Tuesday, December 25, 2012

710 - X-Mice Season

My wife made these ultra-cute mouse-shaped sugar cookies for Christmas.  Most mouse problems start with just a pair of rodents and escalates to infestation.  These mice start with the entire clan, but by now have been reduced to manageable numbers.  If they last to the New Year, I will be surprised!

Monday, December 24, 2012

709 - Super Gangnam Style

Superman has a laundry list of special abilities that could stretch from here to the moons of Krypton.  Some years ago, my friend Ron chose the set that would allow The Man Of Steel to be his own home entertainment system. 
First, Superman has perfect control over every muscle in his body, and can move each one  with super strength and speed.  He's used his super-vibration skills to many ends during his career.  Then, he's got ray-vision that can see microscopic details.  Finally, he's got super-intellect which would have no trouble solving cryptographic problems faster than any computer.
So all Supes would have to do is mount a compact disc on his tongue, spin it, and then read the laser-encoded audio data.  He'd send the signals to his hands, which would vibrate sympathetically to create the complex sound waves for the music. 
Rock on, Superman!   
Superman is the intellectual property of DC Comics.  Gangnam Style is the work of the artist PSY. The Superman-based home entertainment system concept belongs to Ron Briscoe.  I just draw stuff. 

Friday, December 21, 2012

708 - Walloping Edelwiess!

Christmas season is upon us, and my thoughts, like so many others have at this holiday time, turn naturally to Spiderman. 
Come again, now?
Pretty obvious.  Every December, local television stations pile on the showings of the Rogers and Hammerstien musical "The Sound Of Music" (1965).  At the end, Georg von Trapp plays on his guitar the classic Spiderman (1967) theme song as a musical protest againt the encroachment of the Nazi regime.  Only the version as Captain von Trapp plays it is downtempo and with different words: he calls the song "Edelweiss" after the little white flower native to free Austria.  But the true fans know that the song is really the Spiderman theme. 
Don't let the fact that The Sound Of Music was released two years before the Spiderman cartoon fool you, it's still the same song! 
Edelweiss, Spiderman
Does whatever a spider can
Spins a web any size
Catches thieves like Edelweiss
Next time you're singing along to The Sound Of Music, try on the Spiderman lyrics for size and see if it isn't a perfect fit. 
The Sound Of Music is the property of Twentieth Century Fox.  Spiderman is the property of Marvel Comics.  The classic Spiderman music comes from the KPM Music Library... or does it?  Depends on how you feel about time-bending radioactive spiders.

707 - ...And I Feel Fine

Well, here we all are after the end of the world as we know it.  Please click here to see the last post for the Sixth Age Of Mankind on JSVB, just before the apocalypse at 03:12h, the Winter Solstice for 2012. 
So help me, I wanted to make the cartoon eyes blink, but I never followed through with that.  Laziest JSVB Post Ever. 

Check out JSVB Post #31, where I make prophesy about all of this, more or less.  You can see JSVB Post #31 by clicking here.


Thursday, December 20, 2012

706 - It's The End Of The World As We Know It...

In three hours and one minute, the Earth will make a celestial alignment with its moon, its Sun, and its neighbouring planets across the Great Divide of the Milky Way to the gates of Xibalba, which will then open and release the Elder Gods to end the Sixth Cycle of Mankind. 
Got all that?  Short version: it's the end of the world, no fooling.  All those things we like: wristwatches, chocolate, sex, breathing, SNAP!  Gone.  My wife has to work tonight, so I am left to face Armageddon with my blog and the bottom part of a bottle of Glenfiddich.  I made sure to kiss her goodbye extra-nice, though. 
Let's back up a step.  The Mayan calendar, the Long Count version of which runs 5,126 years and change without needing to be flipped over, has been keeping track of time since the beginning of time.  Since today, December 21, 2012, is the final day on that calendar, this means that it has been running accurately and without adjustment since 3,114 BC, roughly the same time the ancient Egyptians were developing their first techniques for writing.  The Mayans (Mesoamericans) calculated that the world began the same day that the Long Count calendar started on Day 1.  Logically, then, the world should end on Day 1,870,990.  Tomorrow.  Three in the morning, Pacific Time Zone.
As things work out, there's a planetary convergence for December 21, the Winter Solstice.  You may have noticed some bright points in the sky lining up with the Moon in recent days.  The Mayans reasoned that the planets and moon would line up across the galaxy to the doors of Xibalba, "The Land Of The Dead", which would in turn allow the twelve Elder Gods who reside there to come directly to Earth from across the Great Divide, the cloud of non-reflective gases that cuts through a third of the Milky Way.
Apparently, the Elder Gods have visited Earth six times already at the interval of the Long Count.  Man has been judged and found lacking each Age, which caused the Elder Gods to re-start the universe and begin everything all over again.  How the Mayans figured this, I do not know.  Still, I am counting on the seventh time being the charm.  While the wonders of the cosmos would continue to be utterly amazing if the Elder Gods re-set the universe, I am all the same not looking forward getting dumped yet again by my girlfriend on Day 1,863,571 or facing the car wreck on Day 1,870,666. 
The Mayans have a different concept of the end of the world than we do.  They believed in a continuum of life and death, and of creation and destruction, with much more overlap between those domains than we contemporary folk allow for.  Looking at their amazing calendar gives us a glimpse into that ancient world, but it also reminds us of our responsibility for the future. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

