Tuesday, June 29, 2010

154 - A Hot Load For Laundry Day

As you can plainly see from the picture, I have a pair of great big Ultra Downy Balls.  Some people I know have no balls at all, which is sad. 

I like to use my balls whenever I do laundry.  I always wash with a hot load.  You can see the Load Size is set to extra large

If I don't use my balls, the laundry comes out stiff and hard.  Sometimes, that's not a bad thing, but there's more to cleaning clothes than getting stains out.  That's why I always ask my wife if she's satisfied when I am done. 

Monday, June 28, 2010

153 - Tell & Show

One last lesson learned from this week of art shows:  showmanship is vitally important. 

This is such a difficult lesson!  Of course, all sorts of artists will say that the creation of an art piece is the easy part.  The hard part is finding some means of selling it.  This is the opposite of the established graphic artist or animator, who is chained into their indentured cubicle for a life of anonymous yet steady production. 

The fine artist, on the other hand, is allowed to frolic in the sun, and especially is allowed to sign their name to their work (something I really do not at all like to do).  The downside is that if nobody wants your work, you starve.  An artist lives or dies by virtue of their name.  That's a lot of risk and responsibility. 

Watching Kieth Langergraber in action really brought home for me that the artist must be prepared to sell his or her work aggressively.  Patrons seem less interested in the quality of the art and more interested in its value, although in the best instances quality and value are as one.

So, I drew myself today as the ultimate art patron, Cosimo de Medici.  I ripped off from Rafael's portrait by rotoscoping it, and stuck my own face on top.  Rather post-modern.

I've also used the image of a restored gilded Louis XIII frame.  The actual frame was worked by master craftsman Derek Halladay.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

152 - "Geekdom Come"

Events of the past week have led me to new realizations.  Having my friend Earl visit from away, meeting Keith Langergraber, and my recent art show have all opened my eyes to a new reality: I am a geek, but I could be a lot geekier and possibly have fun and make money in the process.

I used to be very geeky, but I have made some effort to tone that down.  Geek isn't all that professional or grown-up.  On the other hand, any effort I make at being professional and grown up seems to do me no favours in this stage of my life. 

In JSVB, I am opening up a new category, which I will call "Geekdom Come".  It's a play on the phrase "kingdom come", which can be interpreted as meaning Heaven.  In other words, the new category should come to represent geek heaven. 

To learn more about Keith Langergraber, please click here

Thursday, June 24, 2010

151 - Art Critics, Part II

For reasons beyond my reckoning, I actually participated in two art shows this week.  (To see how my first art show went, please click here.) The second show, "The Society Of Temporal Investigations" (STI)  by Keith Langergraber, featured some work I did a long time go.  If I had known about it, I probably would have refused to have anything to do with the show, but instead, I was more or less tricked into participating.

Not that the STI show was bad.  It was a lot of fun and nicely put together.  It's an honest look at what drives otherwise normal people to create fan art based on science fiction television shows.  It helped a lot that Mr. Langergraber is definitely a fan of the genre, but he also took a very sholarly approach to a topic that's usually dismissed by people involved in cultural studies.  I would show more, but I forgot to ask permission from Mr. Langergraber, and considering that he is taking his show on the road, I do not want to infringe on his rights. 

My involvement in his show was from my incidental work in a twenty year old Star Trek fan film made by my friend Earl (who happens to be cousins with Keith).  It's a re-creation of "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" (1979), but with finger puppets... 

Two decades ago, we were young and we were bored, but we did not have the patience or talent to come up with a proper film, so we decided to make cardboard sets out of shoe boxes and use marked-up fingers as actors.  Somehow, the film came to the attention of Mr. Langergraber, who got permission from Earl to use it in his art installation. 

We ended up watching it projected onto a big screen with an audience of a few dozen spectators, which was not how I ever figured on seeing this film again.  Good thing the venue sold wine, I had a fair bit to drink to get me through the night. 

Looking back, I can't imagine making a more primitive film.  We used a VHS camcorder the size of a small microwave oven, so it was difficult to hold still.  It had an autofocus function that had trouble locating small objects, so much of the film is incredibly blurry.  We would hold the cardboard sets up to the camera with one hand, act out the puppets with the other hand, and then also hold up the lighting rig.  We didn't have scenes or a script, but instead relied on our recollection of the original movie, which would have been over ten years old by that time.  After a while, we just stopped listening to Earl the director, with predictable results.  It's a magnificently bad film, almost on the Ed Wood level if I am allowed comparison.

