Monday, May 31, 2010

134 - Sluggo Meem

Look at the size of this slug!  We found it clinging to the side of our house.  Actually, it's just a baby, there are slugs out there much larger than this.  It's a banana slug, so called because it resembles an over-ripe banana, not so much because of its light and fruity taste. 

Sunday, May 30, 2010

133 - B.I.L. See, B.I.L. Do*

* B.I.L. = Brother-In-Law

In front of the driveway to the Stave Lake Powerhouse, there is a disconnected power maintenance box on display.  It's cut open so people can see the stuff inside.  

"Take my picture licking at this power cable," he says.

"Sure, I'd love a picture of my brother-in-law electrocuting himself," I don't say.  Instead, I reply, "Huh, what?"

"It's just like Earl and Allan licking at batteries," he says, and I now understand.  Brother-in-law see, brother-in-law do.  Please click on this link to see Earl and Allan licking at batteries. 

I had to take this picture very quickly, as we were stopping traffic. 

DISCLAIMER:  Don't lick at batteries and especially don't lick at exposed power cables!  Even if you happen to be my brother-in-law. 

Saturday, May 29, 2010

132 - Clucks For Pucks

Many years ago, my wife and I bought a pair of stuffed toy chickens.  They were the last two remaining on the shelf of a small-town general store, part of a larger collection of barnyard animals that had long since been sold off.  We got them intending to give them to a childrens' charity. 

However, when we took them home and left them to await their fate in the living room, we noticed that they both had the same slack-jawed, vacant expression most people get when they watch a lot of TV.  So, instead of donating the chicken brothers, we decided to keep them and let them watch all the TV they want. 

At one point, we got as a gift a little decorative bench that happened to fit the chickens perfectly.  Now they sit on the bench and guard the remotes. 

My wife decided to make little "jerseys" for them out of cloth scraps, and I design the logo art using coloured gel pens.  Typically, we make chicken jerseys for the World Series and the Stanley Cup.  The graphics are "chickenized" to make them appeal to poultry.  In this case, it's the Pulletelphia Fryers versus the Chickago Chickenhawks. 

My wife, one chicken brother, and I all think the 'Hawks have the best chance to win the Cup this year.

131 - Rassen Frassen Gesture Poses

A gesture drawing is a quick "thumbnail" sketch of a proposed action.  I work the pose out in quick sketches that I later apply to something finished.  My sketchbook collects dozens of these. 

These particular poses are of the "rassen frassen" variety of personal dismay.  The phrase "rassen frassen" comes from the old Hanna-Barbera animated cartoons, where if a character didn't like something, they'd mutter that to themselves i.e. "Rassen frassen Mr. Slate, making me work overtime..."

Thursday, May 27, 2010

130 - Mr. Coke

We watch the deteriorating situation in Jamaica with a great deal of anxiety.  My wife and I have a special place in our hearts for Jamaica, as it is a place that has touched us deeply.  It is a beautiful island, and the people are incredibly warm and open.

But they are also very poor, and away from the tourist areas, they are under threat from the scourges of poverty: drugs, guns, vice, and governmant woes.  Recently, Kingston, the capitol, has been rocked by such a wave of violence that it seems as if the country is in a civil war.

At the center of the storm is Mr. Christopher "Dudus" Coke, the so-called "President" of the Tivoli Gardens Garrison, the leader of the Shower Posse drug cartel, and the target of an extradition order to the U.S.A.  I've pictured him above in blood on a Jamaican-style cross, which seems to me fitting.

The Kingston Garrisons were created in the 1970's as a means to control the mobs of poor people.  The garrisons were given to gang leaders by the government parties, where the gang bosses promised social control in return for stocking each garrison with partisan voters, often by will of force or terror.  Today, these garrisons have come to represent radical fanatical political factions.  One writer for the Jamaica Gleaner suggests that the garrsions would continue to vote for their respective parties even if they were relocated to Jupiter. 

The leader of a garrison, such as Christopher Coke, is seen by many locals as a more legitimate authority than the government.  The leader sees that the people are fed, that the children go to school, and settles diputes.  This is important, as government officials have traditionally kept themselves at stand-off distance from the slums of Kingston.   In a strange inversion of the Christian ethic, Dudus' followers are willing to die to absolve the sins of their savior.  Says one supporter, "Jesus died for us, and we will die for Dudus".   Nobody in Kingston seems to consider this an idle remark. 

That Dudus is a fantastically wealthy and powerful man is no surprise considering his upbringing in the Coke family, long associated with the drug trade as well as local business and cultural affairs.  What is suprising (to North Americans), is that the garrisons operate under the unoffical protection of the government.  Some Jamaicans might argue, though, that the government operates on behalf of the garrisons.  Either way, there is a remarkable degree of give-and-take between the organized garrisons and the elected officials. 