705 - Parting Shot

Why is it that the little black dogs are the most mischievous?  I'm considering putting rum in his water dish to see if that will slow him down. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

704 - Archangel Michael, Part X

Here is today's progress on writing my Byzantine-style icon of Saint Michael the Archangel.  Although there are some details that need to be finished, I have his colours more or less finalized.
Boy, his costume reminds me of Superman.  There are some parallels.  Michael could be considered the ultimate biblical superhero, what with banishing Satan to Hell and all.  Supes doesn't have wings or carry a sword, though.  I think the resonance with The Man Of Steel comes with my colour choices.  These are based on another painting of Michael, albeit a more primitive attempt in my opinion.  However, my Michael uses the very basic red/yellow/blue primary colours, which is what you get with Superman.  There's my fault, in that I chose colours that stick very close to what comes out of the acrylic paint tube.  I haven't developed enough colour sense nor very many formulas for mixing pigments to achieve a more subtle palette in acrylics.  Practise makes perfect, so I'm not disappointed, just critical. 
Still, I'm starting to have doubts as to how Michael would look hanging on my wall.  Maybe I will put a big "S" on the front of his chest, if it's not sacrilegious. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

703 - RAF vs. UFO Framed!

I find great pleasure in printing out my own art.  There's something that seems so satisfyingly final about seeing art in print.  Thanks to timely purchases from loyal JSVB readers, I earned enough funds to print off several pieces.
One of my favourites is "RAF Versus UFO", which you can see by clicking here.  In print, it's even more amazing.  The colours are so rich and deep, it looks like the fightercraft are ready to leap directly out of the frame! 
Best of all, you can own this unique and thought-provoking piece in your own home.  At 18" x 24", you will ponder the true nature of the universe as our brave Air Force pilots dogfight with the best flying saucers outer space has to offer.  Did you know there are recorded events of WWII RAF aircraft actually shooting at UFO's?  There are fewer stranger stories in the annals of aviation lore. 
Please send me an e-mail to the address at the top of this page if you are interested in your very own print of "RAF Versus UFO".  I ship anywhere... but Mars.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

702 - "Naked Abstraction"

As loyal JSVB readers know, the thirteenth day of every month is Ungood Art Day, where I feature one of my failed attempts at art.  Today is the final Ungood Art Day of 2012, and if we are lucky and the world as we know it is destroyed when the Mayan calendar runs out in a few days, then this might just be the final Ungood Art Day for human civilization.  Maybe it will survive as a transmission beamed out into the eternal reaches of space, echoing among the halls of the stars, and bemusing alien galaxies at the end of time. 
This is a picture of a naked girl.  I am fairly sure that the model in JSVB Post #356 is the same as the one who posed for this piece, "Naked Abstraction".  Please click here to see the model. 
Most good abstract artists fall into two categories.  The first belong to a set of accomplished artists who discover in their own work persistent symbols and semiotics of design.  Gradually, these symbols work out towards creating a new visual vocabulary for  that artist.  Pablo Picasso was such an artist.  The other category belongs to artists who make a leap into abstract design through a radical change in approach to media, which in turn creates a new aesthetic.  Jackson Pollock is a good example. 
A third category of abstract art, and by far the largest category in my opinion, belongs to the realm of pure crap.  "Naked Abstraction" is exactly that piece.  Botched shading, unsubtle shapes, sophomoronic line quality, and the general misuse of a perfectly good life drawing model all add up to create the all-too-familiar artistic message, "What The Hell Am I Doing!?".  

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

701 - Archangel Michael, Part IX

Last week, I was too sick to drive, so I couldn't make it out to my icon workshop.   This week, I am feeling much better.  I believe I have finished all of the crimson work.  What will follow are the blues, a lot of outlining and highlighting, the halo and inscription, and finally the frame.  The end is nigh! 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

