Tuesday, March 26, 2013

758 - Salmon Creek Panorama

Today, I managed to take a nice picture from the bed of a protected salmon creek.  Since this is a place where salmon come to spawn, it's a bad idea to go sloshing through their nursery wearing gumboots just for the sake of a photograph. 
Fortunately for me, but not the water level, it's been dry the past few days and the creek volume has reduced drastically.  Last summer, it was so dry that most of the water had completely disappeared.  For this picture, I am standing on a sandbar that forms a piece of land that juts almost into the center of the creek.  When the weather warms a little and the snow melts from the nearby mountains, this creek will swell in size and easily rise above the level of the rocks on the right hand side of the composition.  There, the salmon babies will find shelter from predators.  I did see a half dozen hatchlings in the water: they were the size of the words "baby salmon" on this page, and therefore too small for me to capture with my camera.  

Monday, March 25, 2013

757 - Lens Flare: The Shocking Truth!

Kids these days think that lens flare was invented by J.J. Abrams.  More likely, the flare effect may have been accidentally injected into "Star Trek" (2009) through the use of lucky yet tragically unwashed hipster eyeglasses. (I suppose if you wash them, they're not lucky anymore.)
Lens flare occurs when you point a camera lens into a bright light.  Cinematographer Gregg Toland invented one of the first stable lenses that could be pointed directly into a light source, see "Citizen Kane" (1941).  Award-winning lensman László Kovács was a most influential proponent of artistic lens flare, working from a list of movies that include "Easy Rider" (1969), "Close Encounters Of The Third Kind" (1977), and "Ghostbusters" (1984). 
Finally, we can also grant lens flare honours to "Duke" Jay Forests, the uncredited creator of the lens flare filter for Photoshop, which has in its own way heralded the end of civilization as we know it.  If you use it once, be sure to use it a hundred times!  That only makes lens flare better. 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

756 - Plants Versus Laziness

Minimal effort.  Daddy has a blog to feed.  I drew Plant's Veresus Zombies into my school notes. 

Friday, March 22, 2013

755 - "Ceres & Bacchus"

The Roman gods Ceres and Bacchus:  I had started with a vague sketch of Bacchus and through some hard work and adjustments in Photoshop, I have a finished piece.  In particular I used Photohop to reposition Ceres so that she wasn't leaning over too far, and I rebalanced the colour palette and added the effect of a tiled mosaic. 
The background artwork is based on an ancient Classical design as described by Owen Jones in his trend-setting book "The Grammar Of Ornament".   

Thursday, March 21, 2013

754 - Now We Can Wear White Again

Fashion tradition disallows wearing white formal clothes after Labour Day in North America.  Tradition doesn't have much to say as to when you can start wearing white again.  Depending where you live and how many cotillions you attend, you could start wearing white as soon as the first day of Spring (today), or as late as memorial Day in the USA. 
Internet research suggests that the restriction for not wearing white after Labour Day began with the wearing of white formal shoes.  It also suggests that Frasier Crane's brother Niles might be the last traditionalist on Earth to care about this rule.  Since the 1950's the traditions for formal wear have become relaxed.  I've now learned about "winter white", which are warm-tinted whites like a cream white.  And now that I know, you know too. 
This picture was taken at the Mayor's Gala for the 100th Anniversary of the City of Port Coquitlam.  We were encouraged to wear formal wear from the period; my wife has on the latest fashion from Paris, circa 1913.  It was a great party!  Photo of us by Darla Furlani, with some Photoshop adjustments by me.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

753 - Bacchus, I Stab At Thee

Another stab at improving my artwork of Bacchus and Ceres, Roman gods.  Also: art as therapy.  It's been an unexpectedly hard week, and that shows up in my line quality. The lure of wine is strong, so I sipped at a low-end Merlot as I worked.  I don't think it helped.  Ceres' dress unbalances the composition, which means quite a bit of work to make it right again. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

752 - Funnel Fun

I just finished going back to school for a course on project management.  Quite possibly the first and last time I will ever use the term "deliverables."  Anyways, I doodled a lot in my notes.   Some things never change. 

Friday, March 15, 2013

751 - Bacchus Plus

I'm adding to my sketch of wine god Bacchus. Next to him is Ceres, the Roman goddess of grain and harvest.  She is dropping wheat, but since it's a just sketch that's kind of hard to see right now. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

750 - Bacchus Pours The Wine

A sketch of the Roman god Bacchus pouring an amphora of wine.  Bacchus was the Romanized version of Dionysus, the Greek god of wine and grapes.  Perhaps the most famous version of Bacchus (apart from Disney) is the one by master Caravaggio, where the god resembles a little of the late John Belushi, at least to me. 
The ancient Roman saw Bacchus as a powerful, muscular middle-aged man, although like most gods, he could transform his shape into anything he pleased.  Perhaps my Bacchus is a slave dressed to look like the god.  I don't know, since rendering this sketch was terrifically difficult today, and while sometimes I will have a half-glass of wine or a sip of whiskey on hand to make drawing easier, I did not drink anything stronger than water. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

749 - Bad Norman

Today is the thirteenth of the month, and here on JSVB that is Ungood Art Day. This day, I pull out something from my art files that started out on the path of best intentions but somehow veered hard left and fell into a steaming pit of botched execution. It's visual proof that the foundation of Good Art is Ungood Art. Sure Mozart was writing concertos at thirteen years of age, but they were all Ungood! Nobody plays them or wants to hear them. Mozart learned from his mistakes, or at least most of them.

