Friday, December 31, 2010

277 - JSVB: Year One In Review

The first of January is also the anniversary of the start-up of JSVB, my visual blog.  So, today provides me the opportunity to look back over a year's worth of work:

This stately column of images represents an entire year of my work.  Distilled into this matrix form, it reminds me of a tall modern tower filled with windows.  Each window belongs to someone or something for most days of my life during 2010.  These are all of the pictures, drawings, and digital paintings I have posted to JSVB.

My intention for JSVB was to challenge myself to create more artwork, and to get better at art production.  I believe that I met that challenge, although I did not post every single day.  I have just over 275 posts.  From a year with 365 days, that means I posted roughly 75% of the time, or approximately five days out of every week. 

Some posts took just a moment to compose, others took weeks.  On average, I would guess I took four hours to complete a typical post.  With my total post count, that would make 1,112 hours of specialized work.  If I were paid my asking wage, I would have earned $44,480.00 to produce JSVB.  I'd like not to discuss what I actually earned this year, though. 

Around mid-June, Blogger the blog host decided to add some statistic tracking functions to their software.  I had wanted to track blog views since the outset, but I am happy to get tracking data from June onward.  The data does not include any personally identifiable information, but it does track basic items such as viewer nationality, the favourite posts, and how people link to JSVB, i.e. links from other blogs, Google™  and Facebook™ search engine hits, and the ubiquitous pings from automated bots looking to spam my blog with comments.

About adding comments to JSVB: that has been one criticism I have not really addressed.  I did add the "Choose Your Opinion" boxes at the bottom as a way for people to acknowledge that they have seen and possibly liked any given post.  Normally five or so people click on a box, which is cool.  I purposely chose "STUNNING" and "EVOCATIVE" as my descriptors, as I do not at all appreciate the contemporary trend of adding "likes" and "dislikes" to everything.  All that does is help the advertisers without adding value to JSVB. 

As far as comments are concerned, I have over 275 posts this year to keep track of.  A malicious bot can fill any or all of them with spam, whereas I would have to clean all that gunk out manually.  Even just one minute per post cleaning out spam means I am spending four and a half hours on pure monkeywork.  That time equals what it would take me to create a new post.  I'd much rather spend the time being creative.  If you have comments, my e-mail remains at the top of every page of JSVB. 

I do get a few e-mails regarding my blog.  Most are congratulatory or requests for clarification.  I enjoy hearing from JSVB readers.  I also encourage people to sign up as my Cultural Elite, which means becoming an official "follower" of JSVB.  It's a bit of a hassle to set up, as you need to use a Google™ account.  After that, though you should get some automatic notifications of my latest posts.  For what it's worth, I've also added some sharing functions for ease of linking to my posts, including RSS feeds and the like. 

So now for some statistics.  Each item has a clickable hyperlink to take you to the post:


Honourable Mention 1 - Goes to Mr. Keith Langergraber.  People are searching for Mr. Langergraber and finding mention of him on JSVB.  Only in the last few days did he drop from the Top Ten searches on JSVB.

Honourable Mention 2 - Another popular item is Momma Horse & Baby Horse Sketch.  This was just a quick and simple drawing, but people seem to like it a lot.  A couple of weeks ago, it was dropped from the Top Ten.  Maybe I will rework it into a more finished piece.

10) Momma's Boy Blues - An ode to poor Janice, who has broken several bones in her body as of late.

9) Rassen Frassen Gesture Poses - I suspect I get hits from search engines for "rassen frassen", which was animation producer Hanna-Barbera's solution to swear words in G-rated pictures.  A full phrase goes "rassen frassen franastanic brickle brackle", which can sound awfully mean without injuring the ears of children. 

8) Mousey Tongue - I like this drawing of our little mouse visitor, and so do other people it seems.

7) Trek Or Treat - Kind of an embarrassing pic, but it was an excuse for my wife to get painted green for Hallowe'en.  That day, we went out to a football game where she cheered her head off for the green Roughriders.  I spilled beer on my phaser. 

6) 30th Terry Fox Run - Thirty years after he passed away, Terry Fox lives on strong in the hearts of Canadians and the people of the world.  Living in Port Coquitlam means always having some part of his magnificent legacy close at hand.  I plan to do another post on Terry Fox, as this post generated a few queries.

5) Better The DVLA You Know - A play on the phrase, "Better the devil you know than the one you do not."  DVLA is England's Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency, which is a target of search engines from the UK.