700 - How A Tree Saved Christmas

Welcome to JSVB Post #700.  Only three hundred more posts to go until I hit my millennium mark, and wouldn't that be something?
From out of the blue, I had a big project dropped into my lap.  A client wanted me to come up with a family tree.  This is something I've never attempted before.  It turned out to be a lot of work, but it also came out as a beautiful graphic.
So, now I can do family trees.  Of course, it would be too late to come up with another one before Christmas, but JSVB readers please consider this project in the future, as I would be happy to do more.  Thankfully, the money I earned from this tree not only pays off my Christmas bills this year, but it also allowed me to print out some other art pieces that I thought should get framed.
I did not do the research for the family, as I don't have the resources for that.  The client presented me with a rough estimate of where the names should go, and I laid them out precisely.  In the pictures above, I have removed the last names and some other features, including a custom-made family crest and some other text.  Then, I custom-painted the tree and the background. 
The final image was 24" x 18", but it could be doubled in size to a massive 48" x 36" poster format.  I've printed the family tree on the finest Hahnemuele art rag paper - honestly, the tactile feel of the paper is just amazing - which is acid-free and will resist fading and yellowing.   I also matted and framed the copies that I had printed, which loyal JSVB readers will recognize as one of the chores I dread the most (please click here to see more).
The client wanted the oak tree to be without its leaves, so here is what that print looked like:
As you can see, I can be very flexible with the backgrounds and graphic options.  There is a lot of room for more text, like a family crest, a banner, a family motto, and more.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

699 - Groovy!

I discovered an online idea generator and asked it what I should draw today.  By the way, it's a stupid idea.  I have a dozen projects that need my attention.  I guess today I didn't want to be super-productive or learn anything.  I just wanted to show off a drawing and click off JSVB Post #699, so that I can move on to #700 tomorrow. 
The online idea generator said, "draw ash".  Groovy!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

698 - Toilet Of Doom

Today, I was the stuck-at-home duty officer.  I had a number of household chores I was mostly able to put off for later.  One priority I had to attend to was a broken toilet.  Fortunately for me, the fix was easy. 
One thing that toilets remind me of is Indiana Jones (pictured above for reference).  Not that I can recall any scenes in any of the movies where Dr. Jones is incommoded ("Indy!!" "Not now, Marion!  I'm busy making Number Two!"  "Indeeeeee!!!!"  " I. SAID. NOT. NOW!!!!" -- you have to imagine the trademark Harrison-Fordian snarl with that.) No, the toilet tie-in is trivia: the sound of the heavy cover on the stone crypt for the Ark of the Covenant being removed was made by scraping the ceramic lid of a household toilet cistern. 
That's something to ponder the next time you're sitting on the throne. 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

697 - Coca-Cola Stew

Not much in the way of visual artwork for JSVB today, but a food note instead.  Perhaps the flag that has now been raised for the end of civilization as we know it would be for the publication of the Coca-Cola Cookbook.  Yet when I saw it on the shelf in the store, I knew I had to discover its secrets.  (The same reasoning went into my purchase of "The Necronomicon Spellbook", but the Coca-Cola Cookbook is much more practical, with far fewer silly and useless incantations for summoning Candarian demons.)
From the smash-hit Japanese television show "Iron Chef", I learned how to make Coca-Cola pork (and you can see my recipe for it by clicking here.).  I've picked up a couple of other tricks using Coke as an ingredient, but not the hundreds of recipe ideas that are in the Coca-Cola Cookbook. 

The basics of cooking with Coke amount to using cola to replace wine in recipes that call for alcohol.  Some of the recipes, such as Coq Au Coke (Stewed Chicken In Coke Sauce), do exactly that.  Other recipes are much more creative, at least in their reading. 

My first attempt is the Coca-Cola Stew, pictured above.  Instead of a beef stock base fortified with wine, I used a cup of Coke.  Cola drinks have much more sugar than wine, so the sweetness has to be offset with heat in this stew:  I added chili that gave the broth a mild hot savoury flavour. 

This stew was easy to prepare and had a pleasant "American" flavour to it.  It's sweeter than I would normally make, but with balanced meat and vegetable flavours as well.  I am looking forward to trying out other recipes from the Coca-Cola Cookbook, but I figure that not very many of them will be featured in a health-foods gazette any time soon.  These are good recipes for a treat or to impress guests, but I doubt I could last on a steady diet of the stuff. 

Saturday, December 1, 2012

696 - Christmas Card Sale

I negotiated a deal with a local printer and made up a couple hundred Christmas cards using my "Mother Of Tenderness" icon design.  (Please click here to see the original icon that I painted.)  These true-colour folded cards feature the replica of the icon on the front and a religious inscription inside (Isaiah 7:14).  Printed on highest-quality cardstock, these holiday gifts make a remarkable and memorable impression for the 2012 season.  Each card has its own sealable fitted white envelope for easy mailing.
I can sell these cards for $1.25 apiece, which is a bargain for the discriminating card-giver, especially for custom-made cards with this level of beauty and attention to detail.  Cards come in affordable packs of 10.
Instead of throwing your money away at the big card companies with their anonymous factories and their inflated seasonal price mark-up, please consider supporting me, your community artist, by purchasing Christmas cards that are true art.  You can contact me at the e-mail above, and we can discuss prices and shipping. 
Cheers for the Happy Holidays! 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

