Sunday, May 31, 2020

Linda's Chili Pot 1998

Linda was an excellent cook and loved to feed her friends, including me. I am no good at cooking, even something as simple as chili, so I was glad to feast with Linda and Jeff. During the preparation of the chili (in the big black pot) I drew a really good perspective sketch of their kitchen. I may not be able to cook, but I can draw, which I will gladly brag about. Bon appetit!

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 5 1/2" x 8", January 24, 1998.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

What I Saw: Terrace Drama

On my apartment's terrace floor: a rust stain with cement, possibly depicting the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. Orpheus lost his beloved Eurydice when he looked back at Hades, where she was imprisoned.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Epcot Entrance 1998

Linda and I went to Epcot Center at Disney World. Epcot, a relic of the 1980s, still entertains and even inspires, the scientifically minded and world traveler type. The format is like an old-style World's Fair, with pavilions for various countries set around a reflecting lagoon. When I  was there it seemed a more "serious" place but now it mixes in Disney characters among the futuristic architecture, which makes me reminiscent of the 1964 New York World's Fair. Each country offers "authentic" foods, crafts, souvenirs, and performances. When I was there the countries were Mexico, Norway, U.K., Germany, France, Italy, Morocco, Japan, China, Canada, and the good old USA. I visited them all (except China, which Linda was boycotting for human rights offenses) had some great food at "Morocco" complete with belly dancer, and bought four beautiful rice bowls in "Japan" after spending a lovely few minutes in their garden. But where is the "India" pavilion? I love World's Fairs and would love to go back to Epcot after things get safer in public. The structure you see here is at the entrance rotunda of the Epcot park.

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 4" x 7", January 24, 1998.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Bigfoot Jeff, Florida 1998

Jeff Heimberger was Linda's husband. They had a good life together in Florida, enjoying science fiction fan culture, media events, Washington football, and Pagan worship. Here is my portrait of Jeff in his favorite recliner comfy chair. The chair, without Jeff in it, is on the left panel. Figure perspective made Jeff look like he had giant feet.

What we didn't know for sure then, but learned later, was that Jeff had an aggressive, rare form of cancer that ended his life even before the next year. Even from 1998, R.I.P. Jeff.

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 8 1/2" x 11", January 23, 1998.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Geom Border May 25 2020

I'm back to my "classic" Geometrika style in this border. It looks a bit like a "Google Doodle," those increasingly elaborate designs that appear in the title page of the search engine. If this were a real Google Doodle, it would feature the entire Periodic Table (already done) plus an app that transmutes lead into gold. Remember, alchemists: if you really could transform lead into gold, than you'd make too much and even gold would lose its value. You don't have to worry about that with art. There's always a surplus of that.

Markers and colored pencils on sketchbook page, 7 1/2" x 2 1/2", May 25, 2020.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Celestial Night

"In Heaven, there is no night..."  But no, there's plenty of night in the celestial world, and lots of lights to illuminate it. Fountains of crystal play over the angelic pathways, where spirits commute back and forth between cosmic offices. I've done many of these visionary images in my artistic life, and I hope to do many more.

Photoshop, 6" x 5", May 26, 2020.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Linda and Jeff House, Florida 1998

I arrived at the house of my friends Linda and Jeff, who lived in Melbourne, Florida. This rather dull place was about an hour's drive from Orlando, though not far from the ocean on the east coast. This is a sketch of their residence interior. I am used to homes built of sturdy wood and brick and cinder block, being a Northeasterner, and I was surprised at how lightly built this structure was. Surely a hurricane would blow it all away. But my friends weren't worried. They had plenty of stuff to put in their Florida nest: note the broad beam suspended under the ceiling, where Linda kept her collection of funny hats.

