Friday, December 27, 2013

895 - "Escalator Of Wax"


Today's JSVB posts depicts a pretty lady stepping in a lot of gooey wax.  If you don't want to see wierd stuff, then please do not scroll down.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
A few days ago, I overheard my wife coming up with the phrase "escalator of wax".  I know for a fact that this illustration is not what she had in mind. 
 
Considering the amount of work I poured into this, it's a remarkably unappealing image for me.  It's almost Ungood Art.  Oh, well.
 
I wonder what we could use "escalator of wax" to describe?  I am not looking forward to this, but I know we are just days away from the annual Blogger system failure that comes down every first week of January.  So maybe we Blogger bloggers will all climb the escalator of Wax come New Year's Day.
 
 
 
 
 
 

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

894 - John The Baptist, Part XI

 
 
The artwork for John the Baptist is complete!  Well, more or less.  There's always things that could be touched-up.  The remaining step is to varnish the icon to seal the paint, and to finish the backside, which also requires sealant and mounting hardware. 
 
John the Baptist is an enigmatic figure in biblical history.  He was either a mad prophet, a friend of Jesus Christ, a fairly close relative, or some combination of those.  He was famous for baptising people to cleanse their sins, and he came to baptise Jesus.  He also lived in the desert and wore animal pelts for clothing and ate local plants and locusts for food. 
 
John is likely the hairiest of the saints, which was one reason why I chose to write his icon.  I wanted to gain experience rendering byzantine hair styles.  The beard an moustache represent a fairly strict adherence to the proper technique, the clothing is the minimal allowed in byzantine brushwork, and the mane of hair is experimental on my part.
 
In iconography, the colour blue is symbolic of the earthbound nature of man.  Holy people wear blue to indicate that they have terrestrial origins.  In this case, it looks as if John had killed and skinned the Cookie Monster.  Obviously, that's not the case here.  Nonetheless, if Cookie and John walked into the desert together, I figure I know which would come out wearing a cloak made out of whom.  John was a tough man. 
 
~~~
 
Merry Christmas to all of my JSVB readers, and also to the automated bots that keep checking on my blog.  Bots need love too!  Maybe that will make them less ornery.  


Sunday, December 22, 2013

893 - Capri Girl

Lack of sunshine plus cabin fever drives me to thoughts of long tanned legs in capri pants.  Tomorrow, it will be byzantine iconography.  I need to get out more. 
 
 
 
 


Friday, December 20, 2013

892 - John The Baptist, Part X


I finished the tenth stage of John The Baptist a few days ago, but I haven't been posting to JSVB due to personal commitments. 
 
Not that there's a lot to report.  All I have done is paint the frame.  I did create finer edges so that the frame does not look so ragged.  I had to use a ruling pen and a compass to keep the lines from being wobbly. 
 
A ruling pen is something like the old quill pens you see in movies.  It allows you to draw lines with liquid ink while using a ruler.  If you used a quill, the ink would run out onto the ruler.  I've learned that you can load the pen with paint almost as easily as ink. 
 
Both compasses and ruling pens have been used in one for or another for hundreds of years, making them acceptable tools for orthodox iconography, as well as allowing me to avoid freehanding these difficult lines. 
 
 
 
 


Sunday, December 15, 2013

891 - Hamster In Search Of A Story

 
Well, I won't make it a secret that this image will be the foundation for my 900th JSVB Post Spectacular.  Although this format is complete, I still have some work to make it look like a real book.  I will show my results in nine posts from now.  Unfortunately, that will likely be too late for Christmas.  In the meantime, this will do.
 
There's a story behind this image, but it's not much of a story:
 
My wife wanted to create a whole Christmas theme with hamsters.  If you know her, you'd know she's crazy for the sweet little furballs.  She thought it would be a lovely idea to come up with a hamster-based Christmas story.
 
"Like 'The Hamster Who Saved Christmas?" I asked.  I had some flashes of ideas of what hamsters are capable of during the holidays: sleeping, eating, flinging their droppings, and escaping.  Since they are very short and stubby, a hamster makes a limited action hero.  Sure, there's Rhino the Hamster in Disney's Bolt (2008), but he's a movie star.  Normal hamsters aren't typically heroic.
 
So my wife floated a few ways on how a hamster could save Christmas.  I shot them all down with easily-aimed bullets of simple logic.  The hamster would have to be six feet tall.  Everything happens around the hamster, but he's too small to have any effect on the other characters.  Hamster needs opposable thumbs.  At the North Pole, he'd get drowsy and hibernate. 
 
My wife looked at me, and I couldn't tell if I was hurting her feelings.  She seemed to accept my replies, though.  Finally she said, "He could drive a sports car."
 
"Yeah," I agreed. "I'd draw that."  And I did.  Look at this cover and tell me what doe-eyed child would see this thing and not want to find out exactly how the hamster saves Christmas?  Not any kid I would care to know, that's for sure.   
