Friday, July 31, 2020

Little House in the Suburbs 1997

My father built this little house for me in 1958, when I was only 5 years old. It was a garden shed re-purposed as a playhouse and I used it as a playhouse throughout my childhood. The environment is New England brush and evergreen forest grown back to a suburban wilderness after clear-cutting in 1955. Yes, this suburban forest environment was a tree-less mini-prairie fifty years before. Not much has changed. The original main house has been re-built as a two-story house and this "Little House" has been rebuilt with color and trim to match the main house.

Brown ink and colored pencils on illustrated sketchbook page, 8" x 5 1/2", December 31, 1997.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Yale Library 1998

Earlier on the By-Product I showed some sketches from the mini-scholarly conference I attended at Yale. We non-official scholars got to use the elegant Sterling Memorial Library reference room. I did my scholarly work but took time to do this highly detailed depiction of the room. That's real stained glass in those windows. The squarish shape at lower right is a lamp for us readers and sketchers. They still run this conference over more than 23 years! But I have moved on and need to allocate my resources where I can do my more important work. (What is my "more important" work? Something artistic I guess). 
Library sketch: Click on image for a larger view.

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 8 1/2" x 5 1/2", May 16, 1998.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Mid-Century Moon

Just recently I read a book about one of my favorite things: space and geometric art. The book is "Another Science Fiction: Advertising the Space Race" by Megan Prelinger. This heavy slab of a book details the use of geometric and abstract art in ad campaigns advertising the work of various tech companies in the 1950s and 60s. These ads also invited engineers to submit their resume's to these companies as there were jobs aplenty in the space and rocket field. The book is packed with art which I would have liked to paint. And it was painted and drawn, sometime on the forgotten medium of scratchboard. I looked closely at the reproduced ads. Many of them were printed complete with the ad copy. If you read the text it's clear that this rather difficult prose was aimed at engineers and administrators. The reproduced text is so tiny that you can barely read it, one of the only faults of this book. There's very little ad photography in that advertising era, and Prelinger carefully explains how the images in tech advertising progressed from hand-done art to photographs which were easier to manage.

I did quite a lot of work like this for various tech publications during the early Internet era. Looking at the ads in the book I can see just how the artists used ink and watercolor as their main medium. I don't think anyone will use traditional media for advertising any more, it's just too time-consuming and expensive. But any artist, including me, can easily crank out a geometric image with an hour or two of Photoshop time.

Photoshop, 8" x 3", July 28, 2020.

OK folks, sorry for the missed day. I am having all sorts of trouble with updating my Macintosh operating systems. I'm not done yet so please be patient.

Monday, July 27, 2020

July Doodle Page

Larvae and worms occupy my date stamps for mid-July. There are seven date stamps on this page, can you find them all? The blank spaces are for words, which I erased before posting here. I'm still having lots of browser and software update problems, issues, whatevers. Bloggle, if you want me to post, then tell me where the button to push for "new posting" is! Maybe the truth is that, as a friend diplomatically advised me, the weblog or traditional "blog" is obsolete and if you want to write and make an online diary, go on Instagram. Or do your blogging by video. Trust me, you don't want to see me in my studio when the blue light from my screen turns me into an aging alien. 

Ink, markers, Photoshop on sketchbook page, 8" x 7 1/2", July 2020.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Back to Posting, I Guess: Cubist Bird

It's been about four days since I posted here. "Blogger," my host for more than 10 years, upgraded  their infrastructure (I love that word, " makes me sound smart) and all the posters must follow a new layout. Once I figured out how to make it work, I can go back to serving up art by- products for my devoted readers. I want fresh new art on this page, even if it is just a doodle. There will still be vintage art, too. A doodle is when I just put a pen in my hand, put that on paper, and go from there with no plans or theme intended. Anyone can do this. If something too stupid shows up, I can always delete, erase, or tear it up. Lately as you can see I've been playing with my date stamp designs. I may color this one in later. Cheers in a time of horror and chaos.

Ink and Photoshop assembly on sketchbook page, July 2020.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Artist with Attitude, 1998

Ron Miller is one of America's greatest living astronomical, science fiction, and fantasy artists. He is amazingly prolific in the visual world and he also writes fiction and non-fiction. In the spring of 1998 at Balticon I met up with him and drew one of my sketchy little portraits. We had a great conversation and I would later meet up with him at other conventions. In 1998 when this picture was drawn, Ron was getting serious about digital art and had put away his traditional painting medium. But now that I've seen his latest art done in traditional media, I'm wondering whether he changed his mind. Most of the artists I know, including Ron and myself, work in a "hybrid" style using both digital and traditional media.

