Monday, April 25, 2011

361 - Mary, Queen Of Heaven, Pt. X

Well, here we are.  The resumption of icon painting more or less coincides with the restortation of my computer after a Windows 7 meltdown.  The date at the top is wrong, since I am over-writing my placeholder post of April 25th.  Today is the third of May.  More on that in another JSVB entry. 

I took Easter off in terms of painting or much other artwork, although that was not my first choice for how to run things.  When I got back to business, I worked on Mary's cloak, solidifying colours.  There are little bits where the colours don't meet perfectly that I will have to fix.  I repainted some of the clothing lines in black ruffs.   These will get overpainted when I start to apply the shading next week. 

Provincial icons, that is, icons that would have been painted by itinerant artists for rural clients, might leave off right about here in terms of image development.  Shading would be kept to a minimum, as it is time consuming work.  I used a Russian fake icon as a colour guide for my painting, and its shading was primitive.  I hope to achieve more.

Friday, April 22, 2011

360 - Nirnroot

Just how well versed in the lore of the nerd can one person become?  I will demonstrate.  Behold the nirnroot:

Only those who truly believe in the power of Geekdom Come will ever find a real nirnroot.  This one was growing in the forest near our house, likely feeding off Poindexter rays coming off of our television from watching late night Star Trek reruns.

Mystic herbalists claim that the nirnroot is very rare, but I don't grok that.  The thing glows in the dark and emits a dull ringing sound, which seems to me way different from any other forest creature I can think of.   You can't miss them.  Some people grow them in pots, but that's a lot of effort compared to just looking for nirnroot plants near water. 

State of the art for the 2006 geek, for the non-dweeb the nirnroot is a feature of the old video game Elder Scrolls: Oblivion published by Bethesda Softworks.  Their game designers get the true credit for coming up with the nirnroot plant. 

Any resemblance between a nirnroot plant and a western skunk cabbage may or may not be coincidental.  While either plant may be edible, JSVB does not reccommend consuming them.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

359 - Cartoon Jetliners

A page of doodled passenger jets out of my sketchbook.  They are bulbous and rounded to give them cartoony appeal. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

358 - The Price Of Democracy

Philosophers and political pundits may ask, what is the price of democracy?  In Canada, it turns out to be something around two dollars. 

Currently, our major political parties recieve some public money for their participation in elections. That money, from what I know, comes to a toonie (the Canadian two-dollar coin, which I drew above) for every vote that the party recieved in the previous election.  

Let's say the Green Party recieved exactly one million Canadian votes, which is close to their actual performance.  The Greens could then draw a cheque for two million dollars to be used for their next campaign.  This is how I understand that the process works, but I could be wrong.  

It's kind of a scummy system, because the party that gets the most votes also gets the most money.  But it could be even scummier, if our politicians try hard enough. 

For example, in late 2009 the Conservative Party tried to fast-track a law that would get rid of this fund.   The big parties like the Conservatives and the Liberals would not feel too much of a pinch on account of their large, nationwide network of private financial patrons.  Small parties, such as the NDP, the Bloc Quebecois, and the Greens, would certainly feel the hit, and possibly even be wiped off the map.  Some observers feel that it's the small parties that are splitting votes which in turn has prevented the large parties from forming a majority government for the past five years. 

When the Conservatives presented their bill, the smaller parties, sensing the impending threat, raised enough votes to call for a vote of non-confidence, which would have dissolved Parliament and forced an early round of elections.  To avoid this, the Conservatives decided to prorogue government, which gave them the time they needed to quietly retract their legislation.  For a cook's perspective of prorogation, please see JSVB post #58 by clicking here.

The Conservatives have promised to keep the current funding scheme intact as long as there is no Conservative majority government.  If the Conservatives do form a majority, bet on them scrapping the funding for the other parties the moment they have enough reliable votes to do so.  Nothing prevents the Liberals from doing the same if they form a majority, either. 

Some folks who are rightfully unimpressed with the quality of their federal candidates suggest to simply not vote.  Look at it this way: a vote for a non-incumbent party might get thrown away this election, but your vote gives them two bucks more that they did not have before to fight the next election.  

Any questions?

Yes. Why is there a capybara on the Canadian two dollar coin you drew?  Isn't it supposed to be a polar bear?

For the love of--  Yes.  Your'e right. It's certainly the majestic polar bear, plying the frozen northern lands of ice and snow for hearty sustainance.  I tried drawing him using a new  "digital impasto" technique. 

