Friday, May 31, 2019

Red Scarf Model 1972

By the end of 1972 I was getting better at drawing figures and using colored pencils. Here is another model, sitting on a red scarf posing for us artists on the famous Episcopal sofa. The colored pencils are the same as I use nowadays, with a bit of re-packaging over the years. Prismacolor is my favorite brand, though now that so many people are enjoying "adult coloring books" you can get all kinds of types and sets of colored pencils from makers like Blick Studio or Derwent. I have an astonishing number of colored pencils but not too many life drawing models.

Colored pencils on sketchbook page, 5 1/2" x 8 1/2", late 1972.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Wordy Wine Intro Page

This is the wordy, winey introduction page to "Virginia Under Vine." I incorporated some of the verbiage (vintage?) from Book 1's word introduction page and discarded the religious imagery. Fitting the paragraphs into the page and making them the right size was quite a job and it's probably not finished yet. The border was also re-adapted from Book 1 and I tried to make it look like watercolor. My favorite graphic look is the gradient from one color to another, here in rose' pink and green for wine colors.

Photoshop, 8 1/2" x 11",  May 2019.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Another Coffee House Still Life

I can't draw enough of these little arrangements. In the back are packed bags of Peet's coffee. In the front, the remains of my repast, including a ceramic "for here" dish. The paper wrapper contained a toasted ham and cheese sandwich, which I consumed. Coffee houses, like wineries, are signs of civilization. You can't stop it just yet.

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

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Bull Run Winery Page

This winery page is somewhat different from the others I've created for "Under Vine," except for one of my Aspen Dale pages. Its colors are meant to be at dusk, rather than the sun of summer or the mist of winter. The Winery at Bull Run is the closest vineyard establishment to the urban DC area, at least so far, and is situated on a historic Civil War site. Because it's so close the winery is packed on weekends. Wineries are usually crowded with tasters and urbanites looking for a green lawn and a wood fence and some real trees.

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

Monday, May 27, 2019

Fire From the Earth Logo

I wanted to create an image of an Element that would be easily recognizable and full of color. This is not the famous Zoroastrian fire in its temple glory, but a natural fire that is still under control. And it features my favorite colors (at least at this time). sky blue and orange. My chosen color combination used to be black, red, and emerald green, but that was a long, long time ago. It's also meant to signify the fire of baptism into the Roman Catholic faith, which was forty years ago for me. The new Catholic carries a little white candle, which I kept for many years after my baptism until it broke apart and I let it go. Not an allegory that; after forty years I am still a Catholic. I posted a short essay about this in ELECTRON BLUE 3, my word blog, which I am now reviving.

Marker drawing colored in Photoshop, about 4" x 4", May 2019.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Art Model Colored Pencil Sketch 1972

I was learning to use colored pencils in 1972 and I had a good opportunity to practice with the model from my mother's life drawing group. It was held in an upper room of a fancy Episcopal church in Newton, Massachusetts and you can see my sketchy rendering of the turned-wood structure of the sofa. I didn't draw the model's head because I ran out of time and judged that the body was more important than the face. On longer drawing sessions I was able to include the head as well as the body.

Colored pencils on sketchbook page, 5 1/2" x 6", 1972.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

I'm Not at Balticon

Yes, I'm not at Balticon and haven't been for many years. Some of the reasons are practical, such as having to drive into downtown Baltimore and haul my luggage and art pieces in the streets, and some are artistic - how many more scenes and characters from "A Game of Thrones" can I stand. I've spent most of my recent years doing winery portraits for my upcoming art book, "Virginia Under Vine." So I'm not at Balticon but many of my friends are and I miss them. By the end of a day or so many of them have entered into an exhausted and overstimulated coma, rather like this fellow who collapsed onto a couch in 2003.

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 4" x 5", May 23, 2003.

Friday, May 24, 2019

"Under Vine" back cover

This will be the back cover of "Virginia Under Vine." I am using pink on both covers, it just looked right. I have been drinking rose wine anyway. This is a Shenandoah Valley landscape that I did from memory, showing the Blue Ridge mountains. You can see a vineyard at lower right. There will be more words layered in over the blue sky and ridge, but not as many as with the first book.

