Saturday, November 30, 2019
I enjoyed drawing Deadhead fashions. Unlike the hard rockers and the punks, Deadheads wore loose, floppy garb suitable for swaying and dancing. From left to right: A girl in coverall baggy pants holds a string toy, like a cat's cradle that was often sold as a souvenir at shows. Note her fringed moccasins. Center right, multi-layer clothes keep a young Deadhead warm, including an Indian cotton tunic and over that a sporran-like stash pouch. He wears a knitted wool cap with a badge pinned on it. March in the D.C. area is cold but he is barefoot! In back is a quick sketch of the dog's head from my previous posting, and another less flowery Deadhead doing something that was really not a good idea, snorting chemical vapors from a spray can. A more innocent explanation to give him the benefit of the doubt is that it's a water container or a thermos bottle.
Black ink on sketchbook page, 5" x 8", March 1991.
Friday, November 29, 2019
I send forth another scrambled un-pretty doodle this time with color added. The colors are taken using Photoshop's color finder feature, so they match. The label comes from a red pepper raised in Canada in a greenhouse. Warning: I could make countless un-pretty doodles rather than images of elegant ladies or rustic landscapes. And vegetables and beverages are always appropriate, now in the darkest time of the year.
Marker, colored in Photoshop, 3 1/2" x 3", November 2019.
Thursday, November 28, 2019
This well-dressed fellow gave his name as "Cosmic Charlie," which is also the name of a Grateful Dead song. He is in full Deadhead attire: tie-dyed T shirt, a waist purse, baggy "harem" pants, and sandals with socks. I wondered what he wore in the "real" world but I didn't ask. "GratefulWorld" is its own sub-universe and one of the most charming things about it was that you didn't have to be held to a government or corporation-imposed identity. But was this guy really named Charlie? Who knows. Many Deadheads came from a privileged background and more than once I saw male Deadheads in suits and ties just escaped from their high-paying jobs.
Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 3" x 5", March 1991.
Wednesday, November 27, 2019
It's almost like "automatic writing," that trick of "spiritualists" where a medium writes down messages from the Beyond while in a trance. In this case I was entranced in front of the computer screen with very low light and a drawing marker in my hand. See what I can do by just drawing whatever came to mind, like scrambled inking. Well, it isn't pretty. It's OK anyway, I see a bit of Modernist Expressionism here and even a tribute to Picasso with the horse head. And the giant mushrooms sort of fit in. I suppose I could color this piece maybe in those kiddie marker pinks, oh please no.
Markers on sketchbook page, 4 1/2" x 3", November 2019.
Tuesday, November 26, 2019
It's a dog, but it's not a dead dog, it's a dog at a Dead show. The tribal encampment was kind enough to let me draw them and their pets. But who took care of the dog while the people were at the show? Did they lock him up in their truck? That wouldn't be very nice, even for only a few hours in moderate weather. Hard to believe, folks, that in just a year or two this little post-literate society would be wiped out by the tsunami of the Internet, turning Deadheads into social media addicts trading their digitized Deadshows among each other one second at a time.
Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 7" x 4 1/2", March 20, 1991.
Monday, November 25, 2019
My "Arteza" brush pen marker set came with an overload of pinks and purples, probably to appeal to children. The rest of the set are colors from "reality" such as blues, browns, or leafy greens, but what do I do with a large collection of pink and purple? Unless I am depicting a lot of flowers, how would I use them? The answer is to connect it with abstract design not necessarily geometric. These designs are inspired by protozoa, tiny creatures from pond water that I used to collect and examine under the microscope. There are more designs for protozoa that I can possibly use and in fact this will be the theme of my 2020 creative sketchbook, fantastic creatures both tiny or large, excepting dragons which I have already worked on. And many of these critters are bright shades of pink.
Markers and Photoshop, 7 1/2" x 9", November 2019.
Sunday, November 24, 2019
Those of us of a Certain Age will remember the hippie movement with its drugs, music, fashions, graphics, poetry, and outdoor swarms of thousands attending concerts or performances. A pale reflection on that continued on while the Dead were touring and playing live. As I said in a previous post, there are still outdoor music festivals where you can act like a Deadhead and legally, too! In this page, you see a concert-goer vending out of his car's trunk, a practice that was illegal but the police looked the other way. There was plenty of weed even if it was not legal. Guitar, sunglasses, flowers in her hair...you could do worse, considering what our American society is like nowadays.
Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 5" x 8 1/2", March 20, 1991.