Still, there were positives about the film.  As it happens in the Star Trek canon, the interpersonal relationships of the crew, both as actors and as characters, shine through past any irregularities in the narrative.  Mr. Langergraber said the same thing about our film as well.  Plus, by cutting out exterior shots, most of the special effects, and several key plot lines (including omitting Decker and Ilia), we were able to successfully tell the two-hour-plus  Star Trek Motion Picture story in just over fifteen minutes, an 88% refinement over the slow pace of the original. 

Pictured above is one of the clearest and most sensible frames I could grab from the video.  I don't think any of the fingers are mine, but I did design the set and assemble it with a bit of help.  I won't link to the video, but Earl did post in online at YouTube.  You may search for it by looking for "Star Trek Finger Puppet" by EarlFlynn.  Please note that Earl posted the video in two parts.  You will need to watch them both to see the entire story.  If you do, you'll never have to prove your courage in any other way. 

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

150 - Art Critics, Part I

The art critics make their presence known. 

So, how did the big Green Revolution Art Show go?  My hope was that it would provide a stepping stone to some new experiences and connections in the art world.  I will say that my hopes were fulfilled, although not in any way a rational person would come to expect.  More on that in the next JSVB post, I think.

In actuality, the show will run for about a month.  The artists' program was just an informal get-together for a couple of hours.  Mostly, it seemed to me a gathering of shy artists, with me being the shyest.  The public did not seem interested or involved.

Everyone loved the venue, the Leigh Square Gathering Place in the heart of downtown Port Coquitlam.  It really is a magnificent building, and is a tremendous location for a community art gallery.  It's even LEED certified, meaning that the construction and operation of the building is environmentally sound.  We are spoiled here, especially compared to venues I've seen elsewhere. 

Please click here to learn more about the Green Revolution.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

149 - Bag Lunch

We discovered that the bears are waiting in the forest for garbage day.  A city bylaw prohibits us from putting out our garbage on the night before, so we have to get up in the morning before the trucks arrive to take the garbage away.  The idea is if we wait until the last moment to put out the garbage, bears should be less likely to root through our bins.

Now we know that the bears simply wait for us to deposit our garbage.  After we leave it, they make a run for our refuse just before the truck to get to our neighborhood. 

Our neighbour shooed away a massive male bear who was nosing into our bin, which had been unlocked just ten minutes previously.  This is of concern, as the males are usually too shy to go prowling for garbage.  Worse still, the only thing the bear seemed interested in was a pack of used and empty MacDonald's wrappers, meaning that the beast has a taste for that particular popular brand of grease and salt.  The big guy grabbed the bag in his teeth and took it with him back into the forest, thinking he would have a quick bag lunch.

My wife and I practically never visit MacDonald's.  The only reason we went was as a favour to a friend who was jonesing for a burger and fries.  Hopefully, this friend will read JSVB and re-think future visits to Ronald MacDonaldland.  Our mistake was to bring home for disposal the smelly wrappers, which the bears seem to prize above all other food. 

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

148 - The Gillnetter

Here I am with friends and family at The Gillnetter, a fantastic pub on the shoreline of Port Coquitlam where the Fraser and the Pitt rivers converge. 

Later that night, I took a photo of distant Mount Baker, which is easily visible from the deck patio of the pub when the weather is clear :

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

147 - Stoopid Boids

Early this morning, I was awakened by the repeated sound of birds flying into our picture window.  After scouting the back yard for avian corpses (there were none), I decided to do something about it. 

Just now, I finished drawing this design to cut out and paste onto the window as a bird deterrent:

It's not my best art ever, but I hope it's realistic enough to convince the birds that our glass window is not made of sky at all.  This time of year, the sun shines just right to make our windows reflect the forest behind the house, and the birds must think that they can fly there. 

I made a reference diagram by mashing a stuffed toy chicken into my scanner, and then I rotoscoped it.

Monday, June 14, 2010

146 - The "I Hate Framing" Post

Boy howdy, do I ever hate framing.  This is nothing original, just a renewed hatred based on recent events.

