Sunday, March 31, 2019

Ample Model 1972

Artists love "plus size" models because there is more of them to draw. And their curves make nice designs. I have worked with models who were thin and others who were ample, and have done all right with either of them. I didn't draw anything today. This was done sometime in 1972, at my mother's life drawing group.

Pencil on sketchbook page, 7" x 4", 1972. Some cleaning up with Photoshop.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Wine Words

This one has lots of words, perhaps too many, but it is something that is common in winery-talk. Each winery picks its own descriptive words, such as "Delaplane Cellars," or "Casanel Vineyards," or "Stone Tower Winery," or "Arterra Wines." But why? Isn't a vineyard also a winery? Don't they store their wine in cellars? What's the difference? I've asked many a wine professional this question, and at least here in Virginia, they say that the terms have lost their specific meaning so that any place can be called any winey-type name. However I've found that many of the wineries do qualify as "vineyard," "winery," or "cellars." There really is a wine cellar underneath Winding Road Cellars's wine lodge. And the most exclusive of wineries are "estate" wineries, where every grape they use is grown at the site. The best answer to the naming question? Here, have a tasting, no matter what it's called.

Photoshop composite, March 2019.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Effingham winery smokehouse

I went wining this last Sunday, March 24, and started a drawing but did not finish it until the night of March 28-9. The little pyramidal building is a smokehouse, where meats were hung up to cook and preserve. Effingham Winery is in a historic place and features an elegant, beautifully restored 18th century estate manor. This place is definitely a return destination, especially in warmer weather when I can draw the interesting outbuildings on the site.

Sepia tech pen and light sepia markers on sketchbook page, 4 1/2" x 7", March 2019.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Sunset Coffee Jar

The "Drawing of the Day" was Sunset, in a big glass jar. The original contents were powdered coffee for my simple drip brewer cone. "Sunset" is Caffe Amouri's decaffeinated blend so I can quaff without suffering a reaction. I will re-fill the jar so that sunset can continue. 

Sepia brown tech pen on sketchbook page, 5" x 4", March 28, 2019.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Life Drawing 1972

Back with the art club life drawing from the model. I did a mix of drawings and details but nothing complete, because that's "artistic" you know. Also I added in some attempts with an ink pen doing some pseudo-Picasso drawing. I could probably do something like this again if I had a model to work from.

Pencil and ink on sketchbook page, 5" x 8", fall 1972.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Falls Church March 1998

This is downtown Falls Church, 21 years ago. It was a dreary day just after the Spring Equinox, around the same time of year as now. The main road is Route 7, Leesburg Pike. A lot has changed since I did this outdoor sketch. Old stores and office buildings have been demolished and replaced, and just recently more shabby old commercial buildings have been leveled in preparation for a big apartment and retail block. Driving through this area is a mess and will be for some time. You can also see the reddish color of maple blossoms which appear at this time to spread their noxious pollen into my environment.

Ink, marker, and colored pencils on sketchbook page, 7" x 3 1/2", March 22, 1998. Some restoration in Photoshop.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Bite Me Apple

These apples were on my kitchen table, which seems to have become the main model station in "Still Life 2019." But it looks like they don't co-exist too well and one of them is about to take a bite out of the other. Still life isn't really very still, then. The fruits and flowers and crockery  fight a secret battle which the artist only wins by depicting them, and if comestible, eating them.

Sepia brown tech pen on sketchbook page, 4" x 2 1/2", March 23, 2019.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Grapevine Logo March 2019

I sold a copy of my first winery art book, "The Earthly Paradise," and as is the custom, I added a small drawing to the front liner page. I scanned it and saved it, and it will show up in Volume 2, "Virginia Under Vine." My mild apologies for taking so long in the making of "Under Vine" but I am getting toward the end of the artistic and graphic phase of the project. No exact predictions yet.

Black tech pen on book page, 2" x 6", March 23, 2019.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

NoRuz 1998 Persian New Year

Despite the ice falling from the sky in my area, it is Springtime and the season began on March 20. March 21 and the Spring Equinox is designated as "NoRuz," the Persian New Year. I made sketches of NoRuz ceremonies during my time with the Zoroastrians of the Indian Parsi and Iranian diaspora and this was my Equinox sketch for 1998. The traditional "NoRuz table" is laid out in homes and restaurants and displays abundant flowers, a variety of symbolic fruits and sweets as well as coins (symbolizing prosperity), candles, and a book of the Avesta, the Zoroastrian holy scriptures. In the center is a metal urn for the sacred fire, which is kindled on a dish set on the urn's edge.