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 5 1/2" x 8 1/2", January 23, 1998.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Berry College Landscape Winter 1998

Here comes a series of drawings done on a road trip of mine down south to Florida. One of my first on the trip was this pair of landscapes, done from memory at Berry College, in northwest Georgia. I was there visiting a colleague in Zoroastrian studies who was spending a year teaching there. Berry is a Christian college near Rome, Georgia, originally founded to educate the sons and daughters of Appalachian and other mountain folk. It is noted for the great size of the campus, over 27,000 acres. I loved the landscape there, with plenty of birdwatching opportunities. I briefly thought of teaching there myself but didn't know how I'd get along with an evangelical Christian social environment.

Colored pencil on sketchbook page, 5" x 8", January 19, 1998.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

More Kitchen Stuff

Highlights of the boring kitchen. Everything has its purpose. These objects are simply useful. The topological cone at left, a large shot glass, is made of shiny-glazed glass and is one of few authentic 1950s artifacts that I saved from the old house. At center is a Ball jam preservation jar without a lid and embossed with a traditional grapevine pattern. At upper right is a plastic device which sprays detergent on things. Boredom is fun. Sips and bubbles do the job. Drawing blogged just under the wire, or at least 3 1/2 hours of wire.

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 4" x 3 1/2", May Something (21 or 22), 2020.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Parkalot 1998

I thought I had missed a blog day, but looking at the list of posts it shows I didn't. Or maybe I really did, and I am not counting correctly. Is it still May? What day in May? Have I paid my electricity bill? See what living in confinement does to a person, even if I got out to shop. The wine I bought was another ordeal. I couldn't get the plastic cork out no matter what tool I tried, so I drilled a hole through the center of the cylinder and watched the wine drip slowly into the glass. It was quite good quality (Clos du Bois Chardonnay) so I didn't throw it out.

Here's a sensitive and bored portrait of a local parking lot near me  in the dead of winter. I have promised myself I will not depict dumpsters, parking lots, road signs, or light fixtures unless the subject has some compelling design interest. Or maybe I'll make a year's theme ONLY those things. No! Was that winter? Is it spring now? is it summer yet? What time is it? Some reality from 1998.

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 5 1/2" x 8", January 9th and 13", 1998.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Hairy Creature

A regrettable result of lockdown confinement is that people cannot get their usual hair grooming or barbershop sessions. Thus ladies and gentlemen who would be using the services of hair salons must tolerate being unkempt. Clipping one's own hair is a default to which most of us resort, including me. Too much time in the mirror produces a monster with shaggy points of hair all over its head, like this one which is modeled after the savage Wolverine, both the critter and the comic book character. My male musician friends simply bypass the situation by shaving their heads and growing a beard. I could try to grow a beard but it would do nothing for my creative life.

Black tech pens on sketchbook page, 3" x 4", May 20, 2020.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Post Office People 1998

What do I do when I have to wait in a line? As here in the post office, still in winter rush hour? I  sketch, what else? It is now 1998 in my sketchbook and no one except experts knew what mass infection would do to the post office and service. But enough of that. I like my drawing of the little girl in center, holding a large envelope. 1998 was a personally eventful year for me as you will see. Some of it was good, 22 years ago.

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, about 5" x 7", January 5, 1998.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Two Dimensional Chili Colorforms

Maintaining a hidden isolated existence has not stopped for me, I have no idea when it will be possible to do things as they once were done. Maybe never, or at least for years. This includes posting here on the By-Product. "Morning" doesn't mean the same to me as it does to "normal" people. But they once went to work in the morning just like you used to. Work for "normal" people starts in the morning, right? What's interesting is that the isolation and lockdown protocols has made visible an entire tier of workers and home makers and parents who never had the "normal" schedule. This would especially include computer programmers and IT workers, and "creatives" like artists and writers. Work from home? If my studio is at home, which it is, then I've been working from home all my life. Just keep going.

