Thursday, February 28, 2019

Sleep Like a Baby

Heres the baby again, this time at about 3 months of age. She's dozing as babies do, not moving just long enough so that I can do this drawing. One tech pen sketch, another day of being an Auntie. Where is she now? She can't remember me because we never met.

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 5" x 5 ", March 24, 1990.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Brandeis Student in Dorm Room

At Brandeis University we studied hard but we were comfortable while doing it. This is a pencil sketch of a fellow student lying on her dorm bed. Her name was Marsha Matzkin and I drew her picture in February 1972. I never took formal studio art classes at Brandeis but I was constantly drawing, just like now. Marsha's information is available at the "LinkedIn" site. She became an accountant after her college years. 

Pencil on sketchbook page, 8 1/2" x 5 1/2", February 19, 1972.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Muted Colors of February

This page explores the quieter colors of winter's end (though I put it in the  "Autumn" section to go with the other Winding Road scenes). These are views of the back deck where you go to sit outside and enjoy wine and countryside. I especially like the pale greyish green at the bottom of the page. I am almost done with the individual winery pages and will be moving on to the cover soon. The cover will be more colorful, with a logo designed by my graphic artist friend Sue, at one time my co-worker at Trader Joe's.

Photoshop composite, 8 1/2" x 11", February 2019.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Interior of Wine Lodge

This page is a bit avant-garde for a winery piece, but a sip of wine should cure my unconventional concepts for the reader. The interior of the Amish-built lodge is warm golden knotty pine, just right for the rustic atmosphere we city folk need. The illusion of sunbeams lights up the space. 

Photoshop composite, 8 1/2" x 11", February 2019.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

March Again

I've always liked this sketch and so even though it was published here before I'm giving it a repeat showing. I first posted it on April 30, 2008 and that was more than ten years ago, so I'm entitled to a repeat. In the picture, done in March, the leaves aren't out yet. The location is behind the "Hole in the Wall" used book and comic book store. I'd like to do more drawings like this but as always in the city it's hard to get a space to park while I'm drawing, not to mention weather conditions. I always have my sketchbook with me no matter what.

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 4 1/2" x 3 1/4", March 19, 2003.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Winding Road title page done

And here it is, mostly finished, the title page for my feature on Winding Road Cellars. There are three others in the series, together in a set which is more or less the "sponsorship" of my book "Virginia Under Vine." They are not real sponsors, all expenses are mine, but I do get a free tasting of their currently available wines when I visit. The "winding" shape to the left of the lettering is their logo, to which I have added grape leaves to turn the road into a vine.

Photoshop composite, 8 1/2" x 11", February 2019.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Hawk and Fox

These creatures are in my back yard, along with many other bird and mammal species. There are red-shouldered hawks, one of which you see here, and foxes, one of which you see in the center. The snow is still on the ground and you can see the fox's "single file" tracks in the white. The hawks sometimes nest in a high tree trunk fork a short distance away, and I've seen them inspecting a place in their usual real estate area. This drawing was done from memory, but I see this view every day, and sometimes the wildlife too.

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 4 1/2" x 4 3/4", February 27, 2003.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Girls Only

Six months later, mom is still nursing her daughter while one of the family cats refuses to look on. The cat was obviously jealous that her hu-monn servants were paying so much attention to the pink hairless kitten. The baby's getting bigger. This was all the family life I could stand back in those days. I never saw the two sisters grown up.

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 4 1/2" x 7 1/2", June 10, 1990.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Winding Road in progress

I consider "Winding Road Cellars," in Markham, Virginia, to be my "base of operations" here in Northern Virginia. They are a small winery and will never be big or too profitable, despite the excellence of their wine. The image for today is a portrait of their wine lodge, which they commissioned from me. It's now hanging behind the counter in their tasting area. It's hard to believe that this winery is now more than five years old! I'm working the lodge image into a sub-title page introducing a longer feature on Winding Road.

