Monday, September 30, 2019

Sister Nathaniel 1972

Here's a bit of relief from Marie Corelli's excesses, from my college days in 1972. I used to hang around with a Catholic special interest group at Jewish Brandeis. Those days were a heavy struggle for me, attracted to Catholic Christianity while in a historically Jewish environment. Every so often people who were, you might say, professionally Catholic like Sisters, Priests, and scholars would visit and give a talk. I don't remember much about Sister Nathaniel but I drew her portrait in my sketchbook.

Pencil on sketchbook page, 4" x 7 1/2", March 12, 1972.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Corelli Boys Court Scene 1976

Those Corelli boys in Ardath are at it again, presided over by the Poet Laureate in his black ebony throne. A lot of drinking has gone on, and the Poet looks over the passed-out forms of his boyfriends. A detail of Sah-Luma's performance robe appears in the upper right. The slave girls are happy to serve Sah-Luma but he seems uninterested in them. 

Watercolor with some Photoshop emendation on Canson sketch paper, 11" x 8 1/2", 1976. Gosh, I never knew I did so many illustrations from this book.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Hall of Two Thousand Columns

Back in CorelliWorld, the author invented an impossibly grandiose architecture scheme for her  imperial palace. This is the "Hall of Two Thousand Columns," inspired by the tall columns at the ruins of the ancient palace of Persepolis as well as any number of neoclassic fantasies of 19th century official buildings. That's a lot of space to cover and I suspect that Corelli's two thousand were an astonished exaggeration by a breathless visitor. It's imaginary anyway. I had recently returned from Rome where there are more columns than people. At the end of the long hall with all the columns is King Zephoranim on his throne. 

This mini picture is yet another study for the adaptation that never materialized. I hope you don't mind seeing my sketches from 1976. I want to preserve them in digital transmortality.

Super weentsy 4-0 Rapidograph tech pen with red-brown ink, 5" x 4", 1976.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Hail Sah-Luma!

Write panegyrics to the King and his Court and this is what you get. Here's Sah-Luma in his dazzling royal performance garb. This costume is based mostly on Assyrian royal attire. The Poet Laureate of Ardath is almost as highly rated as a member of the Royal Family. Needless to say, in the plot of the book Sah-Luma eventually gets an appropriate fate, much to the dismay of his male lover Theo.

Red-brown ink on illustration board, 3" x 5 1/2", 1976.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

The World Behind the Wall

Photoshop is a wonderful tool. You can even design it to keep aliens out. Blue is the best color  to build with, because it matches the dark twilight sky and is more or less invisible. Behind the wall structure is the Other World where you apply for cosmic asylum. Everyone who applies for cosmic asylum is granted it. You melt into another dimension, the Blue World, and the Blue Moon whispers to you in the long night that is now beginning.

Photoshop, 5" x 5", September 26, 2019.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

King Zephoranim close up

And here is King Z. himself, glitzed out in royal jewelry, on his ivory-plated throne. He's surrounded by sculptures, textiles, and metalwork. The red stuff on the floor is rose petals, which Ardath custom designates be sprinkled on the floor for important characters. I don't know what Lysia the Snake Priestess sees in him, no doubt it's power. 

Ink and watercolor on sketchbook page, 8 1/2" x 12", 1976.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

King Zephoranim's Throne 1976

Zephoranim, the King of Al-Kyris in Ardath, is predictably decadent, corrupt, and bored. He's taken up with the young, beautiful and evil Lysia, the Snake Priestess even though the Prophecy (there's always a Prophecy) says that when the King and the Priestess get together, the City will fall. And there's a smoking volcano in the region, ("Last Days of Pompeii") too, whose effluents have turned the water downriver blood red. This is where Theo the Modern Poet gets dropped off to find his way.

Corelli the author greatly enjoys describing features of her Decadent World, including this throne canopy for King Z. Its baldachin is held up by four giant male bronze statues. I did this illustration in Rome, where there were plenty of heroic statues and throne canopies to borrow designs from.

For your irrelevant information I first encountered "Ardath" in 1968, where I purchased a copy at a market rummage sale for 25 cents. In those days Corelli books were easy to find; not now.