The U.S. considers the extradition of Christopher Coke a priority matter on account of Jamaica being the greatest exporter of marijuana to the States.  Conversely, though, the Americans supply 70% of all firearms to Jamaica.  Now that the Americans have convinced Jamaica to extradite Mr. Coke, the Jamaicans have responded by invading the Tivoli Gardens garrison using the force of their national  army.  Considering how well-armed and fanatical the Tivoli Gardens garrison is towards Dudus, an army may not have been enough.

Several dozen people have died as a result of this action.  I won't disagree that it will take extraordinary measures to resolve the terrible issues of powerty in the Kingston garrisons, but I don't consider removing Christopher Coke as the cornerstone of a strong plan.  Dudus will eventually be replaced, perhaps by somebody who is not so much of a political liability to the ruling party. 

I think what bothers me is that apart from differences in first-world versus third-word cultures, there is not a lot of difference between Jamaica and British Columbia.  BC supplies a tremendous amount of marijuana to the States, and in return, they send us an unstoppable supply of hard drugs and guns.  In BC, the government has not completely abandoned the poor, but niether have they managed to conquer the drug trade.  At least in Canada, the police are not used as an organized gang that keeps the rich people away from the poor, as can happen in poorer regions.  At least, this hasn't happened on a large scale in Canada,  yet. 

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

129 - Heads-Up Display

More drawing practise, heads this time.  I am trying to maintain some classical ideals, but without strong reference points, facial features can swim around the head like they were made out of melting butter.  Getting down to the skeletal substructure seems to help a little. If at any point anybody thinks this is easy, I'd sure like to disavow them of that concept. 

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

128 - Bunny Girl Page

A page from my sketchbook of trial poses.  Maybe it would have been better/more fun if I drew Playboy bunny girls instead.  Next time. 

Sunday, May 23, 2010

127 - "Neumann's Rule"

Neumann's Rule:

In any science-fiction movie, no matter how far advanced beyond our own the civilization in the movie is, if a character needs to use a fire extinguisher, that fire extinguisher will look exactly like any you would expect to find from the year the film was made. 

Friday, May 21, 2010

126 - A Good Deed, Punished

A few days ago, I was quite busy indoors on a beautiful sunny day.  My wife decided that she would help me out by mowing the back lawn, which is a chore I almost always do. 

I've got a small window by my workplace, and I used it periodically to observe how my sweet babaloo would get along with our push reel mower.  She wore her cute little outfit for gardening in the sun, which I like to see.

I was grinding way on some art piece when suddenly I heard a squawk from the lawn, something too big to be a bird.  Then I heard somebody pouring ball bearings on roof.  I looked out the window.  Well, my wife had made a couple of passes and that was all before suddenly a tiny, thick black cloud formed directly above her head.  It seemed to precisely pour little stones of frozen rain directly onto our yard but missed the neighbours.  My poor baby was running for cover, hauling away at the mower as a woman possessed.  Just as she finally got the mower squared away under shelter, the cloud dissipated and the sun came out again.

She just stood there dripping wet, and refused to mow again.  I recorded the picture in my sketchbook and finished the lawn after both it and my wife had a chance to dry out.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

125 - The Seven Percent Disillusion

"I beg you all to vote!  If you don't vote, we will lose democracy!" 
   -  Henry Brennan

Seven percent is nothing at all to be proud of.  It's a ninety-three percent failiure to me. 

It's not really my business, although I guess I do feel some effects.  I understand that some JSVB readers will think I am being cryptic, but I believe if I explain any more online, I could be libellous. 

It's just an amazing happenstance that I have exactly the perfect graphic already in my sketchbook to go along with this (non) event. 

124 - Blackout!

The weather here has been stormy, and at one point our utilities got knocked out for several hours.  Ironic that my previous post was about a power plant. 

Not much to do except by candlelight.  I took this long-exposure photo of my workspace:  a Dietz hurricane lamp, a flashlight, a barbecue lighter, workbooks and books for reading, some uncooked food, and an AM/FM  radio powered by hand cranking. 

Monday, May 17, 2010

123 - Return To Black Mesa

A screenshot for the Half-Life 3 video game?

Unfortulately, the era where I am hooked into top-secret game previews is long past.  Actually, if I knew anything about upcoming games, I wouldn't be bragging about it on JSVB. 

The reality is that this is a photo I took of some water feeder pipes for the Stave Lake Powerhouse. Operational beginning around the 1920's, it's  a popular site for Vancouver-area filming.  It's a great place to see gigantic iron and steel machines from the age of Art Deco. 

