Wednesday, December 28, 2011

517 - Wii Love Hockey

After a nice break for the holidays, it's back to the sketchbook.  A recent offering of excellent videogames has put a cramp in my productivity, though.

One game was a bargain-bin find, Electronic Arts' all-but-abandoned "Slapshot Hockey" for the Wii, which had been released way back in 2010.  Maybe you recall the television commercial with retired hockey legend Wayne Gretzky re-living his all-star career by standing in front of his television  and waving the crazy little Wii controller like a hockey stick. 

The gimmick to the game, other than that it plays a sweet, fun brand of no-fighting hockey, is that the set comes with a miniature foam hockey stick used for mounting the Wii controller.  Once the stick is assembled, you hold and brandish the stick much like you would as if you were a player.  You handle the puck, deke with the blade, and fire off your best wrist shot or haul away with a massive slapper.  On defense, you can deftly use the crook of the stick to hook your opponent or smash with it like a club to jam the wood into the other player's dental work (no blood, and everyone gets back up when knocked down). 

It takes just a minute or two of practise with the stick.  In no time at all, you feel like you are a major-league player.  You're slipping past the defense with a spin-o-rama and gunning for it up the slot with a wrist snap that zips the puck clean over the goalie's shoulder and into the net, blasting his water bottle.  The all-powerful feeling of hockey goodness and mightiness lasts just until you discover that your wife bought a second foam stick controller and wants to play. 

With me against her, we duelled on the ice.  Hockey is not usually a co-ed sport, and now I know why.  Although my wife's charming little Hailey Wickenheiser dance was awfully cute the first time she scored a goal against my team, the charm turned to alarm when she followed it up with five more much like the first.  It was all I could do to answer with two measly points of my own. 

Curse that I was more interested in Star Trek than the hockey's three stars when I was little!  I have a lifetime of booksmarts and indoor leisure to overcome if I am going to ever gain the skill to defeat my wife at Wii hockey.   

For a little drawing of Hailey Wickenhiser in a gold medal winning dance, please click here.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

516 - Peace And Goodwill

Peace, goodwill, and very happy holidays to all.  Merry Christmas! 

Friday, December 23, 2011

515 - Merry Christmas, Baby!

Merry Christmas, Baby!  This is the last of my Operation Draw Holiday Babies project for 2011.  I can always re-use the baby from last New Year's Day for the upcoming New Year's.  There are a small number of holidays I missed babies for in 2011, so I hope to draw them all out in 2012.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

514 - Eyes Wide Xmas

Why not make Stanley Kubrick's "Eyes Wide Shut" (1999) into a cartoon?  I've frequently been interested in the idea of sending filmed product into the realm of classical animation.  Somewhere on JSVB, I've got fantasy characters of Scully and Mulder ready to go for a Saturday morning X-Files cartoon.  While my drawings are too crude, I think the idea would be awesome.  Maybe parents with kids would think otherwise, though.  Please click here to see JSVB Post #93, which has X-Files character models.

"A Charlie Brown Christmas" (1965) remains as the gold standard for Christmas cartoons.  Filmed years before I was even born, drawn on a shoestring budget with woefully limited animation, it still stands as the most popular Christmas show ever.  Residuals for Charlie Brown keep pouring in, making it an unbelievably profitable property given its lowball budget.  Producers around the world continually try to match the Charlie Brown magic formula, which is why we get acres upon acres of cheap holiday film.  Not much of it seems to be any good, yet Christmas sells almost as well as sex. 

That's my thinking: a sexy Christmas film.  At least there's no crass commercialism or cloying Santa Claus.  Adult audiences would appreciate that.  It's one reason why I consider Eyes Wide Shut to be such a spectacular Christmas film.  Of course, the dead hookers in New York, the strange and aloof orgies in Republican mansions, and Tom Cruise  in general might not come to mind as solid holiday fare as would bell-ringing angel wings, syrupy egg-nog, and Mr. Bean's outsized turkey. 

Eyes Wide Shut, love the story or hate it, comes with some of the finest cinematography in the history of film, period.  It's such a gorgeous motion picture.  Even the minor actors receive a high quality of lighting and camera direction that some A-list stars would never get in their entire careers.  To my mind, the perfectionist Kubrick would have made a stunning director of animated films.  No stranger to animated special effects, Kubrick pioneered several techniques that earned him Academy Awards.   Animators are much more used to working with perfectionist directors than live-action actors, or so I believe.

