Saturday, June 30, 2012

611 - Obligatory Damselfish

Yesterday's entry was composed of several elements.  I compiled them in Photoshop to make the final composition.  Taking it apart, here's the single sergeant-major damselfish that I copied and pasted to make a school. 

Friday, June 29, 2012

610 - Swimming With The Fishes

Some time back, my friend Earl mentioned the thrill he had finding tiny tropical fish swimming around his  feet while he splashed in the azure Mexican ocean.  Gripped by a sense of nostalgia, I re-created for myself the sweet, hot mornings my wife and I spent snorkeling over the reefs of Jamaica on our honeymoon.

There is some artistic licence here.  Even though I was thin enough when I was married, I didn't look this good.  Then again, nobody does.  I'm certain that one scene with Daniel Craig in the ocean in the James Bond film was all computer generated.  That, and my snorkel technique consists of the "dead man's float".  To our Jamaican guide, I figure all of the tourists must look like pale face-down corpses dumped fresh off the boat and left to float away on the tide. 

What I do remember are all the fish.  Without my glasses vision is blurred, but I did take some pictures with a disposable underwater camera.  Then too, some of the fish obliged by swimming directly into my face where my visual focus resides.  Primarily, I saw sergeant-major fish, Abudefduf saxatilis, which is a common balck and yellow striped damselfish that likes to swim in large, tight schools.  The snorkeller is soon surrounded by a zebra cloud of these curious, benign creatures. 

The Jamaicans attract the fish by throwing bread onto the water.  I discovered the damselfish are willing to peck at my sunburned flesh as well, which was ticklish.  A quick Internet search pointed out that the sergeant-major fish also enjoy snacking upon dolphin vomit.  Unfortunately, I was out of that for my honeymoon.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

609 - Seedy Character

Here's my photo of a chipmunk who's nuts for seeds. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

608 - Holiday In Hell

Hell's Gate: an exceptionally violent section of white water on the Fraser River, roughly two hour's drive from Vancouver.  Explorer Simon Fraser named this spot after comparing the exhausting and precarious canoe portage past the roaring white water as like traversing the very gates of Hell. 

Today, we make the trip in perfect safety in an air tram that runs every ten minutes for our convenience.  Despite the hellish name, the visit is very much worth the trip.  The views are spectacular, the guest facilities are pleasant, and the staff are eager to please.   Much easier travelling than what Simon Fraser endured!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

607 - Coasting With Mr. Buns

Mr. Buns makes a sketchbook appearance as a thumbnail (right).  Also a costume test thumbnail (left). 

The most interesting thing about today's JSVB post is the title, so I figure. 

Friday, June 22, 2012

606 - Holdup

The next big JSVB post is kind of being held up.  So, I dug out my sketchbook and scanned in some old thumbnail poses of how to hold up a thing. 

The first pose presents the thing to the viewer.  The eye contact engages the viewer but not the thing. 

The last pose shows the character engrossed with the thing.  However, the viewer is distanced. 

The mid pose has both eye contact with the thing and engagement with the viewer.  Bingo, my favourite. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

605 - Obligatory UFO

Here, enlarged and rendered in the clear, is the flying saucer I painted for my previous JSVB post (please click here to see that).  When I layered it into the photograph, I balanced the saucer's colours to more closely match the environment.  I also ran a lot of unsharp mask on it in Photoshop to make the metallic highights and coloured spotlights really pop. 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

604 - "Summerlawn"

I've been spending a quiet afternoon working on JSVB.  Looking out the window, I've this moment realized just how quiet things are in the neighbourhood.  For a nice Sunday without rain for once, there's no power washers, gas mowers, or even cars or trucks roaming.  I don't hear kids playing or the yelp of the neighbour's dog.  I'm pretty sure I heard some birds chirping and clicking near my window a few minutes ago, but now there's not even a single robin or sparrow.  Those guys are always around. 

