Thursday, March 31, 2011

343 - Al's Well That Ends Well

I just found out that my barber, Al, has recently retired from his trade.  Al was as traditional and professional a barber as I've ever found.  He and his family immigrated from Italy, starting out in Montreal.  Al cut the hair of Maurice "Rocket" Richard ("Hey, Richard!  Two minutes for looking so good!") as well as his team-mates on the Canadiens.  In the 1970's, Al moved to Burnaby, British Columbia, where he and his two buddies also named Al set up a barber shop.

I suppose they had been in the same building for thirty years before I met The Three Als.  I've never know Al to do anything in his shop but cut mens' hair.  He was not a stylist, certainly not a hairdresser, beautician, or coiffeur.  I can only think of one woman that ever ventured into his shop, and she was my wife.  The moment she stepped across the threshold, everybody stopped completely what they were doing, like she was  Medusa and The Three Al's were statuary.  Except that they were very polite to her, of course. 

For ten years after that, I was the fellow known as "that guy with the wife".

Al must be well into his eighties by now.  What a kind and talented barber he was!  His hands, rough, gnarled, and even a bit trembly, cut hair as precisely as those of a master craftsman.  I was lucky to be his customer for a decade.   Al will be a tough act to follow, as I once again with long hair and grim determination seek out a barber who cuts strictly for gentlemen only.   

So long, Al, and the best of luck to you!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

342 - "Strength, Honour, And Truth"

Here is a finished version of the "Liberty" concept.  The French inscription should translate as "Strength, Honour, and Truth for Nurses".  I had a request to make Liberty look more like one of my wife's co-workers.  I abandoned the idea of putting shading into this image.  Maybe the nurses will colour it in. 

I borrowed the little art deco jewel on top from another visual blog called Vintagefeedsacks that provides copyright and royalty-free images. 

Monday, March 28, 2011

341 - Mary, Queen Of Heaven, Pt. VII

I am going to admit, every day I drive out to icon painting class, I go past the pub.  Every day, I think, maybe I will just stop at the pub and call in sick for class.  I don't know how Mary is going to turn out.  Every week, I find a new set of mistakes that need my attention.  Every week, I am faced with a new challenge to my skills, and being a clumsy painter has no advantage.  

This week, I added more bright colours to the skin, although we are still looking at earth tones.  The dimensionality of the face is improving. 

Next week, though, I will stop at the pub, so no icon updates.  Our classroom is booked for another event.  We all get a break, especially any secular JSVB readers who aren't keen on Mary's Mondays. 

The next step is to add some detail lines to the face, including eyes.  I may simulate this step in Painter, as I don't have experience putting down those lines in paint.  I've seen these lines in other icons, theyr'e called "enhancers" or "liveners".  They look amazing.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

340 - Inked Liberty

Liberty is looking okay, but she's drifted quite far from where the concept has to be.  This has cost me time.  I'll try again soon, but I have a few things to get done around here.

Friday, March 25, 2011

339 - Pencilled Liberty

I've got an art commission, but it's the socially-aware kind instead of the paying kind.  I need a contemporary version of Liberty.  I've got this lady in my sketchbook.  For now, I added the red, white, and blue.  Tomorrow, though, I will ink her so that she can be reproduced in black and white or greyscale. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

338 - Pipe Maniac Redux

"Pipe Maniac" is the unfinished sequel to "Toilet Chase", a truly awful screenplay and Ungood Art feature.  Please click here to learn more.

My friend Earl is fond of resurrecting past projects.  He took this artful photo of a manhole cover and figured he ought to turn it into a poster for Pipe Maniac.  As a professional writer, Earl knows how important it is to nail down the promotional poster art before the script is finished.

Now Pipe Maniac has, against probability, returned from limbo.  I took Earl's photo and ran it through Photoshop a bit. 

"Quotation forthcoming" - Reviewer is the actual text from the poster for a big-budget videogame.  Unfortunately, the budget didn't extend to proofreading, and this blurb got printed instead of the reviewer's ecstatic opinion.  I think it's an awesome quote.  If nobody reviews Pipe Maniac better than this, then the quote stands.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

337 - Vignette: Cervidian Honour

Apart from me, today's post might only make sense to one other person.  If you are a fan of the Atom Zombie Smasher videogame like I am, then at least maybe you'll get the stylistic homage I was going for.  If not, then we're just clicking off another post on JSVB:

Monday, March 21, 2011

336 - Mary, Queen Of Heaven, Pt. VI

Monday means more Mary.  I've more or less placed her facial features where they need to go.  The nose and mouth are still a little problematic, but they will work out just fine.  A slightly lighter shade of skin tone starts to add volume to the face.  There's several layers yet to go.  Her eyes don't get painted in for a while yet, so Our Lady's face looks like a mask.  Just as well, as I feel her beginning to stare out at me from the picture.  