Saturday, November 23, 2019
Here we go, another bit of Current Art, a fresh cupcake and a cuppa coffee. This traditional scene was at "Pastry Xpo," a lavishly stocked coffee and sweets shop in urban northern Virginia. The cupcake was a "Red Velvet" cake and the coffee was a decaff espresso, tasty and nice to look at, too. Yes, I cannot tolerate the "iconic" caffeine. The flavor is just the same. The people know me at lots of coffee shops around here.
Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 6" x 7", November 22, 2019.
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Friday, November 22, 2019
Only a few people know this, but I was a Deadhead from 1987 to 1991. I was introduced to the Grateful Dead by a fellow science fiction and fantasy fan and during my tenure I went to eleven Dead shows. The By-Product will now be showing my tribute to the Deadhead experience, with these sketches which were done at a show in Washington, DC's RFK Stadium on a moist night in March, 1991.
Believe it or not, I didn't smoke or drink anything when I attended Deadshows. The thick atmosphere in the concert arena was enough for me. I had my sketchbook with me as always and a song list as well. I'm not really a rock or country fan - I enjoyed the Dead concerts more for the spectacle: the fan crowd in their colorful attire, their stoned milling about the parking lot smiling and sniffing, and their neo "Gypsy" caravans.
Their guiding spirit, the immortal Jerry Garcia, is no longer with us, but the remaining band members still get together for concerts with guest players. The parking lot scene was folded into outdoor music festivals rather than at big urban arenas. And I was too involved in my art career meeting deadlines to continue Deadheading.
I'll always remember the loose, vaporous charm of Deadhead society, where no one hassled you and you could make instant friends. I hope you enjoy my Deadhead drawings, which will be interwoven with Current Art.
Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 5" x 8", March 20, 1991.
Thursday, November 21, 2019
Back to the ornithopter, here are a few sketches I did of Morgana, the elf-like heroine of Marie Corelli's proto-Steampunk novel, THE SECRET POWER. Morgana, who is rather short, wears a flying suit which is a combination of aviator and day dress over white trousers, done in white silk. Note the aviation cap and goggles with her long hair over it. The dress is accented with shiny little diamonds.
Brown ink on sketchbook page, 4" x 7", 1977.
Wednesday, November 20, 2019
You've seen this concept airship before so I will simply guide you to its page from many years ago. In 1977 I was seriously into science fiction including "Ardath" Marie Corelli's proto-Steampunk tale of the ornithopter called the "White Eagle." The main plane body is somewhat based on the Concorde and the wings are fashioned from a long keel where the wings are anchored. The wings fold back when not in use. In the quoted posting, I added a pair of jet engines to the rear of the plane just in case it needs some extra speed and flying ability. In "real life" there have been some moderately effective ornithopters but none able to carry more than one passenger.
Also, it occurs to me that being a passenger in a big ornithopter with fully flapping wings would be quite uncomfortable. With each wingbeat the plane would bounce up and down. I watch birds flying a lot and most of their flight is three-dimensionally active, so to speak. Woodpeckers and crows fly a fairly even trajectory but they need a lot of speed to keep 'em flying. Vultures and hawks can fly like gliders but that isn't what Corelli had in mind.
Tech pen on sketchbook page, 11" x 8 1/2", 1977.
Tuesday, November 19, 2019
Not again? It was pointed out to me that I hadn't revised Page 35 to fit the size standards on my book. Each page has to be 8 1/2" x 11". I had kept the size that you see as the white central panel. So I put a new background on the background of the background, if you know what I mean when dealing with Photoshop. I had images of grape leaves, which I hadn't used too much, so here's Page 35 yet again. I kept it as simple as I could. I might have modified the old one to fit the new one, but enough is enough.
Photoshop composite, 8 1/2" x 11", 2018-19.
Monday, November 18, 2019
Vincent Lauria was a fellow Harvard Graduate School inmate in 1977. I forget what he was in for but as I remember he said he had been on the wrestling team in college. Whenever I took out my sketchbook, people then as now were fascinated watching me draw. Many people asked for portraits so these little portraits appear around this time. I used pen direct to paper, a daring move I wouldn't do nowadays. I wonder what happened to Vincent in his later years. I am not inquisitive enough to do serious research.
Brown ink tech pen on sketchbook page, 4" x 2". late 1977.
