Wednesday, September 30, 2020

High Rises 1998

At the end of the summer in 1998, the atmosphere was still hazy and warm, when I did the "Drawing of the Day." Though the urban scene is densely built up, there are plenty of trees and landscape islands to exude moisture and reflect light. These high rise office - residential buildings are in an area known as "Bailey's Crossroads." The title refers to the Barnum and Bailey circus, which was stationed here when not on tour.

Colored pencils with grey and brown ink, 5" x 3", August 1998.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Persian Musicians 2 1998


The concert continued and more people got up to dance. I didn't dance, I sketched. These musicians were so good that I wonder if they were professionals. I was glad to capture these folks in mid-gesture. I also got to draw the drum - I think it was a doumbek. The word on the sign, "ZAMWI," is an acronym which stands for "Zoroastrian Association of Metropolitan Washington, Inc." I was very friendly with them back in the 1990s but now I never see them. That's all right I suppose, I needed to move on.

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 5" x 8 1/2", October 4, 1998.

Monday, September 28, 2020

Persian Musicians 1 1998


After the religious ceremony was over, the people moved to another room for a concert of traditional Persian music. There were three musicians: one on violin, one on the tar, and another on a hand drum. I love Persian music and this was a unique chance for me to hear it live. During the concert when the music got more energetic, an elderly lady from the congregation got up and started dancing. This embarrassed some of the attendees (perhaps her family) but she kept boogeying. You see two images of Persian Disco Granny at the top of the page.

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 5" x 8 1/2", October 4, 1998.

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Fishy Creatures


This By-Product entry isn't on the usual schedule but here it is. Somewhere in the watery depths of this Earth are creatures that look like this. Their movement is elegant and they navigate in a world without visible light. Bioluminescence guides them to their prey or to their mates. If these little water-wingers were expanded into giant creatures the size of an airplane, they'd be monsters. Maybe they will be monsters if they grow up. But one man's monster is another man's oceanography.

Ink and markers on sketchbook page, 5" x 5", September 27, 2020.

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Maddalena Church Rome 1975


I spent a lot of time on the street in Rome, doing what countless other artists have done and continue to do: draw. Fortunately the art deposits of three thousand years gave me and my fellow pencil wielders unlimited subject matter especially if it was architecture. This impressive molding or carving is from the Church of the Maddalena or Mary Magdalene, a perfect example of the Baroque style. You can't get enough of these grand cornices and sculptures, which have their roots in Later Roman Empire architecture and design. And as time went on, immigrant artists and architects brought their memories of this style to other continents and nations, so you could see Ancient Rome in a Victorian portico.

Pencil on sketchbook page, 7 1/2" x 5 1/2", 1975.

Friday, September 25, 2020

More Bubbles


And so here's the colored, de-worded, and re-mixed Bubble Border. It's also inspired by vintage pieces of Venetian glass in my collection, or perhaps polished sea-glass fragments that you find on a beach. Think of Venice. Think of how many plagues have come and gone there. I will wait in my
quarantina bubble.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Logo and Colors for 2021


Most of us can't wait to get rid of 2020. That  includes me but I need to provide a logo and symbolic colors for the New Year. I have chosen a tomato red fading into coffee brown for the main panel, accented by plant motifs in gold. The theme for 2021's imaginative sketches is "Plants," but not necessarily green ones. 2021 will also be a manifestation of 17-year cicadas, with billions of them making a lot of noise. The Photoshoppery you see here is only at the experimental stage. But oh, do I remember those swarms and screams.

Photoshop, September 24, 2020.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Zoroastrian Autumn Festival 1998


In 1998 I was still working on my Zoroastrian research project and attending meetings and ceremonies. This composite sketch shows, from left to right, a priest reciting from the Avesta, the scriptures of the faith; congregation including a young boy, and a ceremonial festive table. On the table are plates of cookies, candles, symbolic decorations, and a portrait of the Prophet Zarathushtra in a frame. The ladies wear a white scarf at ceremonies, and the gentlemen wear a white cap on their heads similar to the Jewish yarmulke. The occasion of this festival was the Autumn Equinox, a moment where we are now.

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 5" x 8", October 4, 1998.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Marblehead Marina 1998 - 2

And here is another sketch on the same page as the last one. Marblehead and that area of Massachusetts coastline is filled with imposing and historic buildings, all of them related to the seafaring culture that grew up in the area. This is a big building loaded with complex structures and a turret sometimes called a "widow's walk" from the imagined scene of a lady whose husband is missing at sea. She goes up to the top of the tower hoping to see his ship returning from the distance.