Ink and watercolor on sketchbook page, 7" x 10", 1976.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Japanese Fantasy

My educational reading these days is a blocky book titled "The  Encyclopedia of Japanese Pop Culture" by Mark Schilling. It was published in 1997 so it's out of date but most of these things would be familiar to a contemporary Japanese person. The book describes movie and TV stars, pop and rock singers, song and dance acts, video games, genres of pop music, anime, fashions, and other things filled with Japanese names and words I don't understand but still enjoy. 1997 is before the widespread adoption of Internet so most of the things coming from Japan are now internet based. Now I need a follow-up volume describing and telling the story of current anime epics. I'm not a huge JapanFan but I want to know what is going on in the "otaku" mind.

The image above contains some very familiar Japanese motifs such as a fan, Mount Fuji, and a big red sun. 

Marker on sketchbook page, red added in Photoshop, 7" x 2 1/4", September 23, 2019.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Poet's Palace 1976

As I have tediously explained in previous postings, in the royal enclave of CorelliWorld, the Poet Laureate is granted a palace to live in (as long as the King favors his poetry!). This is my rendering of the main hall of Sah-Luma the Poet, done up in a mixture of Babylonian temple and Victorian grand ballroom. I've blogged this image before but I can't find it in the records so I'm going with a cropped and enhanced view. This was done just after I returned from Europe so that's why it looks like an imperial 19th century grandiosity. There are lots of entertaining details so you are invited to click on the image.

Brown ink and watercolor on sketchbook page, 10 1/2" x 9 1//2", 1976.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Another Corelli Boy Costume 1975

Corelli Boy lives! This is one of the costume concepts I did for my proposed graphic adaptation of Marie Corelli's "Ardath." The male costume incorporates elements of Assyrian, Egyptian, Greek, and Islamic garb. The female costume, which you have seen in other postings, is either wrapped in a veil as done in the Middle East, or for entertainers and harem girls, a skimpy little tunic dress. I'd do more sketches of costumes if there was any point to it. I've often wondered why I like "Ardath" so much when there are so many other books more worthy of illustration.

Pencil on sketchbook page, 3" x 6", 1975.

Friday, September 20, 2019

The Lights of Isabel 2003

On September 18, 2003, a violent tropical storm named "Isabel" plowed into the DC area, in almost a direct hit. I remember watching through the night with astonished horror as the high winds destroyed the power lines in my neighborhood. Transformers were exploding in eerie flashes of multicolored light. All electric power was knocked out and we had to light our way around the house with candlelight. Futuristic suburbs were returned to the nineteenth century (except for the horses).

I found all my candles and tea lights and stuck them in glass and ceramic votive containers, as you see above. Candlelight is rather genteel but I couldn't see to write or to make art (this one was done by daylight) and radio and TV were inaccessible so I had to resort to reading where I could set up a big candle.

This area is still subject to destructive storms and we never know when some weather mess will swerve into us. I am well stocked with batteries and LED battery lights just in case. The light from LED's isn't so poetic but it does the job.

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 7" x 4", September 19, 2003.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Corelli Hall of the Sphinxes 1976

This is a panel from a page that I hoped might be in a Corelli graphic adaptation. This scene was described by the author in detail: a grandiose ancient temple, lined with stone sphinxes, where the Snake Priestess presides. The figure in the blue in front is our hero, Theo the modern poet. In the distance by the purple gateway is the Priestess along with the Poet Laureate Sah-Luma. They are looking at a shiny black crystal occult vision disc. I didn't continue with the project, and I wasn't satisfied with this effort, either.

Ink and watercolor on sketchbook page, about 7" x 10," 1976. Click for larger view.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Alexandria Waterfront

My friends pried me out of my studio and brought me to a favorite relaxation spot in Alexandria, Virginia. It is a park, or series of parks, on the banks of the Potomac, with plenty of places to sit, run, walk the dog, or just hang out. For me, that's drawing and here is my waterfront sketch page. I drew the wood plank water deck and the river in the background. Then I drew some Canada Geese as this watery space is attractive to birds. A Canada Goose tucks its head under its wing for a bit of a nap balanced on one foot. There were also turtles paddling around in the water. The weather was ideal and we also enjoyed watching airplanes coming in to land at National Airport, just a mile or so away.

Sepia brown tech pen on sketchbook page, 5" x 8", September 17, 2019.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Art Model Classic Draw

This drawing of a curvy graceful art model is a classic, at least it's classical enough for me. I had time for the hands but not the face. There are three drawings here but they are all of the same model. I found this model in my mother's stacks of drawings since we were at the same session.

Pencils on sketchbook page, 7" x 11", 1975.

