Tuesday, August 31, 2010

195 - Kirlian Girl

Back to "this pose" again.  I am working my way up to my Two Hundredth Post JSVB Spectacular, which should be ready in a few days.   It sure isn't now, though.

I worked over the pose using pure stylus power.  The only ink in this drawing is digital.  This turned out to be a lot harder to accomplish than I first thought.  Many thanks to John "pixlart" Derry who provided a tutorial I needed on how to optimize brushes in Corel Painter. 

The coloured effects come directly from using Photoshop layer blending options and curves.  I always like to experiment with these settings to see what effects come out.  Most Photoshop filters are just automated sets of blending instructions, as blends can be highly interactive.  If you undertsand the math behind blends, you can program your own.  I just go visually and create "recipes" of blends that I think work. 

This one looks to me a lot like Kirlian aura photography.  It shouldn't be difficult to fake a Kirlian photograph in Photoshop, especially using smart layer blends.  I do like the aesthetic of it. 

Yes, it looks like the girl's hand has been blown off.  This is still a work in progress, and I simply have not drawn it yet.   Her hand pose will be a crucial part of the final composition. 

Sunday, August 29, 2010

194 - Stroke!

The art technique of creating a line that sticks to the boundary of a selected area is called a "stroke". 

In this case, the selected area is a picture I took while at the fair: deep fried jellybeans on the left, deep fried Oreo cookies on the right.  Stroke, indeed.

The goodies are fried in a sort of fritter batter.  The sign at the food kisok claimed to use a similar batter recipe as for Amish funnel cakes.  Something tells me the Amish don't fry jellybeans and cookies, though.

Despite what your arteries might say, the food tastes awesome.  The fried jellybeans taste a lot like the filling for an ultrasweet jelly doughnut, where the jelly attacks your fillings like battery acid.  Most yummy, though.

The fried Oreos melt under the heat and become very gooey, especially the white sweet fatty stuff inside.  It sort of tastes like a smooth chocolate cream marshmallow profiterole.  Very rich and sweet.

Both treats are highly addictive, undoubtedly unhealthy in any large quantity, and might even be better tasting than Those Little Doughnuts...

Friday, August 27, 2010

193 - Inkscape Pose

Now I have in my sketchbook a girl pose I am halfway satisfied with.  I wanted to give the pose more torsion without having to redraw the image.  Yes, the latest incarnation of Photoshop would let me do that, and no, I cannot afford that application. 

So I converted the image into a vector file using Inkscape, thinking I could try that. (Insert your favourite Star Trek/Brannon Braga "If we ran the sample through the pattern buffer, then we could use the image stabilizer, and maybe we could try applying the vector nodes to enhance the file" -style technobabble.  Honestly, though, the problem-solving aspect of graphic art runs a lot like that if you plan to shoehorn too many divergent computer programs into your workflow.  

Inkscape had a difficult time picking out my blue pencil, though, which resulted in the above image.  I think it reminds me of an unrefined woodcut.

Like taking a photocopy of a photocopy and jiggling the paper while the scanner runs (try it sometime!), shifting between vector and raster files can create some interesting artefacts.  The image looks suitably artsy for JSVB.  Instead of artistic intent, it's more of a technological stumble.  No matter, as long as it looks decent.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

192 - P.N.E.

Off to the P.N.E., the 100th anniversary of the Pacific National Exhibition in Vancouver.  The weather has been absolutely perfect!

We brought Tylenol, Gravol, Lactase, Cold FX, and Band-Aids.  We're now of an age that for this much fun, we need medication. 

Monday, August 23, 2010

191 - Flooded Pakistan

For a short time only, the Government of Canada will match charitable donations given to certain registered charities for the victims of the recent floods in Pakistan.  Of course, you have to be Canadian to donate.  I would suggest the Red Cross or Doctors Without Borders. 