695 - Super Mayor Man & Snowflake Squad

I present a political cartoon that looks much like a comic book frame. 
Here's the issue: like most municipalities, Port Coquitlam has its share of social inequality.  Sometimes, that bias results in bullying and harassment.  Local schoolgirl Amanda Todd could no longer bear being the target of bullies, and tragically she took her own life.  Her suicide became the focus of international media attention. 
Now, Port Coquitlam is poised to be the first city in British Columbia to enact anti-bullying bylaws.  Anyone caught harassing or bullying someone else will face a stiff fine.  However, the by-law is not intended to be a money-grab.  If the accused bully agrees to attend an anti-bullying workshop, the fine will be waived. 
Mayor Greg Moore is the champion of this new by-law.  I can see where Mayor Moore is coming from:  he is a socially-active politician who is also a devoted family man.  Like some sort of super-hero, Mayor Moore is swooping in to do what he can to make his City a better place, using the powers he has at hand.
Predictably, there is some public resistance to the by-law.  Some people don't want the City to tell them what they can or cannot do in their private lives.  Others point to similar by-laws in Regina, Saskatchewan, that have been enforced only a handful of times.  Even the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, who would be responsible for local law enforcement, are unsure as to how exactly they would ticket bullies.  This is so despite that the RCMP suggested to Mayor Moore the by-law in the first place. 
While I have some sympathy for with those sentiments, I also believe that public safety takes a higher precedence than privacy concerns.  I applaud the action that City Hall is taking to bring this new law to the table.  I doubt that there will be many tickets handed out, but that's not the point.  Here we have a unique and valuable opportunity to keep the topic of bullying in the spotlight.  Intelligent dialogue is an important means to defeating the bullying culture, as is a dependable resource network that includes social media, counselling services, and workshops.  The point does not lean towards punishment but instead to rehabilitation: the offender, the victim, and the community.  Concurrent with the passing of the by-law will be the first annual Snowflake Walk in support of the movement against bullying.  The snowflake has been adopted as the local symbol for the campaign to stop bullying and harassment.  Citizens of Port Coquitlam will gather December 9th to raise awareness and help bring an end to victims' suffering. 
--- --- ---
So, in light of all of this tremendous  civic work, I can't help feeling that my political cartoon comes off as incredibly arch and perhaps patronizing.  This wasn't my intent.  Lesson learned: putting people you know into superhero costumes generally does not work out all that well.  I did consider trying for an art style more suited to political cartooning (please click here to see an example on JSVB), but I decided I wanted to emulate classical comic book ink and halftone. 
I also had trouble compositing this piece.  By mistake, I ended up cropping the lower half of Super Mayor Man, which showed him ripping off his work suit to reveal his hero costume like Clark Kent would.  Instead, that action to me looks ambiguous.  Good thing I have a wall of text to describe what I forgot to draw.
JSVB viewers who don't follow Port Coquitlam politics will likely not understand why I drew Lex Luthor in Superman's costume.  The answer is that in appearance, Mayor Moore looks almost exactly halfway between Superman and Lex Luthor, which presents a striking visage.   Mayor Moore is a very large, powerfully built, lantern-jawed man, maybe a head taller than I am.  He is also smooth-headed just like Lex Luthor.  By coincidence, Mayor Moore received his MBA degree from Royal Roads University, the site of Hatley Castle, which has often doubled for Luthor Mansion in film and television (Hatley Park is also the exterior grounds for Professor Xavier's X-Men School!). 
Good thing Mayor Moore has the heart of a super man,  and I hope a sense of humour too, if and when he sees this post! 

Monday, November 26, 2012

694 - Archangel Michael, Part VIII

Today was yellow-ochre day for painting.  Yellow ochre frame and reasonably carefully painted highlights.  For whatever reason, people tell me they like the knees.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

693 - Stadium Cake

In honour of the 100th Grey Cup tomorrow, I made this football-themed  dessert.  If I knew you were coming, I would have baked you a cake!
I don't bake much, nor do I decorate, so this confection looks like it was put together by schoolchildren.  However, it's colourful, reasonably accurate (note the silver Grey Cup, as well as the corner of the stands loaded with Saskatchewan Roughriders fans), and tasty, too!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

692 - Flintstone Bowling Ball Headache

I drew myself as a Hanna-Barbera character in the Flintstones universe.  Why?  Because earlier this week, I was rocked by a monumental headache.  Lots of people have lots of headaches so I figure I'm no different, but it did inspire this drawing. 
The headache was exactly of the sort you'd expect if you took bowling lessons from Fred Flintstone.  Unless you master Fred's unique bowling stance, that big rock ball is going to get away on you and clonk you right on the top of your head.  My wife claimed she saw a big pointy lump on the crown of my skull.  I kept an ice pack up there for days, until I felt better. 
Drawing this pose gave me a greater appreciation for Fred's bowling scenes.  It would be pretty tough to draw a proper bowling motion given the rock-bottom Hanna-Barbera animation budget.  So, Fred moves on a silly loop of animated toe movement and windmills his arms on a pivot around his shoulder.  The result is a lot of dynamic movement with very few frames rendered.
For another blog entry related to the Flinstones, please check out one pf my all-time favourites, JSVB Post #300, by clicking here.

