Friday, August 31, 2018

K21 Graviton Branch

I created the "K" series geometrics in honor of the great abstraction artist Wassily Kandinsky. He would have had a wonderful time with Photoshop. This one here, "Graviton Branch," incorporates multiple layers of shape and color with some inspiration from modern speculative physics. And the previous entry here contained branches. It's still a sketch and not by any means a finished Product. But the colors are pretty.

Photoshop, 7" x 10", August 31, 2018.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

642: a tree limb

From the book of 642 prompts comes a simple idea, a tree limb. But whose limb is it? The metaphor goes back and forth. Which came first, tree limbs or human limbs? Is it an Ent, a fantasy-humanoid tree from Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings?" If human limbs name a tree, then whose limbs are they? The trees will soon shed their leaves and we will see those limbs unclad.

Tech pen and marker black ink on sketchbook page, 4 1/2" x 4 1/2", August 30, 2018.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Skoteinos the shady

From my Byzantine epic text. This character appears at some point in the story, rather mysteriously. Since I'm not going to go back and look, here is his story re-told. A shabby, middle-aged man meets and joins the group of traveling characters. He is dressed all in grey and has a "bindlestiff" over his shoulder, that is a bag of possessions balanced on a pole over his shoulder, the classic sign of a solo traveler. He introduces himself as "Skoteinos" which in Greek means the "shadowy one." He also bears a long knife or small sword with the word "NIKA" or "victory" engraved on the hilt. Skoteinos and the others fend off many dangers on the road as they journey to Constantinople with the runaway heroine. Only after he saves them does Skoteinos reveal that he is really a bishop. He had been driven out of his diocese because he was (correctly) accused of being a heretic. After revealing this, he disappears into the darkness never to be seen again. I based Skoteinos, like many others, after one of my Brandeis Greek professors.

Ink and watercolor on sketchbook page, 4 1/2" x 11 1/2", June 1975.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Chaotic Webula

During the 1980s and 1990s I produced what seems now like hundreds of small space pictures painted in acrylic with airbrush spray. I did them in "editions," ten or more at a time, all the same size, using bright color schemes and spatter effects to simulate stars. I painted in nebulas, moons, spaceships, and other features with an old-fashioned paintbrush. I was inspired by views through the telescopes of that era. Nowadays the Hubble Space Telescope and other super-high resolution searchers on mountaintops have brought us images in far more detail than my spray-painted little scenes could depict. This nebula piece shows a tangled network of swirling threads of gas, which is fairly accurate in the astronomical world as the Hubble was already in action.

"Chaotic Web" is acrylic on black illustration board, 10" x 7", January 1998. Click for a larger view.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Hyginus the courtier slave

This fellow is another character from my Byzantine Codex text. He is "Hyginus," a highly educated slave in the court of Heliodorus the eunuch shipmaster. He doesn't have a big part in the story. I put him in as an analogue of one of my Greek professors at Brandeis. His name was Higgins so I gave him the name "Hyginus" which not only resembles Higgins but means "clean" in ancient Greek.

I never gave Hyginus a story or character action. Educated people could be kept as slaves in the ancient world, to do jobs like teaching, language interpretation, accounts, and even espionage. Educated and skilled slaves could earn and keep money.  Hyginus was probably a youthful high-ranking captive from some military campaign in Britain or Europe, who gained enough proficiency to make him valuable to a business big shot like Heliodorus. Hyginus expected to buy his freedom with his earnings, but I never found out whether he did.

Ink and watercolor on sketchbook page, about 5" x 4 1/2", spring 1975.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

What I Saw: Entanglement

It's in my studio. I took some things apart and discarded them. Some of these go somewhere and some of them don't, just like me. There are some chargers which have no energy and some memories whose meaning and title are forgotten. Someday I'll sort it all out. The glass globe is a hot flash generator.

Canon S90 photograph, August 24, 2018.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Wrapped Reality

This is what happens when you have too many markers and colored pencils on top of them. And you try once again to do a purple doodle. The reality behind this is a stack of clean, firmly folded T-shirts. The idea of wrapping up the cosmos in violet cotton jersey might not be a bad idea, after using Cosmic Photoshop to clear up the messy parts.

Markers and colored pencils on sketchbook page, a bit of Photoshop. 3" x 5", August 25, 2018.