Pakistan is the world's sixth most populous country, with roughly 175 million people living in a nation about twice the size of California.  The floods have affected almost one quarter of that area.  A population nearly equal to that of Canada itself has been displaced by rising waters. 

The area is poor and has become the frequent battleground of warriors and terrorists.  Western cultures have difficulty with the act sending aid to this region due to its history.  Will sending aid money to Pakistan help the terrorists?  Given the level of destruction on the region, will not sending aid help terrorism?  I don't know the answer.

Literate insurgents as well as counter-intelligence agencies actively scour the Internet, looking for signs of weakness from both pro- and anti-Taliban supporters.  Indications seem strong that the Taliban may try to re-establish themselves in northern Pakistan, taking advantage of the chaos of the flooding. 

It's not the interest of JSVB to take sides in this conflict.  The people I know just want to help. 

Geographic and political citations in today's post come from the CIA World Factbook.  I consider it a trustworthy online public domain resource. 

Sunday, August 22, 2010

190 - Inkscape Mandala

I've picked up a new graphics application called "Inkscape".  While not really new for the rest of the world, it is for me.  And it's freeware, which means that I can put off getting a copy of Adobe Illustrator for a while. 

Here I've made a mandala, a circular geometric object made of repeated elements.  In some cultures a mandala is a sacred diagram.  I doubt one this rough would be worthy of spiritual note, but I find the lack of symmetry adds to its visual appeal. 

Anybody can made one of these in Inkscape, I can't claim any great artistic prowess in the few moments it took me to punch this diagram out. 

Friday, August 20, 2010

189 - Inflatable Elvis

Nothing captures the essence of Elvis quite like a giant inflatable.

And no, we're not talking about Thin Young Elvis ballooning out into Fat Old Elvis...

The man was larger than life!

This musical icon was spotted just south of Stanley Park, Vancouver.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

188 - Another Test Pose

I am using up sketchbook pages trying to nail this pose down.  This time, i've done better with the proportions and anatomy.  You can alway push a pose farther, though, and I think this one could stand to be more dynamic.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

187 - "Ugh!"

Sketches for a creature named "Ugh!".  The top one is the first try, the bottom one is a refinement. 

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

186 - Girl Scout Rage

Today's JSVB post contains an image of Girl Scouts engaged in mortal combat. I consider it to be more humorous than sexy, but some may find it offensive. If you cannot or should not be looking at this kind of picture, please navigate away from this JSVB page.

Yesterday, the great 1980 disaster-comedy spoof "Airplane!" was on television, uncut and uncensored. Today, I created an homage to the famous bar fight scene in my sketchbook. Thirty years is a long time to wait for a piece like this.

In the movie, talented stunt performers replaced actual little girls for the heavy fighting, so that's how I drew the scene.  According to IMDB, the two stuntwomen are Sandra Lee Gimpel and Paula Marie Moody, who both have dozens of movie credits. 

Monday, August 16, 2010

185 - Leg Work

This time, I am practising on the anatomy of the leg.  More lessons from the Burne Hogarth workbooks. 

Saturday, August 14, 2010

184 - Pose Test Sketch

I'm trying out new poses in my sketchbook, with the intent of creating a larger art piece.  This is one of the test sketches.  I jazzed it up considerably using Photoshop adjustment layers. 

Friday, August 13, 2010

183 - Fish For Friday

We've made it to the 13th of another month, and you know what that means: Ungood Art Day.  Seeing as today is also a Friday the 13th, I thought a picture involving fish would be appropriate.

Can photography be bad art?  I would kindly suggest, yes.  This picture, however, is of me rather than by me, which at first glance might violate the unwritten rule of Ungood Art Day, in that I must be the author of the ungood art.  It was my idea to pose in dude-cowboy gear in front of a greenscreen and kiss a fish, though, so I did direct the look of the scene. 