My wife said that she wanted to go out and work on the front yard chores, that was maybe an hour ago.  I went out right now to see how she was doing.  I noticed how she left the reel mower in the middle of the lawn.  I thought it looked kind of interesting and forlorn out there all by itself standing amongst the half-cut buttercups, so I grabbed the camera and uploaded this photograph.  I like the composition with the green of the mower being similar to the green of the lawn and the trees.  Summer lawn, so strangely quiet.     

Saturday, June 16, 2012

603 - Obligatory Rocket

I figured I'll show off the little rocket graphic I used in yesterday's JSVB post (click here to see that).  It's too cartoony by far for the image I wanted, but I guess it does the job. 

Friday, June 15, 2012

602 - Fahrenheit Six Feet Under

Last week, one of the great pioneers of science-fiction literature, Ray Bradbury, passed away during a rare transit of Venus.  Bradbury should be considered as one of the three A-B-C leaders of science fiction, along with Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke.  Ray Bradbury had been the last of the three to survive. 

Science fiction as we know it today is far different from the stories of Asimov, Bradbury, and Clarke, who were writing from under the shadow of the newly-split atom.  Their fiction was about possibilities and predictions.  Bradbury in particular, I would classify as a social science fiction author.  His work often detailed the humanistic side of science and technology, the effect that our science has on our social structure.  This is different from the so-called "hard" science fiction of Asimov's clank-clunk robot stories, or the cold, distant strangeness of outer space as envisioned by Clarke. 

The death of Ray Bradbury signals the end of science fiction.  What we are left with is a shambling computer-enhanced mass of rebooted superhero legends, self-referential zombie tales, ultra-predictable space opera, and above all else product placement.  Instead of championing ideas, science fiction has become just another mass-media market driver.  Instead of envisioneering new ideas for society to consider, science fiction simply polls the readership and supplies whatever is in greatest demand, usually with some kind of commercial tie-in to a new smart phone, computer pad, or other flavour-of-the-week electronic device. 

Yes, science fiction has to be commercial to make a decent profit.  Ridley Scott made great efforts to tie Prometheus (2012) to his Alien (1979) movie mythos, but only because he knew that would fill theatre seats with patrons.  Did the tie-in help the storytelling, or just the bottom line?  Does science fiction need a Blade Runner (1982) sequel, or does the movie studio?  

Another difference is that science fiction fans now have money, and that they have become the resource that drives the industry.   Fans mean more to publishers, distributors, and developers than talent.  If you can generate a fan base, then your idea is sellable regardless of any real merit.  Of course, I can make this claim quite freely.  I get to publish whatever I want on JSVB, but I only have five followers and I almost never get paid.  Naturally, I consider my own stuff to have tons of merit because I haven't sold out... yet. 

Not long before he died, Ray Bradbury and a reporter annoyed one another with an exchange that went something like this:

REPORTER: Mr. Bradbury, in your work you predicted the cel phone, big-screen 3D TV, medical scanners, hand-held computers, and the Internet.  You must be very proud of that.

RB: You don't understand.  I wasn't trying to predict the future, I was trying to prevent it!

Bradbury, coming from an impoverished background, felt very keenly about the dehumanizing role of technology in post-modern society.  In his most celebrated novel, Fahrenheit 451 (1953), books are burned because their information conflicts with the rule of the State, who consider their population easier to control through television and other electronic social media.  At the conclusion, the protagonist discovers an enclave who have survived the violent purges of the totalitarian government. It's a human library, where each individual has memorized a book, and "becomes" it.  It's a last-ditch effort to preserve human ideals from the crucible of social oligarchy, and from the dehumanizing force of electronic standardization.

Interesting, then, that today Fahrenheit 451 is the only book in the entire Simon & Schuster publications catalogue that can be freely downloaded onto an e-book by library patrons.  I checked: S&S has currently 12,481 e-books. A mere 0.08th of 1% of those e-books are free for you to loan at your local library.  Way to understand irony, S&S!

