Tuesday, July 31, 2012

630 - The Laid-Back Olympics

Two years ago and change, the Olympics was a very big deal for JSVB.  My blog was just starting out, and I was eager to revive my stunted art skills by drawing and painting as much as I could.  The Olympics provided a great deal of excellent source material to explore.  Even better, the 2010 Olympics were staged in my home town, which lead to a number of concurrent once-in-a-lifetime cultural experiences, all greatly treasured.

The 2012 Olympics are in a far-off land, London, with a much different culture and approach to the games.  Even the time zone difference creates the sense of great distance.   These games seem best experienced through the television screen, at least for my wife and I.  It's not nearly as exhilarating as attending the Olympics in person, but it's not as expensive and exhausting, either. 

Hopefully, more Olympic posts will follow on JSVB, but likely not with the sense of being there that we had back in 2010. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

629 - The Wormley Effect

As a boon, I made a little sticker sign for a worm container.  It's useful for transporting worms from compost pile to compost pile.  Or maybe for fishing.  Now that it's on the Internet, the uses for this little gem are limitless.

Photoshop trivia: the fellow who engineered editable text is named Matt Wormley. 

Sunday, July 29, 2012

628 - Where Credit Is Due

Credit where it is due:

My friend Earl, for pointing out the name error in my previous JSVB post (please click here to see it).  Allison Redford is the current Premier of Alberta, not Allison Redmond.  An easy fix in Photoshop.

My brother-in-law, who came up with the awesome "bitumen slap" pun.  I don't understand why people read newspaper columnists for their political opinions when the really clever people come up with stuff like this on a regular basis.

JSVB readers can also give themselves a big pat on the back: Jeff Shyluk's Visual Blog has reached 20,000 page hits.  Not shabby for a blog where the unwashed masses don't get their chance to make complete fools of themselves in a comment window.  I wouldn't mind having more visitors, though.  Tell your family, friends, and neighborhood strangers to visit JSVB.  Join the Cultural Elite and be a follower.  Buy More Art!  Most of the work you see can be made into beautiful art prints that can be mailed to your home!  (All of the artwork is presented in low resolution, so if you want a print, I use a high-resolution master copy printed with the highest quality inks on archival art paper.)

Friday, July 27, 2012

627 - "Bitumen Slapped!"

The showdown over the pipelining of the contentious Alberta Oil Sands: British Columbia Premier Christy Clark and Alberta Premier Allison Redford face off in an attempt to decide the fate of this massive oil resource.  Either that, or they are grandstanding to try to hang on to their high-profile jobs.

Our media is very quick to take opposite sides.  Some claim that developing the oil sands is an effort of the highest order of Canadian patriotic effort.  Others decry the inevitable environmental disaster that running an oil pipeline through British Columbia will produce.  

Premier Redford seems particularly peeved at the stance taken by Premier Clark.  Clark, at first, refused to reply to Redford's request to run an itty bitty oil pipeline through British Columbia's aboriginal lands.  Redford would have been happier with a definite yes or no, any sort of official reply was better than the vapid silence being emitted by the BC Legislature (unusual compared to the vapid electioneering chatter that I see as the norm). 

Christy Clark's political camp eventually found a way to annoy Alberta far more than an ignoramus non-reply.  She offered a five point manifesto that was equal parts political pandering to the unwashed masses, an ill-disguised sop to business interests, and a blatant cash grab.  What Premier Redford seems to miss is that negotiating with the British Columbia Liberal government is much like arguing with Curly Howard over the price of clam chowder.  Anybody who is used to living here becomes inured to that fact.

Not that Allison Redford sits on a higher perch than Christy Clark.  She is the new face on a forty-year-old Albertan oligarchy.  The Alberta Conservatives are so creaky that they faced the serious threat of de-election from a party that plastered the likeness of their leader's boobs upon the twin rear wheels of their campaign bus (please click here to see more of that).  Voting Conservative in Alberta isn't a choice anymore, it's heritage.  Anybody who is used to living over there becomes inured to that fact.

In my view, neither leader seems to be in the right with regards to the pipeline.  As long as both can score political points that could generate potential votes, I don't think that either leader wants to be responsible for the quality of the project.  The pipeline design effort requires much more diligence than has been shown so far.  The money that this pipeline represents needs to be marshaled much more carefully, which may include an adjustment to how its proceeds should be shared.  Beyond that, there is a tremendous amount of money involved from stakeholders who would like to see the pipeline succeed: foreign national concerns such as Chinese industry and their partners United States.  There is also likely a matching amount from stakeholders who would like the pipeline to remain unbuilt: Middle Eastern oil states, and other American investors who are not tied up with Chinese manufacturing.  With any luck, the pipeline negotiations will extend to such a length that those politicians who are involved today will long be in retirement when and if the first ground gets broken for the thing.

Premiers Clark and Redford are in a tiny self-made spotlight just at the forefront of a shadowy mountain of money created out of oil.   Like good puppets they are expected to put on a show, and this is what we get for our estimated one hundred billion dollars: a bitumen slap and a catfight. 