Photoshop composite, 8 1/2" x 11", February 2019.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Kitchen Abstraction 1

Things tend to migrate around my kitchen and collect in corners. This is one of those corners. It's not only kitchen stuff though, it's a big ceramic cup with pens, tools, and pencils, coffee stuff, and a toilet paper core for any number of small spills. It's domestic non-arrangement. The number 1 suggests that I will probably commit many of these little arts over the rest of the year.

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 4" x 3", February 18, 2019.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Shenandoah Winescape

This landscape was drawn from memory in the summer of 2017. Now more than a year later I have enlarged it and done some Photoshoppery to make it consistent with the other pages on "Under Vine." This piece was drawn from memory but it is as accurate as I could make it, whether in the shapes of the hills or color matching. There are vines in the lower foreground. When I was satisfied with the reworking of the scene, I added the caption words. This piece will probably go somewhere in between winery pages since I am not naming any specific winery on it. I will probably do a bit more changing around but not much. It's nice to look at this while it is still winter.

Photoshop composite, about 9" x 11", February 2019.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Motherhood for Fans

Not many of my friends have children. There are two notable exceptions including this mom here, depicted nursing her baby all cozy in bed. You can see the baby's head in the center. She went on to have a sister for this one and as I said a few postings before, this girl here is all grown up. 

Most of my friends are science fiction fans and it was fun making up fannish analogies for all the events of reproduction and motherhood. But why so few children? Certainly I have never had any desire to breed. For the others, even if they were married, there were good reasons why, I think. Sometimes the would-be parents simply couldn't afford to raise a kid on a low or irregular income. That's one reason why my own parents only had one of me. Other folks were hindered by chronic physical conditions. And even more had intense jobs which took up their time and money and required frequent travel. 

One of the cruel things about our society even here in "modern" America is that childless married adults get pestered, even harassed by parents or relatives about not having children. It is an archaic notion that still persists and insensitive kin think they should automatically have kids. My experience with my child-free friends is that they make their own choices and it is none of anyone else's business. However, motherhood does make for sweet pictures.

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 5" x 4 1/2", March 18, 1990.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

At Pastry Xpo

I've been looking through my old sketchbooks from art school and my younger days in the 70s-90s. I did a lot of work in pencil which looks better than what I expected of it for student drawings. I depicted art model nudes, portraits of friends, and images of the world and people around me. So I've decided to pencil it up for a while to see if I can equal or surpass the sketches I did in those olden days. This guy was sitting by the wall in a lavish pastry shop and cafe I frequent, "Pastry XPo." My drawing pencil is simply one of those yellow Number 2 pencils you find wherever writing occurs.

Pencil on sketchbook page, 5" x 4 1/2", February 15, 2019.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Zephaniah Farm Vineyard

Zephaniah was, as the story they tell at the winery goes, a harbor boat captain in San Francisco. Three generations later, his descendants make wine in the "Napa Valley of the East," Virginia wine country. Zeph's place is a historic old house loaded with real antiques and glass wine tasting equipment. If you visit here it feels, as the cliche goes, just like home. With gardens and verdant views as well.

I'm getting toward the end of the pages and soon I will start on specialized pages and texts. "Winding Road" will be a 4-page collection and the cover will feature the "Honah Lee" winery and event area. 

Photoshop composite, 8 1/2" x 11", February 2019.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Balticon Pirate Costumer

I haven't been at Balticon for years now, ever since they moved it into the city where there is no room to move my artworks. But in the older days when it was in the suburbs, I would go and have a great time hanging out with my friends and watching the costumers. They were glad to have me sketch them and I have lots of them dating back to the 90s or even earlier. I just love drawing fashion and costume and I never get enough, except in the coffee shops. 

This swashbuckling young man was named Ian Blanton and he was living in Boston at the time, working as a computer operator (my comment: of course!). I wonder what became of him. 1990 was a long time ago.

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 5" x 8", April 14, 1990. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Two Views of Janine 1972

The only time I ever went to formal art school was at a Boston University summer session at Tanglewood, the famous arts center in western Massachusetts. This was in the summer of 1972. The session packed a whole year of art instruction and practice into two months. We B.U. students were housed in the dorms of an elite prep school with elements of "rehab." We drew from models every day and were encouraged to draw anything we saw using whatever medium we wanted to. 