I started the drawing above in a cartoony style, but in truth, I didn't have a good handle on the character models, so I opted for a more graphic-arts look.  If you've ever watched Richard Linklater's superlative animated film "A Scanner Darkly" (2006), I hope that you will see that I tried to emulate that vision.  I used an embarrassing amount of Photoshop to post-process the drawing into something that might appear filmic. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

513 - Mother Of Tenderness, Part X

Week Ten on the icon.  I am starting on Mary's robes.  The last time around, I had little idea of what I was doing, and I had to fix many mistakes.  This time, I approached Our Lady's garment with a lot more confidence, although not much more wisdom.  The lines look to me a little shaky, but I think I can fix that.  I blew out both my spotter and my rigger brushes tonight, which did not help.  I will have to figure out a way to fix the damaged brushes or else replace them. 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

512 - Doll Kicker Motion Study

I have to admit to being fascinated by the antics of this little boy I saw the other day at the shopping centre, who in boredom and frustration was kicking at his toy Sheriff Woody doll.  As a child, I had a great deal of respect for my toys, but I did know other kids who busted theirs up just to watch them break.  Were they little psychotics in waiting or just boys acting up? 

Trying to avoid making a moral judgement, I applied what I saw of the little urchin in the mall towards a motion study in my sketchbook.  I wrote a couple of notes as well.  Ten years from now if I look back at this, I will wonder what the blue blazes I was thinking.  It's a cruel-looking page in my book, and rather un-Christmaslike, at least in the sense of a happy holiday. 

To see another rendering of the Christmas Doll Kicker, please click here. 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

511 - Red Room

A mysterious photograph.  Look through the thick glass porthole into the red room.  What does it mean?  You tell me.  Maybe it's Christmas-y.  Maybe I am too torqued out to draw today.  It does not matter.  This is what you get.

Friday, December 16, 2011

510 - Kicking Woody

While I was Christmas shopping yesterday, instead of spending a lot of money, I spent time people-watching.  Christmas at the mall is the best time of year to study people, how they move, how they act, and how they react.  For a student of animation or human motion, or just as a fellow citizen, this kind of observation can be very educational.  I have a lot of fodder for my sketchbook.

Top of the list goes to a little boy and his mother.  Both looked affluent and perhaps too upper-class to be in my mall, but there they were.  The mother was tall and handsome, and in equal parts she seemed annoyed with her shopping duties as well as by the persistence of her smart phone.  She paid no attention to her boy, whose expensive-looking shirt was fully untucked.  Clearly he was bored and upset with his experience at the shopping centre.  The little urchin was amusing himself by kicking the tar out of his Sheriff Woody Doll. 

Just like in Pixar's "Toy Story" movies, the Sheriff Woody doll had a string on his back.  You're supposed to pull the string, and Woody will say one of his lines.  The boy was using the string as a tether so that Woody wouldn't fly off to Mars every time he was kicked.  

I've taken some artistic license.  For instance, the hat never came off.  I suspect Mom or the butler may have glued it on.  I researched the doll on the Internet just now.  A Sheriff Woody will set his buyer back fifty dollars, which I think is steep for just a doll.  Unfortunately, the talking Woody does not actually say "Thar's a snake in mah boots", and the mall was too clamorous for me to hear if poor punted Woody was capable of speech anymore.  Also according to the Internet, the entire head has a tendency to break off at the neck.  That did not happen when I was watching, although if it did, it would have been pretty awesome.

Here's a child who either has never seen a Toy Story movie (doubtful), or who has completely missed the point of Toy Story altogether.  That's not very surprising; I thought Toy Story 3 did so as well. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

509 - InSantaty Claus

A fact of life for most urban Canadians is that we get a disproportionate amount of news from our nation's media capitol, Toronto.  Christmas news from city they call The Big Smoke is especially troubling this year. 

A  few weeks ago, one of the Toronto school districts banned the use of balls, deeming them unsafe for children.  Yes, the ball, the most universal of all kids' toys, swept away from the playgrounds of clumsy Torontonian tykes for their own good.  I hear that the decision was eventually amended so that children could indeed play with balls as long as they carried valid permission slips.  Way to go, Toronto. 

Now, I've heard that Toronto's Eaton Centre shopping mall banished Santa Claus because the jolly old elf has become unprofitable.  Now there's something to ponder: only in Toronto would Christmas become so commercialized that they don't even have room for Santa.  It turns out that the little "Santa's Village" display in the center of the mall took up too much space that could have been occupied by retail kiosks.  The cost-to-benefit analysis concluded that the man in the red suit deserved the boot much the way that Ralphie got treated by Santa himself in that great Christmas movie (partially filmed in Toronto, as it happens).  Santa's village has been replaced by a much smaller display where kids use freeware Skype to contact Saint Nick online, presumably in his workshop at the North Pole. 