Brown ink and colored pencil on sketchbook page, 3" x 3", August 27, 1998.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Marblehead Marina 1998 - 1


Marblehead is a picturesque town on the coast north of Boston. I don't often get to do pictures of boats or other marine scenes but in August of 1998 I got the chance. My parents and I made a touristic trip through the old town and stopped long enough for me to depict this scene of boats and a big boathouse. I also sketched a shoreline outcrop of rock where sea gulls were perching. To a New Englander, every moment of good weather and nice viewing is precious.

Brown ink and colored pencils, 8" x 3 1/2", August 27, 1998.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Bubbly Border


The new upgrade here at Blogger isn't my favorite thing on the planet, but I'll have to deal with it, won't I. So if I want my aesthetically pleasing left-align for my art item, I have to find it buried under something that looks like a stack of papers. And in 12 years of publishing I've never gotten it to stay on the same typeface just for me. Oh well those are graphic designer grumbles, at least it still works. Just about everything I own needs an upgrade, including my hair. What you see here is yet another "fun" border, this one based on bubble shapes. Re-mix and coloration to follow. I still can't go into the hairdresser though.

Markers on sketchbook journal page, 5 1/2" x 4 1/2", September 20, 2020.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Urban Landscaping


Even though this is a dense urban area, there are still plenty of trees including green plantings for the parking lots. This is a view of some of the roof of a nearby shopping center, where Trader Joe's is. Back then the roof was a forest green color. There were banners on the light stands, autumn colors with a leaf motif. I used to enjoy the changing of the banners which matched the season. Now the roof has been re-painted off-white and the banners are no longer used. But if you work or shop here, you will encounter all sorts of green life.

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 5 1/4" x 5 1/4", September 13, 1998.

Friday, September 18, 2020

By-Product in Natick

Dear Reader(s):

I regret that I haven't blogged an artwork today, but the difficulties of keeping my mind and work together these days have caught up with me and I just didn't have the energy to do a posting. Social Distancing for me means Just Stay All Day in Bed. Well, all right, some art of mine showed up, with my permission, in an online brochure for my old home town's Parks and Recreation section. It is a depiction of the steeple of downtown Natick's First Presbyterian Church, with fall leaves.

The first image you see on the brochure isn't mine, it's a beautiful photograph of historic Natick Center with its green and bandstand and the church. You are invited to scroll down until you find a very similar image to the right, depicting the church. That one's mine. Natick is colorful and full of New England goodness. Thanks for your patience!


Thursday, September 17, 2020

Starbucks Crowd 1998


There's always something, or someone, to draw at Starbucks. There are three perspectives in this drawing. I patiently drew all the coffee drinkers in their proper size. I miss my Starbucks so much. You can get the coffee but you can't drink it indoors. Outdoor dining will soon be too cold for me to tolerate. Sure, you can buy the coffee and make it at home, but not with your friends. It's gonna be a long winter. 

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 5 1/2" x 8 1/2", September 4, 1998.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Esther's reading corner 1998

My mother Esther loved to read. She had a reading corner in the sunroom and music studio that my folks had added onto the house in 1989. In wintertime the sun shone in and she loved the light. The reading nook was filled with modest treasures. In front was a commemorative chair from Brandeis University honoring my father's 37 years of service. On the couch was a bright woven textile from Mexico, brought back by a friend. The pole lamp dates from the late 1950s.

Brown ink and colored pencils on sketchbook page, 3 1/2" x 4 1/2", August  23, 1998.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Building Number 19, 1998


These are things from my earlier life in eastern Massachusetts. At lower left, a typical wood frame porch house, a standard vernacular architecture I love. At middle left, something that looks like a bridge but I'm not sure, it could be a sign post. At the top, the sign for "Building No. 19 7/8", a junk shop my father frequented. "Building Number Nine" was a chain of salvage and surplus shops, full of dead merchandise removed from leftover goods in poor condition. The top number of the fraction designated which of the stores in the chain this was. My father, obsessed with getting "bah-gins" (Boston accent there), would go there almost every day and return with something damaged and dusty. There was also a flower shop and a corner for salvaged fruit and vegetables, which my father also collected. In this little market, which was in the grubby vestibule of the main shop, my father and a few other local geezers of various ethnicities ("The Armenian Guy," "The Albanian Guy," "The Jewish Guy,"etc.)  got together to socialize and blab. The people at the store all got to know my father since he was in there buying something every day. The store even celebrated my father's 90th birthday with a custom-made cartoon card done by the artist who did the ads for the store. 