 
I have no idea how the hamster could drive a car and save Christmas, though.  My instinct told me to draw him carrying a tree ornament.  I hate drawing them because they are perfectly round and that's difficult to render.  I threw in a Santa hat to make the image more festive, but also to give a little more dynamic appeal to the sense of motion captured.  I like the hat. 
 
I did try to give the hamster a great car.  I recalled the story of Stuart Little by E.B. White; Stuart was a mouse who drove a 1945 Porsche, and then very sadly wrecked it.  This car is a 1962 Lotus 7, and I am going to make sure it stays pristine. 
 
But that's all there is to the story.  Maybe somebody wants to write it?  I'll look at offers, but they would have to be good.
 
 
 
 
 


890 - Snow Buddies' Business


 
Triple winterbound lawn ornament action.
 
 
 
 


Friday, December 13, 2013

889 - Wrapped Attention


 
The thirteenth of every month is Ungood Art Day on JSVB.  I post some artistic endeavour that went wrong and that should probably be never repeated let alone shown to the public.  Every artist makes mistakes, sometimes very costly ones.  Those are usually the funniest.
 
Today I freely admit I do not know how to wrap presents.  I can draw precise lines, and choose the perfect colour on the colour wheel.  I can create evocative scenes of sensuality, comedy, or destruction as I choose.  But so help me, I cannot wrap.
 
This is just a small, regular, box-shaped present like millions you'd see throughout the world.  Somehow, I avoided making any straight lines, and none of the angles match the proscribed ninety degrees - all of this despite the helpful grid pattern of the paper.  There's random pieces of tape stuck to unusual places.  Stranger still, you can see the tape, which I cannot explain in any rational sense since I am fanatical about using "invisible" tape in my art projects. 
 
So if you look under the Christmas tree and discover ill-used lumps of amorphous merchandise heaped underneath, you will know that your present has been carefully chosen and artlessly wrapped by me. 
 
 
 
 


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

888 - Lucky Number 888

 
I am pleased and somewhat surprised to present my 888th post on JSVB.  It's not far anymore to my 900th Post Spectacular, and from there just a short hop to Post 1K. 
 
I feel I have finished the figure for the hamster-driven Lotus. I upgraded the hamster's facial expression since the previous one looked dopey and unexciting.  Yet, there is work to be done to make it look more festive for the Christmas holiday.  I had it in the back of my mind that if this worked out, I would print this as my secular Christmas card, to go along with the religious ones I have for sale.  It's too late for that now. Hopefully, I will have it for an e-card, and unless I come up with something better, I'll print this for next year. 
 
If anyone wants a poster-size version of this image, I am sure it would look great framed and hung over the fireplace.  What a conversation piece!  At this late date, I doubt I could have it printed in time for Christmas, but even so it could make an excellent belated present for anybody who loves hamsters and vintage cars.  If you want one, be sure to send me an e-mail at the address at the top of this page. 
 
 
 
 
 


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

887 - John The Baptist, Part IX

 
 
This week, I added the final details to the figure.  The line work is very strong, so the icon has a very strong aesthetic.  Most icons have lines that are more subtle.  So next project, I will try to focus on subtlety.  This one is telling me to stop fiddling with the details. 
 
Since the figure is complete, all that remains is the bordering, the halo, and the inscriptions.  Then it can be sealed in varnish. 
 
Today's JSVB post is also remarkable since I have tried a new scanning technique.  By the eye, it looks like my old way of doing things but it's a little faster.  It also shows that I very much need to clean my scanner bed one of these days. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


Sunday, December 8, 2013

886 - A Hamster Drives The Lotus


 
Yes, I chose to have a hamster drive the Lotus.  I have my reasons! 
 
 
 
 


Saturday, December 7, 2013

885 - Snow Lotus 7

 
 
Now the Lotus is on a snowy background.  Somehow, the sense of motion makes the car more exciting, although the sense of driverlessness makes it unfinished at best and horribly negligent at worst.  I'll tackle rendering the driver another day. 
 
 
 
 


Thursday, December 5, 2013

884 - More Lotus 7

 
Another iterative version of the Lotus 7.  The car is complete from the nose all the way back to the bottom of the windscreen.  Everything aft of that, which looks unfinished, will get more attention after I have inserted the driver.
 
 
 
 


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

883 - John The Baptist. Part VIII

 
 
Last week, I was so monumentally busy, I did not have time to work on this icon, let alone post to JSVB about it.  This week, all I did was work on his hair.  The previous session, I blocked out the masses of John's hair with colour.  I simply painted over those blocks with fine dark brown lines.  It's not quite orthodox, but normally the artist is allowed to be somewhat experimental with the hair, since hair John's most recognizable physical feature. 

