousands of photos of my artwork and my family history, I am now working alongside another archivist finding and documenting Darkover fan art and activity. I was for many years the chief fan artist of the Darkovans and you know this only too well if you follow this Blog. The fan archivist asked me to find and scan the programs that I saved from every DarkoverCon I've been to. I just don't have the time to scan 30 or so which is what I have but I will scan for now the ones with my cover art and other stuff relevant to my own role in Darkover fandom. This program for DarkoverCon 5 (or "V" Roman) dates from 1982. I was Artist Guest of Honor that year and the Writer Guest was the late Jo Clayton whose name and work recently surfaced on this Blog. I have hundreds of magazines and fan memorabilia, most of them with my art in them, which I intend to donate to collections at two American universities. It is time for me to give my old work a life in research.

This piece was done in the "Scottish Art Nouveau" style. Art Nouveau and Pre-Raphaelitism were styles and artistic movements which I found appropriate for the Celtic-inspired Darkover world.

Ink on illustration board, 5 1/2" x 8 1/2", fall 1982.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Photoshop Modern Improv

One of the nice things about Photoshop is that I can come up with all sorts of improvisations while I'm sitting at my screen. I don't have to push slimy half-congealed acrylic paint around on a tray until I have to replace my jar of muddy paint water. And if I need to change something, all I have to do is delete its layer and start again. With improvisations like this, I can give myself the feeling that I've actually gotten something worthwhile and creative done, even though I probably haven't.

Photoshop, tiny picture 5" x 5", June 10, 2018.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Sacramento Street Cambridge 1984 Again

I love doing architectural portraits like this one. This house is one of many late 19th - early 20th century buildings in my old neighborhood near Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., on "Sacramento Street." I have no idea why a street in Cambridge would be named after a city in California, but why not. In the 1980s I did many such pictures most of which have already graced the pages of this Blog. When I moved to Northern Virginia I didn't have the opportunity or the logistic ability to draw in residential neighborhoods. And for these reasons also it became too difficult to draw on a city street. Wineries have given me another sketching opportunity though very few of the wineries have older architecture. Even so the wine lodges are built in a traditional form so I get to draw a porch anyway.

Brown ink and watercolor on sketchbook page, 5" x 8", June 20, 1984.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Drinks on the table

Coffee time with my crafter friends was at Peet's Coffee, a rival to Starbucks. Both their coffee and their interior design are high quality. On the table are plasticware belonging to the other folks who are sipping behind their computer. These simple details of upscale urban life are worth a fortune. I will never take them for granted. 

Sepia brown tech pen on sketchbook page, 4 1/2" x 6 1/2", June 8, 2018.

Friday, June 8, 2018

The Lady at the Door

This Darkover picture illustrates a story, but I never made up the story and neither did anyone else, so feel free to imagine why the lady is standing by the castle door. Will she let you in? Say goodbye? Burst into tears and beg you to help her? I have often role-played with my art, making images that precede the text that it went with. Art doesn't have to play out in time the way a piece of music or a poem or a fictional text does. Well I suppose it could if you measured the artwork by what you focused your eyes on and how long you stayed at a part of the image. I ignore that kind of analysis, I just draw 'em and paint 'em and if you like it, good. 

Thanks, Tex, for your intelligent comments on this blog. The By-product was recently spammed by a Pakistani "escort" service so that may be why you had trouble accessing the Blog.

"The Lady at the Door" is ink and watercolor on orange paper, 9" x 11", November 2003. Click for a larger view.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Three Byzantine Figures 1973

These characters are from the era at the end of my college years when I was illustrating my own fiction. This is the one set in late imperial Rome, about the aristocratic runaway teen girl and the mysterious eunuch courtier. This little painting is a practice piece depicting the costumes and armor of that time. To the left is a warrior, in the center is a court functionary or messenger in livery, and at right is a high-ranking courtier of noble rank. Much of Byzantine attire was inspired by Persian garb rather than the drapery of earlier days. The court's lavish silks and brocades were imported from Central Asia or India via the "Silk Road."

