Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Big Box 1998

When you're shopping at a big store or a mall, there are no chairs to sit on. They want you to stand up and buy stuff. Staples is no exception. This "big box" store has managed to last more than 20 years, despite episodes of mismanagement and economic downturns. Here is a view of the inside of Staples. It looks more "industrial" than the clean white interior-scape it currently inhabits. And how did I draw a picture inside the store without sitting down? I leaned my sketchbook on a display and drew while standing. I didn't get run over by the grand rolling ladder depicted near the center of the image.

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 5 1/2" x 6", March 16, 1998. I sure did a lot of drawing in 1998.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Fan Life: Ken

Science fiction fans have always been deceptive, in a good way. You see a guy dressed in old-pappy wear like this one, or a gal dressed in a witch costume, and you think they are out-of-time hippies or Deadheads or something like that. But they turn out to be top-ranked computer programmers or linguistics professors. I don't know what this friendly character did for a living, but I bet he was a techie of some sort. A brief Google search shows that he was trained as a lawyer but didn't practice. I also found that he died earlier this year, in January.
23 years ago, I drew his portrait. In memoriam Ken Newman, R.I.P.

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 5" x 8", March 14, 1998.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

What I Saw: Debris Galaxy

Looking down from my window at plaster debris from the swimming pool renovation, a cosmic deposit. (It has since been cleared away.) 

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Fan Life: Vendors

Inside the industrial - like structure of the convention hotel, vendors have tables set up for the attendees to browse. Even esotericists and magicians need pretty baubles and ceremonial jewelry, not to mention colorful ritual garb. They even like art, that is my art, which was displayed in the art show room. I did well at these conventions, selling prints of my work. Alas, I haven't done this for many years...the market for conventions faded in the 2000s.

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 5" x 7 1/2", March 13, 1998.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Ecumenicon Hotel Atrium 1998

And here is the thrilling interior atrium area of the Best Western hotel in Burtonsville, Maryland, where Ecumenicon 1998 was held. There is also a black and white line drawing of this scene on my portrait of John Champlin. It makes me think I did more drawing than conventioneering. I am sure that I've blogged this drawing before, but as the number of my postings approaches 4,000 (!) I could search all night even with the search widget and not find it so this stands as a Unique Posting as by the self-imposed rules of your Blogger here. And where are the Ecumenicists? How many are still around? Is Ecumenicon still going? There isn't much information about it after 2014, and I just don't have the energy to find it again and contact the people who ran it. The world is different now, and we are turning into Internet holograms anyway.

Markers and colored pencils on sketchbook psge, 8 1/2" x 11", March 14, 1998. Click on the image for a larger view.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Correcting Cons

Last post here you saw the notorious or famous John Champlin on the same page as a drawing of the hotel he was staying at. I claimed that John and I were attending "Mithracon," a mini-scholarly conference. Further research into my 1998 journal corrects this. Champlin and I were attending another conference, "Ecumenicon," which was devoted to general Esoteric, New Age, or Pagan studies. This event was held at the "Best Western" hotel in Burtonsville, Maryland. Here's a small sketch of an area in the lobby of that hotel. Tropical foliage and cloth-swathed furniture fail to add much interest to a rather dismal space. However, the architecture was interesting, as you will see on the next post here.

Markers and colored pencils, 5" x 5", March 13, 1998.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

John Champlin Portrait 1998

Here's another of my sketch portraits from 1998. This informal gentleman was John Champlin, who moved in many circles. He was a veteran, an academic, a family man, writer, esotericist, and scholar of Greek and Latin classics. I met him at a small scholarly conference at Yale University in New Haven. This convention was  "Mithracon," devoted to exploring the ancient Roman men's cult of Mithras the Bull-Slayer and related topics. It was not sponsored by Yale but it used the library and the museum. The group I attended was only a few people, maybe seven, but we had a great time being academics for a day. Saturday had study visits to the Library, with a presentation on our topic on Saturday night. Sunday was a visit to the Mithraeum, the temple of Mithras at the Yale Museum. My presentation was on the relations between Mithraism and Zoroastrianism.

With such a little group we all got to know each other. We listened to each others' stories and adventures, and John was a master storyteller - especially about himself. He revealed to us that he had performed spying and "black ops" actions in Russia and Eastern Europe. He was an Army veteran. And he had been captured and held in the notorious Lubyanka prison in Russia for many years.

We other scholars knew of Champlin's reputation as a fabricator of history and we didn't try to disprove him; it was just, "OK, interesting if true." Mithras was more important, a god whom Roman soldiers revered as their protector. Of course, John claimed direct descent from Mithraic Romans, and that there was a "chapter" of Mithras in the Army which he led, where the ancient traditions had remained unbroken. Other scholars, including me, said, "Right. Uh huh." No evidence! John didn't mind being contradicted; he assumed that his claims were going to be disbelieved, so why not talk about it unsecured?