Before I forget, I should mention I have a few dozen Christmas cards left for sale, based on my Mother Of Tenderness icon.  Each card contains a biblical verse and comes with its own envelope.  The cost is $1.25 per unit, a fantasic value for a religious art card of this quality.

Please click here for more details.
 
 
 
 


Sunday, December 1, 2013

882 - Iterative Lotus 7


It's been a powerfully busy week.  My blood pressure has been so high, I think I could shoot plasma from my fingertip like a gun.  The perfect time for some art therapy. 
 
I've got this tremendous public domain snapshot of a 1962 Lotus 7 courtesy of Wikipedia user Bull-Doser.  I rotoscoped it in Painter so that I could quickly block in the shape.  I fixed the colours in Photoshop to make the car more festive, i.e. Christmas red and green instead of the traditional black and yellow.  Then I painted over nearly everything to get the basic details and metallic shine.  It still needs a number of details and a holiday background. 
 
Since this is iterative, I will show progress as I am making it. 
 
 
 
 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

881 - Natrelfredo Sauce


 
Just a normal plate of chicken pasta with alfredo sauce, right?  On any other day, there would be enough lactose in this dish to gas my family into the next life and the one beyond. 
 
My friend Tony most graciously pointed us to a new milk product called Natrel.  Unlike the lactose-inhibited milk products on the shelf that simply add industrial lactase (which simply reduces lactose but does not eliminate it), Natrel is processed to be completely lactose free.  As a side bonus, Natrel's product has a much longer expiry date than standard dairy.
 
Recently, Natrel has developed a cream.  Now, alfredo sauce is back on the menu!  I tried it out the other day, and the results were excellent!
 
Traditional alfredo sauce is easy to make, just butter and cheese.  Variations use cream, which is what I prefer, so it's more of a white sauce than a true alfredo.  The cheese is Parmigiano-Reggiano, which is a very hard cheese that is also very low in lactose.
 
NATRELFREDO SAUCE RECIPE
 
1. In the bottom of a sauce pot, make a roux.  If you can use salt-free butter, melt two or three tablespoons under med-low heat.  If not, simply use the same amount of olive oil.  Into the liquid, stir in roughly three or four tablespoons of flour.  You need to add enough flour so that the butter turns into a paste something like toothpaste.  Add flour or butter as needed. 
 
2. On med-low heat, gradually pour 1 cup of cream into the roux.  Stir for ten minutes or until the cream thickens. 
 
3. Add 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, which is easily available at most delis.  Stir until cheese is melted.
 
4. Salt & pepper to taste.  I like adding a shot of vodka.  Pour the sauce over hot cooked pasta.  Variations include chicken, shrimp, peas, etc.  Stir into the pasta (in the picture, I just dumped the sauce on top, to feature the sauce.).  Enjoy!  Mangia, mangia!
 
 
 
 


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

880 - AGID: Avian Gastro-Intestinal Distress



 
 
I was taking a walk, hoping to catch a good picture of salmon spawning in the local stream.  The light was low, however.  Salmon don't like to have sex in broad daylight. 
 
Then, I came across this scene of total horror.  That's not paint.  It's bird crap.  Maybe it was two or three birds, but it could also have been just one miserable bird on the hop with what can only be described as a bomb load that overstressed the bomb bay, as it were. 
 
Why should I concern myself with bird droppings?  For one thing, I feel blessed that the railing took this punishment and not my car or even worse, me.  Please see JSVB Post #533 (please click here) to see more commentary on this topic.  However, the birds that have been hitting my car have been leaving industrial strength flop, stuff that requires soap and hot water and heavy scrubbing to save the paint underneath.  I suspect that some birds are feeding on the salmon that died after spawning, and this is contributing to the white wave of airborne terror that is spreading across my neighbourhood. 
 
 
 
 


Monday, November 25, 2013

879 - Logo's Labour Lost


Yesterday was the 101st CFL Grey Cup, historic since it provided the Saskatchewan Roughriders' first championship win in from of a home crowd.  Congratulations to the Roughie's - Saskatchewan's first football love, and everybody else's second-favourite team.
So, I have a BC Lions logo, slightly tarnished.  It's got nothing to do with the Riders, but at least it's still football-related.  I started this logo project back in February, and had it firmly rejected in April.  That stung pretty good; I had poured a lot of effort into this piece.  It took a long time to get over most of the resentment.  At the end of the season, I ended up with a decent reward anyhow.
The lesson ends up being that All Things Work Out The Way That They Should.  It's impossible to say how, they just do.  Hopefully, in a few years I will have the chance to look back on this JSVB post and see whether or not I was right or just being a sentimental idiot.


Friday, November 22, 2013

878 - In Her Best Arnie Voice


 
It is the sworn duty of Vancouverites to stick it to our Prairie cousins and friends when they get blowing snow and we get temperatures in the teens. 