"I wasn't trying to predict the future, I was trying to prevent it!"

(photo by Alan Light, used by permission under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

601 - Inlaw Outline

It's not that I forgot that the 13th of every month is Ungood Art Day on JSVB.  The utilities companies have been shutting off both power and cable to "upgrade" our services.  With the computer knocked out for most of the day, I've had to post my Ungood Art a little retroactively.

I've dug out an older piece from my sketchbook, an unflattering portrait of my brother-in-law.  What I find hilarious is that he's already got another unflattering portrait in my Ungood Art gallery, which you can see by clicking here.  I forget that I've drawn them, and every couple of years I will draw another. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

600 - "Mother Of Tenderness"

Today, I've published my 600th blog post, another milestone! 

"Mother Of Tenderness" is a religious icon I painted in the Byzantine tradition, acrylic on gessoed wood with 23k gold leaf, roughly 8" x10". 

This is my second icon.  Unlike my first, Mary Theotokos, this icon has no permanent home and is simply on display until somebody wants it.  Interested parties can contact me by the e-mail on the top of the page. 

The name "Mother Of Tenderness" comes from the pose.  As far as I know, there are only a few orthodox poses for icons.  This is the only one that I am aware of where Mary and Jesus have skin-to-skin contact, so the pose is very emotional. 

This artwork features dozens of layers of semi-transparent acrylic paint.  The effect is a little oversaturated in artificial light, such as when the icon has been scanned.  The paint glows with an intense richness in low or natural light, and looks positively striking in almost any room.   

To see Mary Theotokos (original not available), please click here.

Monday, June 11, 2012

599 - Cronk & Kabongo

The two best names in football:

With talent like this, the Lions are gonna go all the way this year! 

And if not, well, they could star in their own buddy-buddy cop show on network TV:

"Cronk & Kabongo!  One is a rookie straight from the Police Academy!  The other is big enough to be the Police Academy!  Together, they fight crime!"

I'd watch that.

And speaking of watching things, watch this space tomorrow for the 600th JSVB Post!  600 posts!  Wow!  It's not to be missed!


Sunday, June 10, 2012

598 - Happy Birthday To Me (3)


Yes, another trip around the Sun, another kewpie-doll pin-up rolls out on June 10th, courtesy of Happy Birthday To Me Day.  Once again, this took longer to draw than I thought it would, but boy howdy I am pleased with the result.

Strangely enough, "Storm's A-Brewin'!!" was intended to be one of the first entries ever for JSVB.  I wanted to start New Year's 2010 with some great art (or at least a well-rounded set of puns).  Instead, I caught the mother of all head colds and then broke my computer.  Besides, back then I had a lot of trouble drawing in comic book art style, so I doubt I could have rendered anything like this.  I don't follow superheroes at all.  The few comics that remain in my bookshelf are the notable exceptions to my baseline neglect of that genre.  I had to spend a fair amount of time working myself up to the level of ability needed for presentable comic hero art.  Even so, I am trying to emulate an older style of comics and not so much the stuff we see today.  I like the look of halftone on ink!

Storm is the intellectual property of Marvel Comics.  My version is intentionally set apart from any definable Storm iteration.  My inspirations were lovely Halle Berry for the model, and the CMYK colour system for the costume.  Since Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow are traditionally the cheapest colours for printers to use (on account that they most easily blend to make other colours in halftone), those are the only colours that would appear as solids on a comic book page, unless the printer paid extra for a custom colour such as a particular red for a hero's cape. 

Drawing this picture raised some interesting questions.  Is there any way to make the costume skimpier?  Yes, but I'm happy with this version.  Is Storm right or left handed?  I stopped wondering after I began to lay ink.  Do the kitchen appliances need to be plugged in?  No, they undoubtedly run off of mutant power, or at least some clever eternal battery designed by Professor Xavier.  Storm could easily boil the coffee by sticking her finger in the pot, but then who would want to drink it?  You don't know where her gloves have been. 