First of all, framing a picture can be royally expensive.  It does not take much for the cost of the frame to exceed the value of the print.  A good chunk of the price tag on those Robert Bateman prints goes towards the frame.  Not that frames should be cheap, because that would be unpleasant.  But Mr. Bateman gets a sweetheart deal on framing since he arranges for them in bulk quantities.  Those of us who buy them one at a time become the indentured slaves of the framers.  Not that this is always bad, as I have met some very good framers.  But expert or no, a professional framer is expensive.

Then there is the do-it-yourself option.  It's a lot of fiddly, time-consuming work.  The whole project can get wrecked if you are even a millimetre off in measuring.   If you have the right tools, you won't hurt your hands so much while assembling your own frame.  If you don't have the right tools, then your fingers become as lambs to the slaughter.  Need I say that the right tools cost a fortune when purchased from your friendly neighbourhood framing shop? 

Yes there are people who enjoy framing and who are good at it.  More power to them, but I am not one of them.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

145 - Furcht & Von Angst

Yes, it's the 13th of the month, and so time for another dose  of Ungood Art.  I introduce with a complete lack of pride, honour, or pleasure the characters of "Furcht" and "Von Angst":

I fashioned these two Nazi-style officials intentionally trying to come up with an odious design.  If I tried harder, I could have come up with something truly awful, but I was too lazy to do that.  Instead, we have this pair of half-assed blunders. 

I really hate these two, but I suppose they deserve detention in the Ungood Art file. 

Friday, June 11, 2010

144 - DevCon Ryan NYP

Sorting through things, and looking for stuff to recycle, I found this document.  This is the cover to the Microsoft DevCon, I think maybe the last one they put on.  I attended as a VUP (Very Unimportant Pleb), with little to do other than to watch the doors. 

The cover was designed by somebody in Microsoft's printing services.  I drew the airplane, the Ryan NYP, from memory on my personal copy of the agenda during a prolonged fit of boredom.  I can only take so much Powerpoint, much less than the average person, before I get restless and antsy. 

Please see other Ryan aircraft I've rendered by clicking here and/or here.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

143 - Happy Birthday To Me!

WARNING:  If images of scantily-clad superhero women wrestling each other is offensive to you, you'd better not scroll this page down.  Same goes if you happen to be too young to be looking at this kind of stuff.
(scroll down to see the rest of the post)

Traditionally, June 10th has always been my birthday.  My wife, family, and friends always come through with a nice party and gifts.  Since I always need stuff to post for JSVB, I decided this time to give myself the gift I've always wanted...

...a leather-clad girl-vixen catfight!

Specifically, I drew here a fight between Black Canary and Black Widow.  The idea came up in a conversation I had with one of my friends many months ago.  "I'd love to see a catfight between Black Canary and Black Widow," the friend said, and I must have agreed.

I know next to nothing about superhero comic books.  I later used the Internet to find out who these two characters are.  There's so much fan-based information on both of them, it's hard to sort out what's relevant.  There's easily more biography on either of these two ladies than there are on any ten normal women you could name.  In fact, the idea of a duel between Canary and Widow generates many, many pages of Internet text, but not all that many pictures. 

Officially, I guess that a Canary vs. Widow duel would not be likely, as each character belongs to a different comic book publisher.  This brings me to the topic of copyright:

Black Canary is the property of DC Comics, and Black Widow is the property of Marvel Comics.  I did not try to accurately draw either character.  I don't have the time or the will to pick up contemporary comic book style.  To me, they look like a blonde and a redhead dressed in leather.  Mmmm... leather...

Oh, and before I forget, yes, my marriage is doing well.  Looking back on JSVB, it seems that unless you prefer highly muscular people with no skin, the post with the most sex appeal is The Fashion Cowboy  (click here to see him).  I just wanted to address that situation with some girl on girl action!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

142 - Queequeg.jpg

Queequeg?  Why not Queequeg, I say.  "Moby Dick" turns out to be one of my favourite books.  I find the stories of the Yankee whalers to be fascinating and exotic, but it was also a brutal and bloody business as well. 

At one point, I started sketching out the characters, which is how Queequeg ended up in my book.  I am thinking I would like to re-read the novel and re-sketch the characters.  Among bits and pieces of crooked lines and forms, I am particularly galled that I cropped the image because the sketch ran over the boundaries of the page, a very rookie mistake. 


Also, I should point out that if all goes as planned, tomorrow's JSVB entry will be intentionally "PG Rated".  I figure if there are parents with little ones, they may need to answer tough questions about what that lady in the picture is doing.  For those who care, this is either a warning or an incentive to tune in to JSVB tomorrow. 