 
Here, I catch my wife doing the gardening.  She is composting her Hostas, which are large, shade-tolerant lily-like plants common to our region as decorative foliage. 
 
The Spanish Hasta la vista translates to "Goodbye, until we see each other again.".  The Hosta will be back! 
 
 
 
 


Thursday, November 21, 2013

877 - John The Baptist. Part VII

 
A hairy situation: blocking out John The Baptist's hair.  Next week, I will start laying down all the strands, however many hundreds of them there may be. 
 
Notice how orange John got this iteration.  I decided to glaze some more colour into the face.  The lighting was bad though, and now that I see it under daylight, I know I will have to use an antidote glaze to bring the colour back. 
 
 
 
 


Monday, November 18, 2013

876 - Turnover Coupon


 
JSVB readers who are also football fans thought that I was being weirdly prophetic with yesterday's post.  After all, I show turnovers, and then the CFL regional finals are filled with fumbles. 
 
Unfortunately, all I was trying to do was to pay up on a bet.  I needed to make up this coupon because of the Lion's horrifying loss to the Roughriders back on October 19th.  Although the score was 35-14 for the bad guys, the Lions turned over the ball an unbelievable eight times during the game.  It was one of the worst football performances I had seen in a long time, and was obviously a season turning point for both the Riders and the Lions.
 
Here's the thing: the Stampeders turned over the ball to the Riders seven times in yesterday's loss to the Roughriders, and the green-and-white team advanced to the Grey Cup next week.  To my mind, the Roughies have added a new tactic to their bag of tricks: generating turnovers.
 
That's tough to defend against, and it's tough to avoid, if your team is on the recieving end of a squad that knows how to strip the ball, knock it loose, and generate those costly fumbles.  Hamilton had better work on improving their ball security, or they will learn the hard way on Canada's most traditional sports stage what it's like to be a BC Lion or a Calgary Stampeder. 
 
 
 
 


Sunday, November 17, 2013

875 - Football Turnover

 
Some football turnovers are much sweeter than apple turnovers.  But then we've discovered this season that some aren't.
 
 
 
 


Saturday, November 16, 2013

874 - Apple Turnover


 
A fruit-filled pastry.
 
 
 
 


Thursday, November 14, 2013

873 - John The Baptist, Part VI

 
 
This week, with the long weekend holdiay followed by Ungood Art Day, my regular weekly John The Baptist updates got pushed back a little.  The face is mostly complete, but I need to fix the eyes and mouth.  I've also started working on the hair.  John The Baptist is the hairiest saint, as far as I know.  That's one reason why I wanted to do this icon in the first place: it has nearly every kind of hair you're every going to see in an icon.
 
 
 
 



Wednesday, November 13, 2013

872 - Garden Variety Ghost

 
 
It's the thirteenth of the month!  That means that today is Ungood Art Day on JSVB.  I post something that should have been good art, but for whatever reason turned Ungood.

I forgot that I took this picture back in Summer, but I am posting it now.  It's supposed to be me as a ghost.  Would people miss me when I am gone?  They still log in to see Wrath of Gandhi and wonder if there will be pictures of Uhura without her clothes.  I guess it's nice to be needed.
 
As for the ghostliness, the effect is completely optical, which is why I took the picture in the first place.  I am standing in the sun in front of a large photograph of a garden, where the photo is behind a sheet of clear plastic.  I snapped my own reflection, but it looks like I am either in the garden as a bona fide ghost, boo, or else I am terrible with Photoshop and I made a very cheesy transparent layer.  Either way, what makes this picture truly ungood is that I somehow managed to chop off my own head. 

Hallowe'en is just the start of the scary season, not the end of it...






Tuesday, November 12, 2013

871 - "RJ Kent Residences"

 
I volunteered to create a print ad for the RJ Kent Residences, which is a seniors' home attached to the Royal Canadian Legion I belong to.  Since I am not a "people person" like my wife is, she got to tag poppies and I ended up pushing pixels for the Legion. 
 
RJ Kent seems pretty swank: it's a new building in a terrific location near a beautiful park, a transportation hub, and the suburban charms of downtown Port Coquitlam - more restaurant and entertainment choices per capita than any other city in the Lower Mainland. 
 
The only downside is that I am not a senior, yet.  I doubt many JSVB readers are.  Even so, $1,850 per month including food and housekeeping is better than mortgage payments right now... tempting. 
 
 
 
 
 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

870 - Haiyan


 
I haven't paid much attention to the news.  Typhoons in the Asian Pacific seem normal enough this time of year.  What got me was a weather channel graphic that showed Haiyan as occupying the same size as one half of the United States.  Considering that the USA takes up one fiftieth of the Earth's surface, there's 1 full percent covered by a single Category 5 storm. 