Friday, August 24, 2018

The Mile-Long Spaceship

This is the kind of painting I used to exhibit at science fiction conventions. They didn't have a particular theme nor were they illustrating a specific book or scene. The title of this one did repeat a famous science fiction story title by Kate Wilhelm, but had nothing to do with the story. I used "old tech" as material for my spaceships; this one is based on a coal hopper from the mid-20th century. The style is influenced by science fiction artist Vincent di Fate.  

I was hoping that editors and art directors would notice my science fiction and fantasy art in the convention art shows and hire me to do book covers and other illustrations, but it never really happened, which eventually persuaded me to try another more "fine-art" style.

"The Mile-long Spaceship" is acrylic with airbrushed background, 15" x 22", February 1987. Click for a larger view.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

The Philosopher at Night

Here's Timotheus Macrobius again, the pagan Philosopher. He's up at night, for what reason I don't know. I did lots of research on costume, furniture, the multi-flame oil lamp, and the rough textures of Roman brick and plaster. I seem to have done many illustrations of him for the book, but why? Probably because he was based on a professor of Latin whose classes I loved (Later Roman/Medieval Latin!) but also, Macrobius saves the heroine from a raging mob in the harbor of Constantinople.

Ink and watercolor on sketchbook page, 5 1/2" x 9", 1974. I was a student at Brandeis University when I did all these illustrations.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Visiting the Hermit

This panel illustrates a scene from my Byzantine adventure story, where a priest goes to visit a hermit in the desert to gain advice. I have long since forgotten what the Father was looking for, but he was designed to resemble my friend the Catholic chaplain at Brandeis University. His name was Bullock (now of blessed memory) so I gave him the Latin name of "Taurinus." The hermit lives in a cave, as many devotees did in that era. Taurinus was blond as was the real Bullock, and I described him as being of British origin. That's a long way to travel in that era, from Roman Britain to the pilgrimage places of the Middle East, but some brave souls made the journey.

Watercolor and ink on sketchbook page, 8 1/2" x 4 1/2", spring 1975.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Colorform Opal

Four pieces of each primary color, same shape, different sizes. One unique feature. All arranged on a square black background. This is the "Colorforms" game remembered from my artistic childhood. My "game" never existed, of course, only the pieces and shiny black background. This one's "unique feature" is the bigger greenish square, reminiscent of a pale opal. I didn't want any red in the picture, but the game demands it, so I lined up my red triangles in a corner like a car's brake light, small enough not to disturb my design. You'd think that a Colorform would be an easy thing to knock out on Photoshop but it actually takes quite a while as sketches go...this one took more than an hour to compose, while I was listening to ambient-electronic music.

Photoshop, 5" x 5", August 21, 2018.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Snake Priestess 1975

Marie Corelli (1860-1925) is one of my favorite fantasy authors. I am one of few in this world who remember her; she is almost completely forgotten now. I read and re-read her books and illustrated her characters constantly. This babe is one of her best. You can read about her and the melodramatic plot of Corelli's "Ardath" (published 1889) at this older post from 2008. I did a Snake Priestess portrait every year until my attention was diverted to other artistic themes. This is the one for 1975. I followed the garish color scheme described by the author.

Ink and watercolor on sketchbook page, 7 1/2" x 8", May 1975.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Bull Run Winery produce hut

This "Wine Saturday" was my first wining expedition since my operation and captivity. My friends and I visited "The Winery at Bull Run," set near the famous Civil War historic site. Though it was crowded we found our way to a quiet refuge in a barrel room basement where we sipped and I drew in peace. This view is of a hut in back of the winery's tasting room, probably for storing and selling fruits and vegetables. I wasn't able to draw outside but I managed this sketch looking through a back window. My sketchbook was balanced on a wine barrel with my glass of Virginia Pinot Noir in front of me. I guess I'm recovering, even if slowly.

Sepia pens and markers on sketchbook page, 6" x 6", August 18, 2018.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

642: Tube of Toothpaste

You haven't seen anything new from my "642 things to draw" sketchbook so here's one. The prompt is the mundane "A tube of toothpaste." But my 642s will never be mundane as I have committed myself in this sketchbook to the weird, the quirky, and sometimes downright bizarre. So here is a tube of toothpaste, erotic and winged like the winged phalli of the ancient classical world. Or perhaps it's a pasty green mint-flavored angel, bringing good tidings and fresh breath to Mary mother of God. 