Mary is somebody I both know and don't know.  I'm starting to see her as being impossibly young and provincial to be given so much responsibility in our culture.  Yet her social type, a Divine Mother of God, resonates through other faiths, some much older than Christianity.  And  of course, she is a model to mothers everywhere.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

335 - Mary Quite Contrary

Tomorrow is another paint day for my icon.  I'm a clumsy painter, so I haven't been looking forward to correcting my latest round of mistakes.  Yes, making mistakes is a great way to learn, but sometimes it's more fun just to do something right, you know?

Here, i've borrowed the computer to lay in some composition lines:

Apart from her nose, which is still a bit crooked, Our Lady suffers from a mixing of two design philosophies.  My original intent was to follow Renaissance-style layout using a Golden Ratio and a Fibonacci curve.  If you squint, you can make out the spiral and the box for that layout.  The grid centers on Mary's eye camera right. 

I've since learned that Byzantine icons are based on the length of the nose. That's what the circles represent.  If that's the case, then Mary's pupils should be placed on the red dots that are in her eyes.  By either measurement, her face is too long! 

I used Photoshop to gin up a design with corrections built in.  Below and to the left is the original face, while to the right I've made some corrections which I will try to lay in tomorrow:

Friday, March 18, 2011

334 - Cheery Beer Hats

Yesterday was St. Patrick's Day, which makes today St. Patrick's Boxing Day.  We went out to the pub to enjoy some good Irish food and drink, and scored these Guinness hats as swag.  

Today's artistic merit is pretty low for JSVB, but the social media merit increases.  Blogger has designed some kind of dingus that will allow readers to follow JSVB by e-mail. I am giving it a trial evaluation.  Simply submit your e-mail on the Subscription  entry form to the right, follow the easy instructions for authentication, and you'll be getting delicious JSVB updates as fast as I can render them.  How cool is that?  The only thing that tops it is to sign up to be an Official Follower Of JSVB, and join the ranks of the Cultural Elite (also seen to the right). 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

333 - Daylight Savings Crime

Last weekend, we were compelled to turn our clocks one hour forward, on account of Daylight Savings Time.  Spring forward, fall back, as they say.  My wife and I are not nine-to-five people, so usually we adapt to this temporal contrivance of the state without difficulty. 

This year, though, whoo-ee.  The time shift has left me with a whopping case of...


Asleep by four in the morning, up again at noon.  It's so cloudy every day, I can't figure just what daylight it is we're supposed to be saving.  It all looks the same to me. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

332 - Mary, Queen of Heaven, Pt.V

I missed posting this yesterday, so here is this week's work on the icon of Mary.  The underpainting continues.  This represents a dozen layers of very thin acrylic paint, starting with dark olive green, and working our way along the colour wheel sixty degrees into the ochre reds.  Every layer is slighly lighter than the one beneath. 

As I add layers, Our Lady's features start swimming around her face like they were made of melting butter.  It's a slow, inexorable transformation that requires a lot of measurement and correction, mostly on account of my neophyte painting technique.  The portrait is coming along, but I will need to spend the week re-measuring my paintwork. 

Sunday, March 13, 2011

331 - Radio Fish Man

Is it Ungood Art Day already?  If it's the 13th of the month, then it's time for me to uncork yet another decanter of artistic awfulness:

Like last month's Don Cherry, this caricature must have been drawn 1999 or year 2000 at the latest.  Please see last month's Ungood Art by clicking here to see it.

Today's entry is based on a newspaper photograph of my brother-in-law.  If I had a copy of that picture, then I would know when I drew this thing.  It's good that he's out of town right now, maybe he will miss this post.

He does have this gigantic, hat-busting, planet-sized head, which explains why I gave him such a bulbous noggin.  But I was drawing this sketch from memory, which may also explain why it doesn't look much like him, certainly not in any way that would be considered flattering.  For that, I apologise.  I later did another caricature which looked a lot better.

As for the fish with the radio... hmm.  Maybe I'll explain that next time.  If you click here, you will see another caricature of my brother-in-law with the fish and the radio.  


Saturday, March 12, 2011

330 - More Green Lady

And another attempt at Our Lady Mary.  Her skin is green from underpainting; icon skin has a greenish tinge to their shadows.  At this stage, she looks peculiar.

Honestly, I have no idea how this is going to turn out.  It's expensive artwork to produce with no real guarantee for the outcome, which is both tense and humbling in equal measures.

I decided to run a "simulation" using Corel Painter, which is today's post.  The idea is that Painter is fairly decent at simulating paintwork, but I don't have to worry about mixing and preparing paint, nor do I have to worry about drying times or imperfections in the medium. 

I can see now that I made mistakes, and if I continue on this path, I will have to make some big decisions on how to fix them.  I figure this is very dull posting for anybody not interested in the process of painting icons, which seems to be virtually everybody on the planet, and which seems also confirmed my ultralow viewer stats.  For me, though, this is intensely personal, and it's proving to be a project most difficult and consuming of what talents in the arts that I have.  I wish I could communicate that better, but all I have now is this enigmatic series of Green Mary's.  Time will tell if they decay or improve.

