Friday, January 30, 2015

1067 - A Study In Watterson

A study of Calvin and Hobbes.  

As is the case with anybody else who has eyes I am a fan of the series, although I don't wonder at how it would look today after all these years.  I admire Bill Watterson for moving on. 

It's not like there aren't a thousand weird images of Calvin and Hobbes on the Internet by now, so I will hope to skate by with just one more.  This homage art will be part of a larger piece, so it's not yet complete.  

I've discovered that making cartoon drawings is like pulling teeth.  Lots of reticence and screaming of course, but it's also very important to put on a good show before you run out of teeth.

Monday, January 26, 2015

1066 - Happy Critters

Some critters I am forcing to be happy.  Right now, they just live in my sketchbook, but I have the feeling I can take them a step or two farther, just not sure how yet. 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

1065 - Flash Food

Slow food meets fast food in my "flash pie".  Well, the idea of the lightning bolt was to make the pie cook faster.  

It's a tourtiere, which is a Québécois delicacy.  More or less, it's equal parts meat loaf, carrot, and potato, all stuffed in a pie shell.  I don't do a lot of baking, so this was cooking on the edge of a new frontier for me.  

Friday, January 23, 2015

1064 - Nativity XIII

You know what?  After weeks, months of toiling on this icon, I believe I am nearly done.  Just about every element is in place.  There are a few small touch-ups required.  I'm not happy with the colour balance of Joseph's robes, so I will try to brighten them a little.  Mostly what remains is to paint in the frame, which is mostly monkey-work. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

1063 - Amor Fati Pizza Demolition Co.

From my sketchbook: a thumbnail drawing to help illustrate the difficult philosophical concept of amor fati, essentially the acceptance of death but also the role of fatality as a function of universal renewal.  
So why is a flying pizza attacking a highrise?
Because "Amor Fati" is also the title of a seventh-season episode of the X-Files.  To me, the most memorable part of that installment was an expensive-looking special effects sequence where triangular UFO's demolish a building that looked exactly like the apartment tower I used to live in many years ago.  It's a throwaway scene, though.  The X-Files stumbled heavily after the fifth season and never got better in seasons six through nine: I've watched them all.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

1062 - "The Best In The West"

The thirteenth day of every month, I showcase a piece of Ungood Art I have created.  Usually, the things I show are the product of some horrible mistake I made in the production process.  A few choice efforts were the result of thinking that I was onto something profound which in the end simply turned out to be absurd.  In the final cases, I create art that is specifically intended to be Ungood, and today's JSVB entry is the poster child for that.

Literally, it's a poster.  Much earlier in the year, I lost a bet when the BC Lions fell to the Edmonton Eskimos for the second time in the 2014 CFL season.  This time around, I had to make a poster which shows exactly which team is the Best In The West, and I had to photograph myself posing with this poster in front of the sign that welcomes visitors to my town.  

So, here is the photograph:

It took a lot of effort to get to this point.  Let's just say that I was not happy with the Lions and leave it at that.  I should show my loyal JSVB readers what the poster looks like, though:

As you can see, the layout turned out quite well.  I used a number of elements from Edmonton Eskimos press materials as my source.  The colours are a little off, though, but that was not the fault of the printer.  Let's take a closer look at the artwork (enhance, enhance):

If you look closely, there are  colour bands that run diagonally across the image, making it look somewhat pixellated.  Can we zoom in again to see the granular detail of the print (enhance, enhance)? 

There we have it: BC LIONS!  At the microscopic level, the words BC LIONS create pixels that fill the entire image, answering definitively the question: Which Team Is The Best In The West?   Well, of course, the Lions weren't the best in terms of wins, they stank last season.  But Grey Cup 2014 was a lot of fun, and obviously the Lions are champions in our hearts, right? 

Please click here to see the result of the previous bet I lost on the Lions in JSVB Post #983, and how I turned their loss into a personal victory over Eskimo pride. 

