Friday, November 30, 2018

20 Years Ago DarkoverCon

Back in 1998 DarkoverCon was an active, happening convention which attracted hundreds of people as well as well-known authors and artists. Even though she was in poor health, Marion Zimmer Bradley managed to attend this convention (she died in 1999). Instead of the vast emptiness I saw last weekend, the atrium was filled with dealers, Christmas decorations, and people. The hotel has been through a few changes of ownership, and there is less and less quality with each round. The same is true of the convention, now called "Chessiecon." There is talk of 2019 being the last performance of this venerable event. I think maybe it's time.

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 8" x 6 1/2", November 28, 1998.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Wine and Wood

Here's a nearly monochrome page from VuV. There is similar woodwork in many of the wine lodges I visit. I love the interaction of angles and diagonals. Some of it looks like abstract architectural studies, almost Escher-like in its complexity. I don't always capture it when I try. These three are some of my successes.

Photoshop composite, 8 1/2" x 11", November 2018.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Chessiecon Jumbled Chairs

The hangar-like atrium of the "Red Lion Inn" convention hotel also doubled as a social area. When the con was over, the staff gathered up the armchairs from the social area into a geometrically interesting cluster. There was at least one of these armchairs in each room and I imagined a hundred of them arranged in regiments of comfy-ness. There is one little person in this drawing and when he left, it was time to go home.

Sepia tech pen on sketchbook page, 5" x 6", November 25, 2018.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Picasso at Chessiecon

Chessiecon is over, and I am back home facing a large amount of domestic tasks. I have 8 loads of laundry to do. I am considering hiring housecleaners for another round, but they don't do laundry. Nevertheless every little bit that I can remove from my house is worthwhile.
Chessie was fun and I was glad to see my friends and spend time talking and dining and sipping wine at Salon Pyracantha, my annual party at the convention. I managed to make two sketches and here's  one. One of the nicest things about Chessiecon is that there's a lot of live music playing, usually Celtic folk and a bit of bluegrass. I sketched two musicians here playing in the large hotel atrium. I based the idea on a famous Cubist piece by Picasso, the "Three Musicians." 

Sepia tech pen on sketchbook page, 4 1/2" x 3 1/2", November 23, 2018.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Fred the Cat Guest resident

Over the years my friends and relatives would deposit their cats with me for safekeeping while they were out of town or on vacation. I had plenty of cats to draw so I am more familiar with them than with other animals. This is "Fred," who was my guest in 1982. His coat was colored in patches of orange and white. Fred was known for his sense of humor and goofy nature, which always made me laugh, but was glad to see his real persons when they returned.

Black tech pen ink on sketchbook page, 5 1/2" x 5", 1982.

The By-Product will be on a short hiatus for Chessiecon and the Thanksgiving holiday, and I hope to be back next week. Happy Thanksgiving to Americans celebrating. Give your cats some love for me.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Hammerstone Wine Lodge

This drawing, despite being from a photograph, was quite difficult to do. I have only visited Hammerstone Cellars once. Their vineyard and lodge was hidden away in a primeval forest and I got lost trying to find them. Now their website says they are "closed for the season" which is an odd time to be closed. Maybe they have shut down for improving or re-starting their operations. This building was recently built when I visited but I didn't have enough time to draw it on site. I think I'll keep the drawing in reserve for now.

Sepia tech pen on sketchbook page, 7" x 6", from a 2017 photo, November 20, 2018. Some white-out and Photoshop touch-up.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

20 Years Ago Hair Salon

It was 20 years ago today... on November 20...that I had my hair done at my usual place in Falls Church, Virginia. Interestingly (is that a word?) I will also be having my hair done today. 1998 to 2018. The difference? I will be going to another hair salon run by different people. This will be the first time in years since I did this. I just feel I need a change of personnel in the hair department. My hair has two colors, red and gold, each one a separate dye job. A new salon has just opened only a few blocks from my home. The old salon has re-located three times, each one getting harder to drive to on complex heavy traffic roads. Let's see what happens with my new cut and color job. If I don't like it I can always go back to the older one. If I do like the new do, then I will face the difficult task of telling them that I won't be using their service any more. Or else I can contrive to have both salons work on me, so I can still see my old hair friends.

