Sunday, June 30, 2013

806 - The Usual Summit Suspects

Recently, I went to an Arts Summit, a big get-together of folks who are important to the local arts scene.  I got in by impersonating the Chairman of the local Arts Council. 
There were many guest speakers at the event, and I figured I would end up having to schmooze with many of them, even though I am only a Level One schmoozer at best.  As I was listening to their speeches, I noticed that many themes were being repeated.  I decided that if I were to keep track of which artsy person belonged to each nearly-identical idea, I should make thumbnail sketches and pair the visage with the comment.  These are those drawings. 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

805 - "Raccoon Ridge Winery Estates"

A few days ago, my friend Tony invited my wife and me out to the gorgeous wine country of Penticton and Summerland, in British Columbia.  It was fantastic to see Tony again, and it also opened my eyes to the variety of high quality wine produced in this region.
Over time, Tony has become a wine expert, and with his guidance we were able to share in some spectacular wines.  Some regional wines, though, are produced simply because there are many, many cheap grapes available.  We took to grouping those lesser vintages under the fictional label of "Raccoon Ridge".  I've finally finished the artwork for the bottle.  Like the wine, I had to make some artistic compromises, but it's there for anybody who needs it. 
Unfortunately, there is a real Raccoon Ridge wine from out of Vermont.  As it is, though, Raccoon Ridge is just a single label from a larger brand.   A single, rather plain-looking label, if I am allowed to comment, especially when compared to mine.  Hopefully, no angry e-mails are on the way.  

Saturday, June 22, 2013

804 - Roger At 25

From the We're All getting Older And There's Nothing We Can Do About It Department:
Roger Rabbit just turned 25.  I was surprised at the news, but checking back I see the crazy 'toon is indeed a quarter of a decade old.  My drawing represents my age more than the rabbit's.  Roger deserves better and indeed he still looks great in his movie, "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" (1988). 
"Who Framed Roger Rabbit" seems groundbreaking for combining live action footage with hand-drawn animation, but this technology had been used for decades before.  in the case of Roger Rabbit, nobody had attempted it on such a large scale.  Post-production for the film took months of painstaking hand-drawn labour. 
The true genius of the film lies with its animation director, Richard Williams.  Williams, who lived mostly outside of the big studio system, was able to convince Disney, Warner Brothers, and other producers to release their characters to him for the Roger Rabbit film.  This was likely the only way that characters from the major animation houses could all be seen at once.  No salaried studio director would ever be allowed to have Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny on-screen at the same time, let alone the dozens of recognizable cartoon characters from Disney, Warner's, MGM, Fliescher, and other studios. 
In addition, Williams created Roger, his va-va-voom wife Jessica, Benny The Cab, and several other characters custom-made for the film.  A towering animation talent, Richard Williams also wrote what I consider the best practical guide to animation, the revered "Animator's Survival Kit" (2001, 2012). 
Roger Rabbit is the intellectual property of The Walt Disney Company. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

803 - Raccoon Tales IV

The layout is finished on my raccoon piece, or so I believe.  The fact is that Photoshop saves my work.  I was able to rebalance the colour palette using a couple of sliders: that could have taken any number of hours to do by hand, and would likely have looked a mess when finished.  I also used Photoshop to put a curve in the animal's tail. 
There are a number of small items that need finishing, plus some text.  The last ten percent of work on most pieces is when it comes to life. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

802 - Raccoon Tales III

Now the cartoon raccoon sits on top of a cartoon rock.  On account of not much else to do this moment, I am working slowly.  But, I am kind of having fun with this. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

801 - Raccoon Tales II

I've painted my raccoon cartoon.  I'll show more in the future.

Monday, June 17, 2013

800 - "Archangel Michael"

Here is my finished Byzantine icon for the Archangel Michael.  It's a departure from my other icons, since Michael is the warrior-angel responsible for physically casting Lucifer, the greatest angel of all, out of Heaven for turning against God The Almighty.  So, a very powerful statement to write into an icon.
This was an experimental work.  I finished this piece way back in January, but decided to hold off publishing it on JSVB until I reached one of my "century markers", in this event my 800th post. 

I wanted to depict a full figure, and I wanted to paint armor, clothing, and Byzantine-style special effects.  With the primary red, yellow, and blue colours, I ended up with a piece that to my eye resembles Superman.  There are strong parallels between the legend of Superman and the actions of the angels, so it's easy to get their stories entangled.  What I mean is that it's a short leap of faith between believing in the powers of extraterrestrials and those of paranormal religious figures. 
This icon is derived from a very specific image drawn from the Ruthenian Wars, located in the region of The Ukraine but many years before there was a country so named.  In brief, the area was being held by the non-Christian Golden Horde, but the invaders were at the very end of their supply lines.  They decided to occupy a series of forts near where Kiev stands today, and hole up for as long as they could.  The Ruthenians, furious with the invaders, sieged the castles in an effort to starve the Horde out.  Although the land had been stripped of resources during the Wars, the Ruthenians were at least on home ground, whereas the unwelcome Horde were aliens to this land.
The Christian siege armies carried many icons to the battlefront: images of Christ, Mary, John the Baptist, and others, as reminders to the troops of the importance of retaking the sacred ground.  One standard was the image of Michael I have pictured above, who became the Patron Saint for Kiev. 
The message to the Golden Horde infidels would be clear:  just as Michael cast Lucifer from Heaven into Hell, so too would the Christian armies thwart the Horde invasion and throw them out into the wasteland to suffer and die piteously.  Granted, by today's morality, sticking people with swords is a very un-Christian thing to do, but the people were passionate about reclaiming their world, and in a Holy War many atrocities are committed in God's Holy Name.
So too by today's views, this icon looks somewhat out of place, or at least it does to me.  I succeeded in creating the painting effects I wanted to achieve, but I am now the owner of a decidedly unfriendly-looking art piece.  It makes a statement, but not one that can be dwelled upon in peaceful meditation.  It shows to me that the war between good and evil forces will certainly take casualties.  As long as people rally to images such as this, or Superman, or some other icon of martial power, then that war is also far from over. 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