Sunday, November 17, 2019
Sure, this abstract assemblage looks easy. All I had to do is put the shapes and colors wherever I wanted. The typical uneducated response is, "My kid can do that." It's Modern Art, you can fake it, right. Well not to underestimate children, they have a good time with abstraction if you let them play around with it. This panel took more than an hour to do, using the limited design options of the Colorforms game. Each shape was carefully chosen and I used Photoshop tricks to place it exactly where I wanted it. Even so I will admit that this is a doodle constrained by a limited amount of time and energy.
I will never forget my encounter with the original Colorforms kit of black background and colored plastic temporary sticker shapes. I was an arty child from an arty family and went wild over them but I've never had the opportunity to play with it. The first form set is still available and is just as expensive as the original 1950's version.
Photoshop, 5" x 5", November 17, 2019.
Saturday, November 16, 2019
In 1977 I was in Harvard Graduate School studying Greek and Latin classics. I lived in a luxurious dormitory and had a close circle of studious friends. I continued to do a lot of art work, something which eventually ended my career as a classicist. The girl (woman?) you see in this little ink portrait was Mary from Whittier, California, who was not a classical scholar but a modern language student specializing in German and Germanic languages. I drew her with an imaginary beach behind her. She was very "Californian," naturally blonde hair and all. After a few months at Harvard among the snows and ice, she was miserable. The California culture just didn't do well so far removed from the sun. In late summer I visited Southern California with Mary and the reverse was true - I didn't have a good time there either. Within a year all my Harvard friends had scattered, leaving graduate school for other challenges. Mary decided to go to law school instead, and that was the last I ever saw of her.
Brown ink with tech pen on sketchbook page, 4 1/2" x 2 1/2", 1977.
Friday, November 15, 2019
The By-Product is saddened to hear of the passing of Spike MacPhee, space pioneer, virtual reality master, and patron of science fiction artists for many years in the Boston area. Spike was one of my first customers and he placed my art in a virtual gallery in the online world of "Second Life."
Here is the entry I placed on this Blog honoring Spike and his community.
Here is the entry I placed on this Blog honoring Spike and his community.
Thursday, November 14, 2019
The moon is as big as a basketball, at least it seems so. It's not a basketball, though. The November Moon is called the "Beaver Moon" as the critters are preparing for winter these days. You might not be able to see the colorful leaves by night unless you used some artificial, not lunar illumination. This image would take a long time to do if I were using conventional paint but with Photoshop I can splatter color all over the canvas or board without spilling a drop.
Photoshop, 7" x 8", November 14, 2019.
Wednesday, November 13, 2019
This character, "Sepiriz" the giant, appears for a scene or two in Michael Moorcock's 1965 book "Stormbringer." He is at least 8 to 10 feet high, an immortal warrior who joins with Elric in the ultimate battle of Order vs. Chaos. In this phase of his existence he is clad in skimpy furs and drives a huge golden chariot. Moorcock is still alive and active in writing. It would be fun to re-visit his books now and see whether they have aged well. There is a common thread between English fantasists Bulwer-Lytton, Corelli and Moorcock: a dying Empire, a lost super-race, and a Tolkien-inspired diversity of races and creatures.
I brought the Stormbringer book home from Europe and while in my first year at graduate school, I drew many a Moorcock illustration, just for the fun of it. As a scholar of antiquity this type of fantasy set in an ancient world was a rich source for me. Many illustrators have worked on Elric both in word and picture. These range from the psychedelic to the gruesome and grotesque, and if I did any more illustrations I'd probably leave the gore and guts to someone else.
Black ink on sketchbook page, 3" x 5", 1977.
Tuesday, November 12, 2019
You are warned that something horrific is about to take place in this illustration page. It isn't from Corelli, though she wrote this kind of operatic/horror scene into Ardath at least once. The author here is probably Michael Moorcock, who specialized in a mix of fantasy and horror. Many British writers (and French, too!) enjoyed creating massive scenes of "savage ritual" and human sacrifice, inspired by colonialism and historical discoveries. After all, many ancient civilizations practiced human sacrifice, some on a grand scale. Here on this page I'm following the author's detailed verbal description, which I can't find right now but may be in "Stormbringer" by Moorcock. Or it may be another author. There is too much dust on the shelves to find it right now.
In this blood-drenched scene, some helpless soul is about to be dispatched by the huge, muscular black slave (standard race and procedure of antique fantasy) while the dazzling but veiled Evil Priestess-Queen prepares to signal with her scepter. Courtiers in richly colored robes kneel as the ritual proceeds. I don't think you could pay me enough to depict this again. But it was 43 years ago and that might as well be 1876 rather than 1976.