John Champlin died of an infection a few years later, so his stories will remain unsubstantiated.  But many years later, I was reading a "reputable" newspaper and I found an article about American operatives held in Lubyanka prison. I immediately thought of Champlin and his fabulizing. Was he really imprisoned? What else was true that we assumed were only shadow stories? Light a candle to the Bull-slayer in the underground temple and maybe the ghosts  will speak.

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 5" x 8", March 13, 1998.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Summer Solstice Necklace

My crafter friend was wearing a necklace made of glass in summer colors, cloud white and bright yellow-green, so I created a Photoshop inspiration out of it. And above it is the recent annular eclipse of the sun, the "ring of fire" that rarely appears when the moon doesn't completely obscure the sun. It wouldn't be impossible to re-create the jewelry strands in plastic or glass, but it would require careful searching for the right materials.

Solstice - Summer - My favorite time of year, medical woes notwithstanding. 

Photoshop, 5" x 5", June 23, 2020.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Country House in the City 1998

I missed two days, June 20 and 21, on this Blog for various reasons. I am still enduring radiation treatment for breast cancer, which was caught early but needs to be taken care of. I am somewhat surprised that this is not easy to take, super-modern though it is. I have 16 sessions altogether and I am currently about to have session 4. As the medical people warned me, it makes me very tired and also disoriented so I need to take care of my progress. I stocked up on food and supplies for the next weeks so I don't have to go out which is still part of the "lockdown" discipline. As I have mentioned, posting at this By-Product may be irregular while treatment continues.

The image today is a "re-blog" of a 1998 sketch done on a glorious misty sunlit day. I first blogged it here on June 29, 2016. That was about, uh, 4 years ago. I'm repeating it because I really like this sketch and the weather was similar to June 2020. A few hours later after I did the sketch, an intense thunderstorm arrived at the area. That house is still there, old but undamaged and I wish I lived there.

Ink and colored pencil on sketchbook page. Original sketch done on May 31, 1998.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Green Porcupines

Part plant and part mammal, the spiny-covered green porcupine lives in colonies by the seashore, where it catches and consumes shore life and things dropped by other browsers. Their color while not actually chlorophyll is an excellent camouflage for porkies to trundle unharmed through the sea grass and dune vegetation.

Assemblage of marker drawings and Photoshop, 5 1/2" x 7 1/2", June 19th, 2020.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Leafy Tree Studies 1998

This is the view out of my studio window back in 1998 and it is still the view today. I make leaf studies every year. There is a wonderful variety of greens and browns depending on the light and the clouds. Sometimes the leaves reflect a clear sky and are almost blue-ish. These two sketches are of the same area and I wanted to make them as accurate as possible. As I recall, an early summer storm blew down the vine-covered darker tree right of center, shortly after I had drawn it.

Colored pencils and markers, 7 1/2",  late May 1998.

Note to readers: There may be some interruptions in the By-Product due to health care procedures in the next few weeks. Information on request.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Kit Mason Beadwork 1998

Here's another of my sketch portraits, this time in 1998. The portraitee is my friend Kit Mason, who is skilled in a number of different crafts. In this sketch Kit has a sorted bead tray in her lap and she is choosing the colors for beadwork. Everyone I know seems to do some kind of craft as well as creative writing or photography or cooking. I guess blogging is sort of a craft but not really. All I do is sketch, or paint or digital if I get serious.

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 5" x 7", March 3, 1998.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Tysons 2 Mall 1998

There are a number of malls in my area, and most of them do well despite economic depression, though we will see with this current trouble. Tysons Corner 1 was built about 50 years ago and renovated in the '80s. Tysons 2, illustrated here, was built in the 90s intended to be a fancier and more "upscale" (expensive) venue with fashion shops, jewelry and costly baubles, and a Ritz Carlton, where I once took my mother to afternoon tea.

Anyone who reads this Blog knows I love to draw in malls but I rarely draw this one. The "upscale" theme didn't last too long here; the "ups" didn't have enough "scale." It's still fancy, and at least before The Current Troubles they were even building a Tysons 3. That may stand for years in a ruinous and abandoned half-build, we will see whether I will draw there or not.

Ink and colored pencil in a Big Color Sketchbook, 7 1/2" x 3", June 14, 1998.

Monday, June 15, 2020

S.Dillon Ripley Center 1998

Here we are at the S. Dillon Ripley center on the National Mall in Washington, DC. This little copper-roofed building is a close copy of an Ottoman Turkish structure. The Dillon Ripley Center has an extensive network of tunnels and passes, all meeting at a hub under the dome. That way you can access all sorts of Smithsonian Institution museums and displays while the surface level is un-crowded.