Saturday, June 9, 2012

597 - The Swing's The Thing Dept.


As a public service, JSVB offers the Ten Features Of A Typical Racquetball Swing.  I have distilled these tips from my years* of playing racquetball.  Just follow the numbers:

1. Adopt an appropriate strong stance to face the ball.  2. Keep your racquet arm bent, not straight.  Lead the stroke with your elbow.  3. Keep your head down throughout the shot.  Watch the ball hit the racquet.  4.  Follow through the ball, snap your wrist at impact.  The ball will shank with great velocity off the edge of the racket and head for your groin.  5.  The impact of the ball with the testicle will be unbearably painful.  Be sure to wear an athletic cup next time.  6. The ball will have more than enough speed to continue on smashing with great violence into the orbit of your eye (the orbit is the eye-hole in your skull bone).  Note how the ball will neatly occupy the space where your eye used to be.  Be sure to wear protective goggles next time.  7. Your grip on the racquet should be relaxed, but not enough to allow the... 8.  ...Racquet to fly into your windpipe.  Be sure to keep the racquet lanyard wrapped around your wrist next time.  9.  With your voicebox crushed, you won't be able to say much to the emergency 9-11 operator, so get your opponent to call the hospital for you.  Next time, don't play alone.  10.  Now you will find out if the front desk at the health club actually watches the security camera in the racqetball court.  If the ambulance paramedics and the lady at the cashier desk are all doubled over with laughter, then yes, they do monitor the camera in your court.  Although your belongings should be safe, you can also expect a delay in receiving medical attention until the staff can compose themselves enough to try to help you. 

* I have at least twenty years' experience, based on the estimated age of my sports equipment, and on playing racqetball at least maybe once a year on average. 

As a side note, be sure to tune into JSVB tomorrow for my annual Happy Birthday To Me salute to myself.  According to tradition, there will be some kind of babe in scanty clothing on display.  Yay!  Unless you find that kind of thing to be exploitative and offensive, then shame on me, I guess. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

596 - Jubilee Elation

May I offer Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II joy of her Diamond Jubilee!  The previous British monarch to achieve this milestone was Victoria, who at that age did not enjoy the stamina of our Queen.  I have to admit that just watching all of the four-day celebration on television would have been draining enough, let alone being the Queen at the center of all that attention. 

At first, I didn't pay much attention to the parties, as I am not much of a monarchist.  However, the love and adoration of the English people displayed for the Queen was a wonderful thing to see.  Much better than the grumpy, imperialistic English I have become accustomed to.  The final concert was great!

I decided to lump together a Photoshop portrait of Her Majesty with pictures from each decade of her service as Queen.  I feel bad being a few days late, but better late than never. I used as much public domain as I could, but I lost the attributions, so I cannot offer photo/art credits as I should. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

595 - Long Haired Girl Sketch

This is an enlarged version of an art piece I am working on, so far so good.  I will post more later.  It's a piece I've had on my mind for a long time, so I hope it turns out.  I can't tell if my art development time is cutting into my videogame goof-off time or vice versa.  If the finished drawing comes out at this level, I will be happy.

Monday, June 4, 2012

594 - Chicken À LA Kings

Part two of my 2012 Stanley Cup jerseys for chickens feature shows off the stylish À LA Kings logo.  Team of destiny, that's for certain.  I can't imagine New Jersey coming up with anything that could beat these guys for even one game. 

Please click here if you haven't seen the other chicken. 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

593 - New New Jersey Jersey

Better late than never: the 2012 edition of Stanley Cup jerseys for chickens.  This is for the Devilled Eggs.

Ordinarily, I would put both chickens representing their teams in the same shot, but then I would have spoiled the opportunity for what I now consider to be one of the cleverest blog post titles in the history of human civilization.  That, and I can drag out this topic into two posts. 

For more chickens in hockey jerseys, please click here.