Brown ink colored with watercolor on sketchbook page, 5" x 7 1/2", 1976.
Monday, November 11, 2019
Arteza's marker pens have a lot of really pretty colors, especially in the blue section. My fade test shows that these colors will fade in window light though not a lot. Good enough for illustration and concept art as well as doodles and experiments. Here's a Geometrikon using a few of these colors. Some areas here are colored pencils. This is a tiny picture so scanning and enlarging are necessary. One of my friends who works with cloth and fiber for decorative quilts suggested that designs like these might make nice small quilts. I'm tempted to start collecting fabric but really not now, one or two media are enough.
Markers and colored pencil on sketchbook page, about 2" x 1", November 11, 2019.
Sunday, November 10, 2019
This one is rather hard to see but it's good enough to blog in my 1976 series. This flying birdman was a fighting character in Michael Moorcock's "Stormbringer," an apocalyptic tale of Elric the albino sorcerer-king. The bird-man is sort of like "Hawkman," the DC comics heroic winged character, but we readers don't have much time to spend with him, as he only appears for a page or two never to return.
Brown ink in technical pen on sketchbook page, a bit of Photoshop restoration, 5" x 4 1/2", 1976.
Saturday, November 9, 2019
The going price for an hour of art model time in 1972 was between $15 and $20. That was a lot of money in those days. The model kept a watch by her side so she knew how much time she was spending and in what pose. The timekeeping is still current modeling practice. The poses were up to her unless some artist in the group asked for a specific one. In most big cities with artist communities there was a number of people who actually made a living doing art modeling. Most of these had a dance or drama background and were interesting people even when not modeling. During one year the model and the artists got to know each other and they kept the same model from one session to another. It paid more than fast food work even if you had to be naked. This model seems to be having a rough day, but I will never know what put her in such a grumpy mood.
Pencil on sketchbook page, 4 1/2" x 8", 1972.
Friday, November 8, 2019
Remember that the theme for 2019's sketches was "Coffee and Kitchen: Domestic Still Life." Here's a new one. Items are stacked around the microwave oven. You can see covered bowls, mini wood carving boards, towels, my steel thermos bottle, and a wine glass. All of these things are clean as I had just removed them from the sink where I washed them. There is no coffee in this particular picture.
Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 6" x 4 1/2", November 8, 2019.
Thursday, November 7, 2019
I don't know how the political color system in America changed, but it is fairly recent. Back in the '50s Red was Communist - the ultimate perversion of leftist belief and action. If you had socialist leanings you were a "pinko" and some of our elderly folk will remember Senator Joseph McCarthy and the "Red Menace." Not to mention the all-red Soviet flag and Red Square. So how did "Reds" become hard conservatives? My state, Massachusetts, is often loaded with "Blue" leftist votes. In Virginia where I now live, the politics are "swing state," a teetering balance of blue and red, held down by a few highly educated and rich blue liberals in Fairfax County. That would be me, and I want the balanced part to stay, so I voted as many times as I could (once) and drew this graphic after the blue Democrats won the state. I incorporated my "voted" sticker as part of a political statement.
Mixed media: Markers, colored pencil, Photoshop, and sticker, 4 1/2" x 4 1/2", November 2019.
Wednesday, November 6, 2019
Another fantasy series I loved was the long history by British author Michael Moorcock telling the tales of his doomed wandering albino king, Elric. This fabulous but dreadful character was always fun to illustrate. There were many other characters and monsters offering a wide universe of opportunities for art. This one here is "Jagreen Lern, the Red Horseman of Death and Theocrat of Pan Tang." During the last quarter of 1976 I was a graduate student at Harvard and my advanced classical and ancient history studies gave me many thrilling ideas to illustrate while I ignored my papers and presentations. Warrior kings, mad prophets at oracles, women turned into giant worms, Dead Gods, Wild-men in chariots, this was Imagination at its best. Eventually the fantasy worlds won out and I extricated myself from Harvard in 1978.
Brown ink and tech pen with colored pencils on illustration board, 8" x 7", 1976.
Tuesday, November 5, 2019
After more than 11 years producing this Blog, I still owe my couple of faithful viewers a different image every day. It's always good to have fresh new art and a place to experiment with Photoshop and other media. The vintage art and sketchbook drawings are mostly for me, a look back into more than 40 years of doing art and what was happening with me at the time that was drawn. So here's a fresh new one respecting the season. Photoshop makes it easy to work geometrically and use repeating patterns and color gradations. I hope the viewer continues to, uh, enjoy my old sketchy stuff despite everything.