Thursday, July 26, 2012

626 - Mama & Baby Bear

On a bicycle ride through nearby Minnekhada Park, we spied three black bears along our path.  One was likely a juvenile male, maybe two years old.  The others looked like a three year old female and her junior cub.  The ride was planned to be just a short trip to feel the warm sun on our backs for a little while.  I neglected to bring my camera, so when we faced the bears all I could do was to promise myself to make a sketch when I returned home. 

While cycling, we heard a distinct crashing snap in the bushes next to the gravel road.  When we stopped to investigate, momma and her cub ambled onto the path from the leafy underbrush twenty feet behind our bikes.  I think this is the first time I've seen a cub this close and not in a zoo.   Momma shied her youngster away from us and down the path.  She kept peering over her bristled shoulder at us to see what we would do, but the cub was concerned only with finding something new for a play toy.

Monday, July 23, 2012

625 - Chez Of Grey

For ten years, our house has remained painted yellow.  Some of our boards have a bit of dry rot, and the paint just looks old.  Looks like we are due for some new colours. 

I experimented with Photoshop, altering the house colour to something that's just on the blue side of 50% grey, with white and off-white trims.  You can see the palette in the top corner.  Vetoed during the board meeting were the Nelson Chequer and that hopeful-looking orange sample that would have been the foundation for the wickedest BC Lions livery in the Lower Mainland. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

624 - The Darkest Night

Today's JSVB post is with respect to the recent movie theatre shooting in Colorado.  The content is violent and depressing.  If you are new to JSVB, there are as of this writing 623 posts that are a better place to start than this one. The art and opinion in today's post is intended for mature readers only.  Please do not scroll down if violent images or text disturb you.

I am unhappy with this picture, my art.  The shooting in the movie theatre in Colorado has left me terribly shaken.  I don't know anybody personally that was in there at the time, but I can imagine maybe just a bit of that terror.  Right away, I felt that I had to work out this event, this horrifying stain on us all.  So I drew this... thing.  Quick, there's a disaster Jeff, better go find your pencils and inks and draw something about it! 

I'm most unhappy with this drawing.  I wanted something very much different, but this is what came out, and I don't have much enthusiasm to begin a new draft.  I wanted to show a confluence between comic book shoot'em-ups and real-world violence.  The Christopher Nolan Batman movies do a better job of this that I ever want to. I suppose that was the point of lining up at midnight to go see "The Dark Knight Rises" (2012).  Anyone who knows me knows that I don't follow comic book culture very much.  Maybe if I did, I'd understand my own picture.

What was it like in the theatre? Not like my dysfunctional drawing. I can't watch the TV news, it's too sordid.  I've heard that quite a few people were shot trying to protect the others.  Nobody would be able to race through automatic rifle fire.  Maybe some would be dressed in Batman outfits, logo shirts for certain, maybe a homemade cape or plastic cowl and utility belt.  I'd do that, if I wanted to see Batman that much. 

As I was drawing, I found it easier to think of the characters as Batman and Robin.  They would wear body armour.  They could leap from walls and clobber the bad guy.  They might get hurt, sometimes pretty bad, but they would make it to the end of the story and win.

That night, the shooter was wearing body armour.  There was no Batman, really, but I heard that there were heroes. 

Looking at this piece, I see it glorify the violence.  It's a comic-book frame.  I don't want to have my artwork exploit that shooting.  However, in a grain of make-believe brutality lies the nature of the art form.  Film, comic book, all illusions larger than life, very seductive if you let it be.  The fans want it to be.  The whole comic-economic culture demands it to be.  Will there be a superhero comic in the near future where the caped good guy saves the theatre? 

What a weird drawing.  It's so much easier to see the figures as cartoon characters.  But I know that they were real people, too.   Any one of my friends could have easily been in that theatre or one just like it.  I just can't draw the people like that.  This is too close to black madness. I want to draw the art that the people I love would like to see.  No way am I signing this thing.

Words fail to express how I feel about this darkest tragic night.  I tried to draw a picture, but it's not any better. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

623 - "In Beer We Trust"

I owe my friend Bob some beer for return of the favour that he was able to repair my bicycle.  I decided to burn off a JSVB entry by making a beer coupon.  I already had the beer stein and Ben Franklin art ready to go from previous JSVB projects, so it was just a matter of putting all the pieces together in Photoshop.  Seeing as I am just printing only one of these valuable beauties, I feel that I should be able to keep track of the beer I owe. 

*I did put an asterisk at the end of Ben Franklin's name for a reason.  I have been using this quote for years as a drinking toast.  I did a little research on the Internet and discovered that historians have long ago exploded the idea that Franklin had such a great love for beer, and that it seems most unlikely he said that quote.  If anything, old Ben was writing about wine, and of God's divine providence in supplying all of the ingredients in abundance within Nature for all of us to have wine to drink. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

622 - A Partial Portrait

I've enlarged the detail of a portrait I am working on.  I originally started with a photograph that I thought I really liked, but closer examination showed up a number of faults in composition and lighting.  So, I am digitally re-painting the picture, having re-composited it with several other elements I have collated in Photoshop.  I'll post the whole thing when she's done. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

621 - BFF: Ben Franklin Forever!