Saturday, May 15, 2010

122 - Crosbyliacci, The Tragic Clown

Today, JSVB takes a mean-spirited turn a couple of days too late.  First, please click on the audio player below to listen to the great Enrico Caruso sing the aria "Vesti La Giubba" from the opera "Pagliacci", by Ruggero Leoncavallo.  This was recorded almost to the day in 1907, and so is public domain:

As the music plays, you can look at my rendition of hockey player Sidney Crosby losing the Stanley Cup  (if you are in a hurry, try fast-forwarding the music to around the 1:40 mark to get to the juicy part) :

Sid the Kid is definitely not my favourite NHL player by a long shot, and I am not at all sad to see his Penguins out of the playoffs this year. 

The aria "Vesti La Giubba" means "Put on the costume".  In it, Canio the clown puts on his jolly clown suit while practicing his stage laugh just before a performance.  However, he is heartbroken and enraged at a personal loss, so he laughs and cries at the same time.  Vesti la giubba, Sid. 

The Stanley Cup images are public domain.  I pulled the Cosby picture off of a hockey blog on the Internet with no credit, and that's bad.  I did re-work the image a lot, so hopefully I can skate by on this one. 

Friday, May 14, 2010

121 - Sketchy Robot Heads

How many times have you asked, where can I find some sketchy robot heads?  Look no further. 

Thursday, May 13, 2010

120 - "The Fashion Cowboy"

Yesterday, my brother-in-law surprised me by telling me that he looks forward to "Ungood Art Day" on JSVB.  "Now I know when the 13th of the month is," he says. 

Today's ungood art is The Fashion Cowboy.  Like most things in my sketchbook, this is an unfinished work that could use refinement to get past the draft stage.   Still, anatomy, line, and pose are all not so ungood.  The devil lies in the details, as they say.

What I remember is coming to work one day and having one of the most powerful intuitive bursts I've ever had.  I try to pay attention whenever I get one of those calls from my subconscious, I always feel that's important somehow.  I was compelled to draw a fashion cowboy, something I had never before attempted.  It was like I had no choice.  I hammered this sketch out, and it's lived in my sketchbook ever since.  Beyond that, I am unaware of any further effect, except maybe the vague urge to watch "Zoolander".

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

119 - Golf, Canucks, Golf

Not the most original sentiment, but the 2010 season will see the Vancouver Canucks more involved with the cup at the end of the 18th fairway than the cup at the end of the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs. 

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

118 - Hams Across America

By request, a hamster passenger on a touring motorbike.  Enjoy!

The bike was modelled courtesy of Jeff "IndyWinger" Snodgrass. 

Monday, May 10, 2010

117 - Arms Deal

I did not find the arm sketches in my last post satisfactory, which happens often enough in a sketchbook.  So I did some more work.  This time, I studied one of my da Vinci anatomy folios (not the original!!!) and got back to Burne Hogarth.  Although those two brilliantly approach the same material, da Vinci was more concerned with using anatomy to support his artwork, whereas Hogarth uses artwork to support anatomy.   Well, that was lame.  What I think is that Hogarth's anatomy is a lot more idealized.  He teaches pose drawing through imaginative technique, which is really hard to do very well, by the way.  da Vinci I believe had more interest in documenting his human dissections than in speculative art.   

I don't find Hogarth's over-muscled models realistic.  On the other hand, da Vinci had limited access to heavily muscular cadavers, so his anatomical drawings are generally of the thinner elderly and infirm.  Either way, ectomorphic montrosity or a dead senior flayed open, I feel these artists occupy an extreme poles of a continuum where I would be comfortable somewhere in the middle.

I used a pose from da Vinci's 1 Folio for the bone anatomy, and the musculature comes courtesy of looking at some Hogarth books. 

Interesting trivia:

The radius and ulna are the two curved bones that make up the human forearm.  They are curved, twisted, and muscled so that the wrist can rotate along the long axis of the arm.  Leonardo reasoned that a person's arm would get shorter as a result of the twist getting tighter when the palm of the hand faces down.  The twist loosens when the palm of the hand faces up, making the arm go longer.

I verified this by sitting at a table and leaning as far forward as my shoulder would allow.  With my hand on the table and my shoulder locked in place, I twisted my palm facing up and down.  Sure enough, my arm changed length by maybe a millimeter or two. 

Saturday, May 8, 2010

116 - Arms & Hammer

Time to work on the anatomy texts.  It's a lot easier to draw muscles than it is to grow them.