This person is my roommate, Janine Sadler. She was from Amarillo, Texas and was a natural blonde, that is her hair actually came out of her head that way. I had rarely seen this coloration and I wanted to draw her to show it so here she is, two views of her. 

Janine had just had a romantic break-up with someone and she had replaced her ex with Jesus. A sort of low-content but high intensity Bible-worshiping Jesus fundamentalism was circulating around the art school and Janine was one of the instigators. I was going through my own spiritual issues being attracted to Catholicism and the fundamentalism disturbed me greatly, not knowing which of these was the "true" Christianity. It would take years before I decided that neither of them was it alone.

Pencil on sketchbook page, 5" x 7 1/2", summer 1972.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Zoroastrian Fire Ceremony

From 1993 till about 2001 I did an in-depth study of the ancient and still-living religion of Persia, Zoroastrianism. There aren't that many left, a few hundred thousand or so. They are the descendants of the first monotheistic religion. In the Middle Ages, Zoroastrian communities fled persecution in Persia and settled in India, near Mumbai. These monotheists are known as "Parsees." Some Zoroastrians still remain in Iran. From India, Parsees have emigrated all over the world. The famous rock star "Freddy Mercury" was actually Farrokh Bulsara, a Parsee whose family had settled in east Africa.

I traveled in the USA and Canada visiting Zoroastrian families and places of worship. I also went to conferences, meeting in person with the scholars and priests whose books and lectures I studied. This drawing was done at a conference in Massachusetts, conveniently close to my own parents' house. The event is a fire ceremony called a "jashan," in which priests chant ancient Persian texts and honor the fire with incense and sandalwood. The flame is at the center. Zoroastrianism uses a well-kept fire as the symbol of the One God, a symbol which attracted me to the religion in the first place. Around the fire are four Parsee priests, all clad in white which means purity. They wear white masks on their faces to symbolize not breathing impure air onto the fire. They hold the books of the Avesta, the scripture of the religion, in their hands when they chant.

I spent as much time as I needed with the Zoroastrians, and after a while I moved away from them, leaving the promotion of their religion to their own folk. And after 2000, I moved toward mathematics and physics, after a visit to the great particle accelerator Fermilab. It would be another form of sacred fire.

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 5" x 7 1/2", November 15, 1997.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Geometrikon Exomoon

An "Exomoon" is a rather new astronomical term for a moon that circles an exoplanet. It's a part of a solar system far away from Earth, detected by equipment and telescopes which are able to catch infinitesimal variations that tell us that a star has planets of its own. Now we know that these foreign planets have moons just like the ones in our own solar system. Well, not just like them, but after seeing what space probes have told us, exomoons might look a lot like our moons and even variant planets. We aren't going to get there to find out for sure, but the upcoming space telescopes planned for launch or establishment on Earth should show something that looks like the spheres of rock and ice we have already seen, or gas giants like Jupiter or Saturn. This is why ultimately other solar systems will remain unvisited by any human being except artists.

Black marker ink framework drawing, colored in Photoshop, 7 1/4" x 2", February 11, 2019.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Digging out the cars

Here in February we haven't had too much snow. Back in earlier Februaries we were buried in snow on many occasions, including this one. What was called the "Great Blizzard of 2003" was no greater than the later February's "Snowmageddon" in 2010. There's plenty of time for more snow and I hate every flake of it. In this drawing I depict my neighbors digging their cars out from the drifts. I am on the second floor with my sketchbook not helping them or digging my car out, since I don't need it as I work on my art at home. The neighbors finally persuaded me to free my car so that the piled snow could be removed. You can see how much snow fell by the thickness of the slab on the roof of my old Honda CRV.

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 4 1/2" x 5", February 18, 2003.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Coffeehouse Tresses

Coffee houses are great for people watching and people-drawing, as they have been for centuries. "Caffe Amouri," a college-style indie coffee haven in Vienna, Virginia, has plenty of quality coffee and people. The young lady I drew from behind had beautiful long blonde hair which I was glad to illustrate. The chairs, tables, and other furnishings in the older sitting room are all different and in rather rickety condition.