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 8" x 6", November 20, 1998.

Note on hair salon November 21: The new salon did a great job on my hair but it was very expensive so I think I will stay with my old friends and their good work.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Stone Tower Winery Summer

Here is the more or less finished page for the "Stone Tower" winery. I thought of adding the grey on the horizon rather than the humid green, but decided not to. These drawings are rather old (2014) given the 5-year length of the wine project. I asked the winery folks whether they had a real stone tower someplace but they said no, they would be building one someday. From the website, I don't see any newly built stone tower. If they do build it, I would certainly draw a sketch of it.

Photoshop composite, 8 1/2" x 11", November 2018.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Humid Background

This is one of the backgrounds I am using for my "Summer" section of "Under Vine." I am trying to evoke the feeling of humidity, soft air, and approaching storm that is so much a part of my favorite season. I have another version which I am using on one of the vineyard pages. I want you to hear the sound of distant thunder.

Photoshop, 8 1/2" x 11", November 2018.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

20 Years ago Today: Bookstore conversation

In 1998, the Internet didn't dominate our lives. Only geeky people had it, where they discussed their own little thoughts in their own little cyberworld. There was such a thing as books, bound sheafs of paper which were sold in bookstores like the one depicted above. Now, when every nutcase, conspiracy theory fan, moron, hater, and politician has access to the cyberworld, there are still books but who reads them? City dwellers in their teeming moderate multitudes, I guess, that is, people like me. Here are two guys having a conversation in a Borders Bookstore that is long gone. Perhaps the guys are, too. 

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 8 1/2" x 6 1/2", November 16, 1998.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Winery 32 Colors of Wineworld

I was concerned that my VuV pages were getting a bit dull and colorless so I spiced up my "Winery 32" page with digital color. The deck umbrellas were this illuminated light of orange when I drew them. The logo at the lower right isn't really from Winery 32 but it certainly could be. The "32" in the winery name stands for 32 acres, 32 years married, and 32 peach trees in their orchard entrance. I couldn't fit that all in though. "Under Vine" in general has less text on the pages than its paradisiac predecessor.

Photoshop composite with a drawing from 2014.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Autumn Trees Mini Sketch

I have a new sketchbook journal which is much smaller than the one I've been using. Its pages are thick and easy to work with no matter what medium, including markers. This is a mini marker sketch from memory depicting the changing colors of Autumn and the 2018 theme clouds. Why a smaller journal? If I got one in my standard sketchbook size of 8 1/2" x 11" I wouldn't fill it up. I only need two months' worth of sketchery. 

Markers, 5" x 3", November 2018.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

868 Winery

Some wineries have numbers instead of names. "868" is one of them. This lavish spread in the countryside has historic and new-built edifices as well as acres of vineyards and a restaurant. I did the original art outdoors in worsening weather and by the time I had finished the sketch, it had started to rain. With this "Under Vine" page I decided to portray the inclement weather as well as their landscaping, with colors darkened on a gray day. I didn't get to eat in the restaurant, though. Maybe next time on a drier day. All of these wine establishments are an hour or more's drive from my residence so the logistics of wining and on-site drawing are sometimes quite difficult.

I think I'm doing quite well turning out these page designs but still I won't have the book till early 2019.

Photoshop composite, many image layers, 8 1/2" x 11", November 2018.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

More Otium

Here we are at Otium Cellars again, with foliage in just the right color for a cloudy summer day in Wine Country. If you look closely, you can see the image of a horse at the fence. Otium is run by a German family who raise grapes not usually grown in the USA. These German varieties are Dornfelder and Blaufrankisch, and they are rich dark red, unlike the common Riesling of Germany. The riding ring and stable is next to the tasting room and if you're lucky you can see someone practicing dressage, or "horse ballet."