Friday, March 11, 2011

329 - Rebuild Japan!

A heartbreaking and heart-wrenching crisis for Japan: a massive Magnitude 8.9 earthquake followed by a vicious tsunami wave that swept their coastline.  Sitting here in Canada, it seems more like a motion picture story plot than a real event that happened just today.  The video is terrifying and spectacular.  I noticed it took the news agencies only a couple of tries before they started adding musical soundtracks to their montages of destruction, as if it really were a disaster film.  News as entertainment, ruination equals ratings.  I won't even begin to try to document any of that.

Instead, I made a cartoonish picture of Gojira, perhaps the unofficial mascot for Japanese destruction.  Paradoxically, the Japanese have adopted Gojira as their national defender as well.  For another Godzilla-like creation, please check out my original Ungood Art seceltion by clicking here.

Japan's Embassador to Canada Kaoru Ishikara referred to his own country as "a department store for natural disasters".  The Japanese people train from an early age to confront and deal with these events.  I hope and pray that they will rebuild. 

Monday, March 7, 2011

328 - Mary, Queen Of Heaven, Pt. IV

Work continues on the icon.  She looks rough because of all the green.  I am starting to add very gradually some warmer and lighter skin tones.  It will take many layers of thin paint before her skin will look more natural. 

Saturday, March 5, 2011

327 - All Chili Dogs Go To Heaven

What a glorious and rare day it is when we have hotdogs, we have buns, we have cheese, we have fries, and above all, we have day-old chili con carne leftovers!  Whoo-ee!  We have all the ingredients for Chili Cheese Dog Night!  Our arteries say no, no, no, but our food soul cries out Yessssss!!

It's sexy food!  The dog laying down with the bun, it makes you think sultry thoughts. Put a blanket on: a silky layer of molten hot refried beans.  Those beans provide a bass note for the chili, a flavour foundation that cannot be kept away from the meat.  Then a thick layer of that chili.  It was great yesterday, but now the flavours have had a chance to mingle.  The peppers infuse the beef with tangy spice.  The tomato and the onion hum in mellow unison.  The heat still singes!

Quick! Put out the fire! Load the top with melty, melty cheddar cheese.  There we go.  That's the way.  We add some fries on the side, a cherry coke, and we're eating our supper way up there in heaven on cloud nine. 

Friday, March 4, 2011

326 - Artistic License

This happy little logo was created by me (in a way), but it was not drawn by me.  It's a Creative Commons License.  This is a full legal document that is translated into "human language" from the kind of talk that lawyers use.  Then, the simple ideas are laid out into icons.  So, this thing reads:

"Creative Commons License.  The image artwork on JSVB (shyluk.blogspot) belongs to Jeff Shyluk, and may be shared under the following basic stipulations:  First, any use of this artwork must be attributed to Jeff Shyluk.  Second, no person other than Jeff Shyluk is allowed to use these images for commercial purposes.  Third, any shared works must not be modified in any way."

The Creative Commons License logo, incidentally, is free to share.  Creative Commons provides an easy to use step-by-step sytem for creating your own license to suit your needs.  It's not going to foil Lexus Luthor, but it does provide some legal direction and protection for artists. 

Please click here to learn more about Lexus Luthor.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

325 - Baby Talk

"The world must be peopled!" Benedick, Much Ado About Nothing

What on earth was going on in the middle of May, i.e. roughly nine months ago?  As far as I can tell, that's when the Canucks choked out of the NHL playoffs yet again.  That might explain a recent baby boom.  I've just heard from two sets of friends that have successfully reproduced themselves meiotically.  I painted up this illustration by way of congratulations. 

Now that the species is safe, it's time to holster that weapon, gents! 

Maybe someone will finally backstop my Brown And Yellow Baby Clothes project, which has stalled unaccountably.   Pleas click here to learn more about Brown And Yellow Baby Clothes. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

324 - Demon Seed

Theological bookends: from Mary to this little devil bean guy.  Sometimes after icon class, I feel really inspired, other times I feel just wiped.  Too lazy to draw anything today, I am depending on my sketchbook archive.  I realize that my posts lately are swinging wildly from the religious to the secular and back again.  It lives even stranger than it reads.  

Also, a big "thank you!" to Doug Savage of Savage Chickens, who not only endorsed my chicken photorealism (please click here to see "Savage Reality"), but was also kind enough to mention the piece on, sending dozens of curious readers here to JSVB. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

323 - Mary, Queen Of Heaven, Pt. III

Last week, I did much of the gilding for the icon art I am creating.  I forgot to bring a camera to class at the time, so I took the picture yesterday.  Then I worked on the next step, which is beginning the underpainting:

The first thing to do was to fix the rough edges of the halo, which I did with a ruling compass.  The background gets a shot of yellow ochre. 

Then, I painted the darkest shadows of Mary's head.  Byzantine painters worked from the darkest colours to the lightest. The paint is very streaky because it is thinly applied.  As progress mounts, the colours will become solid.