Just don't ask for a soccer ball, kid, because you'll kick your eye out.  

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

508 - Artoo And A Jawa Too

December brings us to the final, penultimate Ungood Art Day for 2011.  Unfortunately, I don't have much in the way of Ungood Art this month as I haven't been trying all that hard. 

What I do have here is R2-D2 and a Jawa from "Star Wars".  Really. 

Well, if you look close, you may recognize Professor Sack, and  the big 'droid device is a new HEPA air filter.  New-ish, anyways, and just a loaner.  We are taking part in a science experiment to test air quality, funded by our local University.  A bunch of technicians showed up with enough machinery to fill a sandcrawler let alone our small house, and of course the Jawas began to appear not long after.  By the time  you read this, all of the junk should be gone, the experiment complete.

I can't abide those Jawas... disgusting creatures!

Although the resemblance in JSVB is Ungood at best, R2-D2 and the Jawa are both character properties belonging to the Lucasfilm Star Wars Universe.    To see more about Professor Sack,  please see JSVB Post #414 by clicking here.

Monday, December 12, 2011

507 - Mother Of Tenderness, Part IX

I like to think of this episode as "Christ Gets A Bathrobe".  I've spent today putting paint to Jesus' garment.  The upper tunic can be white, but pure white is too lifeless.  I've gone with ecru, an off-white, with white highlights and warm salmon shadows.  So help me, the robe looks comfortable, which is more than can be said for many Byzantine clothes. 

I also darkened Mary's clothing, which caused my original guidelines to get painted over.  Tonight I was hot with the rigger, so I re-painted all of the folds, fiddly work.

This happy little fellow is a "rigger" brush.  It's very useful for painting long thin lines, such as an illustration of a ship's rigging, hence the name.  Some painters also call these brushes "liners".  The long bristles hold a large amount of paint, meaning that the artist can draw a long, smooth line without having to reload.  The downside to a rigger is that the tip can be hard to handle.  I've been practising and like anything else, the more I've worked with it the more comfortable I am with the brush.
Riggers can be expensive.  A quality rigger can cost up to a hundred dollars, but then its line quality is unequalled.  That's something to consider the next time you look at the price tag on a piece of art and think its creator is asking for too much money. 


Sunday, December 11, 2011

506 - Tree For Me

My wife and I picked out this year's Christmas tree and brought it home.  As we were leaving the store, a fellow shopper arrived in one of those miniature Smart Cars.  I wish we had dallied long enough to see exactly how he was going to pack a full-sized tree home on one of those.  He just about capsized his Smart Car going over the parking lot speed bump, just another hazard of driving a vehicle the size of a steamer trunk. 

Friday, December 9, 2011

505 - Pogo Cordon Bleu

I looked at our fridge leftovers.  Lurking towards the back was a pot of fondue cheese that wasn't getting any younger.  Who makes fondue anymore?  Well, we do, but we had made more than we could eat.

Pour hot, liquid fondue cheese on a cooked Pogo corndog, and the spread sweet European mustard over all.  That's a Pogo Cordon Bleu.  I found it to be surprisingly tasty, although I don't want to guess what it does to my cholesterol count. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

504 - Rose Bokeh

Boke is the Japanese word for "fog" or "haze". Bokeh is photographers' jargon for an intentionally blurred background with highlights.  The two words are closely related. 

I don't like to use Photoshop filters all that often, but sometimes it's fun to experiment.  My old version of Photoshop won't generate bokeh automatically, but I would bet that there is more recent software that will.

I photographed a rose and then rotoscoped it in Painter.  You can see that some of the larger paint strokes survived the ravages of Photoshop's filters, if you look close enough.

To achieve the bokeh effect, I created a duplicate layer of the entire image and set it to overlay.  I applied Photoshop's Maximum Pass filter, which does a very good job of breaking down an image into light-coloured squares.  Then I took the filtered layer, duplicated that again, and applied Maximum Pass again.  This second layer I set to darken, lowered the opacity to around 50% and applied about 10% radial blur.  I re-combined the two filtered layers and used the eraser to dig away at any part of the layers that I thought were taking away from the detail of the image.  Primarily, I erased the center of the bloom and part of the stem.

There we go, a rose bokeh.  


Monday, December 5, 2011

503 - Mother Of Tenderness, Pt. VIII

Last week, I took a break from working on the icon.  This week, there's more to do.  Most of it is monkey-work: fairly mindless and easy layers of paint to cover large flat areas such as clothing and the background.  Mary gets her traditional purple garment, and baby Jesus sets the trends for the upcoming year in stunning ecru.  Watch out for that colour, it's going to be big soon. 