Photoshop composite, 8 1/2" x 11", November 2018.

Monday, November 12, 2018

20 Years Ago Paradise Sushi

In 1998, there was a small Asian restaurant in the shopping center where I would later work as a Trader Joe's artist. It was called "Paradise Sushi" and it was truly a bit of paradise. Someone had painted murals of beaches and beach people on the walls and the main table had a shade umbrella over it, even though it was indoors at a window and had no sunlight. I would eat there once or twice a week. I love sushi, a treat I had never known before coming to the DC area. They had other simple Asian dishes as well such as teriyaki chicken and donburi fried pork. I loved this place and I was greatly disappointed when it closed. Its space is still occupied by a restaurant but it has a reputation for being unclean and I have never eaten there. Paradise Lost I guess.

Interior of Paradise Sushi is tech pen on sketchbook page, 8" x 6", November 11, 1998.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Maggie Malick's Wine Tunnel

This half-buried bunker is actually a wine-making and wine-tasting room for "Maggie Malick's Wine Caves" winery. It was built to keep the wine in a protected environment while it ferments. The top and sides are earth-sheltered and planted with grass. The tasting room is inside as you can see, with the barrels on the left. Maggie herself will gladly pour you a tasting. If you want to sit down and sip, you go through the tunnel and out onto an open-roofed deck where you can enjoy good weather and wine outside.

Photoshop composition for "Virginia Under Vine."

Saturday, November 10, 2018

20 Years Ago Today CVS Building

In late 1998 they were just finishing with this building, a CVS pharmacy which is still going now. It has undergone some much-needed renovation recently and I shop there all the time. They have a very good selection of protein and energy bars. When you finish shopping and pay they hand you a ribbon of coupons 6 feet long. I did this drawing sitting in my car in the parking lot.

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 8" x 6", November 9, 1998.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Another page for 50 West

I wanted this composition to look like watercolor, though I haven't used watercolor in any of my on-site winery sketches. The blue border is added on in Photoshop, as is the blend into grassy tan. I am thinking of getting a new iPad to do on-site sketching, as my current version is kind of unworkable due to obsolescence. One of my problems with that, though, is that there is no Photoshop for the iPad so I'd have to use a whole new system designed for iPad such as "Procreate" or "Autodesk." Another problem with the iPad is that the screen is very shiny and reflects the sky if you are outdoors. My Cintiq, currently dormant on my studio table, needs an upgrade. I've never used it outdoors or on site due to some of the same problems as with iPad, also the Cintiq is rather heavy. Well rather than ramble on about this I might as well try it again since it runs Photoshop. OK you can wake up now.

Photoshop composite, November 2018.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Dad in the kitchen

In 1998 I made an unusual amount of sketches in many notebooks. Towards the end of that year I did a series dedicated to drawing the mundane environment of my life, my friends, their houses, and street scenes. I did one almost every day in a sketch notebook that combined lines for writing with an unmarked section for art. This was the entry for November 7. It shows the husband of a friend of mine, poring over some printed paper documents in their kitchen. Twenty years ago today, as the Beatles might say.

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 8" x 6", November 7, 1998.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Flaming Political Sunset

I voted for this fabulous sunset, seen over the polling place in Northern Virginia. iPhone photo.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Aspen Dale Winery Cloudy Day

I don't often see landscapes with cloudy overcast skies, but here at Aspen Dale all weather is welcome. These views were done from the wine lodge, looking back to the barn and its silo. The Aspen Dale "campus" is filled with heritage buildings, many of them still in use. The place also hosts many different barnyard animals including miniature horses. I often declare Aspen Dale to be the most picturesque winery in Northern Virginia.