As an experiment, I combined the genetics of two of my friends - a mad, bizarre JSVB entry that created the fictitious "Norman".  The finished Norman was the result of considerable trial and error, mostly error.  You can see how I wanted Norman to look by clicking here.
I'm showing off the first draft of Norman.  He's creepy-looking because I took adult features and scaled them to fit the child's face.  I discovered that the facial muscles don't match the poses of the features.  This makes the face look like a Joker mask.  The image is pixellated because the source images were low-resolution to begin with, which contributes to the Ungoodliness of this attempt. 
I became very frustrated with this piece, and almost abandoned the effort to create Norman.  I realized at least that I could make an Ungood Art entry out of it, and recovered it from the Trash Bin.  Now Norman 1.0 - Bad Norman - will live on the Internet forever!

Monday, March 11, 2013

748 - Garlic Chicken In Coke Sauce

Some time ago, I bought a cookbook from the Coca-Cola company that featured recipes that use Coke.  I've very slowly been working through the book.  Many of the recipes are old and from an age when people didn't worry about calories and cholesterol, let alone using Coke as a base ingredient. 
Since I have already posted a couple of Coke recipes and food items, people have been asking me to post some more.  I rarely drink Coke anymore, and if I do, there will be rum or maybe rye in it.  The other day, my wife discovered in the back of the fridge a partially-consumed bottle of Coke that had gone flat, which is perfect for cooking. 
I can't just publish the Coke recipe here on JSVB, but what I can do is show you what I did, and also show the changes I made to update the recipe:
1 breast of chicken per person (or 3-4 skin-on thighs or drumsticks)
garlic spice
1/8 cup flour per chicken breast
1/8 cup corn flake crumbs per chicken breast
1/2 cup Coke per chicken breast
1/2 cup chicken broth per chicken breast
2 tb butter
Pre-heat your oven to 350.
The first step is to create a dredge for the chicken.  Combine the flour, corn flake crumbs and garlic spice in a large flat dish.  You can substitute bread crumbs for corn flake crumbs, but I find the corn flake makes a richer-tasting dredge.  Garlic spice can be anything garlicky, from using fresh crushed garlic cloves (1 per breast of chicken, or to taste), to using garlic powder (1 tb per breast of chicken or to taste), or my favourite: Johnny's Garlic Seasoning, which is an all-purpose garlic powder.  Avoid using garlic salt, which is too salty. 
I drew a smiley face in the dredge!
Moisten the chicken pieces with a little water and roll them in the dredge until they are all covered.  Melt the butter in a pan under med-hi heat.  Fry the chicken pieces in the hot butter until browned on the outside- you do not cook the chicken all the way through!  Simply fry for a couple of minutes until the coating turns golden, then flip the pieces and do the same to the other side.  Remove the pieces into an oven-safe casserole pot.
Mix the Coke and the chicken broth.  You can use storebought broth, or make your own either from scratch or by using bouillon.  Pout the liquid into the pot with the chicken.  The pieces should be swimming in liquid.
Place the pot in the hot oven and bake without a lid at 350 for two hours.  That's it!  At the end, there will still be a lot of liquid, but it will thicken into a very tasty soupy gravy.  Remove the chicken from the liquid and serve with vegetables.  You can serve on rice or quinoa, or I would recommend broad egg noodles.  If you pour the gravy on top, you could top the dish with sliced fried mushrooms. 
Baked Coke dishes tenderize meat.  The chicken will be so sweet and tender you can eat it with a spoon.  The flavour is rich and remarkably full.  The garlic will be toned down by the long cooking stage, and its flavour blends well with the chicken and Coke.  I ended up drinking some of the gravy, it was so good!  Maybe I just crave the caffeine.  The flavour reminds me of coc au vin, but without wine or alcohol. 
After two hours at 350, the baked chicken swims in rich brown Coke sauce.  Yum!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

747 - Icon Class 3

The end of my third Icon workshop, featuring the works of the entire class.  I now have the most basic grasp of the Byzantine technique, but there's so much more to do and learn. 

Next up: John the Baptist, but that's a story for another day.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

746 - Chet's Underpainting

Temporarily out of meaningful things to do, I started a new pet project.  I've laid down some underpainting and some skin tone for good old Chet.  I'll continue to bang away at this picture as time permits.  Seeing as today is nearing its closure, I thought I'd post what work I have complete. 

Friday, March 1, 2013

745 - That Darned Cat

Just like anybody else in tune with their profession, a good artist will rely on intuition.  I ignored mine while I was working on this cat illustration, intended to be a unique product.  I think this is a pretty good effort.  It's not complete, but it does not need much more to make it a finished piece. 
Only it's all wrong.  After two days of massaging pencil tests to get the pose just right (please click here to see JSVB Post #740, which is one ruff draft), I inked out the cat while ignoring a little voice in my head that kept insisting that something was wrong.
Later that night as I was sleeping, I had a dream that made sense of my intuition.  Like an actor in a theatre farce, I bolted awake in bed at three o'clock in the morning and swore like a sailor.  I realised that I have very nearly managed to draw the mascot for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats football team.  I knew I had seen this cat somewhere before.  I was chagrined to realize that without actually copying the Hamilton design, that I had almost replicated it.  Two days of work down the drain.  At least I caught my mistake.