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 8" x 5", March 21, 1998.

Friday, March 22, 2019

My Mother's Studio

My mother Esther Geller was an artist, which is why I am an artist. She taught me most of what I know about making art, all the technical material you learn in art school. She taught me about art materials, color, composition, texture, drawing, and essential things about managing your art space. The drawing above is of my mother's art studio in Natick, Massachusetts where she worked from 1990 to 2001. I found the geometries of the items in the space to be fascinating. You can see framed and wall-mounted finished art pieces, salvaged metal desks, a door opening to a storage space, and a bin full of mounted prints. A big picture hangs on the wall. I spent many hours in my mother's studio over the years, learning about art just by being there.

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 5" x 8", December 29, 1997.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Iraq War Begins 2003

Around this time in 2003, the Iraq War began. The city of Baghdad was bombed and set to flames, and the USA and its allies attacked in the hope of finding "weapons of mass destruction" and the dictator Saddam Hussein. This drawing, done from memory and magazine photos, depicts the recently built Mosque of Al-Qura, with the smoke and flames from the city in the background. This was 16 years ago, and although the active phase of the war is paused, a seemingly endless struggle to impose order on the Middle East continues. I will never forget the night the war started, as we watched on television as fire and destruction poured down on the faraway city.

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 4" x 4 1/2", March 26, 2003.

And to anyone still reading this, a happy Spring Equinox and happy NoRuz, Persian new year.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Cybermen of Peet's Coffee

These gentlemen are doing something which is now common all over the developed world (and in some less "developed" places as well). They are using the coffeehouse WiFi to do work or some other computery task. The coffee house provides not only WiFi, beverages, and snacks, but comfy chairs for the consumers to sit in. They could be preparing their taxes, or plotting to overthrow the government, and I'll never know. Somehow, coffee house people are always fun to draw.

Sepia tech pen on sketchbook page, 4 1/2" x 4 1/2", March 19, 2019.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Eternal Sparkling Water

I consume a lot of sparkling water. I like it plain with no flavorings, just bubbles. I got my taste for this when I lived in Italy and sampled the mineral waters in every town I visited. In the USA I relied on Poland Spring for many years but then the supply, so to speak, dried up and was no longer sold here in MidAtlantica. Club soda and other sparklers don't cut it because they have sodium added. Just recently I discovered a brand of sparkling water that is just as nice as my old Poland but is twice as expensive. The new brand, sold at CVS, is "Eternal" and its marketing is probably worth that extra dollar. "Eternal" comes from the Shasta Trinity Alps in California (where the Secret Masters live) and has a dormant volcano on its label and is sodium-free. The bottle is pretty and it evokes, well, an eternity of the water of life sparkling in the heavenly sky. The water is as eternal as I might want, as every molecule of this cosmic H2O will pass through the systems of Earth and eventually dry away into the waning Universe until its atoms decay into the void. So drink up, and be eternal. Just don't take a bite of that apple lurking in the darkness....

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, some Photoshop white-out, 3" x 5", March 18, 2019.

Monday, March 18, 2019

More Brandeis Bushy Haired Guy

Here he is again, the bushy-haired Brandeis student posing as an unofficial art model. I don't remember this drawing session at all, but it had to be during one of the warm months since he's outdoors. They don't wear pants like that nowadays, true enough. 

Pencil on sketchbook page, 5" x 8", spring 1972.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Customer and Pastries

I warned the customer over my Starbucks iced latte, if she stands there any longer, I will draw her. She prudently moved out of the way, but not before admiring but not buying any pastries. I never knew a simple pastry display stand could be so interesting. Not because of the sweets, but because of its futuristic, Jetsons-style floating disc on an anti-gravity pedestal. I drew her anyway.

Sepia tech pen on sketchbook page, 5" x 4", March 16, 2019.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

On the same page

This odd drawing needs explanation. What is it? Look closely and you'll see two views of the same guy, and the top one is superimposed on the lower one. No paper layering or cut and paste was done, I just drew him twice with the newer sketch taking the place of the guy's head. The model was a now-forgotten student or fellow artist with a bushy hairdo, at some outdoor event, as you can see from the sketchy trees and grass. Yes, you can draw anything, even twice on the same page.