Thursday, August 12, 2010

182 - "Perseid's Common Matter"

Today's JSVB post is a representation of the events of last night: my wife and I lay down together beneath the clear and starry sky to watch the Perseid meteor shower.  Today's JSVB title is what you get with an online rhyming dictionary using "Persis Khambatta", my obscure Star Trek reference for a uniquely active evening sky. 

Although we have a fair amount of suburban light pollution at night, our back yard was dark enough for us to spot several streaming meteors and even the distant dot of a satellite as it clocked along its skyflung arc of orbital space.  Tonight, the meteors will continue after I post this JSVB entry.  Like an extra castmember from  Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters movie, I will again camp out beneath the galaxy, and gaze at the sky in awe and wonder. 

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

181 - Happy Earl-And-Sylvia-Versary!

Today is the marriage anniversary of my good friends Sylvia and Earl.  Cheers!  Here is a photo from their happy wedding day.  I like this shot a lot because I somewhow managed to snap the shutter along with the ambient light from somebody else's camera, which created the ephemeral look to this picture. 

Semiotics buffs will note the twisted artificial hedge in behind which replicates a Solomonic Column, an augur of wisdom and good fortune.  If the twist went the other way, the column would represent an ill omen, and we'd probaby get our pick of the matrimonial goodies at the divorce proceedings/garage sale. 

To relive more Sylvia and Earl wedding goodness, please click here.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

180 - "A New Wedding Hope"

A file from August 10, 2007: "A New Wedding Hope".  This was a full-size poster I worked up for the wedding of my friends Sylvia and Earl.  I presented it to them three years ago today, although their anniversary is actually tomorrow.  

The poster is based on the very famous Star Wars promotional poster painted by Tim and Greg Hildebrandt.  In turn, they re-interpreted an existing Star Wars poster laid out by  Tom Jung.  While the Tom Jung poster recreates the look of the movie and characters more faithfully, the Hildebrandt version is more expressionistic and colourful.  Many people consider the Hildebrandt version to be the original definitive Star Wars poster, despite that there were some previous designs already published. 

The Brothers Hildebrandt painted their poster in thirty-six hours.  It helps speed up the process if the layout is already finalized!  I did my poster in about thirty hours, but I missed many of the details and skills that the Hildebrandts used in their work.  I even sampled their colour palette, which sped up my workflow considerably.  It can take a long time to choose the correct colours.  In this case, it makes Sylvia and Earl look orangey-yellow, but I figure that's part of the charm. 

Like the Hildebrandts, I did not have good photographs of the main characters to use as a visual reference, so I just had to wing it.  Luke and Leia don't look much like Mark Hamill or Carrie Fisher in the Star Wars poster, and Sylvia and Earl are similarly romanticized, I think.  A few hours before the poster was to go to the printers, I found out that Sylvia had broken her leg.  I quickly jiggered the artwork to give poor Sylvia a plaster leg cast.  She did walk down the aisle for the wedding, though, since Sylvia is as tough a lady as I have ever met.

This is one of the few pieces that I have actually signed, although even the signature is a bit of an homage to foolery. 

Monday, August 9, 2010

179 - Distant Tornado Rage

Underneath the anvil cloud, a twister pours its rage upon the hapless plain.  The storm is maybe about sixty kilometers away.  High aloft, it's pulling massive streamers of cold air out from the jet stream.  You can see one of these streamers spiral into the heart of the cloud.  There were several other streamers in the sky that did not make it into the frame of my photograph. 

The distant violence of this scene did nothing to convince us to become tornado chasers, though.  We were happy to be travelling away from the center of destruction. 

Sunday, August 8, 2010

178 - Gremlins Ate My Router

For the past couple of days, a gremlin has been chewing on my modem.  I decided to draw it eating the router, though, since the router has more visual appeal than the modem. 

At least the fault lies with my Internet provider and is not local.  The downside is that my Internet connection is very unpredictable, and I've missed posting as a result. 