Shortly after my dad died in 2013, Building No. 19 7/8" closed, and after that the whole chain disappeared. Those who knew my father and his life there remarked that once my father was gone there was no reason to keep the store open. Last I heard, there were plans to demolish the old store where the shop was and re-build a fancy new shopping center there. A "visit" with Google Street View shows a new shopping center there, but hardly fancy, just a strip mall with a few chain stores such as Advance Auto Parts and Chipotle, with "Dollar Tree" replacing Building No. 19.

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 5" x 8", August 27, 1998.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Crawling Trash


Nothing political going on here, no. Just some bits of trash that blew together in the wind and acquired a sort of life. She's on her way somewhere, all dressed up in shreds of plastic and fiber. The rats and bugs give her respect among the crawlies, and she continues the fashionable march of urban elegance.

Black pen ink on sketchbook journal page, 4" x 3 1/2", September 12-14, 2020.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Little House in Summer 1998


A month or so ago I showed you my 1998 sketch of this Little House in winter, so here it is again in summer. I drew it during one of my endless series of trips to Massachusetts to visit my folks. By 1998 most of the back yard was overgrown except for some flowers that my father had planted. The red ones are cannas and the pink ones are Cleome or "spider flower," known for exploding its ripe seeds at you if you touch it.

During my youth and early teen years I spent a lot of time in this shed, and even slept there once or twice although there were no sanitary facilities and I had to go back into the main house to take care of business. Still, the time spent in the Little House as well as our family vacations in our Volkswagen camping bus has left with me a lifelong fascination with cabins, mini-RV's, and tiny shelters of all kinds.

Brown ink and colored pencil on sketchbook page, 8" x 5," August 19, 1998. 

Saturday, September 12, 2020

By the way, another Tiny Monster


It's not all Roman churches or Starbucks coffee drinkers here on the By-Product. After all, the Theme for this monstrous 2020 is "Tiny Monsters." So keep 'em swimming, keep 'em flying, and you won't be disappointed. This little monster probably exists somewhere in the waters of this Earth, as a nudibranch or a jellyfish or a coral. Water seems to support the best monsters of this series. Some like it pelagic.

Black ink on sketchbook page, with added Photoshop seaweed, 4" x 3", September 11, 2020.

Friday, September 11, 2020

Santa Barbara in Rome 1975


I spent a year in Rome in 1975-76 on a study and drawing fellowship. I've already shown you some of the drawings I did, although it might have been 10 years ago. Here are a few Roman drawings in pencil. There's nothing better to draw than buildings in Italy. This one is a small church, "Saint Barbara of the Bookbinders," originally dated to the 1300s and renovated all the way into the late 20th century.

Pencil on sketchbook page (paper has yellowed over the years), 7" x 8", Rome 1975. Click on image for a larger view.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Japanese Girls Visit America


In the 1990s (and probably even now) imaginative young kids went through a "Japanesian" phase in their teen years where they became obsessed with Japanese dramatic cartoons and art (called "anime") and just about anything from there. Some of these fans undertook learning the Japanese language and they dedicated their artistic talent to creating fan art in the anime style. Even more, fan-Americans wanted to visit far-off Japan in person. But what about the reverse? Were there Japanese fans who were equally caught up in Americana? Certainly there were because the Japanese animation style was originally built on American models and Disney cartoons. So, in the summer of 1998 these two intrepid girls, Saori and Mizuho, made the journey to America as part of a student exchange visiting program. They stayed with the same mother whom I had depicted falling asleep on a guest couch. It must have been quite an adventure though their English language skills weren't that good. And what did they eat in America? Did they consume exotic foods like hamburgers, chili, or clam chowder (this was in Massachusetts)? No, we took them to our favorite Japanese restaurant! I got to draw them in this little sketch and they did a lot of giggling.

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 5" x 5", August 26, 1998.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Hot Pants at Starbucks 1998


You can get your coffee at Starbucks while wearing teeny hot pants. and no one cares. It must have been a warm day that May, almost June. My perspective is pretty good here, with coffee on the table as I drew. And I'm not even wearing shorty short hot pants.