799 - Raccoon Tales I

Here's a cartoon raccoon sketch.  He's sitting on a rock and sampling a glass of wine.  Only a select few people currently understand the significance of this, but I will expand on it in a couple of days if all goes well.
Tomorrow is my 800th JSVB post.  It's not going to be something new, but it will be something finished.  For me that counts a great deal.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

798 - La Dolce Vita

La Dolce Vita: "the sweet life" in Italian.  It amazes me that people can live like this, but they do!
My wife is on the left, playing her ukulele Leilani.  On the right is my friend Tony, our gracious host.  Tony has an amazing pinot grigiot in his right hand and a thermal detonator in his left. 
Good times!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

797 - "Tribble In A Bubble"

"If you put a tribble in a bubble, it would sell!"
 -Jim S. 
 I don't have the words to explain this concept any better than my friend Jim did, exactly twenty years ago to this day.  However, I believe it has a place of honour here on Ungood Art Day, traditionally the 13th of every month on JSVB.  Ungood Art, pieces I have created that just aren't all that great, find their resting place in my visual blog on Ungood Art Day. 
Will a tribble in a bubble sell?  Let's just say I'm not looking out for any cease-and-desist letters from Paramount Studios (the rightful holders of the tribble intellectual property) at any time in the future. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

796 - Happy Birthday To Me (4)

What, another birthday already?  It seems like only 198 posts ago I celebrated one of those. 
Each birthday, I treat myself to some kind of pin-up. This one is "Leilani", and she has special significance.  At least her ukulele does, since the instrument and the girl share the same name. 
Recently, the indomitable little ukulele has been making a comeback in the music world.  You hear it all the time in advertising and in popular music.  There are three things I've discovered about ukuleles:  one is that they are easy to lug around, two is that they are relatively simple to learn to play, and three is that after you've mastered a couple of  easy picks and simple chords, strumming a uke sounds like music even if you are just fooling around. 
A few weeks ago, I purchased as a present for my wife the same green ukulele that Leilani is holding in the pose above.  My wife and I have been learning to play.   Who knew ukuleles were so much fun?  Our house is starting to sound like a luau.  I've taken to listening to Hawai'ian music on Internet radio (KPOA).  And I've for surely been fantasizing about a getaway to Honolulu! 

Friday, June 7, 2013

795 - Ukulele Girl III

I've added a substantial amount to my ukulele girl picture.  Today's efforts took their toll.  I had to deal with computer failure and a number of household crises.  The outside world was relentless with demands.  After all that, I managed to get a few hours alone with this girl, but she resisted everything I tried with her.  Sometimes art can be a real drag. 
Continued glazing shifted nearly every guideline I had laid down, so although her very basic shape is there, I'll have to repaint many of her lines.  Her facial features are still placeholders, although they are detailed enough to stand for now.  Her hair was manipulated many times. 
In the end, I did what I vowed not to do, and I ran her through Photoshop.  I wanted to achieve my illustration effects through painterly means, but many of my early choices in this piece proved  to be troublesome.  While I could grind it out through hours of glazing and repainting, I gave up and decided to shift the palette using Photoshop's hue command, which lightened and warmed the skin tone on the girl.  I also used Photohop to rearrange some of the girl's body proportions.  A few minutes in Photoshop skips over at least a dozen hours of corrective work with Painter.  It makes me feel a bit cheap, but progress is being made. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

794 - Ukulele Girl II

I'm posting continued progress on the ukulele girl.  I've got the skin tones fairly close to where I would like them to be.  I used a glazing technique to get soft looking skin, but it also causes blurriness and some lines to shift.  You can see some scribbled overlays which I am using as references: those will be erased soon when I get around to creating  more definition in the figure. 
I threw in the uke, the bikini, and the grass skirt because I felt confident I could get those rendered today.  Turned out to be harder than I thought, though. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

793 - Semblance Of Cataan

Not much to report today.  From the archives, I found a player aid card I drew by hand some time ago for my copy of the Settlers Of Catan board game by Klaus Teuber.  The print on the player aids that come with the game is small.  My version is a lot larger, but also pretty rough.  It just floated back to the surface today out of nowhere, so I thought I might as well scan it in and click off another JSVB post. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

792 - Ukulele Girl I

The rough-draft work up for my ukulele girl.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

791 - That Sinking Feeling

The sunken boat as metaphor for the human condition: explain in essay form 50,000,000 words or less.  10 marks.