Photoshop composite, including colored pencil landscape, May 2019.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Cubist Byzantine 1972

At Brandeis my major was Greek and Latin Classics, but my minor was Art History, and I spent most of my study time in ancient, medieval, and Byzantine art. The icon painters of the Eastern Orthodox Churches are, or claim to be, in direct descent from the early images of Christianity. I didn't take any art history courses in more modern eras, so I didn't concentrate much on 19th or 20th century art. But that doesn't mean I wasn't influenced by modernism as an artist. Not to mention that my mother, artist Esther Geller, was an authentic part of modern art movements and she gave me much knowledge of modernist art first-hand.

This piece is my modestly successful attempt to unite 20th century abstraction with a Byzantine icon. It's only a sketch and I never painted a more formal copy. You can see my studies for the face next to the icon. 

Colored pencil, graphite pencil, and inks on sketchbook page, 1972.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Red-Eyed Dragon

I may be the only person on this planet who has never seen nor read any of George R. R. Martin's "Game of Thrones" TV show or books. But it has dragons so I've been drawing my little draggs into my sketchbook. Long ago my theme for the By-Product was dragons so I did practice drawing them. I have a stack of dragon art books a foot tall so I have plenty of resources. I read very slowly and when I saw Martin's book series which tops 2000 pages in length, and two of them not even written yet, I decided not to spend the rest of my life in imaginal Westeros. 

Markers on sketchbook page, 6 1/2" x 3 1/2", May 21, 2019.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Man Model Life Drawing 1972

Male life drawing models were rare in 1972 as I have explained so it was nice to get someone well-built to draw. We artists also got to draw hands and feet, something artists in practice don't always have enough drawing time to work through. This guy had been in the Coast Guard and he had "flying birds" tattoos on his chest. This one was cool before inking was everywhere. The line across the page here is the spine of the sketchbook, that's all the space I had for these drawings.

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

Monday, May 20, 2019

Vint Hill wine table

On "Wine Sunday" the Wine Team visited one of the most unusual wineries in the area. "Vint Hill" is a nicely restored old government laboratory from the World War 2 - Cold War era. A geological quirk allowed listeners (spies, that is) to hear unencrypted radio transmissions from Europe and beyond. The workers at this listening post were disguised as farm workers. At Vint Hill you can see relics of that era with photos, old wartime supplies, and captions. And they also have a wine center where you can taste vintages made on the "campus" and eat cheese and goodies. They even have a facility where would-be winemakers can rent gear and try their own hand. The image here is of our table with wine, cheese and bread wrappers, and a dagger to go with the cloak.

Sepia brown tech pen on sketchbook page, 5" x 5 3/4", May 19, 2019.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Front Royal Porch 2003

I must have blogged this drawing before, but I can't find it on the By-Product and so neither can you. This old hippie haven house (note all the hanging plant baskets and awning) is near the center of the town of Front Royal, about 50 miles west of Washington, DC. Every year Front Royal hosts the "Virginia Wine and Craft Festival" at this time, the third weekend in May, so it just happened, without me. I used to go faithfully to this event but I decided that it was too risky to drive home from there after imbibing so much wine. And staying in a nearby hotel was just too much money to waste. I drew a number of sketches of country architecture over the years. This one's from 2003.

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 5 1/2" x 6", May 17, 2003. Click for larger view.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Honah Lee Vineyard Background

There are only a few days in my climate area where the weather and light actually look like this. This piece, not yet finished, is the page background for Honah Lee winery and vineyard, and it is also the cover for "Virginia Under Vine." The title logo will be placed where you see pink sky. If this composition looks familiar, it should as I imitated the style of the notorious Thomas Kinkade when creating it. This is that day in late April after a rain shower at sunset, an ideal created by Kinkade complete with gazebo. The gazebo and flowery pathway really exist, installed by the Honah Lee folks as a wedding photo and party backdrop. The background is spring but I have painted grape clusters in it which only ripen in August. Winemakers will take note but that is my artistic license.

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

Friday, May 17, 2019

Brandeis Student Life 1972

We're back in 1972, and I'm a sophomore at Brandeis University, doing the traditional college activity of hanging out, singing songs, and blathering about whatever was going on, including politics, religion, food, protests, and the Vietnam War which in those days was still raging. I know who these guitar players are, they were friends of mine at Brandeis and I will refrain from identifying them. It was a long time ago. I always bring my sketchbook to social gatherings as I am not a brilliant debater or conversationalist. The sketches last longer than any words said that night.