There is a short quote in the background, attributed to Ron. I didn't say it, Ron inscribed it on my picture of him and I have no idea why.

Black tech pen as usual on sketchbook page, 5 1/2" x 8 1/2", April 11, 1998.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020


Eowyn was named after the heroic warrior maiden from Tolkien's LORD OF THE RINGS. She lived with my hosts in San Jose. I stayed a few days after the meeting with Eowyn's people. Cats and dogs can often sense distress or danger in humans and they try to help them out. I was still suffering from the infection and Eowyn came around to take care of me. She snuggled next to me and placed herself on my chest trying to comfort me.

Brown ink and colored pencils on sketchbook page, about 4" x 3", July 14, 1998.

Monday, July 20, 2020

My Kitchen Window

I got myself back home still in severe pain, and dashed to the clinic, then to the dentist on an emergency Saturday visit. The X-ray scan revealed nothing out of the ordinary but they judged
my affliction to be an infection and gave me antibiotics, and soon the pain began to abate. A few months later the infection was discovered at another dentist visit and after a root canal operation it was, I guess you could say "normalized." And that's all I want to say about dental woes.

This domestic still life is still pretty much what my kitchen window still looks like, 22 years later. You see colorful cleaning products, a spice shelf, the dishwasher, and colored glass on the windowsill. Out the window are the fresh green trees of early summer. There are two plants on this windowsill that are long gone in my current era.

Brown tech pen and colored pencils, 4" x 6", May 30, 1998.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Rosicrucian Museum San Jose 1998

This colorful building is the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum, situated in its own Rosicrucian Park in San Jose. It houses a large collection of artifacts, most of which are replicas. If you are old enough, you might remember ads for "Ancient Wisdom Revealed!" in the back pages of pulp magazines and comic books. Those ads were not ancient, but the product of a highly eclectic religion promoted by an esoteric belief group named after another such group back in the Renaissance. This museum belongs to them.

My hostess was thrilled to go in and see the museum, but it cost a lot for just replicas so while she toured I sat outside and drew this drawing of part of the building. In 1998 it was somewhat shabby but since then it has been completely renovated with new exhibits added and new ancient wisdom revealed.

Brown tech pen ink and colored pencils on sketchbook page, 7 1/2" x 5 1/2", July 15, 1998. Click on image for a larger view.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Civic Flowers of San Jose 1998

Now we are back on the streets of San Jose, admiring the flowers planted in a museum district. The attraction is the "Rosicrucian Museum" which my hostess wanted us to visit. The lavender blue flowers are "Agapanthus" also known as "Lily of the Nile", and the red ones are probably the late Jerry Garcia's "Scarlet Begonias."

Brown tech pen on lavishly decorated sketchbook page, 4" x 7", July 14,1998.

Friday, July 17, 2020

California Landscapes 1998

The religious group's meeting took place in Burlingame, a fancy ritzy suburb of San Francisco. The old convent was surrounded by beautiful gardens, and for this East Coaster the birdwatching was great. Every bird I saw except common ones like starlings or sparrows was new to me! There were hawks, hummingbirds, finches, and woodpeckers, all of which I could now place on my "life list." I also managed to draw these two little drawings in my sketchbook.

Unfortunately, I was suffering badly from a mouth or tooth infection which was very painful. I only kept it tolerable by taking lots of Aleve pain reliever. I wanted to go home but I decided to stay at the meeting anyway. 

Colored pencils on sketchbook page, 6" x 2", July 11, 1998.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

San Jose streetscape 1998

For someone living here all or even some of their life, this is a normal street with the view you see every day. But for someone like me, growing up in chilly hilly Massachusetts, ordinary California was exotic and colorful. A blue mountain in the distance! Spanish style houses with red tile roofs! And palm trees! I had to draw them, just as I had in Florida. Would a Californian feel the same way about the Northeast? In fact, they would as I remember the remarks of Californians at Harvard.

Brown ink and colored pencil on sketchbook page, 4" x 4", July 10, 1998.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

San Jose front yard 1998

After I arrived at the airport I met my hostess in a rented car and we drove back to her home in San Jose. She and her partner lived in a rather run-down part of town but it was the only place they could afford. The intense brilliance of the California sun caused me to walk around the neighborhood and I drew this picture of someone's front yard, which was full of tacky Italian garden sculptures and real green plants. 