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 5" x 7", March 6, 1998.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Deconstruction Truck

They're still at the deconstructed swimming pool. Most of the chipping and re-working is done and now they're building a ceramic tile layer around the surface edge of the pool. A guy with a circular saw has created a perfect carved rim around the structure. Whenever he does this, noxious clouds of white powder puff into the air, not to mention noisy noise. I swear they ought to give me a break on the rent since they know we were supposed to all stay indoors during the  Pandemic, but if we did, we'd get these industrial conditions all day despite the AC. The management has retreated into an air-conditioned saferoom where only an emergency can bring them out. Soon the surface workers will arrive. This is actually the fun part, watching them get plastered.

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 4 1/2" x 3 1/2". June 13, 2020.

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Metro Riders 1998

I haven't gotten out much over the last few months, and maybe neither have you, so why not some more travel pictures. You've seen Florida and the Rocket Ranch, now here's some more travelers. These two unrelated gentlemen are riding the Metro into Washington, DC from the Virginia suburbs. Everyone here rides the Metro, from floods of sneaker-clad tourists (not now,  just yet) to tech nerds to the occasional politician and in earlier times many more. The Gentlemen are both doing some sort of paperwork. I must have drawn them during stops because the lines are clear rather than messed up as the train made its way underground into the DC foggy bottom.

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 5" x 7", March 6, 1998.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Washington Metro 1998

This is the thrilling (not) platform of the West Falls Church Metro station. The train will bring you to the District of Columbia. At least in 1998 it would do that. Nowadays it is so neglected and underfunded that you are barely able to stay on board not to mention waiting for the other rickety train to rattle by. I'm not fond of public transportation no matter how much urban planners think it's the ideal way to go.  They want bikes and Metro, I won't ride a bike in the winter ice(or anywhere) nor will I wait an hour for the bus to come by. Our area just isn't great for the car-less driver, even if you're only driving one mile. I'd better shut up about this before I get criticized for being un-social.

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 5" x 8", March 6, 1998.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Jellyfish Masque

Since we are wearing masks, temporary or not, my creatures might be wearing them too. A sentient jellyfish visits Un Ballo In Maschera for mystery, color, and entertainment. Imagine what it's like not to be solid. I'll be coloring this one in so stay masqued and non-solid and suitably distant.

Black Tech Pens on sketchbook page, 7 1/2" x 4 1/2", June 10, 2020.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

After Sana Takeda

One of my favorite comics/graphic novels of recent history is "Monstress," a fantasy-horror series by artist Sana Takeda and writer Marjorie Liu. The art is exquisite, a mix of steampunk and Asian anime. The story is about a brutalized refugee girl in a fantasy world where two forms of humanoids exist in constant conflict. One form is conventionally human, but the other is an anthropomorphic mix of animal and human. The girl is of the animal mix but she looks human...until a totally non-human Elder Thing takes refuge in a different dimension that includes the heroine's own body. Sana Takeda has somehow managed to make a horrendous creature sympathetic. Well, I will never attain Takeda's ability and achievement but I can imitate her monsters. Here's the Tiny Monster for early June.

Marker, tech pen, Photoshop digital inking, 4" x 4 1/2", June 2, 2020.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Pool Deconstruction

As the hiatus in civilization as we know it continues, the apartment complex I live in has been re-doing its swimming pool, which was wrecked after a couple of unfortunate floods. This is not the only time the pool has been renovated. They have to chip the white water plaster off the walls, bit by bit, and then re-plaster the whole thing. This time they are adding more waterproof decorative concrete bits. This noisy process has already been going on for about three months and I doubt whether they will be able to complete it before summer arrives at the solstice. Since I don't use the pool and am not a swimmer, it is irrelevant to me except for the unfortunate situation that the site is directly under my window and I hear and see everything that goes on in there. The truck arrives and chatty workers emerge with their power tools at 9 AM, which to me is like 3 AM to you. Chipping off the entire surface of the old pool with small jackhammers took them ages. And the process filled the atmosphere with cement and plaster dust. I already have to wear a mask when I go outside and now I am tempted to wear it inside. There is dust everywhere. One of the few interesting features of this whole thing is that I get to draw construction equipment and trucks in my sketchbook. My renderings of these complex shapes quickly become abstractified, as you see here.

The trouble with all this effort is that this site is at the bottom of a ravine (a hollow in the land) which fills with water during heavy rains. And Pimmit Run is a stream which runs through a  tunnel under the pool. Which means that if there's a big rainfall for many days this water system will flood again. I suspect that this project is designated as "make-work" in order to keep these workers employed.

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 4" x 4 1/2", June 6, 2020.

Monday, June 8, 2020

Tysons Station

It's back to "urban sketching reality" with this view of "Tysons Station," a shopping center only a half a mile from where I live. This is also home to the Trader Joe's grocery store where I worked for 11 years. Well, in 1998 it was just getting started and I was a frequent shopper there. Tysons Station goes up a hill so shopping involves a bit of exercise, even for little lazy me. In 2020 the Trader Joe's is still there, along with a "Ledo Pizza" and a Peet's Coffee. Note the fainter drawing of the water tower behind the still leafless March trees.