4) PoCo UFO Incident - A really creepy UFO landing that was reported just a few blocks from where I live!   This is one of my favourite posts, as it combines the capabilities of Corel Painter with the spectre of a flying saucer hovering over trees.  I've always been deeply attracted to that kind of X-Files-style imagery.  It's like postmodern gothic horror, I guess.  Strangely, the majority of views for this post occured within a three week span, and then ceased entirely. 

3) Why Phi? Or: A Silver Golden Rule - I kept getting clusters of multiple hits for this post.  Then I discovered that art classes kept finding it using the Internet for research.  There are other websites than mine that do a better job of exlaining how Phi works.

2) Nat Bailey Nooner - This escape to the iconic Vancouver ballpark is the most searched-for single image on JSVB.  I carefully altered the colour curves in Photoshop to achieve a somewhat nostalgic effect. 

1) Ricci De Mare (Sea Urchin) Recipe - By far, this is the most popular post on JSVB.  It gets hits every day.  People seem curious about sea urchins in general.  As well, they want to know more about the fascinating, grisly technique for preparing red sea urchins for dinner. 

Well, that's the lot.  I would like to express my deep gratitude for any JSVB readers who have followed my blog for the year.  I wish a big welcome to anybody who is just dropping by to look at Orion Slave Girls, Hyde Creek, the Olympic Posts, the Stained Glass Saints or anything else here.  Be sure to check out the SHOWCASE category to the right to see my own favourite pictures on JSVB!

Happy New Year in 2011!


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

276 - Ukrainian Dancer Sketch

I have a sketch of a Ukrainian dancer, or at least a prototype.  I'd like to expand on her character, but that will have to wait.

Monday, December 20, 2010

275 - Pirates of The Legislature

British Columbia's political scene never fails to entertain, if anything else.  The other day, I compared behind-the-scenes players Bill Van Der Zalm and Moe Sihota to maggots feeding off of the carcasses of not just one but both of our major political parties.  Both the Liberals and the New Democrats chose to eject their leaders from caucus at roughly the same time, leaving our fair province without leadership or direction.  This is seen by some as a welcome change. 

Recent discussions have suggested to me that comparing the scandal-ridden careers of Mr. Van Der Zalm and Mr. Sihota to the life choices of maggots was grossly unfair, perhaps to the maggots.  Some have suggested that the opportunistic Mr. Van Der Zalm and Mr. Sihota are more like pirates roaming the halls of the Legislature looking for easy plunder, just like back in the good old days.  At the very least, these two do seem to be hijacking some of the press releases normally reserved for government issues.  At the most are large sums of money rumored to be exchanging hands, with new deals brokered by these two gentlemen hidden mostly from public scrutiny. 

While The Libs and the NDP scuttle their own ships at sea, who can blame the outsiders for wanting another shot at political power?  Certainly, niether of these two men has enough credibility with the public to be re-elected, but they do wield considerable powers from behind the figureheads. 

Please click here to revisit the documented self-destruction of the Libs and NDP in unison.  Please click here to see a previous, somewhat less cartoony iteration of today's sketch. 

Sunday, December 19, 2010

274 - Prototype Privateer

A pretty good attempt at a pic I am working on.  But it needs more.  There is always room for more.  I will post a more refined attempt tomorrow.

Friday, December 17, 2010

273 - "Yuletide Gastropod"

"Yuletide Gastropod" is, or more properly was, a Googlewhack.  A Googlewhack is a sort of personal contest where you enter two words into the Googlesearch engine.  If your two words generate precisely one hit, i.e. one single page on the Internet, no more, no less, then that is a Googlewhack.  There are a few additional rules for a true Googlewhack, but that's the basics of it. 

Yuletide Gastropod was my wife's first Googlewhack way back in 2005 or so.  Today, Yuletide Gastropod yields just over 5,000 hits.  Now, on JSVB, I am adding one more:

For this post, I've repurposed the gastropod from a previous JSVB entry.  Please click here to see it.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

272 - Yuletide Payload

Here's our collection of Christmas cards to be sent, about three dozen in all.  I'll drop them in the mailbox tomorrow.  Next year, we thought it would be a good idea to stamp, address, and write out all the cards in June.  We'd still send them in December, just move the chore of processing to them for some sunny summer day.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

271 - Edmonton Tonite

A photo I took of Edmonton, Alberta at night.  I used to live a few blocks from where I took this picture.  The glass pyramids are greenhouses for the Muttart Conservatory gardens. 

Monday, December 13, 2010

270 - "The X Sample"

Today, the thirteenth of December, marks the final "Ungood Art" feature for JSVB this year.  I can't really believe I've racked up a (baker's) dozen.  As the days and weeks have progressed, I believe I have seen an improvement to my ungood art, while my good art has either levelled off or improved in such a way that I have yet to percieve it.  Either way, the gap between ungood and good art narrows, which makes Ungood Art Day increasingly difficult to service. 