I used gouache, or opaque watercolor, for this piece. Gouache was used in manuscript illuminations and other super-detailed work. I was experimenting to see whether my own illustrations should use this medium. I decided against it as being too painstaking and did the rest of my illustrations in ink and watercolor.

Gouache on illustration board, 4 1/2" x 6", 1973.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Partly Cloudy Geometric

It's partly cloudy here with a few geometric elements. These lovely blues are very difficult to get with markers. Even after you get them and draw with them, they fade quickly unless hidden away. I am glad for the technology of digital scanning which allows me to use my impermanent markers. Once the drawing is scanned, it's potentially immortal, at least within the span of our current lives. Inside the large polygon is the weather. This is what the skies looked like on June 5, 2018 in Northern Virginia during the day. The blue geometrika were added later.

Markers, colored pencils, and a bit of Photoshop work, 4 1/2" x 4 1/2", June 6, 2018.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

The Philosopher in his Study

The Philosopher looks like he is locked up in a jail cell but that wasn't part of the story at all. The grating on the window is to keep out thieves, ruffians, and gangsters as he is on the ground floor. I suppose he could be in prison and might have landed there if he continued carrying on against Christianity. This character portrait and background were done in the same painstaking ink and watercolor technique that I used for the other illustrations of my Byzantine tale.

Brown and grey ink and watercolor, 8 1/2" x 4 1/2", January 25,1975. Click for a larger view.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Wine Tasting Caddy at Bluemont Vineyard

When you order a wine tasting at Bluemont Vineyard, they hand it to you in one of these metal caddies, unless you order the bigger version which is served traditionally by a wine server. The rustic rough metal construction, with a handle on the top, can hold six glasses, each one of which is loaded with a little bit of wine. The tasting comes with a printed card which you match up, read information about the wines, and then take the tasting sip. This is a clever way of saving the labor of wine servers in a crowded situation. I have never seen wine holders like this before and enjoyed using one at my visit to Bluemont. I wonder if they sell them.

Sepia brown tech pen on sketchbook page, 3 1/2" x 3", June 3, 2018. I would have drawn it looking at the one on my table but I was busy wine tasting. This was copied from a photograph of the tasting holder on the Bluemont website.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Bluemont Vineyard in the Rain

Bluemont, Virginia is a tiny historic town near the Blue Ridge mountains which was originally re-founded as a resort from the stifling heat of the Washington summer. It never worked out but the place is still an attraction to tourists and wine lovers. This scene is the view from Bluemont Vineyard, situated high in the hills over the flatter areas of central Virginia. I went there with my wine-sipping friends and there was plenty of rain torrent, splashing, thunder, and lightning. This sketch of Bluemont's wide view was started indoors with a line drawing and finished with colors when I returned to the studio. Note the brighter green vines on the hill to the left. I like depicting rainy and misty scenes as well as the brighter sunlit moments.

Colored pencils and markers on sketchbook page, and a bit of Photoshop, 7 1/2" x 4 1/2",
June 3, 2018.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Mid-Century June Moodle

I haven't done a "Mid-Century Moodle" for a while but with my continuing work on the Archive I have reached the early 1960s where this geometric design was at its height. I didn't put in a  starscape or moon. I wanted to use shades of blue-purple-grey without my usual bright orange. And with two squares in the background and the network of straight lines forming polygonal shapes I could play with foreground, background, and layers. I could have made this more elaborate but decided not to. This visual improvisation was done while listening to one of my electronic composer friends improvising in his studio thousands of miles away.

Photoshop, about 9" x 4", June 2, 2018.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Golden Sunset

This is from a golden memory, a sunset that is more likely to appear in winter rather than late spring. It must be the mist of humidity that softened the colors into this sky. Or is it the mist of humanity, here in the city. I can't call it total recall, but it's pretty accurate.

Colored pencils, some correction in Photoshop, 3 1/2" x 3 1/2", June 1, 2018.