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

141 - Green Revolution

Look closely, and that's my name at the end of the featured artists' list!   This is the official invitation to Port Coquitlam's Green Revolution art display, part of our city's commitment to ecological responsibility as well as to the arts. 

My "Hyde Creek" digital painting was chosen by the Leigh Square jury for display (please click here to see it).  The show is free for the viewing public, as is the Reception on June 17.  Everybody is invited! 

The city's graphic arts team drummed this ad up, not me, so I cannot take credit for today's design.  However, I do have permission to post it online. 

Sunday, June 6, 2010

140 - "Sebby's Dragon"

I completely forgot I had a copy of this picture.  I found it today while rummaging through my files.  According to my note, I'd drawn it five years ago!  It feels like I drew it yesterday. 

Saturday, June 5, 2010

139 - The Dahle 155

Nobody asks me what kind of pencil sharpener I use. 

If they did, I would tell them right off, "Cheap art supplies make cheap art."  Then I would show them the Dahle 155 Professional. 

Made with durable Solingen steel, the 155's conical blades make precise cuts every time, ensuring a perfect symmetrical point on my pencil.  The 155 comes with a self-feeding system that never over-grinds the wood.  On the back is an ajduster dial that lets me specify how sharp or dull I want the point to be, which is highly practical for artistic applications. 

The 155 is easy to take apart and clean.  In every respect, it is a superior sharpener, although it is expensive. 

Some artists complain about the "teeth of death" that can leave marks on the exterior of the pencil.  These hypersensitive maladroits are obviously married to their pencils, they take them out on the town every few nights in their cosy vinyl pocket protectors for drinks and maybe a nice crème brulée afterwards at the local bistro.  They probably get all teary when their HB's finally get short, no doubt from writing fan mail to Sidney Crosby. 

Me, I never keep pencils around long enough to care about their paint job.  They do their duty and then they jump into the grinder.  Repeat until gone, then I buys some more. 

So if nobody asks me about my pencil sharpener, why am I bothering here and now?  Simply put, papa needs a new JSVB entry. 

Friday, June 4, 2010

138 - "Slow Bug"

Another macro photo of a local insect.  We call these guys "slow bugs", on account of how they move very slowly.  They belong to the family Curculionidae, which includes over 60,000 species of weevils.  Curculionids are remarkable for being beetles with curved heads or snouts.

 Here, I've re-sized buggly so that he's close to his true size.  As far as I know, weevils are vegetarians, and some are destructive to our crops and food sources.  These particular bugs seem perfectly harmless.  My guess is that they feed on dead, decaying wood as scavenger beetles. 

They seem intent on scouting new territory outside of our backyard forest, and daily make their slow, methodical way through our house on their way to new frontiers.  When we find them, we pick them up and speed their progress out either the back or the front door.  If touched, the typical slow bug defense is to flip on their back, curl up their legs, and play dead!  If we wait a few moments, they will snap back onto their feet and continue on their way as if nothing has happened. 

Thursday, June 3, 2010

137 - Bee Seeing You

A rare break in the rain showers afforded me the opportunity to snap a macro photo of a bee taking shelter in our hibiscus bush. 

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

136 - Torsology

With these torso studies, I attempt to pin down the major muscle groups, which may explain some of the crazy line work. 

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

135 - Lick'em!

I can combine the topics of my last two posts, licking things and slugs, and make a legitimate new topic for today. 

I recently got into a conversation whose topic evolved to the point where we were discussing licking at slugs.  We thought that licking at a slug would give you a mild electric shock. 

While this may in some distant respect be true, what I found on the Internet was that licking at a banana slug will numb your tongue and mouth.  The effect is something like novocaine.  The story goes that native Indians would use slugs as a treatment for tooth-aches.   How on earth would anybody figure that out?  Only a toothache would inspire somebody to stuff different random things in their mouth to make the hurt stop. 

The wonder that is the World Wide Web provides many different videos showing what happens when you choose to lick at a slug.  Everyone says the same thing: doesn't taste of much, numb tongue, slimy sensation, ugh, wouldn't do it again.  Either these videos are part of a massive, elaborate multinational conspiracy of ersatz slug-lickers, or else they are true.  Believing in these videos means that there is enough evidence out there that I myself won't have to try licking at slugs.  At least not until my next toothache.