So, today, I took a photo of some noxious glop that had collected on the bottom of my oven the day I tried to bake a yam.  The skin of the yam broke in the heat and fluid poured out, cooking into this black, alien-looking display on the floor of the oven.   Fortunately, it was very easy to scrape up. 

I painted in an additional Mr. Spock from Star Trek for his signature mind-meld abilities.  The Spock character belongs to Paramount Pictures, and I used a kneeling pose from the episode "For The World Is Hollow, And I Have Touched The Sky". 

I call this piece "The X Sample" in honour of my Trekkie friend Earl, who some years ago came up with a mythical "fourth season" of Star Trek episodes (the original show was cancelled after three seasons).  In "The X Sample", according to Earl, Mr. Spock becomes obsessed with a mineral sample with which he comes into contact. 

It's something of a coincidence that my picture illustrates Earl's imaginary episode.  I composited the picture first, and then searched out Earl's archives for something that was a close enough match.  Odds were good that I would find something.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

269 - Kids These Days

The other night, I took my wife out on a date.  We ended up seated next to a couple of twentysomethings.  For three quarters of the event, the young man was completely absorbed with texting on his smartphone, ignoring the entertainment, his date, and us, for that matter.

That reminded me of a night my wife and I spent on the shore of Lake Como, in northern Italy.  Tourguides refer to this region as "the heart of Italian romance"; it's easily one of the most breathtakingly beautiful locations I have ever seen.  The evening was clear, and we had finished an excellent meal prepared in a local restaurant.  The sun shone golden rays upon the distant fairytale towers of the famous Villa del Balbianello.  Tame swans on the shore honked gently and jostled for bits of bread thrown by tourists. 

The Italian locals all came out dressed in their finest evening wear, as is their custom.  Watching the Italians from this region enjoy a night out on the town was like watching a fashion show with Brioni, Gucci, Prada, and Versace all on display. 

My wife and I shared the gorgeous sunset quietly together.  Nearby a handsome young Italian man and his date were sitting on a quaint stone bench, enjoying the same sight.  Then, the fellow's cel phone rang, and he spent the next half an hour focussed entirely on that.  His comely date just sat and waited for him to finish.  Waited and waited. 

Honestly, with so many beautiful women in the world languishing on benches in the sunset being barely attended to by anybody at all, I do not understand the allure of mobile phones. 

Friday, December 10, 2010

268 - Night Of The Teddy Bears

Tonight was "Teddy Bear Toss Night" for the WHL (Western Hockey League) Vancouver Giants, a local junior hockey team.  The WHL is one of the Canadian junior hockey leagues that feeds players directly into the NHL (National Hockey League), the world's premier professional hockey league. 

Teddy Bear Toss is a charity event that happens once a year near Christmas.  Fans bring stuffed animals to the game, which are thrown onto the ice surface when the home team scores their first goal.  The animals are then donated to a worthy childrens' charity, often with money from sponsors to match the donations. 

I didn't take pictures of the game this year, but I did find an old entry in one of my sketchbooks relating to teddy bears.  I don't recall why I did these, and nothing came of them, except to prove that I now have the same soft spot in my heart for teddy bears as I did when I was a little boy. 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

267 - "Leaderless And Rudderless"

"Leaderless and rudderless".  That's how one of our local television news broadcasters described our provincial system in British Columbia.  Recently, Liberal Premier Gordon "03-02659" Campbell announced his retirement, after dropping the popularity of his party into unprecendented single digits.  Please click here to read about that. 

The Official Opposition recently responded to their opportunity to finally overtake Campbell's majority government-slash-cult of personality.  Their tactic was to commit political hari-kiri by ousting their leader Carole James.  All the Libs have to do now is call a snap election, and hey presto, they're in for four more years.   

In my opinion, our government seems to be in a death spiral towards total incompetence.  Campbell led his party by sheer will, total arrogance, and an unending personal supply of red knit mittens.  James couldn't find an issue even if somebody gave her one to blow her nose into.  I hope these two enjoy their newfound retirement, giving the voters some respite from their antics up on The Hill. 

Or does it?  Instead of the usual cast of inept bunglers on the main stage, we now see the encroachment of old political hacks (and I use that word in the kindest sense, i.e. as in to to take another hack at something) like Bill Van Der Zalm and Moe Sahota, both who were forced out of office because they were charged with breaking the law.  Is there a massive underground conspiracy that ignores the party lines of Liberals and New Democrats in a secret cabalistic surge for power?  Or are the bottom-feeders coming up to chew on the dead carcass of BC politics like maggots squirming and wriggling in sudden sunlight? 