Black tech pen, 5 1/2" x 2 1/2", August 18, 2018.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Geometrika tiles Colors of Summer

Here's the last one of the series, titled "Colors of Summer." It's done in marker which shows quite a difference from digital coloring. I suppose I could simulate these marker variations with Photoshop tricks but that's too much like work. I'll keep this in my not-so-lavishly illustrated sketchbook journal to bring back memories of a summer most of which I missed.

Markers, 3 1/2" x 5 1/2", August 2018.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Geometrika tiles color digital Augustgreens

Here it is, colored in Photoshop. If you design it correctly, you can use Photoshop's area-finding tool to instantly drop the color of your choice into your art work. My colors of choice here are yellowish greens matching the greens of August in late summer.

And...Ding! Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner. One of my Facebook correspondents correctly identified the Boston modernist building with geometric designs on it as the exhibition space of the Massachusetts Institute of Contemporary Art, which was built in 1960.

Marker ink drawing, colored in Photoshop, 3 1/2" x 5 1/2", August 2018.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Geometrika tiles black and white

Here's a multiple Geometrikon in the form of a series of tiles. These are not real tiles of ceramic or wood, they're just designs. I plan to do three versions of this set: one in black and white (this one), one in digital coloring, and the third colored by hand. I won't rotate it, this is what you get for all three. I was inspired to do these designs by the heraldic devices of my neo-medieval friends who pitched white tents decorated in their coats of arms at the "Pennsic" fair and gathering. I also remember a peculiar building way long ago, a small exhibition hall on the banks of the Charles River in Allston, Massachusetts. It was decorated in black and white geometry similar to this. The date was in the late 1950s - mid-century modern for sure and I'd love to find it again somewhere though it no longer exists.

Marker drawing with digital tinting, 3 1/2" x 5 1/2", August 15, 2018.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

High Summer 1998

I have often complained here that there are no interesting old houses left to draw in my neighborhood, but that's not entirely true. This handsome porch house, from the late 19th or early 20th century, carries the flag in an area full of nice houses. It is only a few blocks from big shopping centers and a main road, but it looks like it's in a small town. I did this drawing on site, and July 4th's flag was still flying. The drawing, which was finished in the studio, is on a page of my lavishly illustrated 1998 sketchbook journal.

Ink and watercolor, 5" x 5", July 21, 1998.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Planet Ouranos

This is not at all meant to be astronomically correct. It is my impression of the planet Uranus, whose name is constantly derided but is really "Ouranos," a Greek word meaning "sky" or "heavens." I'm using layers of textures as I have been experimenting lately. The curved yellow streak is a ring around Ouranos composed of ice, pebbles, and planetary building debris. There are also bunches of asteroids and space rocks floating about. Remember, it's "Ouranos" and this is not meant to be astronomically or politically correct.

Photoshop, 8" x 5", August 13, 2018.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Josephine Cat 1984

In the 1980s and 1990s my father had a cat named "Josephine," who had wandered onto our property and adopted him. Josie was a Maine Coon with an abundant, tabby-colored fur coat and white paws and chest. She also had extra toes, looking like thumbs, on her front paws. She had an intense personality and was attached one-on-one with my father. She followed him everywhere he went at home and tolerated me and my mother when I visited. My father was a cat lover and he liked Josephine more than he liked me or my mother, which was all right with me. Josephine gave my father 17 years of companionship and service. 

Black and sepia brown tech pens, 5" x 8", 1984.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Alice at the Cafe

I went to the local luxury coffee shop,"Caffe Amouri," as I often do with friends. We get together every week to talk about our creative and craft work. Added to our group this Friday was Alice, the daughter of one of my fellow-crafters. She is an artist currently working on a graphic novel. The coffee was excellent, and the atmosphere at Amouri feels like being in a college town.

I don't usually do pictures of people but I did this time because sketching is my craft and I wanted to see whether I could depict a recognizable Alice with the simplest pen-line available.
You haven't seen her but I think I did a pretty good sketch portrait job here.

Sepia brown tech pen on sketchbook page, 5" x 7", August 10, 2018.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Prairie Doodle

This Photoshop doodle could be used as a background, with a horse rider or buffalo in front, or it could just stand alone as a non-contrasty abstract nature piece. I have all sorts of digital image textures that I never use so I decided to experiment with a few of them here.

Photoshop, 5" x 5", August 9th, 2018.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

More Big Puffy Clouds

This is the moment for them, my friends the big puffy clouds that sail in the sky above me, and throw thunderbolts and torrents at those below. They only have a couple of months left above us before they fade away in the autumn. I lost most of my summer to illness and rehab so I am appreciating everything summery that comes my way.