Pencils on sketchbook page, 8" x 5", 1972.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Astral Textures

It's another Photoshop experiment, playing with limited colors and pre-made shapes. I have hundreds of digital textures and forms on file, which were created by unknown graphic artists and offered for free online. I've created a few myself though none of them were used here. I like the combination of purple, ultramarine violet, and black. 

Photoshop, 7" x 10", May 16, 2019. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Harvard Graduate Students 1976

I came back from Europe and went back to graduate school, an experience which proved to be one of the worst times I have ever had. I continued to sketch during my two years there and also produced quite a lot of art even while studying my Greek and Latin. I lived in a somewhat fancy residence which in the past had housed female graduate students in white-glove elegance. This is a sketch of the kitchen and some of the students hanging around. In those days, 1976-77, many students and faculty still smoked and the classrooms and meeting rooms stank of stale tobacco.

Pelikan red-brown ink on sketchbook page, 5" x 7 1/2", fall 1976.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Clara at Tanglewood summer 1972

This drawing dates from my only formal training in art. I was lucky (and connected) enough to study art intensively at the Boston University Art School summer session at Tanglewood. This place was an arts center devoted mostly to music and the Boston Symphony summer concerts, but the other arts were represented too. We students went to class every day for about two and a half months and drew all the time. This young lady, named Clara, was a fellow student. This little portrait is one of my early attempts at colored pencil work. I didn't have the hundreds of colors I have now.

Colored pencils on sketchbook page, 5" x 7", summer 1972.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Dragon Magic User

Here's a dragon with some humanoid characteristics. He or she also has magic using ability, as is shown around his hand. His wings also have some feathers, enhancing the mix of creature features. He has two back legs and a tail, too but I didn't have the room to depict that. Maybe in some other dragon drawing I will. I adapted this from a very handy design source, "The Great Book of Dragon Patterns."

Inks on sketchbook page, 4" x 4", May 13, 2019.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Aspen Dale early spring twilight

Winter's been over for some time now and I'm glad. I decided to create this Equinox page for "Under Vine" anyway, just in case I need to fill some page room. This barn drawing is duplicated on another page, though, which I don't like to do. But I like the colors. I am now starting to count and arrange my finalized pieces. There will be about thirty different vineyards represented and three longer "features" on individual establishments.

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

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Coffee on Topic

As you know, the theme for this year's Sketchbook is coffee and the domestic still life. Here's an assortment of demitasses and other crockery from the hipster haven coffee shop of Vienna, Virginia, "Caffe Amouri." Unlike the highly regulated big coffee chains, Amouri offers custom goodies and an environment which could be from a college sippery in the 1970s. But the computers and smartphones remind us that we are in some sort of future world.

Sepia brown tech pen on sketchbook page, 5" x 5", May 10, 2019.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Athletic Male Art Model 1972

A male art model posed for our art group in 1972. He was athletic and had a great figure and as I remember he was quite tall. That makes a challenge to the artist if your live model is taller than the page you are drawing him on. These poses probably lasted for about 10 or 15 minutes as they look too active to hold for a longer time. I am now wondering what happened to this guy and what the rest of his life was like. Imagine an elderly tall guy coming up to me at a cafe somewhere and saying that he posed as an art model for a group of artists including me back in 1972. I would think he was threatening, or just nuts. The world in 1972 wasn't any easier than it is now.

Pencils on sketchbook pages, together 11" x 8 1/2", 1972.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Irregular Orbits

Inspired by the photos taken by the probe Cassini, this is somewhat Saturnian but all the rings and moons are not on the same plane. So this is a Photoshop doodle rather than a proper astronomical study. When I first saw the photos that Cassini took, I couldn't believe it was not some artist's conception. This is an artist's conception. Digital media makes this easy to do, and I don't get paint all over me, just photons.

Photoshop, 5" x 5", May 9, 2019.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Cubistic Coffee House

I'm sitting at a local coffee shop complaining. "I have no material to draw." Well, some of that is true, you've seen a lot of coffee shop art this year since it's the theme for 2019. I just kept on drawing anyway and didn't bother to put it in perspective or logical order, kind of like the Cubists of the twentieth century. They were into the coffee houses too, but they didn't have cars or computers.

