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.