This Colorform, which follows the usual four-color format, differs only in the size of the Colorform elements. Also featured is an architectural yellow square with a black, or empty square inside it. This square-inside-square reminded me of a flat torus, a doughnut made with straight lines. This form is everywhere in the world, everywhere a building with windows exists. But is it a true topological feature, or can this square flat entity count? It's two-dimensional, which should make things simpler. 2D = window. 3D = torus. The small colors I added give this piece a vague Southwestern appearance, cacti on a red hill, a whiff of chili in the mathematics cafe'.

Photoshop, 5" x 5", May 18, 2020.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Esther Geller Studio 1997

This is a re-blog of a drawing I did of my mother's art studio in Natick, Massachusetts, my original home town. It goes with the"artist in studio" post a few days ago on May 16. Mother painted countless works of art in this studio, which she occupied from 1990 till 2000. She used to complain to me that she hadn't painted enough art during her lifetime but when we were uncovering and sorting her art output after her passing we found literally hundreds, maybe more than a thousand of them. Since they were not considered "marketable" (explanation is complex) they were donated to grateful collectors, a museum in nearby Framingham, and the Brandeis University music department.

Original sketch from December 29, 1997.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Sea Eyeballs

Under the shallow waves a creature lives, collecting shell fragments and browsing the shoreline. It seems to have some sort of wings on its back, giving it the ability to pop out of the water. Drifting among its seaweed curtains are eyeballs which survey the creature's habitat looking for its next seafood meal. And the whole Lovecraftian envoy to our world is merely a few inches long.

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 4" x 3", May 15, 2020.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Artist Esther Geller in studio 1997

These drawings are of my mother, artist Esther Geller. In late 1997 I visited her in her studio, and drew an interior image of the painting-filled workshop in the center of Natick, Massachusetts. In these two sketches Esther is not painting, but creating colorful bead necklaces of semi-precious stones and metal accents. Mother gave me dozens of them which I still wear to honor her and appreciate their beauty.

Esther wears a hair bun and did for most of her life. This was a heritage of her early history as a dancer, where the ladies wear upswept buns. My mother was always aware of fashion and color in her attire. She passed away in October of 2015.

Esther Geller was born in 1921, so her centennial memorial will be next year. I hope I can set up some kind of archival memorial for her. Some of her best material is already online and you can see it here at Flicker.

The dark area to the left in this sketch is the shadow of where the book bends. I decided to keep it as a pictorial shade element.

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 5 1/2" x 8 1/2", December 29, 1997.

Friday, May 15, 2020

The Old Back Yard 1997

I visited my folks in Massachusetts in the last days of December 1997, a voyage I made often. I'm glad I don't have to do those trips again. Nevertheless, New England will always be a memorable place for me. This image is of my parents' back yard. In previous days my father built bird nesting boxes all around the house and they were occupied by swallows, sparrows, chickadees, and other forest-habitat birds. I planted the pine tree in the background when I was 5 years old, and it grew into this big evergreen. Some years later a large limb broke off it due to snow weight. Fungus got into the tree and it eventually died. We left the leafless tree in place to provide more nesting and habitat places for more birds.

Colored pencils and a bit of ink, 5 1/2" x 8", December 27, 1997.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

The Monster Mask

We folks all around the world are wearing masks to stave off the invading plague. Even I have some to wear, made by a friend out of colorful fabric. I think I look like an idiot wearing a mask, but if it does something helpful, all right I'll wear it. I struggle with putting it on, but eventually I stuff my face into it and hope for the best. This seaborne crustacean creature is wearing one of our stylish masks complete with seaweed and ocean berries. The empty part is for journal text.

Black tech pen and Photoshop "inking," 6 1/2" x 4", May 13, 2020.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Portrait of William Kyle 1997

This is, or was, a portrait of William Kyle, who bought many small artworks from me in those fantasyland days of Darkover. Vietnam veteran, re-enactor, collector, fantasy writer, steady frequenter of the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) and fantasy conventions, I thought of him as kind of a fantasy character of his own. Doesn't he look like Hagrid the half-Giant from the Harry Potter books? In 1997 they were already starting to be published and he might have already read the first one. 