I also added Mary's coiffe, which is a shiny blue cloth that completely covers her hair.  You can see it quite easily because I zoomed in today's scan to show detail. 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

502 - Yeoh La Tengo

In Spanish, the phrase yo la tengo means "I've got her".

Yesterday, I stumbled upon a glamour photo of actress Michelle Yeoh.  I thought it was a great shot, and seeing as I like many of Ms. Yeoh's films, I figured that I should draw that shot for JSVB.

Whoever set up the shot really knows how to photograph women.  I find this seated pose to be very appealing and dynamic without going too far.

I don't have a credit for the photograph, which means Bad Jeff.  I think it originally came from a magazine.  Whoever scanned it managed to crop the hands and feet, so I had to draw those back in myself.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

501 - Thoughts On 501

I've pondered on the existence of JSVB, now at five hundred and one posts.  I've met my goals regarding this blog, and I wonder how far I should keep going.  Not in the aw-jeez what am I gonna do now? way that I see in some blogs, but more of an examination of my ambitions with this thing.

Blogs are designed to function with Internet media, but their importance has waned in comparison with the popularity of social sites like Facebook and Twitter.  A blog tends to be more work for the both the blogger and the audience, and it's slower to publish and get feedback.  I don't intend for JSVB to be social, but the social function is built in whether I want it or not.  I get statistics on viewers and an idea of who composes my audience. 

While I do have many nice people visit JSVB and even a few will e-mail me with comments, by far most of my visitors have come to borrow/lift/steal the artwork. And that's if they are human. Lately, I have also been getting a load of hits from spambots, automated search programs that look for unprotected blogs to infect. Five hundred pages of material does attract that sort of element.

After 500 posts, I have five regular viewers.  One hundred posts per viewer, looks like.  I've also have around 11,000 hits, which is over 5,000 hits a year.  Profitable blogs that earn enough money to live on should have at least ten thousand hits a month.  Statistics, therefore, can be depressing.  I'm more than nine-tenths away from being profitable after two years' worth of work. 

I find the number ten thousand to be very interesting.  There's a saying in Japanese animation: "It takes ten thousand tries to get a drawing right".  One drawing a day three hundred days out of the year would take me over thirty-three years to render.  By the time I am retirement age , I'll finally get the hang of this.  That seems to be par for the  course for many visual artists.

So, five hundred and one JSVB Posts down, nine thousand four hundred and ninety-nine more to go. 

Friday, December 2, 2011

500 - "CMO"

Welcome to my five hundredth post to JSVB!  My intention with the numbering was to provide an easy way to catalogue images.  You need a picture of a horse, check out post #4.  You need a hamster?  Try #177, #413, or #480.  Numbering the posts also leads to keeping track of how hard I am working on JSVB, and it provides some milestones.  I try to come up with something cultural and interesting every hundred posts. 

This is a picture of Port Coquitlam's CMO, or Coast Meridian Overpass.  It's a unique bridge in several ways: it was almost entirely paid for out of civic funds (as opposed to provincial or federal money), it completely crosses the second-largest trainyard on Canada's west coast, and it's the longest central-support suspension bridge in North America.  It's also the single largest public-works expenditure ever for Port Coquitlam. 

I got some decent use out of this picture, as it was displayed in a flyer that was distributed to every household in the City.  The mailer folded out into a long flyer, which is why this picture is unusually long and thin. 

Please click here to see JSVB Post #471, which shows my original sketch work-up for this piece.  I did not think back then I would be able to get the permissions I require to show the final image, but as it turns out I was in the clear all along.  I am pleased to present the final image to you for Post #500. 

Please click here and here to see a couple of photos I took of the CMO. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

499 - All Jeffs Go To Heaven

For JSVB Post #499, I post conclusive photographic proof of heaven: me surrounded by cheerleaders, yay! 

Well, okay, I am stretching my credibility here.  Heaven for me is as close as movie night snuggled on the couch under the blanket with my sweet wife. 

Why do I have so many cheerleaders clustered around me?  They were assembled for the annual CFL State Of The League address at the Grey Cup, for which my wife and I were lucky invitees.  The girls were very gracious to pose for this photo. 

Stay tuned for JSVB Post #500, which I will publish tomorrow!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

498 - Cheeseball Movember

Here you have it: the official JSVB Movember moustache portrait.  You can make this your background screen if you like!

Actually, while it took the entire month of November to grow my moustache this far, it took almost as long for me to come up with a reliable descriptor for my new soup-strainer: "cheeseball".  Mine is not a truly scary moustache, but on the other hand, it's not doing my face any  favours, either.  Cheeseball. 