Monday, September 16, 2019

TV Person Portrait 1975

This is a portrait of television newscaster Tony Pepper, who was on TV in the Boston area in the 1970s and 1980s. He was much loved by the Boston viewers including me. I remember him on WBZ Boston on the TV in my studio. He had a long career after I left Boston and he died in early 2018.

Drawing a portrait from TV is difficult, even more than drawing a live person, because the camera angle and choice of face to focus on is constantly changing. I probably needed multiple broadcasts in order to get enough image to work with. Even so, the portrait looks rather flat compared to the pictures of live people I drew.

Pencil on sketchbook page, 2 1/2" x  2 1/2", 1975.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Blue Fish

This is what happens when you start doodling with shapes and patterns. What was a random abstraction starts taking up an identifiable form. Quadrilaterals and triangles turn into fish parts. Blue marker turns into blue fish. In my childhood I used to fish for bluefish off a rocky breakwater, and I threw them back for the cormorant to eat. Now I catch ideas, and throw them back into the InterOcean for the cyberbirds to grab.

Markers on sketchbook page, 6" x 3", September 15, 2019.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Bearded Art Gentleman 1975

My mother's life drawing group had only one or two males in it. As in all live model sessions, we drew each other as well as our model. This gentleman was Peter Plumb, a local artist and a regular participant. I drew his portrait here and for all I know my face is drawn in his sketchbook too. It is easier to draw a bearded face because beard is easier to draw than chin. Peter had an interesting background. Though not a rider himself, he came from a family of equestrians and his brother, Mike Plumb, was an Olympic horseman and renowned throughout the equestrian world.

Peter loved the color purple and he collected purple things. One time we asked him, is EVERYTHING you have purple? How about your underwear? At which he pulled his pants down and sure enough there it was, Plum purple undies.

Pencil on sketchbook page, 3" x 4", 1975.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Cubistic Random Stuff

This doodle is a mixture of random elements from my environment. You can see tote bags, shopping center architecture, a glass cookie jar, and a storage crate. I wish my environment had more interesting stuff to draw, like the "urban sketchers" all over the world who get to draw castles, monuments, churches, Fiat cars, and marketplaces, but this here is all I get, at  least for now. I have lost count of how many tote bags I have. Somehow, they're all useful, if not picturesque.

Sepia brown tech pen on sketchbook page, 5" x 6", September 12, 2019.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Male Model for Poet

When a male model shows up for your drawing session, it's a treasure. You can ask him to pose in positions you will later use in fantasy or action scenes or whole body portraits. For instance this fellow here, he is posed in a nice "Corelli boy" decadent position and he became the original model for my "Sah-Luma, Prince of Poets." By the way, if you ever have a notion to read this Corelli text, it's here at hathitrust which has scanned many editions of the book
into readable text onscreen. I dare you to read a chapter or even a few pages. This author was extremely popular during her day but the nature of literature especially pop literature has changed greatly over the years after Corelli's flourishing.

Pencil on sketchbook page, 7 1/2" x 7 1/2", 1975.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Khosrul the Prophet

I was still drawing characters and scenes from Corelli's "Ardath" when I returned from Europe. This ultra-fanatic fellow is "Khosrul the Prophet," who shows up in many scenes to proclaim the coming of Christianity (in 7,000 B.C.!). As you can see from my frame layout practice, ("Ringo Kid" was a Western comic-book character) I was serious about making a graphic novel out of "Ardath" but that never got anywhere.  At the time, 1977, I was a struggling graduate student at Harvard and by the end of that year I had called it quits.

Ink and watercolor on sketchbook pages, 8 1/2" x 6", 1977.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Corelli Boy Costume 1 - 1975

I was really active in 1975, with writing, art work, and studies at college. These are two costume sketches from Corelli's Decadent Boys. The costume is draped over a live model sketch and follows the author's description closely. Much later I saw that this costume resembles male attire from what is now Afghanistan. Corelli, like other "Orientalizing" writers, incorporated "Eastern" cultural elements into a colonialist story.

Pencil on sketchbook page, 4 1/2" x 6", 1975.

Monday, September 9, 2019

642 Egg Beater

"642"s prompt said, "an eggbeater." I'm not just gonna go back into the kitchen and copy something. It's what author Terry Pratchett calls a "pune," (pun) or I would call "wordplay if you must."'s Number 5 beating the Egg at the line! Complete with multiple images! Humpty Dumpty scrambles in for second place.