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 8 1/2" x 5 1/2", May 28, 1998.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Paradise Sushi 1998


This is my carefully depicted image of my favorite neighborhood restaurant in 1998, "Paradise Sushi." You can read about it here, in my 1998 journal, my homage to this bit of fantasy dining,
I miss this place a lot, but it is gone from this area forever.

Brown ink and colored pencils on sketchbook page, 6" x 5", September 19, 1998.

Monday, September 7, 2020

Crusty Crustacean


He, or it, is watching you. Watching from the depths of the ocean where he can grow to great size. Our world is as alien to it as it is to us. Imagine the intolerable light and searing blue of the upper ocean. Flee, unfold those fins and return to the land of darkness and floating feasts of fermentation. A crusty crustacean returns to a welcome home.

Black ink on sketchbook journal page, 3 1/2" x 6 1/2", September 2020.

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Autumn Colors Emerge


In this mid-August drawing you already see evidence of autumn color, especially on the yellow poplars. 22 years later the same scene has taller trees. I didn't know that ordinary forest trees kept on growing. As I look out the window here in the same place the trees are all manifesting yellow. Yellow poplars are invasive. In the absence of landscaping efforts there are weed tree poplar seedlings everywhere.

Colored pencil on sketchbook page with brown tech pen, 8" x 4", August 16, 1998.

Saturday, September 5, 2020

Gas Station Back Lot 1998


This gas station is in back of the Trader Joe's where I worked 11 years. I got my car inspected (not today) and while I was waiting for them to be done I did this sketch which is now "vintage." But not much has changed since 1998. It's still a Sunoco station and Trader Joe's is still doing fine, having just made a major expansion from market to supermarket. The weather is August, overcast and warm, but September is here now.

Colored pencil and brown ink on sketchbook page, 5" x 5", August 14, 1998.

Friday, September 4, 2020

Tired Friend Summer 1998


1998 was a busy year for me business-wise, art-wise, and socially. Directly after Worldcon ended in mid-August, friends came down from the Boston area to hang out with me in the DC area. I was recovering from the usual convention cold and so didn't go with them to the Zoo and the monuments. We all got together to feast on sushi. Sushi doesn't put you to sleep but it's work dashing around the Capitol and the Museums. On a visit with another friend my visitor just zonked out on a couch. 

Those were the days! Of all the things now denied us, I miss restaurant food the most, even if I can sit down in my dwelling and eat it as take-out and make a mess. Facebook and Zoom are no substitutes.

Colored pencils and ink on sketchbook page, 4" x 3 1/2", August 11, 1998.

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Never Too Many Sketchbooks


Stuck inside for months I look at things which have been gathering dust for years, and then I get more things. This is not a Neo-Cubist painting but an image of all the smaller sized sketchbooks in my collection. They are almost all empty, no artwork in most of them. A friend gave me two more last month. I'll pick one and do some imaginative drawings in it, since I have no access to my favorite sketching places like the Mall or coffee shops. 

Photograph, August 29, 2020.

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Egyptian and Persian Winged Discs

You readers have seen this symbol before in ancient Egyptian art, especially in the famous tomb treasure of Tut-ankh-amoun. During most of the 1990s I was involved in a learning and research project about the Zoroastrian faith, originating in Persia with the revelations of the prophet Zarathushtra. He and the religion he founded were the first monotheists. These winged discs are not from a monotheistic culture, though. They depict the Sun-disc of the Sun God, as well as the imperial power of the King. This flying Sun-disc was borrowed by the Zoroastrians in ancient times as a symbol of the Persian King's power. Much later, in the late 19th century, it was adopted as a logo for the Zoroastrian faith as it remained in Iran and India.

Egyptian and Persian winged discs here are drawn by me, copying by hand from research materials in the Library of Congress and elsewhere. The Persian disc is below.


Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Cambridge House August 1994


This house was on the same block I lived on, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It was just a street away from Harvard Divinity School, where one learned to be divine. The neighborhood was filled with houses like this, built in the last years of the nineteenth century and now in need of a lot of repair. Many of them have been transformed or re-built, with one rule, that you can't change the exterior. And I agree with that. I love the bay window and the noble portico sheltering the doorway. My 1994 journal reports that I was visiting Cambridge to see friends and drew this sketch sometime during the day. I made countless drawings of this old architecture, which style has mostly been obliterated here in Metro DC.

Black tech pen on sketchbook page, 5 1/2" x 5 1/2", August 10, 1994.