I can't seem to grow any lip hair in my philtrum, which is the anatomical name for the vertical groove that runs from the mouth to the base of the nose.  If I trimmed my moustache any more, I'd end up with a Hitlerstache, which would be horrifying.  Cheeseball is bad enough as it is.  I'm nowhere near a Clooney or the holy grail of moustaches, the Selleck. 

"Movember" is now a world-wide charity effort to raise money and awareness for the detection and treatment of prostate cancer.  Men are encouraged to grow the best moustache they possibly can starting from November 1 and ending November 30th, which is today.  CTV News reports that Canadian men this year have raised over 32 million dollars for Movember, making Canada the undisputed world leader in moustache-related charity work.  Anything to make prostate cancer go away, I say. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

497 - Woods Hole Kids

My "Woods Hole" illustration is somewhat unique in that it is a completely digital artwork.  I took a digital photograph, played around with the colour and composition, and then digitally drew and painted  characters over top. 

Digital artwork saves a lot of time in preparation and execution.  I don't have to worry about fumes or solvents or waiting for paint to dry.  I can also compose or break apart any image into its component elements. 

Here, I have created a drawing layer for the characters.  I used it as a reference for the painting, and then hid the layer. These are sketches of the children, a boy playing cowboy and a girl serving tea to her teddy bear.  I drew them directly into the computer with a stylus, which accounts for the loose lines. 

Click here to see the complete "Woods Hole" image. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

496 - Roosterville

Boy howdy, I've been busy!  Yet not so much with art for JSVB.  I have a small backlog of things to post, especially since I am nearly at Post #500. 

What has been keeping me active was the 99th Grey Cup here in Vancouver.  We won!  That's the short version.

Along the way,  I took a lot of photographs.  A traditional shot is of our stuffed toy chickens wearing custom-made jerseys for the championship teams.  My wife and I were never still for very long this last weekend, so the jerseys were a rush job: The B.C. Li-Hens and the Winnipeg Chicken Cordon-Bleu Bombers. 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

495 - Return to Woods Hole

Yesterday's "Woods Hole" picture (click here to see it) looks like this without the kids.  It's a photograph that I created some false colours for, and used some Photoshop Liquefy to create a vortex-like, mystical focal point at the end of the path.  Then I scrubbed most of the picture with digital paint and painted in a number of extra foliage details using the palette presented within the image. 

The name Woods Hole most commonly refers to a small traditional whaling town near Nantucket, Massachusetts.  I just like the name.  From what I can tell, this picture looks nothing like that region. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

494 - "Woods Hole"

One of my talented author friends wrote a strange little short story. It's about a man trying to escape a disaster that he was partly responsible for.  He ends up finding a safe haven with a forgiving group from his childhood.  I found the story difficult to undertsand because the central plot point, where the fellow in his childhood meets a mysterious little girl while playing in some deep woods, can be read many different ways.  Is the girl real or an imaginary play-friend?  While she seems friendly enough, she is also prophetic.  Perhaps she is an angel, although the protagonist is not faithful to any religion save for that of his own market share. 

I found the image of the encounter between the boy and the girl compelling enough to attempt an illustration, which you see here.  I took a photograph I shot  locally and rotoscoped it, then painted the characters on top.  I think that the image shares some of the strangeness that the story holds.  It seems just out of kilter to have a little boy playing cowboy deep in the woods and then encountering a little girl playing at tea party with her stuffed bear.  My wife compares it to a reworking of the Calvin & Hobbes comic strip, since all those things are common themes in Bill Watterson's masterpiece.  The main idea seems plausible, just to me unlikely.  Yet the woods in the story are a magical location, so anything can happen.  At the end of the story, the boy is a man, and he discovers that the girl has never abandoned him, despite his destructive, self-involved lifestyle. 

I have many of the details wrong.  The hole in the woods is in a much denser, coniferous forest.  The boy's favourite play area is under the roots of a massive tree that has tipped over, forming the mouth of a shallow cave.  He is surprised to find the girl there playing at tea.  I did not know how many teacups to depict.  I settled on two and a pot.  If there were three teacups, it would be too obvious that the boy was expected to join the tea party, although reading the story in that vein would have had it that he was.   Spooky!

Monday, November 21, 2011

493 - Mother Of Tenderness VII

Progress on the icon today means laying on large swaths of colour.  This is a nice change of pace from painting fiddly details for hours. 

First, though, I had to erase a number of mistakes.  I used Medieval Liquid Paper™, which is just layers of translucent white pigment.  Using thick paint would result in a bump, so like most anything else in the icon, I have to use multiple thin layers until I achieve coverage.  At the outset, thin layers look streaky, but as they accumulate, the colour will become rich and deep.