Saturday, August 7, 2010

177 - Momma's Boy Blues

This is somewhat older news, a belated update on Janice and her motorcycle.  During an extended road trip, she busted up her leg!  Here, her hamster sympathizes (note: as far as I know, the hamster is fine, no broken legs).

For another pic of the hamster, please click here.

For more rodentia on JSVB, please click here and even here

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

176 - Blocked!

I'm blocked.  You've heard of the term "writer's block"?  Artists get that, too.  It damned well sucks.  When I'm not blocked, I can't for the life of me figure out why I do get blocked, but when I do get blocked, it seems impossible to get out.  Just doing art for its own sake like I have for so long seems to beg blockage; working for The Man at least there is incentive and support to get out of being blocked.  As long as I don't end up like Barton Fink, that is.

Being blocked isn't just some kind of work stoppage.  There are links all throughout artistic life: mental, physical, emotional, even spiritual.  It's physically harder to make sensible lines, or even colour inside them.  I find myself making rookie mistakes, like spending 15 minutes painting on the wrong Photoshop layer.  It's a downer, and you never know when it's going to end.  Unless today is the last day of my life, though, it does end.

My belief is that practise and more practise are what is needed to break past a block.  Very accomplished artists never seem to be affected by blocks.  Maybe they are just more professional about keeping blockages from public view.  What practise has taught me is that an artist's life can be spent in a few distinct ways:

In a rut
On the edge
In ignominy
In a groove
Slotted in

None of these states is permanent, unless you fall off the table and quit the game, or you get lucky and/or good enough to fall deeply into the slot.  I made a drawing to explain my two-bit psychoanalysis:

Creative identity is like pushing a small ball up a tilted tabletop using a drinking straw.  The more you push, the more you evolve.  Stop pushing, and the ball rolls backwards: devolution.  Fall off the edge of the table through inattention, and your career ends in apathy or ignominy.  Learn to say, "Would you like fries with that?"

Carved into the tabletop are many comfortable ruts.  Unfortunately, following a rut to its conclusion is not helpful.  In the middle of the table is a large block that stops upward forward progress.  Get the ball around the block to evolve.  Maybe try living life on the edge.  Don't fall off, though, it's a long way down!

Aim for the groove.  Producing art when in the groove is awesome!  Everything works, eveything goes well, it's a blast... but it doesn't last.  Hit the block, and even the groove comes to an end.

Theoretically, the best is to get slotted in, that golden, glowing, magical null-gravity zone.  In the slot, you've created an environment where you can't fail.  It takes a lot of persistent work, or amazing luck, but some people manage it. 

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

175 - Female Life Study

More sketchbook work.  Before anybody gets all excited, no, it's nobody we know. 

Monday, August 2, 2010

174 - Dragon Studies

Here is an old page of studies on dragons.  If you asked me to come up with a dragon, chances are my first stab at it would look like one of these. 

Please also click here to see a cross-reference dragon. 

Sunday, August 1, 2010

173 - Chicken Spun

Who knew that stuffed toy chickens could get dirty?  These are the same chickens that sit in our living room and watch TV day after day (please cluck click here to see more).  We decided to wash them.  We used washing machine to spin out the excess water, and dried them on the clothesline. 
I took the opportunity to use my camera's high speed shutter to capture the birds in flight.  I wanted to see if the drum spinner was anything like an amusement park ride for the chickens.  This picture was taken in 1/1000 of a second, and it shows all of the detail.

It's amazing to think that there are 1000 of these images in a second.  We humans can visually process only around 30 images a second, although some people are sensitive to slightly higher rates.  The limit is the speed of our neurotransmitters, which is around 25 meters per second.  By comparison, the speed of sound at ocean level is 340 m/s. 

The process of life has us filter out millions upon millions of these excess moments in time.  However, there are always a few in our lives that will rank as supremely important: birth, death, the impulse to say "I do", the instant of realization that you have enough money to buy some cool art, the moment the shutter snaps on a fancy camera, things like that.