Pencil on sketchbook page, 5" x 8", some photoshop touch-up, 1972.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Coffee People March 2019

There are always coffee people to draw, inside the cozy shop. And you watch them too, just like birds. The little girl at upper left was well-behaved enough, until she exploded in a screaming tantrum and her mom had to take her outside. The gentleman had a nice red jacket on, a chance to be colorful. And at right I call the lovely ladies of the computer "Machine Damsels." I always wonder what they are working on. My suspicions, sometimes confirmed by peeking, are business, studies, languages, statistics, and occasionally personal material.

Photoshop composite, sepia tech pen, March 2019.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Winter Twilight at Winding Road

This scene at Winding Road Cellars is my choice for the last vineyard picture page in "Under Vine." It was done on my iPad in early 2016 as part of the "Growth of a Vineyard" series. The top half is empty because I will be putting writing on it. After this set is done, I will create the other text pages and the front and back covers. There's still a lot to be done.

The By-Product thanks Rachel and Jim for their support of this blog and all those vineyard visits.

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

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Ballerina Art Model 1972

Our models at the art club came from a wide range of occupations. This graceful lady, whose name was "Nellie," was a ballet dancer. You can see from her pointed foot that this was her trained way of moving. She worked with us many times but we never saw her perform in ballet garb.

Pencil on sketchbook page, 8" x 6", lots of touching up in Photoshop, 1972.

A special note to readers, if there are any: This week in March marks the 11th anniversary of this Blog. With some interruptions, I've been blogging away for more than a decade. I don't know whether anyone reads this any more but I hope to continue bringing you an art a day, whether newly produced or vintage. There is always the chance that I will run out of output, but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

If there's anyone reading this, could you post here or on Facebook that you saw "Art By-Products." Pyracantha wants to know.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Abstractified Art Model 1972

Every artist who wants to make a career of it must do life drawing. You need to do as much as possible because this is the best way of learning to draw people. There are lots of ways to learn figure drawing and one of them is to make the drawing somewhat abstract so that the artist can learn to simplify before getting really detailed. This one is a simplified figure drawn from life. As I explained earlier, my mother belonged to an art group which pooled their funds and hired a model in a room at (of all places!) a church. I joined in when I had the time. Art models are hard to find these days outside of art schools or art departments in universities.
But with a sketchbook handy, anyone (wearing clothes) can be a model for you, as long as you are quiet about it.

Pencil on sketchbook page, 4" x 8", 1972.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Owly Bird Details

The Barred Owls are hooting in the trees outside my windows and they have a nest somewhere. You won't see them because it's, uh, owly night time and if by day, owly camouflage against the trees so you can't find them. One winter many years ago I saw the drama of a man shoveling snow and awakening a Barred Owl roosting during the day. The annoyed bird flew away quickly and found a place to perch, then slowly went back to owly sleep, just like me. This image is not a wildlife portrait, it's just a study in bird textures.

Black tech pen ink on smudgy sketchbook page, 4 1/2" x 1 1/2", March 10, 2019.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Another Kitchen Bit

You've been here before, and I'm here every day. Kitchen bits! It's a tiny illustration, but it is current and not from vintage sketchbooks. Here we have a plastic rice cooker, dishes and plastic tops, a small coffee mug, and the orange plastic thing which is a laundry detergent dispenser, a fabulous bit of 1970s design which I saved from the old house. Plastics!

Sepia brown tech pen on sketchbook page, color added in Photoshop, 3 1/2" x 1", March 9, 2019.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Artist as Model

This practical-looking dame on the sofa is my mother's best friend and fellow artist. Her name was Cleo and my mom and she had been friends, at the time of the drawing here, for over fifty years. We were at a regular drawing group session when I drew this. Every so often the art model does not show up so when this  happened we ended up posing for each other (with clothes on.). The original drawing here was rather faint as it was done using a hard drawing pencil with a light line. But a bit of Photoshop improves things greatly. It can even turn back the clock. I was 19 when I drew this and Cleo was in her 50s. Cleo died last year at the age of 98.

Pencil on sketchbook page, 5" x 7", autumn 1972.

Thursday, March 7, 2019


A Nudibranch is also called a "sea slug" and it lives in the ocean all over the world. Its species shows  an amazing variety of designs and brilliant colors. They are not very big and cannot be kept as pets as they don't survive in captivity. If you want to see Nature's creativity (or God's creativity, if you wish), take a look at the wonderful color and design of these creatures. With the nudibranches, it is always Carnival. The image shown here is not a real nudibranch, just a doodle inspired by them.