The next step is undercoats, paint primers to dull the glow of the white.  The yellow primer will make for a yellow background.  The ochre undercoat will help Mary's maroon-hued garment stand out.  Jesus' garments will be pale blue and gold.  The final step will be gold resist, which is a method of painting with gold. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

492 - Lions' Colours

This little critter is wearing the colours of my favourite team, the BC Lions Football Club.  Hooray for the Lions, who today won the Western Championship over their rivals the Edmonton Eskimos!  The Lions are red-hot right now.  I don't believe there is a team in the league that can beat them.  Next week, I expect the Lions to prove this out in the 99th annual Grey Cup Final.

For the curious, the photo is one I took the other day of a "wooly bear" caterpillar, which is the larval state of the Isabella Tiger Moth.  These creatures are very common in our area, if not most of the world's temperate biosphere at this time.  Any day now, many of these little crawlers will form their own coccoons and hibernate during freezing termperatures.  In the spring when the air warms, they will hatch to form adult moths.  Folktale has it that the wider the orange stripe or the furrier the caterpillar, the worse the upcoming winter will be.  Basic studies have shown that these factors are merely genetic variations within the species.


Saturday, November 19, 2011

491 - Bird Watching

Although I have been working on art projects, there isn't enough to show on JSVB, at least not yet. 

So, look at the picture of the pretty lady for now, and I will come up with some new art shortly. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

490 - Crane Shot

A female crane flew into the range of my camera viewfinder, and I was fortunate enough to snap this shot:


Monday, November 14, 2011

489 - Mother Of Tenderness, Part VI

After six sessions of layering pigments, I believe I have finalized the look of the flesh, i.e., hands, feet, and faces.  The last step, adding the lightest tones and the "enliveners", which are the little fine-lined edges and details, transforms the face from a mask into a finished piece. 

The next step is easy, laying down the base colours for the background and the clothing.  After that, comes the next gruelling process of adding the detail to the clothes, and then the final gold resist. 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

488 - "Laundry Elvis" (With Disclaimer*)

A couple of days after Hallowe'en, I noticed that our growing laundry pile* looked a lot to me like Elvis Presley:

It's sort of a yellow, cartoony, very old, wrinkled, and fat Elvis, perhaps the way he would look if he appeared in public today. 

I've already come down on the side of "not art" for items that I have come across that have aesthetic appeal yet were created accidentally rather than on purpose.  Examples are accidental photographs, such as JSVB Post #81 and JSVB Post #85 (please click on the post numbers to see each example).  Laundry Elvis creates a new boundary of aesthetics for me, accidental compositions that are also putrid enough to qualify for my monthly JSVB Ungood Art Day. 

Laundry Elvis is not Art because it is accidental, or at least the result of lazy housekeeping. (NOTE: You MUST read the Disclaimer at the bottom of this text!!) I awoke that fateful morning and saw Elvis at my bedside.  From any other view in the room, this looks like just a pile of dirty clothes.  So even the composition was random.  As humans, we find it an irresistible behaviour to see the patterns facial anatomy in things that don't have faces: from bits of toast, to rutabagas, to medical scans of testes, to rocks on Mars, we will find eyes, noses, and mouths in almost anything we see.   It's just dumb luck that my laundry looks at Elvis from the view from my pillow.  Luck, or creepy fate.  I decided that if Laundry Elvis isn't Art, it's at least Ungood enough to get its own post on JSVB for today.  Perhaps it's even Ungooder than one of my all-time favourite JSVB pic's, that of "Inflatable Elvis" (please click here to see that, and be amazed). 

"Cartoon" Laundry Elvis
If you perhaps find it hard to see the face of Elvis in my laundry, I made a cartoon version that might make The King stand out a little more.  Again, understand that this isn't a healthy, virile Elvis of the past, but a modern-day bloated and spent elder Elvis with the awesome polyester show suit and the everlasting pompadour hair.  I also drew up a schematic showing what the individual pieces of laundry are, should anybody ever decide to make their own Laundry Elvis:

Schematic View of Laundry Elvis Components

*DISCLAIMER (Mandatory) You MUST Read This Disclaimer:

The sorry, overflowing state of the dirty laundry depicted in JSVB Post #488 was fully, completely, and in every sense of the term 100% the fault and ultimate responsibility of Mr. Jeff Shyluk.  In no way possible under any circumstances should it be ever said, inferred, hinted, or even the merely whispered that Jeff's wife had anything to do with either the creation, maintenance, or composition of the laundry pile.  Clearly, she had no control or initial awareness of the circumstance that it may have come to resemble anything like Elvis Presley, if, in fact, it ever did. 