Unlike the Hagrid character, William Kyle had a daughter. We saw them at DarkoverCon over the years, and by the time I drew this portrait, she was at least six years old. She looked enchanted, in a pale dress with long, strawberry blonde hair, occasionally climbing up on her dad's lap or snuggling against him, a "fannish" family member raised in the community. 

As DarkoverCon grew older, we fans didn't see Kyle any more and he was not there to buy my art or anyone else's. It turned out that Kyle had been convicted of molesting his daughter and had been sentenced to a long time. I believe he died in prison, and no one in our community missed him.

Drawing of Kyle is black tech pen on sketchbook page, 5 1/2" x 8", November 28, 1997.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Dancing Comets

I will let no day unblogged go (as long as I can manage it that is). How about some color rather than the usual Black Square. I like the blue background for the orangey curves. I could have put more elements in but I decided to quit while I was ahead so here's your Photoshop Square Doodle for today. Vintage sketch art with sad story coming tomorrow.  

Photoshop, 5" x 5", May 12, 2020.

Monday, May 11, 2020


This Photoshop abstract study is reminiscent of work I did many years ago using "mid-century modern" styles. The square format was a try at an album or CD cover. I would have liked more wide large curved lines but it is hard to make them in Photoshop. The title "Amethysts" refers to the purple colors used in the design.

Photoshop, 5" x 5", May 11, 2020.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Avestacon ends

Scholarly conferences can be a tough job. As Avestacon came to a close I sketched another two dignitaries. Both of them were active in the Zoroastrian community as teachers and organizers. After Avestacon I continued to visit with Zoroastrians and I wrote a lot of articles for "Westerners" about aspects of Z. faith and culture. I had it in mind that at some point I would draw back from my connection with the Zoroastrians once they had their own organization and public infrastructure, and by Year 2000 I was ready to move on to something else.

Black tech pen ink on sketchbook page, 4 1/2" x 3 3/4", November 17, 1997.

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Zoroastrian Priests November 1997

Here are some more portraits of participants at Avestacon 1997. Most of them are Zoroastrian  priests, both from Iran and India. On formal and ceremonial occasions they dress all in white, the symbol of purity. There are both young and older men at the priestly meeting. In the Zoroastrian faith, the priesthood is inherited from father to son and is only for males. Not every priestly son wants to join the family obligation so the religion, rather like other ancient religions, needs to cultivate a new generation of priests.

Black tech pen on sketchbook pages, 10" x 8", November 1997.

Friday, May 8, 2020

Colors of Spring 2020

I do an entry like this more or less every year, celebrating (well, a rather mild celebration) the colors of Spring and the lemon-lime shades of early May, with clear intense blue sky. The warblers have arrived in the area, elusive to birdwatchers as always. The brilliant yellow-green is quickly maturing to the emerald green of later spring. And the allergy, well that's always the same, sniffle and itch. This image isn't so realistic, I paid attention to colors rather than parking lots.

Photoshop, 5" x 7", May 7, 2020.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Avestacon Scholar Guests 1997

These gentlemen are some of the special guests invited to the International Avesta Conference in the suburbs of Boston. It took place in November 1997 and I was excited to see and talk with these dignitaries whom I had never met. The Conference, as I remember, was somewhat held back by an unseasonal snowstorm but once inside the presentations carried on just fine. "Avesta" is the sacred scripture of the Zoroastrian faith so most of the talks were on religious literature.

Identifying the attendees: Top left, Pallan Ichaporia, a Zoroastrian from Mumbai, India now living in Pennsylvania. Upper right: William Malandra, Behram Deboo. Center Left, John Hinnells from Derbyshire, England. Bearded gent in white uniform, Dastur (Zoroastrian high priest) Firoze Kotwal from Mumbai.