Brown ink and colored pencils, 4 1/2" x 6 1/2", July 10, 1998.

Gosh! Entry in JUST before the deadline...

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Onward to California 1998

Now we are done with the Pagan fans in Maryland, and within a few days I am off to California for a meeting of my religious group, equally hairy and esoteric-minded. Our West Coast members are hosting us in a very nice retreat venue that used to be a convent. So we are being nuns for a few days. Depicted here is Dulles International Airport, with the Japanese flag hanging with all the other country flags from the roof. There are vendors' booths in the hallway.

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 5 1/2" x 7 1/2", July 9, 1998.

Monday, July 13, 2020

Kabbalah Michael 1998

I drew this gentleman's portrait while he was lecturing on mind-bending Jewish Mysticism, the Bible, and the Kabbalah. His name is Michael but for security's sake I don't give last names. Mike is wearing a shirt with the logo I designed for this esoteric convention: a Pagan nature image of the leaf faced "Green Man." Note the "kepah" or yarmulke head covering, worn by orthodox Jews. Michael was a rare combination of Jewish, Pagan, and fantasy fan. They don't make 'em like they used to.

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 3" x 4", July 4,1998.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Mr. Chairman 1998

The guy in red at the top of the page is the chairman of the convention. Year after year this well-connected Pagan personality arranged guests, made sure the hotel was pleased with our use of their space, viewed schedules, and saw that guests were at least somewhat satisfied. Graphic design and logos were my responsibility, though I didn't design the red shirt. I did ten T-shirt logos and program covers during my time with this convention. I am not naming any names here but anyone in the Pagan community near me will know who the red shirted character is. The average attendance at this convention was between a hundred and two hundred weekenders, with more coming in as one-day guests. 

The question is: Does this convention still exist? I couldn't find it at first, not even through Google, but I finally found it. At that point, in 2014, there were three "inheritor" conventions with the same theme. Finally I found that this convention had been "folded in" to another less playful and more serious educational event. Even so, the Difficulties have forced all of these meetings into a "virtual" or perhaps "astral-projected" format.

Black tech pen and colored pencils on sketchbook page, 5 1/2" x 8 1/2", July 3, 1998.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Fan Life Pagan Patriarch again 1998

Here we are with our friendly Pagan priest, top image. During my years among the Pagans I knew him fairly well. He was a fun guy except when he was having an emotional, financial, or health crisis, which was often. But that could be said about a lot of Pagans I knew. The bottom image is a vendor's stand in the dealers' room, where it was easy to spend a lot of money on books, trinkets, and my art. All of this community was already declining due to the aging and infirmities of fans and with the plague many if not all conventions and meetings have been cancelled or postponed.

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

Friday, July 10, 2020

Pagan Patriarchs

The conventions I went to in 1998 were either fantasy themed, or Pagan/New Age, or some combination of both. The Neo-Pagan community was closely knit (and many of them were knitters, too) so there was always something to have in common and enjoy talking about. It was a family with the good and bad of a "real" family. Costumes were accepted but not required.

These two robed and bearded patriarchs were "important" men in the community who organized conventions, held get-togethers, and assisted people in their careers, fortunes, and misfortunes. On the left is an organizer, counselor, and ritualist priest; the larger figure to right is an artist who specialized in Pagan and erotic themed art. I had an art exhibit at this convention and also gave a presentation, as I remember. I even sold some art there.

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

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Maryland Urban Landscape 1998

1998 was a year of traveling for me, usually for conventions or other art or scholarly matters. These two vignettes are from a trip I made to the Baltimore area for a convention. They are views out my hotel windows. Remember, I always bring my art stuff with me, even a set of colored pencils with which I did these. The one on the right is only about two and a half inches wide.

Ink and colored pencils on sketchbook page, together 8" x 4", July 2, 1998.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Parking Lot Vista 1998

If there is anything in my world that would qualify as "most seen" and "most boring" it would be the endless proliferation of parking lots in front of store clusters. I have lived here for more than thirty years and parking my car among others in the lot is a lifetime pre-occupation. Sitting in front of Starbucks sipping coffee is another life-time activity. This drawing depicts a Starbucks customer who is also enjoying a smoke. This is twenty-three years ago, when smoking outdoors was still permitted. When I first came to this area you could smoke wherever you wanted. The stink of cigarettes was everywhere. More and more restrictions were added and nowadays I hardly smell it at all. You can still smoke in designated areas but it is now rare to see public smokers in our urban environment. It's an example of enforced changes in a lifestyle, just like the virus-fighting face masks that are suddenly part of daily life for many folks. Just don't burn your mask with your cigarette.

