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!