Ink wire-frame drawing, colored in Photoshop, 2 1/2" x 2", March 7, 2019.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Good Habit

I was already seriously into Catholicism in my first year at Brandeis, 1971. I joined the only Catholic special interest group at the Jewish school, and made many friends including the Catholic chaplain, who was bemused by me and my behavior. It would be difficult for him if a Brandeisian of Jewish background converted to Catholic Christianity! But lots of professional Catholics - priests, Sisters, monks, Jesuits, theologians visited our group and gave talks. This robed Friar was a Franciscan who was one of the visitors. He was in seminary, not a priest yet, but he had his official brown Franciscan Friar robe which he brought to show us - at my request, my being such a costume and garb fan. He said his group didn't wear the robe all the time, usually they just wore ordinary clothes. But he put on the habit long enough for me to draw his portrait. I wonder what became of him.

Colored pencil on sketchbook page, 5" x 8", autumn 1971. Click for larger view.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Little Monster Doodle

It's tiny but it fits in a sketchbook journal page in between text blocks. Never let graphic design get in the way of your self-expression such as it is. This little monster (in gray) is inspired by various neo-Lovecraftian concepts and it is also a trial of "clear line" comic book art and Photoshop coloring. There are more on the page to create and they will also be colored in Photoshop, then re-mixed with colored pencil.

Black tech pen line drawing on sketchbook page, colored in Photoshop, 1 1/2" x 3 1/2", March 5, 2019.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Hottenroth Costume Book Find

It is back to 1972 and I am at the Boston University summer school program in Tanglewood, the famous arts center in western Massachusetts. The nearest town to the arts campus was Lenox, where we students could go to shop, socialize, and enjoy a bit of luxury. We got around the beautiful countryside by hitch-hiking, believe it or not - people were happy to give rides to students and summer arts residents did not behave with modern savagery, at least in this little place of cultural aristocracy.

There was a library in Lenox which  we were welcome to enter if they had something we could use. I went in and looked through it and found, in the art section, to my thrill, an old original edition of "Hottenroth's Book of Costume." This German treasure was a big heavy tome filled with old engravings in color, documenting the way people dressed all the way from pre-history to the middle 19th century, which was the time of its composition. I had no idea how such a find could show up in a small country library, but this was no rural area; some rich art history academic must have donated it.

As an illustration-minded costume fan, I badly wanted this book. I wouldn't steal it of course, but I wanted the illustrations for my resource collection. But how to get them? The library would not lend this treasure out, and copying machines were rare and in Lenox non-existent. My camera would not take usable pictures. So I resolved to copy the costume illustrations I most wanted. I spent many afternoons there with my pencil and sketchbook, until I had the ancient Middle East and Persia and Byzantium well-drawn. This is one of my copies, representing the Biblical Near East. Nowadays, many of these Hottenroth illustrations have
been re-printed in facsimile, but not the whole set. 

Pencil on sketchbook page, 10" x 7", summer 1972. 

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Kitchen Bits

On a cold winter night I drew in my kitchen. Pictured here is another "domestic abstraction." In it are a pile of plastic dish covers, a plastic-covered ceramic bowl, a knife sharpener, the microwave oven, and parts of the counter. There's plenty more clutter to draw until spring comes. 

Photoshop composite of 2 new sepia brown drawings, 6" x 5", March 3, 2019.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Ruffled Summer Baby

When I said on this Blog a few postings ago, that this baby never met me, I meant that outside of her infancy I had never met her. Here is the infant in question, in summertime wearing a ruffled sun dress. There are two "short takes" above one of which shows the baby holding a teething ring. This time the baby was active so I didn't get much detail or likeness. It occurs to me that this girl probably has a family and children of her own (she is 29 years old) and I'll never know about them, either.

Black tech pen ink on sketchbook page, 3 1/2" x 6", August 26, 1990. Some touch-up in Photoshop.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Hair Salon Stuff

When I get my hair done, I make a drawing to pass the time as the red dye does its work restoring my magic powers. This is part of the Salon, where people sit in tilt-back chairs to get their hair washed. Note the unusual three-headed lamp that looks like an alien being, and the row of swoosh-shaped wooden chair arms. That's right, anything can look good if you choose what you draw and draw it with interest.

Sepia brown tech pen on sketchbook page, 5" x 6", February 28, 2019.