 
Then my wife tells me we have a friend who was underneath that, in the Philippines.

EDIT Nov. 12: We're about 80% sure she made it through the storm okay!  I'll take that.  A falling tree took out our power and cable yesterday, so communications problems were compounded.  Our issue was a lot easier to fix, though.
 
 
 
 
 


Friday, November 8, 2013

869 - Fisheye Lens

 
 
This time of year, the urge to catch a salmon - as a photograph - is hard to resist in my neighbourhood.  This autumn has been unusually dry, so only recently has there been enough water so that the salmon could spawn in our nearby creek.  Click here to see my "Hyde Creek" painting, of which I have sold a few prints. 
 
I've got pictures of them on JSVB and in my archives.  Today's picture shows a fish that's just a couple of arm's-lengths away.  Magnificent creature. 
 
At this stage of their lives, the salmon are spawning.  Their bodies are filled with bitter-tasting sex hormones that make them unpalatable except to animals that lack tastebuds.  Apparently, only the heads are good to eat.  If the bears or the coyotes are around, the fish corpses will have been decapitated. 
 
Next spring, the fertilized eggs will hatch, and the creek will be filled with fingerlings.  After mating, the adult salmon immediately die, and their bodies either feed the animals or decay in a most smelly way, becoming fertlizer for the local plants. 
 
 
 
 


Thursday, November 7, 2013

868 - 100 Dot Posey

 
 
If you can count to a hundred, you can draw yourself a pretty flower.
 
I made this connect-the-dots as a cover illustration for a handbook on what to do if and when you are bored.  I got the idea from an artist who is making connect-the-dots with thousands of dots that take hours to complete the drawing. 
 
I was similarly inspired by the "Count" function in my copy of Photoshop.  You can count image elements by clicking on them: every click, you get a dot and a sequential number.  So, if you wanted to count how many jellybeans are  in the jar, just keep clicking until there are no more jellybeans without dots.  You look at the final number, and that's your tally. 
 
I used the same function to draw this posey.  The downside is that Photoshop cruelly disallows printing Guides, including the Count.  I upsampled a screen capture, and that seemed to work okay after fiddling with Unsharp. 
 
 
 
 
 


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

867 - John The Baptist, Part V

 
Honestly, this week I can't tell if I made my icon of John the Baptist better or worse.  It's different, anyhow, with lots of things that need attention and correction.  My instructor was economical with his comments, so I believe it is up to me to hunt down and exterminate the faults.  That's always the difference between the amateur and the master, the ability to either recognize and avoid mistakes, or to hide them seamlessly.  Either way, it's a lot of work, usually woefully underpaid. 
 
 
 
 


Sunday, November 3, 2013

866 - The Jupiter Scar


The Weird-O-Rama Express makes its last stop on JSVB this week - I hope.  Hallowe'en has inspired me to post some of the weirder stuff that has been going on.  Next post, I will get back to more artistic endeavours.

So: for a while I had a Jupiter scar.  I woke up with a burning sensation on my ankle and when I bothered to look, I saw I had this strangely curved, razor thin scar.  It only lasted a few hours, and this time I had the sense to snap a photo, such as it is.

The first thing I did was to look up the source of razor thin scars.  Quite a number of people get them, although many seem to be from cold, dry climates.  Probing the Internet brought forth a number of colourful theories.

At the top of this list were ghosts and demons.  Ghosts scar people because if they work hard to break the ectoplasmic barrier, they can.  I guess if I was a ghost, I'd give scarring the mortals a shot for a couple of thousand years.  Demons also scar people because they can.  I figure if I were a ghost or a demon, I would want to try for something more spectacular than a skin lesion that heals in a couple of hours, but as yesterday's JSVB post proves, spectacular isn't what it used to be.  The world we live in does not work that way.  Even the Second Coming will likely seem trite after "Pacific Rim" (2013).

Lower on the Fortean scale are actual medical conditions, likely a histamine response, which is a fancy way of saying allergy.  The most likely source is scabies, which is a skin mite we can get from animals like the neighbour's dog.  Interestingly, the scabies rash is an irritative allergic response that can occur up to a year after the initial mite attack. 

Beyond that, histamine responses can occur from diet, climate, and psychological stresses.  I can check off all of those boxes.

At the bottom of the theory bin are old friends, the extraterrestrials.  Most people don't believe that we are being abducted by flying saucers just to get a couple of scars that go away before the end of the day, as that seems to be a tremendous waste of technology.  The most attractive theory is that there are trans-dimensional beings that co-exist with us on Earth, and that actively sample us from across interspatial portals.  We don't normally detect them because we do not sense paranormal dimensions as a rule. 

I cannot prove or disprove any of this.  The medical mumbo-jumbo is as equally impenetrable as the jargon of the UFO people.  I trimmed my fingernails and the scars stopped appearing.