So sayeth and attesteth I, Mr. Jeffrey Shyluk, dated this November 13 (Ungood Art Day), 2011. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

487 - How We Remember

A war veteran collects poppies at the conclusion of the Remembrance Day ceremony.  These will be placed at the foot of our local cenotaph. 

Last year's JSVB entry at this time has a decent essay on the symbol of the poppy in our changing world.  You can see it by clicking here.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

486 - Autumn Tone Poem

The default answer to the question "Should I bring along a camera?" is Yes. If I don't ask myself this question before I head out the door, then I don't take the camera.  Today, the light was low and gloomy, not so great for camera work unless I bring a tripod and use a long exposure. 

Instead, I ended up drawing what I remember seeing.  The colours are fairly true, but the composition is not powerful or thrilling. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

485 - Smiling Worms

"The Smiling Worms" sounds to me like a failed 1990's glam-rock band, or maybe the name of an eclectic porno shop (or the name of a movie about an eclectic porno shop.  If it starred Monica Bellucci, I'd watch that).  Apparently, Prosorhochmus Keferstein is the scientific name for a rare species of smiling worm.  I can't find a picture, and it would cost me $226 to purchase the relevant research article from The Journal Of Natural History. 

Why smiling worms at all?  If the topic of composting were to come up, surely the worms would smile.

Monday, November 7, 2011

484 - Mother Of Tenderness, Part V

I slap more paint onto the icon.  I am trying to keep the features from swimming laps around each face.  The tiny, repeated brush strokes invite me to draw the eyes out of line, pulling the mouth upward and the cheeks and chin downward.  I spent half of today correcting last session's mistakes, another half laying down refinements and the last half making new mistakes.   That's progress!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

483 - My Favourite Toothpaste

Today's JSVB entry depicts simulated blood.  If the sight of blood upsets you, don't scroll down.  It's not that bad, though.  I've seen more blood in a Steve Martin movie. 

Nobody has a favourite toothpaste, just like nobody has a favourite location for the DMV.  Toothpaste just is what it is, which is why I figure the companies who make the stuff go to great lengths to add gimmicks to their product.

So my favourite toothpaste was Crest Whitening Expressions Cinnamon Rush.  It was discontinued in 2010, I believe.   I bought it because it had a strong cinnamon taste, and cinnamon generally does not seem like toothpaste, so that was a mark in its favour.

What endeared me to this toothpaste was that it came in a gooey gel that was very nearly arterial red.  A few moments of brushing with this stuff and my mouth would be filled with bright blood-like gunk.  Wash it into the sink, and the spittle made me look like I had advanced tuberculosis.   Finally, a product that made me look forward to brushing!   Did I have gum cancer, or did I just use too much paste?  Looking at the Hitchcockian red mess swirling down the drain, there would be no way to know.  Imagine formulating a health care product that simulates a gross body discharge, and you have Crest Cinnamon Rush.

Unfortunately, Crest chose to re-tool their product.  They pulled it off the shelves for a while, and then returned with a new cinnamon toothpaste that I found to be a bland disappointment.  The spicy flavour had been toned down considerably, and the colour was changed to a much less sanguine-looking chalk white.   It's just not fun anymore. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

482 - "Rosie"

Today, I sketched a girl named Rosie:

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

481 - Agitprop Prep

Here is the pencil prep sketch I made for yesterday's hamster agitprop.  Agitprop is an old Soviet word for "propaganda to rally the masses", although usually today the word has unsavoury meaning.   You can see the final work by clicking here.

The inked style and pudgy, furry look of the hamsters I owe to the comic-book genius of Italian artist Pericle Giovanetti.  He drew a fantastic series based on his cartoon hamster "Max" in the late 1950's.  Although his few books have been recently reprinted, they are not easy to find, which is a shame as the fine artwork and gentle comedy are top quality.   Max was a childhood inspiration for me, and I enjoy following in Giovenetti's style. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

480 - Down With 3670.79! Up With LURVE!

It's civic election season. Suddenly, all sorts of issues are popping up like pure white mushrooms in a pile of newly-shovelled democracy.  I've dug up a political waybill from the League Uniting Rodent Voters Everywhere (L.U.R.V.E.).  It seems the hamsters are up in arms about Bylaw 3670.79, which was endorsed unanimouse-ly a few months ago by City Council. 