Sepia brown tech pen on sketchbook page, 4 1/2" x 7", February 8, 2019.

Friday, February 8, 2019

What I Saw: The Steel Owl

It's in my home and I use it every day. How could I miss it staring at me in the doorway? There are live owls in the back yard and a steel owl at the threshold.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Colorforms 12: The Gray Horizon

I haven't  played "Colorforms" for a while so here's one. This one is called "The Gray Horizon" which was my original name for a long piece of ambient music improvised in one take by a musician friend of mine. I haven't deviated from the rules extensively: you get four of each color in their traditional shapes, and a black background with added theme elements. The big red triangle represents the Citgo sign in Boston right behind Fenway Park. Its red is darker than the original spectrum red. It could be my solution to, uh, how to fill the space and not overwhelm it with red triangle-ness. Yeah, and making these color, shape, and compositional decisions is just as easy, and irrational, as Pi.

Photoshop, 5" x 5", February 6, 2019.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Born in 1990

This newborn baby girl is the daughter of someone who was a friend of mine a long time ago. I'm not naming any names as is my practice. Back in the 1980s and 1990s some of my friends had children and I helped raise them as a voluntary Artist Auntie. This one was born in January 1990 and I drew many pictures of her in my sketchbook. I am no longer in contact with her family due to political issues but she would be 29 now, well out of college and working somewhere. My drawings survive where the friendship did not.

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 5" x 5", January 11, 1990.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Concrete Blessing

At Rappahannock Cellars there is a concrete molded statue of Jesus holding the "Sacred Heart" in front of a storage barn. He, or what he represents, provides protection for the materials and infrastructure of the winery. In my drawing you can see some rows of vines and a wire fence. Nobody at the winery preaches or tries to convert you, it's just a pleasant point in the sunlight of the space. I am trying to suggest the summer days where humidity and mist change the colors of the land to pale, faded air sketches.

Photoshop composite, 8 1/2" x 11", February 2019.

Monday, February 4, 2019

The Last Sheet

You don't want to see this in the bathroom after you have sat down. What is it? It is the remains of a roll of toilet paper with one sheet, or part of a sheet, still there. The Still Life Item sat there, its light papery form fluttering in the warm air from the heater, and I found it more interesting visually than all those books. Fortunately I am well-supplied with the white necessity, in case more whiteness falls from the sky to keep me inside.

Sepia brown tech pen on sketchbook page, 3" x 3 1/2", February 3, 2019.

Congratulations Patriots!

Sunday, February 3, 2019

No Shadow

Spring is coming soon! That's the message I saw when I witnessed by live video stream the presentation of the Groundhog. The February classic, known to Pagans as "Imbolc," is the time for animals to come out of their lairs and start thinking about family matters, or to give birth to little ones. The bewildered beast was surrounded by the Pseudo-Masonic Gentlemen in top hats and frock coats. They brushed the straw and dust off of old Pete and lifted him high, revealing no shadow, confirmed by a little mystic scroll "chosen by Pete" and opened by the Gentleman. You can only spell "Punxsutawney" correctly if you are from Pennsylvania. I am not from Pennsylvania. If I spell it correctly, it means spring is coming soon.

Sepia and black tech pens on sketchbook page, 2 1/2" x 2 1/2", February 3, 2019.


Saturday, February 2, 2019

Coffee Table Crafts

You can do your craftwork on a coffee house table, as long as it doesn't make a mess, make noise, or take up too much space from the other sippers. Here we see my rendering of my friend's craft project in progress at the upper level. It will be an elaborate quilted coat that actually sparkles with tiny lights. The drawing on the lower level is the remains of my snack and coffee cup. Sketching is my "craft" so it doesn't intrude at all. 

Sepia brown tech pen on sketchbook page, 5" x 8", February 1, 2019.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Golden September

By September most of the grapes are off the vine, and fermenting is in progress. If you are in the right place, you can smell the aroma of wine wafting through the air near wineries. Golden green tints the vine leaves, soon to be shed in autumn. The light is the pale gold color of Chardonnay. You don't have to hide from the elements yet; you can drink them.

Photoshop composite, January 2019.