As to the form of the scar, lucky thing I have my copy of Carl S. Liungman's excellent "Dictionary Of Symbols" (1991), which is a guide to semiotics that no person of curiosity should be without.  Along with a comprehensive Graphic Index that guides the reader through thousands of symbols, there are also very interesting articles on alchemy, the hobo sign code, and even a well-informed discussion of the power of symbology during World War II.
 
According to the Dictionary, my scar was shaped like the zodiac symbol for Jupiter (Sagittarius).  How or why is a complete mystery.  What I do know is that the Jupiter symbol is an amalgamation of the astrological signs for "soul" and "matter", making it a powerful icon.  Also, I know that Sagittarius and Gemini (me), don't often go together.

The little graphic is courtesy of The Jupiter Center, whose website I thought might belong to some space planet cult.  Instead, the Jupiter Center is an office for family therapy, something far more rational and earthbound than spectral scarring. 

For another, briefer post on scars I have endured, please check out JSVB Post #381 by clicking here.





Saturday, November 2, 2013

865 - No-One Wanted To Believe

Does anybody remember this photo:
 
 
 
No?  I posted this authentic picture of a flying saucer back in Spring this year.  You can click here for the full story, in JSVB Post #760. 
 
Since then, I have been deluged by exactly zero invitations to lecture, to late-night television, or even the news, no phone calls, letters, nocturnal threats from the MIB's, e-mails or even remarks from friends or spouses.  I was surprised.  I figure the contemporary world is so blasé about the paranormal that everybody takes visits by extraterrestrials for granted.  Who hasn't taken a picture of a flying saucer?  No doubt everybody has shaken hands with ET by now.  There are so many reports of things in the sky, it's a wonder we can even see the sun for all of the stuff that is in low Earth orbit.  Executive summary: public response equal to or less than completely underwhelming.  Bleh.
 
Well, I promised that I would divulge the complete story behind the UFO photo.  Since we are still close enough to Hallowe'en, I figured I might as well get this out of the way.
 
First, as I had mentioned, this picture is completely optically real.  There are no Photoshop edits or insertions.  What you see is what the camera saw which is what the naked eye saw that day.  Except... upside-down. We invert the picture to see the original shot:

 
Now the tree branches are obeying gravity correctly, but the "sky" is inverted.  That is because the sky is water.  You are looking at an almost perfectly still shoreline shot from on top of a cliff looking downward.  The sky is reflected in the water, which is roughly six inches to a foot deep.  There is a smudge just below half-way: that's a tidal pool. The flying saucer is a mound of sand that children had built into a large sand castle.  When the tide came in, the castle was reduced to something like a large baseball mound.  in the water, I thought it looked like an alien spacecraft.
 
Here is the same mound of sand the next day, taken from the ground level and with the tide completely out.  There's even a kid trying to build it back up again:
 
  
 
There are a few take-aways that remain from my UFO experience.  I will likely never ever get a photograph of a real flying saucer.  And if I did, it appears the best way to bury the evidence would be for me to post it here on JSVB.  Lastly, there's some paunch in a Ramones shirt in Hollywood right now that's making a seven figure salary dreaming up exactly the same visual effects that I do, only I'm not that paunch. 
 
Again: bleh.
 
 
 
 



Friday, November 1, 2013

864 - "Jeff The Ref"


 
"Jeff The Ref" was one of the more benign nicknames I endured in school as a child.  A referee is the worst thing kids could think of to rhyme with Jeffrey. 
 
This pic is of my wife and I at field level of BC Place!  What a thrill!  Thank you, BC Lions!
 
 
 
 


Thursday, October 31, 2013

863 - Skelly

 
 
One plastic skeleton from Costco plus an old lawn mower we never use equals simple Hallowe'en goodness.  I have day and night pics, please to note the eldritch flames that come out of the mower at night. 
 
My wife already got some traction with the day picture on Facebook. 
 
 
 
 
 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

862 - John The Baptist, Part IV

 
Sandwiched among the Hallowe'en stuff: some religion.  I've completed the underpainting for my icon.  The face still looks rough, but there's enough tone and detail that you can see how it will look.
 
Thinking on it, John The Baptist would make a truly memorable Hallowe'en costume.  He never cuts his hair, shaves, or bathes, much like a professional sports athlete heading into the playoffs.  He wears a suit made out of hair.  He shouts at people.  He's like a biblical Chewbacca. 
 
Except, of course, that trick-or-treating as John The Baptist, you wouldn't get candy.  The non-pious would never get any of the references, and the devout would refuse to give you anything.  At least you'd stay warm, though.  Warm and alone.
 
 
 
 


Sunday, October 27, 2013

861 - Ratty Badge

 
 
Properly, this is a mousey badge, athough the quality is ratty.  It's made out of duct tape that I clumsily cut with scissors.  However it's not meant to be seen close-up, so for a quick job, the design works. 