Monday, November 19, 2012

691 - Archangel Michael, Part VII

If experience is any judge, I'm around half way to finishing this icon.  Today, I worked on stabilizing the colours of the cape.  It's not usual to allow the inside folds of a cape to have its own shadow colour in Byzantine imagery. 
I've known before, but learned yet again through a personal wrestling match with obstinate ignorance, that red does not cover very well.  The crimson on the top is several layers thick, yet the black cartoon lines show clear through the pigment.  My solution was to alternate red and white layers.  White is chalky and blotchy, and also does not cover well.  However, the colours that do cover well don't play nicely with red.  I think that the red and the white in alternating layers allowed my to create the cover I wanted, but it took many layers to achieve. 
I've also noticed that some of the other colours, notably the blue, has separated after drying.  The pigment has unlatched from its medium.  This is disappointing.  Likely, though, I can fix the blotches when I apply the final sealant at the end of the project.

Friday, November 16, 2012

690 - You Earth Mix

I rotoscoped out a digital picture of the English countryside.  I think it looks striking.  It's not Showcase material, though.  It's essentially just a computerized scrub-over of a pre-existing photograph on top of which which I then painted some extra details to either get rid of unwanted artefacts or to make the picture look more painterly.  It would make a nice enough screen background, I figure.
More than anything, it reminds me of the song "English Summer" from way back in 1981. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

689 - Pall Oak And Fold

I painted out an oak tree for a project I am attempting to complete.  Lots of leaves, dab, dab, dab goes the brush.  I assembled the tree in layers in Photoshop.  Thinking that the various layers of trees and branches might have interesting interactions, I took the time to play with some random layer blending modes.  It as a good thing I did; once I assembled all of the layers together for the first time, the tree turned out to be a massive jumbled mess.  Only by re-arranging layers was I able to salvage the composition. 
I got this abstract tree by pushing the layer blends into unusual combinations.  I think this tree looks like something that might be on the cover of a vinyl record album or a high school textbook out of the 1980's. 
So, if you need an image for your next record album, or you are planning on writing a Biology 101 textbook, I have this image available in massive high resolution.  JSVB needs money for Christmas!  Fine art makes an excellent and personal gift for the coming holiday season. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

687 - "When Models Go Bad..."

Welcome to the thirteenth of the month, traditionally Ungood Art Day on JSVB.  A much larger percentage of my art than I would prefer, stinks.  Just like anything else worth doing, an artist will go through draft after draft to work out the un-aesthetic imperfections in the work.  And then sometimes the entire thing is just one massive imperfection.
Imagine my deep surprise when I came across a whole trove of this stuff.  For whatever reason, I had saved several of those giant, cheap easel pads that students use.  Maybe I was hoping they would compost.  As it happens, ungood Art Day got to them first.
Today's opus comes from life-drawing class.  If you want to learn how to draw people, you have to put in many hours into life drawing.  That's where you sit at an easel and draw a human model who poses for the class.  A lot of the time the model wears no clothes, which allows the artist to figure out how the body's skin, muscles, and bones combine to create posture and pose.  After a while, the novelty or creep factor (depends on the model and the art class) wears off, and there's a window of opportunity for productive work.  Sometimes, that window slams shut before the class is finished, in which case the wandering and bored mind imagines poses for the model and the instructor.  See above.

Monday, November 12, 2012

686 - Archangel Michael, Part VI

Kapow!  Icon as superhero!  (Note to self, someone might buy a Superman done in orthodox painting style, although someone might get sued for painting that.)
Last week I was unsatisfied with the blue for the clothing.  I decided that maybe I should lay out more colours to see how everything would fit together.  The wings and cape are crimson (although they look pink because I need a dozen more layers of paint), and the floor is blue and yellow in the colours of the Ukrainian flag.  Saint Michael, among other things, is the patron saint of Kiev, the capital city in the Ukraine.  What I have now is a composition bursting with primary colours.  The effect is powerful but not subtle. 
When adhering to orthodox standards, we follow the rules of the orthodoxy: that's the whole idea of belonging to such a movement.  However, we are human and subject to many variables which range from what we might consider as controllable to things that are beyond our control at all.  As such, we find ways to bend to fit within rigid orthodox structure.  In this way, orthodoxy itself changes, and our humanity is the agent of this change.  Sometimes, the change is for the worse, such as when a religion endorses murder in God's name.  Sometimes, the change is for the better, such as deciding through trial and error, and perhaps some measure of faith,  the best possible colour scheme for the painting of a fierce angel. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