Marker with some digital white-out, 3 1/2" x 4", September 8, 2019.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Reality Pots

I never got to put anything in my balcony garden pots this year. The cacti and succulents though are doing well and some of them need pruning. It's still quite warm on the balcony so I will wait a bit. This little study is in keeping with the 2019 theme "Domestic Still Life." The white things behind the terra cotta pots are decorative river stones or quartz chunks. This is also another exercise with my new Arteza markers. Since they are water based you can use a water brush or another marker to blend the colors.

Markers and ink, with a touch of colored pencil on sketchbook page, 4" x 3", September 7, 2019.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Golden Coffee

Caffe Amouri serves an unusual latte drink with turmeric and ginger in it. The flavor is exotic and delicious, and it feels soft and cream-filled as you sip it. When you get this drink the barista does a bit of coffee art with the foam on top. Here on this example, she drew an orchid plant.

iPhone photograph, September 6, 2019.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Prince of Poets Portrait 1976

I found this little portrait of Corelli's fantasy Poet. It isn't as bad as I thought it was when I painted it. There was a lot of damage on the surface which I had to correct in Photoshop, which of course didn't exist when I painted the picture. Corelli spends a lot of time describing his elaborate outfit and even his fluffy white feather boa drapery. This is showbiz 1880s style and you can see it in countless 19th century "historical" ancient world-themed paintings. I was just learning how to paint in acrylic back then. I was a graduate student at Harvard in Greek and Roman Classics at the time.

"Sah-Luma Portrait" is acrylic on illustration board, about 5" x 5", 1976.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Homage to Rothko

And now for something completely different. I decided to make a Photoshop "painting" using the textures and color blocks of modernist artist Mark Rothko. My choice of composition is not at all similar to Rothko's horizontal blocks but I do get to work with textured edges and rectangular shapes. Digital manipulation gives a look of liquid paint. The colors aren't as nice as Rothko's, though. If you have the kind of mind that sees patterns of shapes, and colors, this composition could be a face, but I didn't intend to put it there. 

Photoshop, 7" x 10", September 5, 2019.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Lysia the Snake Priestess 1976

Lysia was the wicked villainess of Corelli's city, Al-Kyris. I did this portrait of her in 1976. I used to do a picture of Lysia every year as she reclined on her black crystal throne, (un)clad in transparent gauze. This depiction is rather stiff and upright for the Snake Priestess. For a whole write-up on this character, please clic here, just in case you want to know more. The green stuff on the ceiling is a malachite veneer, and the columns are mirror-faced so they look transparent. A snake shape jeweled in emeralds is mounted on two ivory tusks above her head. Like the Poet's character portrait this one is tiny, too small to add in her animal friends of Python and Tigress. 

Ink and watercolor on illustration board, 4 1/2" x 7 1/2", 1976.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

The Prince of Poets 1975

I'm re-blogging this image from 1975 because it belongs with my other Corelli drawings. I last showed it in 2008 when this blog was new. This tiny picture is one of my own favorites and the best of my Corelli work, so why not show it again after 11 years. I had a great time depicting the "Victorian Babylon" style that the author described in her overwrought prose. 

Ink and watercolor on thick sketchbook page, 7 1/2" x 4", spring 1975.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Corelli Harem Scene 1975

In Corelli's ancient world, the Poet Laureate was a national celebrity and was granted a palace to live in, complete with a harem full of beautiful young girls. Corelli the author has fun describing this scene as well as the intrigues and competition that spring up among these girls, all of whom are eager to spend time with the curiously inattentive Poet. Here you can see a bevy of these young things, waiting around hatching plots and doing their pastimes. To the lower right is the harem girl "Niphrata," an especially young and innocent harp player who adores the Poet but is ignored by him. Behind the harp is a standing painted screen in blue and gold. I put the screen into Corelli's imaginary palace because the real screen was my mother's painting and she had just finished it in 1975 when I painted this.

Corelli Harem is ink and watercolor on Canson textured paper, 10" x 8", 1975. Click on image for a larger view.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Amy Rothberg Brandeis Portrait 1975

Amy Rothberg was a fellow student at Brandeis University. I was always drawing but not necessarily nude art models. If someone was able to stay still for a few minutes, I could draw their portrait. Sometimes people would ask me to do their formal portrait, but usually they were casual sketches like this one. I don't know whatever happened to Amy and I can't find her on the media, I hope she did well.

Pencil on sketchbook page, 3 1/2" x 4 1/2", 1975.