 
The three blind mice refer to the referee crew for our BC Lions games.  Maybe it's a little unfair, especially since I have blind friends and I have referee friends (fortunately not the same people).  It's hard not to notice inconsistency in the calls for our local games, though. 
 
Today, many of the calls are reviewed by a CFL video crew out in in Toronto, and they have the power to overturn calls made on the field.  We have seen the same penalty applied in a Lions game and in an Argonauts game, where the penalty was applied to BC but overturned for Toronto - these were identical plays.  Is there collusion?  The Toronto head office explained that eastern referee crews sometimes use different standards than western referee crews.  Is  that fair? 
 
Generally, the on-the-field referee crews do a decent job with play-calling.  Instant replay usually keeps their calls accountable.  It's the decisons made by the head office, sometimes snap decisions, that cannot be accounted for by the fans or the league.  Officiating in the CFL remains a work in progress. 
 
 
 
 


Friday, October 25, 2013

860 - "Curly Dog"

 
 
The World Series is on!  Even if you are not excited about Major League baseball, at least it's a good excuse to eat ballpark-style food.  Here, I've wrapped a corndog in spicy spiral fries!  We call it a "Curly Dog". 
 
The background image is from the Fox Broadcasting Corporation.
 
 
 
 


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

859 - Just Desert


 
All this picture is, is an enlargement of a postage-stamp sized bit of my John The Baptist religious icon currently in progress.  I had the idea of enlarging the scan so that I could share what the brushwork looks like.  Then I wanted to use a Photoshop Unsharp Mask to fix the textural detail of the lines.  However, I had the mask settings way off.  Photoshop does not reset its sliders from project to project, so if I don't zero out the sliders I get whatever values I used in my previous project. 
 
In this case, I accidentally ended up with this scene that looks to me like the cover for a Frank Herbert "Dune" novel, or maybe something John himself would have seen after enduring the desert on his own for over a month. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


Monday, October 21, 2013

858 - John The Baptist, Part III


 
 
I am posting this week's progress on John The Baptist.  It's good news and bad news.  The good news is that I have found a good home for this icon.  The bad news is that it's getting away from me a bit.  I had to work in poor lighting, so now that I see John in true light, his skin tones are a bit too warm.  Not to mention that he's gone too far with the rouge!
 
The reddish patches are called "apples".  Since there are many layers of translucent paint going on here, I'll simply add more layers to blend the apples into the skin tone.
 
 
 
 


Friday, October 18, 2013

857 - A Peanut In The Ear


 
A story from my childhood.  One day, as my friend Earl and I were passing time, he decided to throw a peanut at my head.  A one-in-a-million shot, the peanut lodged directly into my ear canal, a goober-natorial hole-in-one.  It's a true story, and very much a life-changing moment for my friend Earl, who has since devoted a surprisingly large amount of his life towards angling peanuts into people's earholes.  Thankfully, Earl and I live in different time zones now.
 
And here's the real story: 
 
First, the peanut in the ear is all true.  However we weren't children at the time, as pictured.  Yesterday on JSVB, I drew a picture of myself as a Charles Schultz Peanuts character.  For whatever reason, that portrait unleashed a flood of peanut-in-the-ear nostalgia on Facebook.  So, I decided to commemorate the event with this new drawing, and since the Peanuts characters are all kids, I drew us as children.  The true fact was that Earl and I, as well as a group of our University buddies, all young adults, went out to an aviation airshow, and in a lull between fighter jets breaking the sound barrier, that's when Earl flung a peanut at my head.
 
Second, the peanut was shelled. I drew it not shelled so that it would visually read as a peanut.  Earl threw the peanut at my head fully expecting the peanut to bounce.  When it did not, he was agog.  It turns out that an adult human ear canal is the precise receptacle for a shelled peanut.  Again, it was a one-in-a-million shot, proven out by Earl's subsequent attempts to launch a peanut into my ear, and then into other people's ears.  Earl has since refined his technique by using stealth to approach the unsuspecting earhole and by inserting a peanut at point-blank range. 
 
This JSVB post was brought to you by the Department Of Things You Did Not Really Need To Know. 
 
 
 
 


Thursday, October 17, 2013

856 - Condensed Lumps




 
Taking a few days off from JSVB provided some surprising dividends.  If you look in on my blog often enough, you'll see my iconic red "Buy More Art" placeholder.  Seems some folks paid attention to that: I've sold a couple of pieces lately and and I also have some exciting  projects on spec.  Boy howdy, I do love paying customers!  The money will likely be reinvested in new supplies and materials to make even more art. 