3670.79 prohibits any local home from having more than four rodents at any one time.  In Vancouver, the limit is six.  Regardless, the typical brood of any hamster pair will likely be from eight to twenty pups.  This means that anybody mating their hammy pets can expect a knock on the door by the jackbooted enforcers of state dogma friendly neighbourhood bylaw control officer for extraordinary rendition an informed discussion about the merits of 3670.79.

Now that the smell of election is in the air (or at least the smell of rotting pumpkins), maybe the brave, downtrodden members of L.U.R.V.E. will finally see 3670.79 repealed!  Power to the hamsters!!  Power to L.U.R.V.E.!!!

EDIT: Recent consultations with a high-ranking City official who refuses to be here named have borne the fact that Bylaws like 3670.79 are only enforced if there are citizen complaints.  So, what happens in the hamster ball stays in the hamster ball, at least until cleaning time. 

Monday, October 31, 2011

479 - Mother Of Tenderness, Part IV

I understand that a religious icon does not relate well to Hallowe'en.  In point of fact, it's anti-Hallowe'en.  Some years, October 31st is parties and hedonism, other years, it's just another work day.  Today, I had deadlines to meet and an icon to write.  I put on my Star Trek sweater, gave candies to a dozen kids and then got back to work.  So, if iconism is the opposite of Hallowe'en, then so is pushing pixels and wrangling mice. 

Today's progress includes numerous glazings (of the artwork, not the artist) to tone down the heat of the earth tones and to help the colours blend.  The glazing process caused an eye to drift and the chin to sag, so that's going to have to be fixed.  You can see some new basic guidelines that were drawn in as an effort to correct the anatomy.  Those, too, will get glazed over and will blend into the artwork. 

Sunday, October 30, 2011

478 - Tink To High Heaven

Sketch studies of the cartoon dish fairy.  I'm very off-model for Marc Davis' high standard, but she's still kind of cute. 

Saturday, October 29, 2011

477 - Hallowe'en Baby

Operation Draw Holiday Babies continues.  I've set up a line-art baby for Hallowe'en, which is just a couple of sleeps away. 

To see some previous holiday babies on JSVB, please click here and here.

Friday, October 28, 2011

476 - Fowl Balls

The St. Louis Cardinals secured their 11th World Series victory tonight in  a thrilling Game Seven showdown.  I thought it was a tremendous ball game.  The Texas Rangers put on a terriffic show, coming so close to winning. 

I've been asked about this year's chicken jerseys.  Every year, the stuffed toy chickens that watch TV with my wife and I get custom jerseys with poultry themes.  The St. Louis jersey has chickens substituting for cardinals.  Birds of a feather, and all that. 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

475 - Ultimate Rally Squirrel

Only the intervention of the Ultimate Rally Squirrel could have saved the St. Louis Cardinals from an almost certain loss to the Texas Rangers.  Now we are faced with the truly magnificent prospect of a World Series that goes to seven games.

So what is the Ultimate Rally Squirrel?  It's the current St. Louis rally craze of holding onto a toy squirrel, but wearing last year's rally craze of Pablo Sandoval's panda hat.  Amazing that it worked. 

To see the panda hat in action during last year's World Series, please click here.

The background image is the copyright property of Major League Baseball, and has been rebroadcast and retransmitted without their express written consent.  If they catch up with me, my next JSVB post might be from Statesville Prison, along with Thames the Butler, Martin, Dutch Gunderson, Lana, and Sally Decker...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

474 - DFv2

The Dish Fairy, Version 2 (Dfv2).  I heard that the previous fairy (click here to see her) was not fairy-like enough.  No wings, especially.  So, I tried making her look more like the stuff you'd see out of Hollywood.  An improvement, but Marc Davis I am not.

Monday, October 24, 2011

473 - Mother Of Tenderness, Part III

Today, I worked on the new icon.  After laying down the sanquir, a dark green base coat for the skin tone, I start adding the warm skin tones.  The darker tones go on first, and then lighter tones layer on top of those, much like real skin.  

The trick, I find this time around, is that the faces are much smaller than the previous icon, so the brush strokes are smaller.  It's too easy to paint outside of the boundaries.  Towards the end, I was fighting the paint and the brush. 

At this point, the mask-like appearance isn't a bad thing, as I am laying bright colour on top of dark.  A richer selection of colours will add more life to the skin tone, and glazing will smooth out the harsh gradients. 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

472 - "The Dish Fairy"

I've been busy.  However, JSVB needs entries, so I took some time to draw a quick favour.  Here is a small print poster for the Dish Fairy, who is no longer washing dishes by magic.  I'm thinking I could improve on the art and the layout, but I think it gets the idea across, which is all that is important right now.

The sweet irony is that I personally seldom do the dishes.