Are you sure, Jeff?  It looks like a capybara to me.  You know, the world's largest rodent?

Polar bear, all the way, I assure you.



Really, really??

OK, you got me, it's a capybara.  It's a capybara, and I love it.  Say, did you know that it was at one time acceptable to eat capybara for fast days during Lent?

Ugh.  Nobody knew that, Jeff, or ever wanted to. 

Well, it's not like you're going to find capybara steaks in the butcher's window anytime soon...

Monday, April 18, 2011

357 - Mary, Queen Of Heaven, Pt. IX

Another day at the salt mines.  Today was very colourful.  I began laying down the colours for Our Lady's robes.  For the first time (I think), the icon is starting to look like a composition rather than a collection of parts.

The colours I have to choose from are fairly strict, from the orthodox point of view.  Blue represents humanity, so Mary wears blue closest to her body.  Red (not shown) represents divinity.  Icons of Christ will have Him wearing a red tunic with blue robes over top.  He is divine in nature, but He cloaks Himself in the form of Man.  Yesterday was Palm Sunday, when we commemorate nailing Him to his cross.  It's an ugly, bloody, gruesome story, but neccessary to the prophecy.  I can't help but think that humankind could have found a better way to treat one poor man from Galilee, but a even cursory check of our civilization would indicate that we learn our lessons very slowly, if even at all. 

I digress.  Mary wears no red, because she, like us, is completely human.  However, she does get to wear purple, which is unique among the icons.  Traditionally, purple represents nobility, and Mary is Queen of Heaven.  Purple can also be seen as a mix of red and blue.  In orthodox religion, purple is also reserved for "holy creators", if I am allowed to paraphrase the idea thus.  Since Mary bore Christ, she achieves a holy creator status of Theotokos.  This is a very difficult concept to translate into common English.  The term "Mother of God" is frequently used, but is unfortunately imprecise.

Many layers of paint will make Mary's rubes look fuller, as well as paint for the background.  The trim will not remain white, but instead will be painted golden orange and gilded.  Finally, I will need to add three gold sigils to respect Mary's virginity.  There's still a lot of paintwork to do! 

Sunday, April 17, 2011

356 - Anonymous Model

Today's JSVB post features a reclining nude woman.  If the sight of artistically rendered boobies would ruin your day, or if you are too young to be looking at nude artwork, please do not scroll down.  

I used to attend life-drawing classes that had nude models.  This girl is anonymous, not somebody that I know.  Life-drawing classes are essential if you want to learn to draw well.   Musicians have jam sessions, writers have happy hour at the bar or café, and artists go to life drawing if they seek to improve their tradecraft. 

I drew this with a pen brush, which is an ink pen like a Sharpie marker, except with a brush tip instead of a hard felt or plastic nib. 

Saturday, April 16, 2011

355 - Medicos

A doctor and nurse set of stereotypes from my sketchbook.  I thought a hospital theme might be appropriate today.

Friday, April 15, 2011

354 - Mary, Queen Of Heaven, Pt. VIII

Although I didn't post my progress on the Mary icon on the usual date, I did go in on Monday to paint.  I got around to scanning the progress today.  I think her face is about ninety percent complete.  In the last stages, the facial features seem to "pop out".  Her face is no longer a mask, and is taking on a serene quality.  I do have to refine a few details, though.  Next, I will be working on her robes and her framed area.  That will add some vibrant, highly symbolic colour to the picture, and paint over the splotchy parts that crept out of the edges of her skin.

Note how the whites of the eyes are not painted in, although I might add a very small white highlight in them.  I've learned that non-orthodox  icon painters will paint the whites in, but that those following the traditional technique will not.  Looking back on some Byzantine masterworks, as well as those of the early Rennaissance, I can see that putting too much white in the eyes will make them stare with too much intensity.  We do see that sometimes in medieval art, as well as post-modernism. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

353 - Freudian Femme Fatale

Today is the 13th of the month, traditionally "Ungood Art Day" here on JSVB.  I've been meaning to share this image for a long time, but it took me a while to track down, as it's another older drawing:

Actually, I like this pic, and it's even rendered fairly well.  I drew it to celebrate buying a green and a magenta pencil, I remember that.  It was one of those stream-of-consciousness doodles I sometimes come up with when I am really bored.  What sticks in my mind are all of the psychoanalytical telltales: the jungle, the skimpy outfit, the blade, and of course, the big purple snake.  Although the picture comes together artistically, it's a shambles from the Freudian point of view.  So, a new frontier for me: psychologically-impaired Ungood Art.