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

Tuesday, May 7, 2019


Maybe it's a dragon. Maybe it's an alligator. Maybe it's a bird, or some sort of griffin, or even a small dragon. It's a critter of some sort, with the characteristics of many species. It's probably a predator, but not like a hawk, more like a crow or a carrion eater. It is inspired by the numerous squawking crows that careen across my yard day after day. It's bird family time and many of the birds I see are freshly emerged from the nest, fumbling around learning to fly.

Sepia brown pen with one eye in black on sketchbook page, 3" x 4", May 7, 2019.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Blue Tubes 2003

In 2003 I upgraded and revised my extensive collection of watercolor paints. I loaded each tube's content into a series of plastic boxes designed for watercolorists. I also got many more colors in a frenzy of buying. These boxes are only for studio work - there are far too many of them and the set tis too large to bring it outdoors. The paint dries out but even with old dried-up watercolors a dose of water will bring them back to life. I haven't done many watercolors recently - for years it seems, maybe I should open up the boxes and see what I can do.

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 4" x 5 1/2", May 13, 2003.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Deryni Musician at LA-Con 1984

In 1984 I went to Southern California for "LA-Con," that year's World Science Fiction Convention. Of course I had my sketchbook with me and drew whenever I could. Among the attendees was my friend, fantasy author Katherine Kurtz, whose fantasy medieval tales of magical powers and palace intrigue inspired many a costume. This lady wears a costume derived from Kurtz: a Deryni musician. You can tell she's magical from her halo. She holds a mini mandolin, or perhaps a magical ukulele. I dutifully identified this costumer as Sandra Deakins, from San Diego. An internet search for Sandra revealed that as of 2015 she was a long-haul trucker driving an enormous cargo 18-wheeler, and as of 2018 she is back in San Diego as a professional convention organizer.

Black tech pen on sketchbook page (nothing ever changes even in 30 years), 5" x 8", August 31, 1984.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Mosaic District

Well I'm relieved to be able to present new art for you, rather than faded pencil drawings from the distant past. This was done at a new Barnes and Noble bookstore established in a commercial enclave called the "Mosaic District." This area was built up out of an urban wasteland and is part mall, part contrived "city" of shops and restaurants. There was not enough land to build the sprawling morass of a conventional mall, so the developers built upwards and there are towers of expensive apartments there as well. There's plenty of room for parking and there are so many garage spots that I spent an embarrassing half hour just trying to find my car.

Sepia brown tech pen on sketchbook page, 5" x 8", May 3, 2019.

Friday, May 3, 2019

The Veiled Pillar of Mount Auburn 1975

Mount Auburn Cemetery was mostly built in an age of symbolism and consciousness of the afterlife. Many of the more elaborate monuments were created not only to remind onlookers of the heaven awaiting us, but of the affluence of those whose memory we honor. Other monuments are testaments to the designers and carvers whose talents and efforts gleam whitely among the brilliant greens and colorful flowers of the sacred garden. This monument depicts a veiled broken pillar, and it was carved out of stone by Boston's best craftsmen. I don't know what the symbolism of a cloak draped over a broken pillar is - perhaps symbolizing a life cut short. But the depiction of soft fabric in hard marble is a sight to behold. 

Pencils on sketchbook page, (note sketchy colored pencils), 4" x 8 1/2", May 1975.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Mount Auburn Pond 1975

It was almost time to graduate from Brandeis and I had quite enough. Earlier I posted the image of a bronze urn from Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Mass. This is my interpretation of the central pond at Mount Auburn, in the bloom of springtime. A funereal weeping willow shows forth in bright chartreuse spring green. There are Summerlands in many places in the world and there's at least one in Washington, DC at Dumbarton Oaks estate, though I haven't been there in quite a while.

Original is colored pencil, on site in Summerland 1975. Heavily restored in Photoshop, 2019. 4 1/2" x 4 1/2".

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Baby Smiles 1990

Some months ago I posted some pictures of a baby girl whose parents were friends of mine. Here she is almost one year old, with her feeding table and her rubber ducky. She looks rather jolly here. I never knew how she turned out, as her parents and I had a falling-apart due to political reasons. Just now I took a peek on Google looking for her and found her doing research in linguistics. No names mentioned, but she seems to be doing well.

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 5" x 7", December 20, 1990.