Friday, December 27, 2013

895 - "Escalator Of Wax"

Today's JSVB posts depicts a pretty lady stepping in a lot of gooey wax.  If you don't want to see wierd stuff, then please do not scroll down.
A few days ago, I overheard my wife coming up with the phrase "escalator of wax".  I know for a fact that this illustration is not what she had in mind. 
Considering the amount of work I poured into this, it's a remarkably unappealing image for me.  It's almost Ungood Art.  Oh, well.
I wonder what we could use "escalator of wax" to describe?  I am not looking forward to this, but I know we are just days away from the annual Blogger system failure that comes down every first week of January.  So maybe we Blogger bloggers will all climb the escalator of Wax come New Year's Day.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

894 - John The Baptist, Part XI

The artwork for John the Baptist is complete!  Well, more or less.  There's always things that could be touched-up.  The remaining step is to varnish the icon to seal the paint, and to finish the backside, which also requires sealant and mounting hardware. 
John the Baptist is an enigmatic figure in biblical history.  He was either a mad prophet, a friend of Jesus Christ, a fairly close relative, or some combination of those.  He was famous for baptising people to cleanse their sins, and he came to baptise Jesus.  He also lived in the desert and wore animal pelts for clothing and ate local plants and locusts for food. 
John is likely the hairiest of the saints, which was one reason why I chose to write his icon.  I wanted to gain experience rendering byzantine hair styles.  The beard an moustache represent a fairly strict adherence to the proper technique, the clothing is the minimal allowed in byzantine brushwork, and the mane of hair is experimental on my part.
In iconography, the colour blue is symbolic of the earthbound nature of man.  Holy people wear blue to indicate that they have terrestrial origins.  In this case, it looks as if John had killed and skinned the Cookie Monster.  Obviously, that's not the case here.  Nonetheless, if Cookie and John walked into the desert together, I figure I know which would come out wearing a cloak made out of whom.  John was a tough man. 
Merry Christmas to all of my JSVB readers, and also to the automated bots that keep checking on my blog.  Bots need love too!  Maybe that will make them less ornery.  

Sunday, December 22, 2013

893 - Capri Girl

Lack of sunshine plus cabin fever drives me to thoughts of long tanned legs in capri pants.  Tomorrow, it will be byzantine iconography.  I need to get out more. 

Friday, December 20, 2013

892 - John The Baptist, Part X

I finished the tenth stage of John The Baptist a few days ago, but I haven't been posting to JSVB due to personal commitments. 
Not that there's a lot to report.  All I have done is paint the frame.  I did create finer edges so that the frame does not look so ragged.  I had to use a ruling pen and a compass to keep the lines from being wobbly. 
A ruling pen is something like the old quill pens you see in movies.  It allows you to draw lines with liquid ink while using a ruler.  If you used a quill, the ink would run out onto the ruler.  I've learned that you can load the pen with paint almost as easily as ink. 
Both compasses and ruling pens have been used in one for or another for hundreds of years, making them acceptable tools for orthodox iconography, as well as allowing me to avoid freehanding these difficult lines. 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

891 - Hamster In Search Of A Story

Well, I won't make it a secret that this image will be the foundation for my 900th JSVB Post Spectacular.  Although this format is complete, I still have some work to make it look like a real book.  I will show my results in nine posts from now.  Unfortunately, that will likely be too late for Christmas.  In the meantime, this will do.
There's a story behind this image, but it's not much of a story:
My wife wanted to create a whole Christmas theme with hamsters.  If you know her, you'd know she's crazy for the sweet little furballs.  She thought it would be a lovely idea to come up with a hamster-based Christmas story.
"Like 'The Hamster Who Saved Christmas?" I asked.  I had some flashes of ideas of what hamsters are capable of during the holidays: sleeping, eating, flinging their droppings, and escaping.  Since they are very short and stubby, a hamster makes a limited action hero.  Sure, there's Rhino the Hamster in Disney's Bolt (2008), but he's a movie star.  Normal hamsters aren't typically heroic.
So my wife floated a few ways on how a hamster could save Christmas.  I shot them all down with easily-aimed bullets of simple logic.  The hamster would have to be six feet tall.  Everything happens around the hamster, but he's too small to have any effect on the other characters.  Hamster needs opposable thumbs.  At the North Pole, he'd get drowsy and hibernate. 
My wife looked at me, and I couldn't tell if I was hurting her feelings.  She seemed to accept my replies, though.  Finally she said, "He could drive a sports car."
"Yeah," I agreed. "I'd draw that."  And I did.  Look at this cover and tell me what doe-eyed child would see this thing and not want to find out exactly how the hamster saves Christmas?  Not any kid I would care to know, that's for sure.   
I have no idea how the hamster could drive a car and save Christmas, though.  My instinct told me to draw him carrying a tree ornament.  I hate drawing them because they are perfectly round and that's difficult to render.  I threw in a Santa hat to make the image more festive, but also to give a little more dynamic appeal to the sense of motion captured.  I like the hat. 
I did try to give the hamster a great car.  I recalled the story of Stuart Little by E.B. White; Stuart was a mouse who drove a 1945 Porsche, and then very sadly wrecked it.  This car is a 1962 Lotus 7, and I am going to make sure it stays pristine. 
But that's all there is to the story.  Maybe somebody wants to write it?  I'll look at offers, but they would have to be good.