 
The process of going away for a while is supposed to help recharge the creative juices.  Letting go also seems to have helped the pocketbook, at least for this time.  Although I brought my sketchbook on vacation, I didn't draw anything on my time off.  Instead, I tried some creative writing.  If my friend Earl is reading this, it's a fiction about Leaf Rapids, and something about which to cringe with worry and anticipation.  I doubt I will ever post it to JSVB.
 
I did some writing in my time at University, but none of it was much good.  My stories went from lurid to lumpy.  Now that I have matured a bit, I've tightened up the old prose a little.  The lumps are more condensed. 
 
Rip-off alert:  I drew myself as a child in the style of Charles Schultz's "Peanuts" cartoons.  When I was little I did wear big glasses and I could type a bit.  Today, that looks cute in a hipster sort of way.  Back in the 1970's, big glasses and typing was a recipe for social misery.  Anyways, I should give credit to Mr. Schultz for his brilliant cartoon creation which was a big influence on me as a child.  I find it funny how hard it was to draw in the Schultz style as a child and how easy it is for me now. 

I have another self-portrait that I drew in the Flintstones' style, which you can see by clicking here.  I also have a portrait of me as a Simpsons character, but that was drawn by someone else.  I'll have to post that someday.
 
Credit goes to Camino Palmero, who provided the free paper texture I used to age the image a little. 
 
Lastly, the text in my image does not belong to me.  It's the very first line from the Michael Butterworth novel "The Psychomorph" (1977).  What an opening!  The rest of the book does not disappoint, as long as you like giant space amoebas with attitude problems.





 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

855 - Real Green Eggs And Ham


If today is the thirteenth of the month, then it's Ungood Art Day here on JSVB.  This is where I publish pieces of my art that are dubious at best and ungood at the worst.  Nothing to be proud of, usually, but amusing enough.
 
These are real green eggs and ham, sort of.  The eggs are made out of white and green soap, so you would not want to eat them.  Well, you shouldn't eat green eggs in the first place.  The ham is real, and tasty. 

October thirteenth is also my wife's birthday, so Happy Birthday my sweet!






Tuesday, October 8, 2013

854 - John The Baptist, Part II


Progress on my icon of John The Baptist:  I've painted out the form, which is the reddish interface between the shadows and the flesh tones in the underpainting.  The face looks like a mask, and a fairly lean, stern one at that.  As I add flesh tones, the face will fill out and look brighter. And then there is the hair.  John baptized few barbers. 






Monday, October 7, 2013

853 - Spideriffic


 
It is spider season where I live.  Here is a spooky-looking, yet harmless orb weaver.  Harmless to humans, but not to flies. 
 
 
 
 


Friday, October 4, 2013

852 - The Naked Mole Rat

I spent more time yesterday learning about the naked mole rat than I ever thought I would.  The naked mole rat, it turns out, is virtually cancer-proof.  They also can live up to ten times longer than any other rodent, which is why I decided to make this sketch of a geriatric naked mole rat.
Naked mole rats are not naked (they have a few straggly hairs), and they are niether moles nor rats.  Their closest analogue is a guinea pig.  They spend their lives underground in stuffy burrows, so they don't get much oxygen to breathe.  They lack Substance P in their skin, Substance P being a natural neurotransmitter used to generate the sensation of pain.  Unlike practically every other mammal, naked mole rats live in colonies like bees and ants, where mostly sterile males and females work in the service of a single fertile queen.  You cannot have a single naked mole rat as a pet, as one would die without its colony.
So these little guys are tough, communal, resistant to pain and disease, and they live forever compared to any other rodent.  In 2011, scientists successfully mapped their genome.  This year, we've seen some results in comparing naked mole rat genes to our own in the hopes of undertstanding longevity and cancer control.  It turns out that we can produce an artificial hormone not unlike what the naked mole rat uses to extend the human life span by ten years.  Unfortunately, the main side effect destroys our immune system so you'd essentially gain a few years but with AIDS. 


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

851 - The Milkbone Obeyance


Dog who have been trained using Milkbones as positive reinforcement have unique behaviours when you approach them with your hands in your pockets.  But you'd better deliver, unless you like slobber.
 
True fun fact: all Milkbones originate from Buffalo, New York, USA. 
 
 
 
 


Monday, September 30, 2013

850 - John The Baptist, Part I


 
Post number 850 for JSVB: I am starting a new icon.  Do you see John The Baptist?  If so, you are holier than me.  It's either a grassy knoll or a green Wookiee.  I would make this Chewbacca, too, if I hadn't gilded it already.  Gold is expensive. 
 
Thoughts on Chewbacca as a John The Baptist figure in Star Wars: both were hairy, both were present at the dunking of the Saviour Of The Universe, one at the banks of the River Jordan, the other in trash compactor 3263827.  I am certain I am not the first one to make these connections, so I will just stop here.  Next week, we'll see some facial colour, so this will be better defined.