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 5 1/2" x 7 1/2", March 3, 1998.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Florida Street 1998

Here it is, the street scene in Melbourne again. This is the street where Jeff and Linda lived though these houses are not theirs. You can read about it if you want, why should I repeat myself though I'd love to go back to Florida. I'm re-blogging this because it belongs to the set of pictures I've been going through just now. I will be moving on to other locales, or back into other familiar art themes like Geometrika or Urban Sketching Reality. Thanks for your appreciation.

Ink and colored pencils on sketchbook page, January 25, 1998.

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Florida house 1998

When I first arrived in Florida I was impressed with its warm humid air in January. Linda, Jeff and our friends were able to wait outside to view, from 40 miles away, a Space Shuttle launch. The blaze of the golden flame rising was impressive even from that distance. Later it got un-Florida chilly as I have already said. This house is not Linda and Jeff's. They wouldn't have paid for a pompous doorway such as this one. There is some Photoshop restoration on the left edge. Of course I had my colored pencils with me.

Colored pencil on sketchbook page, about 5" x 4", January 22, 1998.

Friday, June 5, 2020

Florida spiky vegetation

One thing that impressed me about Florida was that much of the vegetation I observed was dry, hard, razor sharp, and spiky. Some of this was due to the Florida winter which only lasts a month or so. I bought a book on "Florida nature" and was able to identify some of this bizarre (to me) plant growth. I also drew at least one plant study which you see here. The "sunburst" at the lower right corner is a medicinally valuable saw palmetto. And out of these dangerous pointy shrubs emerges a Disney elf visiting Kennedy Space Center. This is an actual outfit worn by a tourist visitor.

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 8 1/4" x 8 3/4", plenty of restoration in Photoshop, January 27, 1998. Remember, as my mother's artist friend Dawn Randall used to say, "It doesn't exist until you've drawn a sketch of it."

Thursday, June 4, 2020

My Clock is Cute

My studio clock, seen from behind, reads its little book. Pareidolia makes me see faces in non-humanoid places. In the background is a colorful forest of perfectly counted markers. The "book" is a tiny Eastern Orthodox icon. An interlude before going back to Florida.

Photoshop cuteness.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Rocket Ranch 1998

We went to Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral...who wouldn't? While we were there we visited the display known as the "Rocket Ranch," where replicas of NASA's early astronaut voyages were planted and secured by guy wires. Some of these full-size rockets have old Mercury and Gemini space capsules at the top. My friends gave me a lot of time to do this and  I added lots of detail. I've always wondered why rockets are white with geometric black markings on them. The smudgy part near the center of the drawing is my Photoshop restoration of the middle of the sketchbook, the "spine." 

Black ink on sketchbook page, 8" x 8 1/2", January 26, 1998. Now you know just what I was doing on that date.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Linda in the Kitchen 1998

And now back in Florida with our friend Linda. She's showing off a T-shirt with my design on it. In the background is the kitchen with nice cabinets and a bottle of wine. I ate very well on this Florida trip including fried chunks of alligator tail, conch - filled muffins, and a cocktail called the "Latt-i-tude Adjustment," served to us at a touristy establishment called "Conchy Joe's." Alligator tail tasted good, kind of like a mixture of pork and tuna.

You might think that this Florida trip of mine was blessed with tropical weather but in reality it was quite chilly much of the time and I even had to buy an extra sweatshirt at Disney World - for an exorbitant price of course.

Black ink on sketchbook page, 5 1/2" x 8 1/2", January 25, 1998.

Monday, June 1, 2020

Black Moon Unrest

Wait, what? I just woke up from an ambient nap to find the world changed as if someone had stepped on Ray Bradbury's time-lapsed butterfly. One week I am sitting at Peet's Coffee with my arty lady friends, discussing semi-precious stones and graphic design. The next week we are wondering whether the plague will get us in the grocery store and I have to wear a shmattah (rag in Yiddish) just to get in (Not Sally's masks, which are arty). No matter how bright and cheerful our face-wraps are, I find it difficult to accept this brave new world. 

But I am perseverant if anything. I will blogify, whether it's art or words. I am the only person counting these posts. I insist that there's one blogification and Arial-type words per day. I have an idea for a real simple image. I'll be back in a few minutes - before the midnight deadline. You're invited to watch a few buildings burn in the meantime.

Here you go. The little orange flames depict molotov cocktails and other fiery destruction in progress. The blue circles are dark moons, or police lights. 

There, I'm done. And even topical.

"Black Moon Unrest," Photoshop, 5" x 5", June 1, 2020.