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 5 1/2" x 7 1/2", April 6, 1998.

Monday, July 6, 2020

Summer Vegetables and Fruits

Vegetables and fruit. This is what I'm supposed to eat. Sometimes I do, but not all the time. You see here broccoli, a red pepper, and two plums, partially wrapped in a tablecloth. Note the  hidden wine glass. Still life art is easier than portrait art because your portraitee doesn't squirm around and talk. And then you eat your subject.

Markers on sketchbook page, 7" x 3 1/2", July 5, 2020.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

NoRuz Re-blog from 1998 to 2019

This 1998 drawing is "re-blogged" from March 23, 2019. It depicts the offerings and the fire urn at a Zoroastrian ceremony celebrating the Persian New Year. On the floor altar, designated by oriental rugs, are ritual objects such as fire-tending tools and a twig of sandalwood for the fire There are also traditional foods such as creamy sweets, cakes, nuts, and fruits. I'm re-blogging this because I didn't look to find it in the archives and my 1998 sketchbook. I'l try not to do too much re-blogging but it's kind of difficult to find it in the search widget after almost 4000 entries. I want to keep giving you fresh and unique art and by-products for your entertainment. 

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 8 1/2" x 5 1/2", re-blogged March 23, 2019 from a drawing done March 21, 1998.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Re-Blog Parking Lot Fireworks

Re-visiting the postings of earlier days, here's the image of the yearly fireworks vending area which I posted back in 2008 when this Blog was just starting. It's there again now and business is brisk as folks stock up on explosives. The weather was different today in 2020, brightness and heat, too hot for me to set up my drawing station. My colored pencils would melt! I hope you don't mind seeing this image again, after 12 years! Stuff like this, I can hardly believe. 

Ink and colored pencil on lavishly illustrated 1998 sketchbook journal page June 27, posted June 2008, re-posted July 4, 2020.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Plague Summer Date Stamps

The folks at Blogger can't let well enough for now, they have to mess with something that was good enough for me for 11 years, oh well I'll figure it out somehow. I want my image all the way to the left side of the "page" but somehow it won't let me. And the font defaults to Times as soon as I want a new paragraph after a space. This is the situation of modern media: They change it, or invent it, but don't bother giving you the instructions. 

These are "date stamps" from my sketchbook journal. We're living in a world filled with invisible microscopic things which can kill us. Well I suppose it's been like that all along. Keep that mask up.

Markers on sketchbook page, 4 1/2" x 2 1/2".

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Remembering Wineworld

I think what we wine lovers miss most about the bio-constraints we are currently in, is our wine explorations in the Virginia countryside and the glory of the sip. This vine looks like an Art Nouveau decorative panel but it's there for the wine and inspiring art is only part of its joy. Many times we drank the golden nectar of Naked Mountain's creation, taking it for granted that the Chardonnay and the Cabernet Franc would always be there for us. And then a conscious-less phenomenon of nature swept them away. Sure, we can always contrive work-arounds at outdoor wine set-ups but the arrangement always has that element of bio-terror or bio-paranoia lurking underneath. 

The vintners have not abandoned their vines. We will sip again, don't know when. For now, the green image must sustain us.

Photo from Naked Mountain vineyard, 11" x 14."

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Supersonic Orange

My birthday was June 25, and these are the little tiles I put behind my date entry for my sketchbook journal. I am represented by the orange rocket plane at left, which is an image of "Glamorous Glennis." She was the inspiring wife of pilot Chuck Yeager, the first man to break the sound barrier. He named his supersonic plane after her. Believe it or not, Yeager is still with us at age 97. His historic flight was in October 1947. The pink and orange swoops symbolize the sound barrier. I remember hearing "sonic booms" in my childhood as supersonic jets passed overhead.

Markers, altered with Photoshop, 8" x 2 1/2", June 2020.

Readers, please be aware that my entire June set of postings, and probably others as well here, has been invaded with spam "messages." Proceed with caution.