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 5" x 8", November 15, 1997.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Noodle Monster

It's a Noodle Monster, but it isn't the famous pseudo-deity the "Flying Spaghetti Monster." Inspired by Japanese demon cartoons and everyone's favorite floating noodle, it could be a "Ramen Noodle Monster," or an "Orchid Air Root Monster." I don't think it's meant for human eating, though. It's probably drifting through the seas off Japan, watching for something to snag as dinner drops downward as refuse from fishing boats.

Arteza and other markers on sketchbook page, 6" x 3 1/2", May 3, 2020.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Ritual Purity Zoroastrian Face Masks 1997

Face masks have suddenly become an essential item of our clothing, at least our protective clothing. But they're not new at all. From ancient times onward priests of the Zoroastrian religion have tended their Sacred Fire while wearing white face masks. Why do they do this? It is not only for hygienic reasons. The Fire, seen here on its pedestal urn, must be protected against unclean exhalations and expectorations. The modern masks are said to do the same thing, though the Zoroastrian masks are open at the bottom. Alongside hygiene is the concept of ritual purity, which probably derives from the rules of hygiene. Ritual purity isn't only a Zoroastrian concept. Many religions carry this concept into their ritual spaces and worship: Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and even Christianity represent ritual purity. So when you put on your bright cloth mask or practical blue paper, remember that it's not just health you are promoting, it's the spiritual life and the protection of purity against the onslaughts of the world.

Here's a bit more about all this from my original blog entry in February of 2019.

Monday, May 4, 2020

Domes of Fire 1997-98

For me, the 1990s was probably my best era for artistic productivity, before I surrendered to necessity and got a day job. The rough sketches above are for the third of my ultra-detailed large fantasy city panorama paintings. All of my best works of the 1990s were private commissions (except some of my religious pieces). This one, "Domes of Fire," was based on a fabulous city appearing in a series by David Eddings. It was commissioned by a family of fans in Rockville, Maryland. I used spun glass Egyptian perfume bottles as inspiration and I created the landscape before I built the city.

Here's the city all finished in 1998. Original is acrylic on hardboard, 36" x 24".
Originally blogged here in June 2010. Click on image for a larger view.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Phrolicon Guests of Honor

Phrolicon despite its small size could invite major authors for book promotion and a fun weekend. Connie Willis, to the right, was already one of the biggest names in science fiction, sometimes collaborating with fellow writer Cynthia Felice. Here they are talking on a panel while I'm in the audience sketching. Folded origami from Mark Kennedy are everywhere including the paper crown on Connie's head. As of 2020 both authors are still going strong.

Black ink on sketchbook page, 5 1/2" x 8", August 3, 1997.

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Phrolicon Phood

Phood? What does that mean anyway? Well, for Phrolicon you just change the "F's" to "Ph's" like "Phila-delphia." And "Phood?" That's something you eat. At the convention's hospitality suite, fans brought or bought trays of goodies to munch on while they socialized. At the top is a hotel table well-stocked with munchies, which were usually cheese samples and raw vegetables. There was also soda or juice, stored in the hotel's bathtub in ice. Some suites had  alcohol but you had to be careful with that. Under and around the tray are failed origami foldings from the master Mark. The bottom half shows two portraits. One is Carol Kabakjian, a longtime Philadelphia science fiction fan, serving the munchies. The other is Darrell Schweitzer, man of letters, writer and critic, literary luminary of Phili-fandom.

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 5" x 8", August 2, 1997.

Friday, May 1, 2020

Weird Bio-Border

In a world turned into a huge microbiology/virology experiment, here's my improvisation on the April 30 border. It's not an exact portrait of anything but it's small and scary enough to be a Tiny Monster, or at least some sort of protozoan. When I was a young thing I collected pond water in a jar and looked for hours at the living creatures in the water, using a tiny microscope and glass slides. When I finished looking at them, I sacrificed the tiny monsters by pouring the jar liquid into the lawn outside, where they would return to the earth they inhabited.

Black marker on sketchbook page, 2" x 3", April 30, 2020.