Personally, I like the conspiracy theory better.  A conspiracy would imply that at least somebody out there cares enough to do something about our current political mess.  All hail the cabal! 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

266 - Sensor And Santa's Abilities

My wife told me an amusing story about those white plastic motion sensors you see in modern homes these days.  They're little boxes with a sensor and a red light.  When the sensor sees motion in the room, the red light comes on.  If the thing is hooked up to a burglar alarm, then it will raise a klaxon.  When folks are at home, though, the alarm is off, so the red light sliently goes on and off on its own.

The story involves a particular mom who was on the edge of losing control over her children, who were becoming increasingly hyperactive what with the upcoming Christmas holiday season. 

Mom patiently explained to her children that the white boxes on the walls were actually cameras from the North Pole.  When the red light comes on, that means that Santa is watching you.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

265 - Duck!

An icon for a duck.  It's a re-use from a previous set of icons.  Please click here to see them.  I've repurposed this one for a sticker.  I can think in my mis-spent younger years of a particular nail sticking from an overhead beam that would have been less painful had it had a duck sticker nearby. 

Monday, December 6, 2010

264 - Through The Scanner Glass

I've fallen out of the habit of adding drawings to my sketchbook.  As an exercise, I am forcing myself into a stronger Disney-esque illustration style.  I am trying to emulate Milt Kahl's Alice.  It's hard work, with mixed results.  My native style is far from Mr. Kahl's peerless draughtsmanship.  Unlike Mr. Kahl, though, as long as I wake up tomorrow, I can always try again.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

263 - Alberta Legislature Building

A picture postcard view of the Legistature Building in Edmonton, Alberta.  For a prairie boy such as myself, this building represents the seat of governmental power.  Saskatchewan and Manitoba have legislature buildings of similar design, except larger. 

The overall design, I am told, is Beaux-Arts, which originated from an architectural school in France at the beginning of the 20th Century.  For a time, I lived a couple of blocks away from this building and its beautiful park-like grounds.  My recent revisit to Edmonton allowed me the chance to take this definitive winter photograph. 

Friday, December 3, 2010

262 - Post Grey Cup Post

Here's the view from our seats at the 98th Annual Grey Cup Canadian Football League Championship Final, held this year in Edmonton.  I never knew they made seats this remote.  We could actually see the top of the main speaker suspended above the field.  While the players looked like swarming ants and the half-time show pictured above was just a dot, we were so close to the Canadian Forces Snowbirds jet formation fly-over we nearly got clocked on the head by their landing gear. 

Frigid the night was, and cheapjack our seats, but the game was entertaining and Edmonton's hospitality was warm and inviting.  The parties during the week that led up to the game were great!  We had a lot of fun attending this most Canadian of major sports events, but we also look forward to the 99th Grey Cup, which will take place in hometown Vancouver, in shirtsleeve conditions indoors. 

Also, I'd like to extend a big welcome to anybody who picked up a JSVB card at the Cup and followed it here to my blog.  Please look around, enjoy the pictures, and if there's anything here you'd like to see in print, I can make that happen for a modest price. 

Thursday, December 2, 2010

261 - The Catspaws That Refreshes

After yesterday's post, I thought I was on a roll.  Nothing like real life to return humility to the artist.  I'm hopping around to get things done, but I am being pulled in all kinds of directions.  Today, I tried to make some more topical artwork, but without proper warm-ups, I ended up getting jammed up instead.  Maybe tomorrow, I'll get down to it.

There's always the big cat, though. I've added detail to the paws.  To make them seem weighted solid to the stone, I've also started to refine the look of the rock base.  You can see a bit where there's no model at all, just neutral grey.  Later, I think I will add some snow for visual interest.  I also might have to recompose the image, as perhaps the cat's head is too high.  Fortunately, computers make recomposition relatively easy.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

260 - The Penultimate Naked Truth

Acclaimed actor Lloyd Bridges Leslie Nielsen passed away two days ago, leaving our world a sadder place, yet also perhaps a little less fart-intensive.  Although I've never met Mr. Bridges Nielsen in person, I've always felt that we could get along.  Here was a man who won dozens of awards in his field of tradecraft, yet he almost never left home without some kind of device that could make loud flatulent noises on command.  I truly respect that. 

I used a royalty-free photo from Life Magazine as the source for this image.  I'm also going to borrow a quote from the blockbuster autobiography "The Naked Truth":

The girl at the airport counter in Toronto:
"You're Lloyd Bridges!"
"No, I'm Leslie Nielsen."
"But you play Lloyd Bridges, right?"