685 - Blonde Bond Shell

I am re-using my nude "self-portrait" from a few posts ago.  If you don't want to see male nudity, please do not scroll down.
A few people had the nerve to call me out on the veracity of my nude self-portrait on JSVB Post #679 - The Roman Way (to see it, please click here, although it's more of the same, with nudity).  How can this be a self portrait, when the man in the picture is obviously blond, blue-eyed, and buff?  I was particularly cut down by the comments regarding my physique. 
However, there may be a grain of truth to the criticisms.  For one thing, my profile image and the portrait face don't at all match (You can see the post I made when I switched to the most recent profile image by please clicking here.)For another, this portrait looks more than just similar to Daniel Craig's famous "Usula Andress/Halle Berry" moment when he emerges from the ocean in "Casino Royale" (2005). 
In fact, that frame was the reference for my drawing.  Despite that Mr. Craig is just one year younger than me, his physique is remarkable.  Also remarkable is that today is the North American premiere of the 23rd Bond film "Skyfall (2012).  Some day when we are not busy, my wife and I will head out to the theatre to see that one.  It should be good.
This picture is actually just an intermediate stage for the final product.  I thought I'd save it for today, the Bond premiere, for re-use.  In this version, I haven't yet drawn the water or the duck, so you get to see to the waistline and below.  I used art lines as cut-offs so that I would know where the remaining elements I had yet to draw would be placed.  If you have the imagination for that sort of thing, I suppose you could extend the view downward.  If not, I'm fairly sure Daniel Craig shows the full monty in one of his earlier films. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

684 - Local Party Promo

I've created a print ad on behalf of my local Legion, who is planning a big Grey Cup party this year.  This is the low-res proof, fine to look at but not high-res for print. 
The football players belong to a photo taken at last year's Grey Cup game, which was played here in Vancouver.  The photo is courtesy the BC Lions, I did not take this picture.
I did run it through a number of Photoshop filters.  Apart from Unsharp Mask, I try to avoid using a lot of filters since used the wrong way they can turn a decent picture into mush.  Sometimes, though, an artist has to forge ahead.  I used a heavy Unsharp Mask to get a high definition look, and then added a High-Pass Filter to increase the contrast without losing the gamut.  Then, I used a Motion Blur to create the dynamic diagonals.  I stripped the colour and overlaid a halftone pattern called "Linear", which I think adds a nice greyscale that should not turn into mud when photocopied. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

683 - One Fine Day

I promised myself that when the sun was out and the light was good, I would take a picture of the trees in Evergreen Park. Rainstorms knocked down all the leaves, though, so I cropped the picture towards a more grounded focus. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

682 - "Obamney"

Today is the election day for the President Of The United States.  Electioneering is a multi-billion dollar industry, and seems to be the number-one export of the USA.  Worldwide, citizens are asked to involuntarily contribute to this political machine: this morning, I found out that my credit card had been hacked and that the criminal had used my account to donate to Obama's campaign.  While I appreciate the need for the electorate to financially support their favourite candidate, as a Canadian, I don't consider that my credit card should be used to enrich the American presidency.  After all, Obama and Romney are just fishing for work, and just a temp job at that.
As I look for work for myself, I am following the American election with a certain amount of interest.  I figure if Romney gets in, then that will be quits for Obama and we'll have another four years of Desert Storm.  If Obama is victorious, then Romney is toast and we'll see the incumbent win another four years of Nobel Prizes because the giddy Norwegian Committee wants to meet the black President again. 
I had fun with Photoshop to make this picture.  Although the join is a little sloppy, I was surprised at how much of Mitt Romney's facial structure matches Barack Obama's.  For kicks, I placed the composite head on Al Gore's body.  All images were US government public domain.  The flag is also public domain, courtesy of Petr Kratochvil. 
I did have several months of run-up to make this visual joke, so I feel a little ashamed that I waited until the final hour to actually put it together.  There are many other entries for "Obamney" already on the Internet.  My original title for this was "Oromneybama", but the legendary Bob Dylan beat me to this one.  Great minds think alike. 
This election was brought to you by Goldman Sachs.  Yes, that Goldman Sachs.  Because they care so much for democracy, they've financed both Democratic and Republican campaigns.  So why did they need my credit card...?