Friday, May 7, 2010

115 - Leonardo, Cartoony

A while ago, I did this line-art of Leonardo da Vinci.  Although the likeness and composition could use improvement, I actually like the lines on this one.  da Vinci is one of my favourite subjects of study.  I have a number of books devoted to his drawings.  Good luck emulating his style, though.  Maybe someday.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

114 - Uni Sushi

The other day for the first time, I tried uni sushi, which is made from sea urchin:

Uni is made from the roe or "coral" of the urchin, and is considered a delicacy.  Some people compare it to truffle or foie gras, others think it tastes truly awful.  From what I have learned, uni has a very short shelf life.  Even the time that uni sits on the table in a good Japanese restaurant might be enough to tip it from elixir to execrable.

My uni was... unique.  The coral arrives looking a lot like diarrhea on rice.  I am told one of the many types of uni translates from Japanese to something that comes out of the rear end of a horse. 

The taste was exotic.  I guess it compares to oysters, a little.   Definitely the taste of the ocean, with the texture of a raw egg yolk.  My uni flavour was fairly strong, but with some complexity.  I don't think all uni should be quite that powerful.

I can't imagine eating a whole plate of the stuff.  One at a time is enough.  It's kind of a wierd, far-out taste that makes the rest of the meal taste sweeter and better.  Uni is not bad, just different. 

These days seem like uni days.  Interesting, but with a taste of iodine.  Hopefully, next week will be sweeter and better. 

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

113 - Feliz Cinco de Mayo!

Happy Cinco de Mayo, the Fifth of May, a big Mexican holiday!  Not really being Mexican, I can't comment on the cultural significance of the day, but I did drink enough beer to turn myself into The World's Most Interesting Man*:


I don't always drink, but when I do, I prefer Tres Equis.  Yes, anything with XXX on the label, I'll swig it down, my friends.  And then I will tell you a story about a feisty raccoon...

*Interestingness may vary widely by perception and amount of alcohol consumed. 
** Interestingness may not be exactly as illustrated. 

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

112 - "Hyde Creek"

Here is what should be the final draft of my nature picture, "Hyde Creek".  Depending on how the print looks, I might make a few changes, but I expect that this is its ultimate look.

Hyde Creek is a few dozen meters from our back yard. It is a protected salmon habitat.  At most times of the year, you can expect to see fingerlings or fry swimming in the deeper, sheltered areas near the bank.  In fall, the adults return from the ocean to spawn and die. 

This is an amazing ecosystem, and I feel priviledged to be living so near to it.  I think this painting represents Hydre Creek nicely. 

Monday, May 3, 2010

111 - Pandora's Kleenex Box

Stop me if you've seen this before:

This is from my sketchbook from a few months ago: the completely derivative/brilliant ending to the "Jeff Catches A Cold" series from the beginning of the year (click here to learn about how I catch colds).  Here, the virus General Patton squares off in mortal combat against BraveHelperTCell. 

I never finished this image for several reasons: I was getting pretty sick, I had to switch software on account of Windows 7, too much work for a lame joke, etc.  At least it lives on in my journal. 

Sunday, May 2, 2010

110 - A Lady Named Moose

Below is a picture of our friends Bob and Moose.  This was taken a couple of years ago at a Grey Cup party we threw.  Bob and Moose are great fans of the B.C. Lions and the CFL.  And yes, her name is Moose, or at least it has been since she was a child.

Moose is very good with crafts.  She fabricated the awesome B.C. Lions quilt she and Bob are enjoying in the picture.  I took this photo, and now she wants it for an archive.  I had to fix the levels a bit, as the camera flash created a bloom which I easily fixed in Photoshop.  I figure I might as well post it on JSVB, even though it's not quite football season yet.  We are all looking forward to it, though! 

Saturday, May 1, 2010

109 - "Basho!!!"

My friend Earl is increasing his interest level in baseball.  He's even joined his company team, is taking practise, and has his first game of the year.  He also posted pictures, which I have adapted.

The title of this entry is Basho!!!  Basho was a highly regarded Japanese poet whose name happens to sound like a home run drive in English:

The Japanese verse in the second panel is one of Basho's haiku, a highly stylized poem.  I really have no idea if I have the correct kanji (Japanese form of pictogram-based writing).  It might be more legible in Klingon.  I apologise if I got it wrong.  Anyway, from what I know, the haiku goes as follows:

  Along this path
I go alone
This spring evening

Too bad Basho lived a couple of hundred years before the invention of baseball.  I bet he would have loved the game.

The verse was translated by William N. Porter.  Ideas for the above images come from Earl's photographs, but I also took inspiration from Mizushima-san, the legendary Japanese baseball artist.