Photoshop composite, 8 1/2" x 11", November 2018.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Cats of 1984

As I've said recently, I can draw cats. (In Internetspeek, "I can drawz katz.") These two were on separate pages and drawn at different times in the year 1984, but I combined the drawings with the marvels of Photoshop. The cat on the top is "Marble," small but fierce with a gray stripe and swirled coat. She may have been part Siamese. The feline on the bottom is "Rabbit," so called because she could sit on her hind legs and hold her front paws up, the way rabbits do. She was a gray striped cat too. These cats were guests in my house at various times and have long since passed into blessed memory.

Black ink on sketchbook page, combined drawings about 4" x 4 1/2", 1984.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Old Barn at Aspen Dale draw

It was Saturday, but I didn't go wining. I worked on "Under Vine" instead. I produced this drawing of one of Aspen Dale winery's barns. This is an unusual drawing for me, the result of an experiment. Usually I try to draw my winery and its details directly from the site, when I'm there drinking wine. I want to avoid photographs although I work from them when I need to have a good reference. I think that drawings from photographs can sometimes look too precise. This time I used my computer screen with my reference photo on it. I put my drawing stuff on my computer desk in front of the screen and used a simple desk lamp for lighting. I think it came out quite nicely. I know that other artists especially commercial artists draw from the screen, but I've never done it before.

Tristan, I'm glad you're still reading the By-Product! I visit yours regularly. As to your suggestion about another collection book of my artwork, I am definitely considering making one or two with my best art in it. Darkover has copyright issues with the Marion Zimmer Bradley estate. But my own art is all copyright to me. What do you and other readers think of a book of my "Geometrika," or geometric abstractions that you've seen here? It would be very bright and colorful. I don't know whether it would have words or not. Also possible is a "Best Of" with all my favorites and major works in it. That would be a big, expensive project.

Drawing of barn is sepia tech pen on sketchbook page, 5 1/2" x 5", November 3, 2018.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Arterra Winery Spring

Even though I've pushed my deadline back a few months, I'm still working on "Virginia Under Vine." This is the last of the seasonal pages and the only one that uses a different typeface on the header text. I don't think my readers and collectors will mind. Arterra is one of my favorite wineries. It is hidden away in the forest and the last time my friends and I went there, I saw a wild turkey wander by. The "marriage of fine wine and fine art" alludes to the owners, a married pair named Jason and Sandy. Jason is the winemaker and Sandy is an artist who makes beautiful ceramic artifacts based on grape leaves. Her kiln is right there in the tasting room.

Photoshop composite, 8 1/2" x 11", November 2018.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Popcorn cat in window

As longtime By-Product readers may remember, I did many sketches of cats, from viewing the real cat. I'm pretty good at drawing cats, especially if I have a real live one with me. I've been going through old sketchbooks and have found quite a bunch of my cousins' cat, "Popcorn," who I hosted in my house when the cousins were doing a cross-country road trip. Most of these you've seen but here's another one. He liked to sit in the windowsill, so the caption says, "'Popcorn,' Lord of the Windows, July 1984."

Ink on sketchbook page, 5 1/2" x 8 1/2", July 1984.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Disappointing Vines

I am feeling disappointed this November. I have been working very hard on creating the images and text for "Virginia Under Vine" as you can see from the last month's postings here. But I have come to the realization that I will have to delay the release to spring of next year as I simply do not have enough material to make a decent-sized book. Also, I was hoping to work on it all summer but my surgery and hospital stay took two months out of my life. I need to make more art. Since this involves going to wineries, that isn't such a burden though the logistics are always somewhat difficult. I also want to do more interviewing with the winemakers for the text pages. I wouldn't feel right rushing to release. I'll assemble the ones I already have and see what I can do when. You've already seen the drawing above, it's suitably "seasonal" but it is dated 2014 which feels like an age ago.

Ink, colored by Photoshop, October 12, 2014.