Monday, November 5, 2012

681 - Archangel Michael, Part V

I've added some more paint to my icon.  The face is rounder and a bit more Byzantine in its look.  I've also added some colour to the clothes, although I will likely add more.  My fine brushes are wearing out, so I'll have to shop for some more soon. I also got a chance to break out my rigger brush, which is very tricky to use in small, confined art.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

680 - Replica Trek Into Darkness

For Hallowe'en yesterday, I needed to gin up a fake Star Trek insignia patch.  This became the day's art project, although it took minutes to complete.  Pick out which one you think the duplicate is. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

679 - The Roman Way

Today's JSVB post features a nude self-portrait!  Yes, you read that right.  If you do not want to see male Jeffian nudity, please do not scroll this page down.
Loyal JSVB readers will know that earlier this month, my wife and I enjoyed a quick junket to fabulous Las Vegas.  Although we enjoyed the usual tourist spots along the famous Strip, perhaps the highlight was a spa day at the end of our trip.
For the record, I'm not much of a spa person.  However, Vegas does things big and bold, and the Qua spa in Caesar's Palace is no exception.  They advertise Roman-style pools, and I have to admit that the idea of bathing as the Romans did is an attractive prospect.  As an artist, I've long been fascinated with ancient Rome.  I've even visited the Roman ruins of one of their largest and most famous bath-houses.
If you are unaware, the classical Romans placed a high personal and social value on bathing.  Bath-houses were owned and operated by the State, so that admission was free for any citizen.  Bath-houses could be large enough to hold thousands of bathers at once, so they tended to become the focus of Roman community.  Typically, a Roman bath would have a caldarium, tepidarium, and a frigidarium.  These are pools that feature hot, warm, and cold water, respectively.  As in contemporary spas, the bathers would move from pool to pool and feel invigorated and relaxed by the changing water temperatures. 
Another thing the Romans did was to bathe nude.  The Qua spa in Caesar's Palace is "clothing optional", so when I partook of the baths, I decided I might as well enjoy the entire Roman experience.  The naked truth is that Roman bathing is very enjoyable and... liberating.
Since my spa experience, I spent considerable effort deciding on how to frame my experiences for a blog post here on JSVB.  Using an Internet search engine, I decided to see how many other bloggers have chosen to publish nude self-portraits.  It turns out that bloggers aren't shy, although a predictable and comforting number have chosen to disguise their self-nudity through clever artistic means.
When I worked on my own nude self-portrait, I decided to deflect attention to my naked self splashing in the Roman pools like a water nymph by adding a cute Webster inflatable swim ring.  When we were in Vegas, my wife and I took in David Copperfield's magic show.  Webster the Duck is Mr. Copperfield's feathery sidekick during his performance.  If you go to Vegas, make sure to say hello to Webster for us!

Monday, October 29, 2012

678 - Archangel Michael, Part IV

Here's what I know about angels: not much.  I think by choosing Michael as the focus of this icon, I was hoping to gain some insight into the mystery of angels. 
Today I painted in the armour, making it appear metallic if not golden.  I made a push to get it all done at once because the four colours I mixed, earth green, golden orange and yellow, and a warm white, are close enough to the four colours needed to render gold.  Once mixed, these colours are not so easy to match the next day. 
Angels, in particular the main named angels, equally work towards the glory of God as much as they also form a military unit of supernatural warriors.  They bear armor, swords, and shields against the minions of Hell.  This makes their iconic form much more martial than most other saintly biblical characters. 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

677 - Vegas Va Va Voom!

Only one thing to say for today's JSVB post...
... Va Va Va VOOM!
Ah-OOOO-Gah!  A-OOOO-Gah!

Friday, October 26, 2012

676 - Make The Fat Guys Run

"Make The Fat Guys Run" is the slogan for Nova Bar & Grill restaurant in San Francisco, located a couple of blocks from AT&T ballpark.  That seems to be the theme for this year's World Series, as well as what looks to be the surest recipe for victory. 
This years batting stars, Pablo "Kung-Fu Panda" Sandoval (5'10", 240+ lbs), Prince Fielder (5'11", 275 lbs), Delmon Young (6'3", 240 lbs), and Miguel Cabrera (6'4", 240) are what could be described as the "meat" of any batting order.  They seem less like your basic toned athelete, sharing the beefy physique of many gravity-enhanced sports fans.  To me, this seems to make the big men seem a little more heroic, at least in terms of baseball.
One of the greatest hitters in the game, Babe Ruth, was far more likely to pick up a beer, a steak dinner, and a cigar than he was a set of dumbbell weights.  Among his many feats, the Sultan of Swat once managed to hit three home runs during a World Series game.  Two nights ago, the giant Giant's third baseman tied that record, a truly amazing feat in modern baseball. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