I thought to myself, what's the one thing JSVB could use more of?  How about one of the United States of America's Founding Fathers: Benjamin Franklin?  And now here we are.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

620 - Somebody's Watching Me

I tried to frame the black helicopter into this shot, but the Illumianti pilot was onto me and kept shifting phases past the visibility range.  At least the flag banners look festive.

Friday, July 13, 2012

619 - Stomp!

For a change, photography as Ungood Art for Ungood Art Day, traditionally the 13th of every month on JSVB. 

I took the trouble to set up the camera to shoot myself rampaging amok through a miniature village near Kamloops.  And there's a conversational gambit you don't come across every day. 

In any case, no Photoshop involved, just pure live-action forced-persepective special effects. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

618 - The Big One-Four

Today, on the fourteenth anniversary of our wedding, I'll admit that I don't always get everything right on the first try!  But I do love you with all my heart, and I always will.

Happy Anniversary, Sweetheart!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

617 - Hugga Mugga Beer!

Warmer weather brings me to thoughts of beer.  I know I can use this artwork in some other project, so we will see. 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Friday, July 6, 2012

615 - Fresh Creamery Butter

Yes, it's a photo of butter.  Fresh creamery butter. 

The line "fresh creamery butter" sticks in my head from the girly-girl film Kate & Leopold (2001).  It's a commercial tag-line for a fictional brand of breakfast spread touted within the movie. 

This, dear JSVB readers, is an actual stick of fresh creamery butter.  It's not much like the butter you get in a grocery store.  This little gem set me back eight dollars a shot.  For one thing, it's at least double the price of store butter.

The price is worth it.  Real butter seems almost like the lightest and creamiest of cheese.  It slices smooth and thin without making a crumpled-looking blob on the knife.  It has a clean texture and smell, not oily like the storebought stuff.  It spreads very easily and the taste, well, the flavour transcends normal butter the way puffy white clouds float over the dull earth.  Difficult to put into words, but fresh creamery butter on a slice of bread just out of the oven, that's ambrosia. 

My recommendation: same as the dairy farmers would tell you.  If you can find butter direct from the creamery, then go for it, and you won't go back to the supermarket stuff.  It's good for you, good for the economy, and good food all the way 'round.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

614 - The Big Bang Theory

Yesterday, CERN, the European Organization For Nuclear Research, announced that they have nearly conclusively proved the existence of the Higgs boson, the elusive subatomic "God Particle" that may hold the key to understanding how matter behaves in our universe.  While the Higgs boson has been accepted as a strong candidate for being a fundamental building block of matter, until now it could only be seen as a theoretical construct. 

I see current subatomic physics as building a model with Lego, but not understanding quite what the pieces look like.  If the knobs aren't where you expect them to be, your model helicopter is going to fall apart.  The discovery of most of the  significant properties of the Higgs boson means that we have a good idea of exactly what the most common and functional of Lego blocks must look like.  Not only can we build better models in the future, they can also be much more sophisticated.  Without exaggeration, I can suggest that we may be entering a new Age of civilization.

Unfortunately, we aren't quite done with the Information Age just yet.  Witness our local newscaster, who asked the CERN scientists to describe what the God Particle looks like.  Well, it's subatomic, which means that we cannot see it.  Yes, okay, but what does it look like?  We cannot see it.  Yes, okay, so can you describe it?  Well, not without a doctorate in subatomic physics.  What we can do is see what it does in the Large Hadron Collider.

Not everybody has a degree in physics, so I dug a little deeper than the local newscaster.  I analyzed the CERN data and came up with a computer-generated image simulation of what the Higgs boson must look like:

Well, twenty years from now when nobody remembers who Dr. Sheldon Cooper is, this probably won't be such a hot visual joke, but I tried. 

Even so, after I had committed to this image for JSVB, my wife and I had this little comedy exchange:


I know what the God Particle looks like.


Oh, yeah?  What?

It looks like a little tiny Jesus.

A little tiny Jesus?

I bet you can't tell me whether or not the God Particle is Catholic or Protestant.


Uhhh, Catholic?

Nope! Protestant.

Protestant?! How come?

Because there's no mass, you big silly. 

(Rimshot, exuent omnes.)

Monday, July 2, 2012

613 - Bob's Bird B&A

My friend Bob is an avid photographer of birds.  Recently, he snapped a picture of a black-headed grosbeak.  I used Photoshop to remove the small branch that was in the way.  I love doing this kind of work.


Just to be clear, the picture was not photographed by me, so the copyright belongs to Bob Moore. 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

612 - Strong And Free

What a great day to be Canadian!  Today, our proud nation turns 145 years young.