I almost never depict women with blades or swords.  Again, I think that's a Freudian mistake for the artist.  That's not to say that there shouldn't be exceptions to the rule.  The most famous may be Ursula Andress in Dr. No (1962).  Maybe that's who I was thinking of when I drew this, but it's hard to draw a sleek woman with a blade and a bikini, and not think of Miss Honey Rider.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

352 - Bill Versus Photocopier

Yesterday, I posted a picture of my friend Earl struggling with computer repairs, based on an iconic scene from the movie Dr. Strangelove (1964).  Please click here to see that post. 

I've paid homage to that scene before.  Here is a sketch I drew sometime in the previous decade.  The gentleman riding the photocopier to oblivion is a friend and colleague I used to work with named William. He was easily the smartest and most creative person I have ever met, and a fantastically gifted artist.  However, even his towering intellect was brought down by our photocopier, a common enough theme in the workplace. His attempts to dominate the duplicitous beast were legendary.  Even so, I feel I have to blip out the identifying company trademarks in this sketch to keep it from being libellous. 

Monday, April 11, 2011

351 - Earl Versus Earl's Computer

Here is an illustration of my friend Earl attempting to fix his broken computer.   I feel it's an accurate portrait.

Think of Star Trek colliding with Dr. Strangelove as the inspiration for this doodle.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

350 - Going Yard

A rare enough event: me awake at sunrise, with actual sunlight beaming down into the forest that borders our back yard.  I snapped this photo to capture the moment. 

Friday, April 8, 2011

349 - Tales of Tronica

My friend Earl is experiencing undisclosed problems with his computer.  My wife and I tried to cheer him up by writing a short, goofy fairytale about the little bits of data that live in his computer.  We called it "The Story Of Earl, His Computer, Prince Protonius, and The Mayor's Daughter Tronica".  It's basically a boson-meets-electron story, where they live together happily forever after, or for the next quadrilliflop cycle, whichever occurs first.

The glowing stuff was hard to draw, or at least to make it come out the way I want it to.  In a way, I prefer the sketchbook version because there's less visual clutter, but then the lovers don't look so ethereal. 

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

348 - Frühlingfunken

In my crazy, mixed-up Hogan's-Heroes-inspired Germanspeak, Frühlingfunken could translate to "the sparks of Spring".  The weather is getting warmer, and we see the Sun from time to time.  Dig the low elevation of the snow line.  In truculent retreat, Winter gives up ground only when forced to. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

347 - Curse Of The Cotton Pants


One of my friends once pointed out that the greatest acheivement of Western Civilization was the invention of cotton flannel lounge pants for men. 

My wife bought for me a couple or three pairs of these plaid wunderpants, and certainly they are most comfortable.  But cotton flannel pants are a trap.  What stops a man from wearing them to bed for the night like pajamas?  What prevents him from wearing them afterwards all day long?  And then back into bed for the next night?  And so on.

I knew a guy who would wear them to work.  He was a bachelor, which might explain things.  I guess if I want to avoid being single again, it's time for me to shelve my cotton flannel lounge pants for a while. 

*DISCLAIMER:  Wearing cotton flannel lounge pants won't make you look as illustrated.  Not even close.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

346 - Spring Thaw

I like the silvery look of the water in this photo. It's not liquid metal, it's a capillary of pure life. 

Saturday, April 2, 2011

345 - Lois Lane-Change

This is the sequel to JSVB Post #92: "Lexus Luthor".  Please click here to see that post.

My wife and I went to the 2011 Vancouver Auto Show, pretty much the same as last year.   This time, my wife is behind the wheel of the Lexus, and I am the plebian pedestrian getting run over.  Ka-thump!!  Role reversal! 

Friday, April 1, 2011

344 - I Stab At Thee

Why do I stab at plastic mouthwash bottles with my best and sharpest kitchen knife?  Because of April Fool's Day. 

Some years ago, my wife, as an April Fool's prank, replaced the mouthwash in my usual bottle with coloured tap water.  I complained to her that the mouthwash wasn't working very well, and she told me straight-faced that it must have expired.  Then she collapsed into a fit of self-congratulatory giggles.

Since then, I have been careful to stab drain holes into the mouthwash bottles after I am finished with them.  Today, however, I was presented with this cornucopia of products that defy Oral-B orthodoxy. 

Personally, I hate April Fool's Day.