675 - JANET Spotting

I took a break from JSVB this month, and the reason was a quick vacation to Las Vegas, USA. 
One thing I wanted to do in Vegas was to spot the movements of the mysterious black-ops JANET flights which originate from a private, high-security terminal annexed to McCarran International Airport.  Not five minutes into our cab ride to the massive and outrageous Caesar's Palace, an almost non-descript JANET airliner flew final approach over the highway, prompting our friendly Russian driver to launch into his own theory of Roswell, UFO's, and high-level government conspiracy.  At that moment, I knew our vacation was going to be a great one!
"JANET" is reportedly the call sign for a number of airliners possibly operated by EG&G, a defense contractor that may or may not be owned by government services megacorporation URS.  The JANET craft are typically painted pure white with a long red stripe over the windows across the fuselage.  The JANET fleet is supposed by conspiracy theorists to be used as commuter craft for thousands of top-secret workers who live in the Las Vegas area but work in facilities such as Groom Lake/Area 51.  JANET has its own air terminal which is guarded heavily against trespassers and the general public. Presumably you could watch some of the action on the JANET jetway from the comfort of the nearby Luxor Hotel, provided you had the use of a good telephoto lens.   
The Internet suggests that the US spends upwards of $56 billion a year on so-called "black" operations, ranging from secret military missions to clandestine arms research.  With such a massive amount of money at their disposal, I can imagine  that running JANET as a top-secret airline operating in the open would only use a small fraction of this budget.  Even so, only Russian cab drivers seem willing to offer any accountability. 
You can try using Internet resources to track the various JANET flights, some of which are regular shuttle flights from Vegas to who-knows-where, while others fly flight plans that are completely conjectural.  Maybe someone at the URS head office wanted to see Donny & Marie at the Flamingo Showroom?   When you run your own private secret airline, you get to fly it however you like. 
Nobody can definitely say what "JANET" stands for.

Monday, October 22, 2012

674 - Archangel Michael, Part III

I am starting to believe I know more about UFO's than I do angels, and that I know more about both than I do about writing icons.  Today, I made progress on my icon, getting in some of the flesh tones.  It's still dark, as they need another pass.  I've also begun to block out the clothing and armour.  The project is hampered by my thoughtless misplacement of my colour chart, so I'll have to create a new colour reference before I can get the clothes right.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

673 - Hamster Heaven, Frog Hell

The 13th of every month is Ungood Art Day on JSVB, a celebration of art pieces that stopped being good before long before they were finished.  Coincidentally, the 13th of October is also my wife's birthday, so there has developed over time a bit of an uncomfortable overlap between these two events.  Today, I have forged a reconciliation.
Out from the bottom of my picture morgue, I found an artwork we worked on together many, many years ago.  My wife, the eternal romantic, drew the imaginative and fanciful tableau of flying angel hamsters in love frolicking beneath the lucid arc of a midnight rainbow during the new moon.
I recall thinking that I had to draw something gross to balance out the sweetness of my wife's design, so I rendered a bursten and flattened frog as roadkill.
Now it's our first Ungood Art collaboration, Happy Birthday Sweetheart!

Friday, October 12, 2012

672 - "The X-COM Files"

"The X-COM Files":  this is a mash-up of two different but somewhat related intellectual properties.  The X-Files has been one of my favourites for quite a long time (although I hated the show when it first came out in 1993, go figure).  It's the story of a couple of crusading FBI agents who chase after supernatural consipracies. The flying saucer episodes are the best, in my opinion. 

Then there's X-COM, which is a videogame that first came out way back in 1994 and just recently got a major sequel.  In the game, the player leads a squad of well-armed tactical UFO hunters in a  desperate race against alien invasion.

So what if you combined the two?  Man, would that ever be sweet!  This is my interpretation of what it would look like.

X-Files are the intellectual property of 20th Century Fox Television, and X-COM is the property of Microprose,  Hasbro Interactive, Infogrames, Atari, and 2K Games, whew!  All those legalities mean that I doubt we'll ever really see Special Agents Mulder and Scully on the X-COM trail. 

For MortalKomic!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

671 - Ecto Into Darkness

I've added another complete character to the tableau.  I had to digitally add workspace becasuse my original composition was too cramped.  I'll have to do it again to make room on the far right for a third character.  A minor inconvenience in our post-modern electronic age.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

670 - Ecto In Ink

I've inked in the ectoplasmic pose from a couple of days ago.  I have a couple more elements to draw before the composition will make sense. 
Click here to see the ruff for this pose. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

669 - Ungood Dog

My wife twigged me onto the concept of "dog shame", where you pair a picture of a guilty mutt with a written caption that cheerfully describes its foul act. 
I had the opportunity to design a hand-drawn pose since Duke the Dog found a way to break out of his kennel and go on a rampage through his house when his owners were away.  I think the event is most effectively described as Duke's shoe-chew-&-poo. 
Later, I discovered the official "Dog Shame" website.  While it is amusing, it's also very protective of itself with pages of legal disclaimers.  Apparently, it's an off-shoot of Tumblr, that hip young blog juggernaut.  Since I don't like things that are hip, young, or juggernautish with a ton of lawyertalk in the small print, I don't see the sense of linking it to JSVB.  Anybody who can operate a search engine should have no trouble finding it. 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

668 - Ecto Sketch

The character stuck his hand into some goop on the floor, and now it drips from his fingers in a slimy trail.  Only I haven't gotten around to drawing the slime yet.  The flashlight is gripped uncomfortably low, but I don't think I'll gain much by moving it.  I'll show more progress later. 
For another sketch that shows how to hold a flashlight, please click here.