Colored pencils and markers, 5 1/2" x 4 1/2", August 9, 2018.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

"Charis" character portrait 1975

Here's another character portrait from my Byzantine adventure story from 1975. It is in my sketchbook journal from my Brandeis days and the journaling on the page describes my classes, friends, food, music, etc. This journal is so well-illustrated, I am amazed that I was able to add so many images to it, and elaborate good ones, too! This character, "Charis," was either the mistress of a nobleman or a noblewoman herself. The story took place around 400 A.D. and the shiny silk fashions she wears are typical of a woman of high rank in that era. I based Charis on my fellow Brandeis student Karen. I lost contact with Karen after a few years and I have always wondered what became of her. How could I have made so many highly detailed small illustrations while holding down a whole set of college classes? Maybe because I wasn't wasting my time staring at the Facebook feed for hours? But I had a TV in my room and went out with friends, so all I can say is those were the days.

Ink and watercolor on sketchbook page, 5 1/2" x 8", February 1975.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Tropical Plant Color Doodle

I have an astounding number of markers. When visitors to my studio see them, they almost faint. How could one person have that many colors? Actually, markers are one of the least expensive means of making art, as long as you don't care about the colors fading. So wherever I turn, I can pick up a marker of any color and least something. I started with red here, and then went into dark green. I wasn't thinking of anything in particular but it turned into a tropical plant abstraction. No actual plants are represented here.

Markers on sketchbook page, 4" x 3 1/2", August 6, 2018.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Crescent Street Cambridge 1984

Artist's blurb: I lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts for 12 years during the 1980s. For most of those years I lived a very bohemian life in an old house just one street away from Harvard Divinity School. I worked on art commissions and book covers, sold art at science fiction conventions, and did a lot of sketching. I often drew the houses and trees of my picturesque urban neighborhood. 

This image is of backyards and fences on Crescent Street in Cambridge. The inkwork was done on site and it was colored in the studio. I love these old wooden houses and wish there were more of them to draw here in Metro DC. Many still exist but it is hard to find a spot to draw from.

Brown tech pen ink and watercolor, 5 1/2" x 8", August 22, 1984.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

What I Saw: Steampump

This fabulous assemblage was in the lower level of the rehab building where I spent my captive days. The lower level didn't have residents. It was where physical and occupational therapy was done. There was a pleasant little gym where I spent time exercising under supervision. When I saw this 3-D steampunk assembly by the elevator stop on the lower level, I knew I had to bring it to you. What was it, really? I was told that this was where the water and steam pressures for the whole building were regulated. I think I surprised my rehab keepers by my artistic behavior during my stay there.

iPhone, July 1, 2018.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Geometrikon Purple Butterfly Re-mix

You saw the purple butterfly geometrikon a few days ago. Here's the "re-mix" of it in marker enhanced with a Photoshop gradient background. I do love these colors together and you can find them in Nature in iris flowers.

Markers, with Photoshop added, 4 1/2" x 4", August 2018.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Muscleman 1975

I learned human exterior and muscle anatomy by buying and dissecting muscle magazines. I also copied and traced the models in their photographs. Even in the 1970s the bodybuilders were using steroids and other drugs to enhance their physiques. This guy came from one of these mags. I don't know his name but he wasn't famous. In 1975 Arnold Schwarzenegger won the "Mr. Olympia" bodybuilding championship for the sixth time in a row and by 1982 he was playing "Conan the Barbarian" in the movies. I still have some muscle mags collecting steroid-enhanced dust on my shelves.

Watercolor and ink on sketchbook page, 4" x 4", 1975.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

The Square Star

This is basically a Colorform with extra elements added, like the twirling webs of red and the switch of colors (the circles are supposed to be yellow). Every time I set up the five-inch black square background I have something new to say. Not that it's very important to say, but there, I've said it. Many of my musical friends can make something delightful or even deep by assembling pre-fabricated sounds into a composition. Why could I not do the same with graphic design elements.

Photoshop, 5" x 5", August 2, 2018.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Geometrikon Purple Butterfly

A butterfly shape isn't the most original of designs, but that's what happened in my tiny process. I'll leave the beautiful women with flowing hair to other artists. I actually like purple as a theme color. But you don't see it that often in arty paintings. Shall I try again with a more tasteful palette? 

Marker drawing, colored in with Photoshop, 4 1/2" x 4", August 1, 2018.