890 - Snow Buddies' Business

Triple winterbound lawn ornament action.

Friday, December 13, 2013

889 - Wrapped Attention

The thirteenth of every month is Ungood Art Day on JSVB.  I post some artistic endeavour that went wrong and that should probably be never repeated let alone shown to the public.  Every artist makes mistakes, sometimes very costly ones.  Those are usually the funniest.
Today I freely admit I do not know how to wrap presents.  I can draw precise lines, and choose the perfect colour on the colour wheel.  I can create evocative scenes of sensuality, comedy, or destruction as I choose.  But so help me, I cannot wrap.
This is just a small, regular, box-shaped present like millions you'd see throughout the world.  Somehow, I avoided making any straight lines, and none of the angles match the proscribed ninety degrees - all of this despite the helpful grid pattern of the paper.  There's random pieces of tape stuck to unusual places.  Stranger still, you can see the tape, which I cannot explain in any rational sense since I am fanatical about using "invisible" tape in my art projects. 
So if you look under the Christmas tree and discover ill-used lumps of amorphous merchandise heaped underneath, you will know that your present has been carefully chosen and artlessly wrapped by me. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

888 - Lucky Number 888

I am pleased and somewhat surprised to present my 888th post on JSVB.  It's not far anymore to my 900th Post Spectacular, and from there just a short hop to Post 1K. 
I feel I have finished the figure for the hamster-driven Lotus. I upgraded the hamster's facial expression since the previous one looked dopey and unexciting.  Yet, there is work to be done to make it look more festive for the Christmas holiday.  I had it in the back of my mind that if this worked out, I would print this as my secular Christmas card, to go along with the religious ones I have for sale.  It's too late for that now. Hopefully, I will have it for an e-card, and unless I come up with something better, I'll print this for next year. 
If anyone wants a poster-size version of this image, I am sure it would look great framed and hung over the fireplace.  What a conversation piece!  At this late date, I doubt I could have it printed in time for Christmas, but even so it could make an excellent belated present for anybody who loves hamsters and vintage cars.  If you want one, be sure to send me an e-mail at the address at the top of this page. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

887 - John The Baptist, Part IX

This week, I added the final details to the figure.  The line work is very strong, so the icon has a very strong aesthetic.  Most icons have lines that are more subtle.  So next project, I will try to focus on subtlety.  This one is telling me to stop fiddling with the details. 
Since the figure is complete, all that remains is the bordering, the halo, and the inscriptions.  Then it can be sealed in varnish. 
Today's JSVB post is also remarkable since I have tried a new scanning technique.  By the eye, it looks like my old way of doing things but it's a little faster.  It also shows that I very much need to clean my scanner bed one of these days. 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

886 - A Hamster Drives The Lotus

Yes, I chose to have a hamster drive the Lotus.  I have my reasons! 

Saturday, December 7, 2013

885 - Snow Lotus 7

Now the Lotus is on a snowy background.  Somehow, the sense of motion makes the car more exciting, although the sense of driverlessness makes it unfinished at best and horribly negligent at worst.  I'll tackle rendering the driver another day. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

884 - More Lotus 7

Another iterative version of the Lotus 7.  The car is complete from the nose all the way back to the bottom of the windscreen.  Everything aft of that, which looks unfinished, will get more attention after I have inserted the driver.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

883 - John The Baptist. Part VIII

Last week, I was so monumentally busy, I did not have time to work on this icon, let alone post to JSVB about it.  This week, all I did was work on his hair.  The previous session, I blocked out the masses of John's hair with colour.  I simply painted over those blocks with fine dark brown lines.  It's not quite orthodox, but normally the artist is allowed to be somewhat experimental with the hair, since hair John's most recognizable physical feature. 

Before I forget, I should mention I have a few dozen Christmas cards left for sale, based on my Mother Of Tenderness icon.  Each card contains a biblical verse and comes with its own envelope.  The cost is $1.25 per unit, a fantasic value for a religious art card of this quality.

Please click here for more details.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

882 - Iterative Lotus 7

It's been a powerfully busy week.  My blood pressure has been so high, I think I could shoot plasma from my fingertip like a gun.  The perfect time for some art therapy. 
I've got this tremendous public domain snapshot of a 1962 Lotus 7 courtesy of Wikipedia user Bull-Doser.  I rotoscoped it in Painter so that I could quickly block in the shape.  I fixed the colours in Photoshop to make the car more festive, i.e. Christmas red and green instead of the traditional black and yellow.  Then I painted over nearly everything to get the basic details and metallic shine.  It still needs a number of details and a holiday background. 
Since this is iterative, I will show progress as I am making it.