Photoshop, 7" x 10", November 5, 2019.
Two Tanglewood stories from 1972:
One evening on the Music Meadow I found a crumpled up 5 dollar bill on the ground. I wondered for days what I would spend it on. I finally ended up buying a cup of vegetable soup at a local restaurant.
In the arts neighborhood in Lenox in 1972 was still astonishingly safe for young people (even girls) to get around by hitch hiking with passing motorists. Even I did it with no bad effects. In fact...one time I was hitching somewhere and a motorist picked me up. To my amazement, the driver was Seiji Ozawa, the conductor of the Boston Symphony, on his way to a rehearsal session. I said some stupid fannish things to him and departed safely. I should have told him my dad was a composer and could he and the BSO perform some of his music. But I didn't. My father's "Symphony for Classical Orchestra" didn't get played (in its entirety) at Boston until 1991, with the late Andre Previn conducting.
Monday, November 4, 2019
Last in my series I drew the interior of the "Music Shed" at Tanglewood, the summer concert home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. This handsome design of floating triangles reflected sound out into the grassy areas in front where the audience sat. The round things in front are audience heads.
Despite my placid drawings of concertgoers and fellow students, this summer at Tanglewood was very difficult for me. It was at the height of my Christian religious quest but I was very naive about religious exploitation and fundamentalist craziness. During that summer a virulent form of evangelical Bible-spouting fundamentalism burned its way through our little community, causing outbreaks of Bible quoting and "speaking in tongues." Even the venerable Roman Catholic Church experimented with this, calling it "charismatic." I thought this was "true" Christianity because you could read it in the Bible. I thought it would put me in touch with the real Jesus who would save me...save from what? Misery and uncertainty, perhaps. "All you have to do," they said to me, "is kneel down and beg Jesus to COME INTO MY HEART and you will be SAVED! Then you will prove it when you speak in tongues." I tried this once and it didn't feel right. This was the emotional, "heart-centered" spirituality which is still dominant now. Every sermon says "Open your heart." Every one. But my heart belonged to music, not to a brain-shredding fundamentalism. It took me months to undo the effects of this virus, helped by some more rationalist and good-thinking friends.
Pencils on sketchbook page, 8" x 5", summer 1972.
Sunday, November 3, 2019
From the same outdoor concert crowd as before comes these drawings of people around me. The hairdo's are of note. The young guy at left looks like he's got some punk rock style going on, while the lady at right is a marvel of hairspray sculpture. Since punk style wasn't really that known in 1972, he may have been an off-duty military man. The lady gave her name, "Myra Balber," and said she was from Miami, Florida and was just visiting Massachusetts. I also added the date of the drawing. I love character drawing but in our more paranoid society it may not be a good idea.
Pencil on sketchbook page, 8" x 11", August 15, 1972.
My Google Search reveals that August 15, 1972 was the date of the Boston Symphony Orchestra's summer gala, where the orchestra played a lot of exciting pieces and finished it off with Tschaikowsky's "1812 Overture" with REAL CANNONS AND FIREWORKS which is why so many people were there.
Saturday, November 2, 2019
This couple were at the same concert that Father Cyr attended. Note the fringey striped poncho she is wearing, and his "man beads" necklace. Their attire is a mild version of the hippie-inspired fashions that were popular in the early 1970s. They are at a classical music concert, not a rock show, which may or may not reflect their musical taste.
Pencil on sketchbook page, 5" x 5", summer 1972.
Friday, November 1, 2019
During my art school stay in the arts center at Tanglewood in western Massachusetts, I got to enjoy many outdoor concerts. The audience sits on the Music Meadow in their lawn chairs or on picnic blankets and the musicians are under the "Music Shed." With all these listeners around in various poses, it's a perfect opportunity to sketch them. This Catholic priest in full uniform didn't have a lawn chair but sat directly on the ground. He's holding a rolled-up concert program. As a religious quester I asked him who he was and he wrote down his name and address on my drawing. He was Father William Cyr, presiding over St. Peter's church in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, a place not far from Tanglewood.
Believe it or not, at least up to 2016, Father Cyr is still alive and active, as this article shows him to be. He is elderly but he seems to be well-preserved. Unfortunately his churches have been plagued by the same scandals and awfulness of the Catholic Church in the late 20th century (without him being guilty of it, I hope) and his congregations are dwindling and his churches are falling apart. I wonder if he would remember this random sketch, forty-seven years ago.
Pencil on sketchbook page, 5" x 6", summer 1972.