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. 
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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.