Sunday, January 11, 2015

1061 - Nativity XII

I am racing to make progress on the Nativity icon.  It's starting to take shape, now that the rocks are pretty much complete.  I've started to work on garments.  If all goes well, the painting should be complete by the end of the month. 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

1060 - "Do You Like Our Owl?"

When a cluster of your neighbours gather in a group on your driveway under the pale light of a full moon and gaze up at the sky, it's high time to stop watching that television movie and get outside to see exactly what's going on.

In this case, our local barred owl took refuge in the tree in our front yard.  The neighbours took some pictures and so did I.  The owl was extremely obliging.  Barred owls don't seem to mind humans very much. 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

1059 - Chicken Boy

At the grocery store, I saw a ten-year-old boy who clucked like a chicken.  JSVB needs material, so I sketched him.  He was just standing there, clucking away for maybe a minute.  The strange thing was that he was doing this in front of the fish counter.

Monday, January 5, 2015

1058 - Nativity XI

The rocks were supposed to be the easy part.  I've been working on them for weeks now.  The latest problem is with the rock floor of the manger. If you look at previous iterations of this icon, you can see how a horizontal ground feature gradually turned into a chasm in the manger floor.  The Holy Bible doesn't talk about the Three Wise Men falling into a trench when they come to visit the infant Christ.  Steve, my instructor, suggested that I should paint a gold crown and a box of frankincense next to the cliff edge where they would have been dropped by the stumbling Magi, and I could also have Mary and Joseph passing down a rope to rescue them.  Maybe also the top of a ladder, with the shepherd boy climbing up as well.  So: one of those precarious high-perch mangers complete with bottomless pit features. 

The idea of writing an icon is to bring praise to God, much like a prayer or a hymn.  Maybe a good icon will shave off a few hours in Purgatory.  Dumping the entire visitation entourage down an infinite cenote in the middle of Bethlehem seems to be earning me another 10,000 years in Gehenna, though.   At least I don't have to draw them, so there's a positive right there. 


Friday, January 2, 2015

1057 - Happy Wrestling Day!

Just as the day after Christmas is "Boxing Day" in Canada, the day after New Years' is "Wrestling Day".  Not in all of Canada, unfortunately, but only in the town of Williams Lake in central British Columbia is this holiday celebrated.  It sounds like fun: an extra civic holiday to enjoy indoor warmth and family company in the heart of winter. 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

1056 - Year Five: JSVB In Review

Today, JSVB turns five years old!  I've added a fifth column to my art matrix, which shows everything I have posted on JSVB since January 1, 2010.  The last column looks a little more bare than the others, but I did work on a few pieces this year where the client did not want to share progress, so if I counted those my post rate would be roughly equal to the previous couple of years.  I figure I may be settling into a rhythm.

2014 on JSVB was pretty good, compared to previous years.  I got a bit more exposure and as a result made a little more money than in past years, enough to keep me in crackers and Kraft Dinner for another twelve months.  JSVB was named in a lawsuit regarding my City, but the plaintiffs were so disorganized that the judge forced them to drop their suit.  There was no wrong-doing in any case and I never went to court, but it was interesting to get named at City Hall, sort of.  How it worked out was that the plaintiff knew what JSVB was but somehow didn't think to look up my name or address.  From what I heard, it was one of those cases where the citizen is so disgruntled they lashed out at everything they could, which is sad. 

Looking up JSVB in 2014 meant sharing the name with a French soccer team and also a jazz band that had broken up prior to 2010 but are now back together, good for them.  There are also a couple of new JSVB websites with placeholders, possibly bought up by people who want to cash in on the name.  If I ever make money with art, maybe I will buy one.  

By far, the most popular JSVB post was "Wrath Of Gandhi", which gets hits every day.  This year, it officially became Internet Meme #8,173,936,384.  Check it out by clicking here to see JSVB Post #956, back in May.  "Wrath Of Gandhi" is just shy of 10,000 hits on JSVB, and it's got some play on Reddit and  

The rest of the popularity list remains unchanged from 2013, so none of my 2014 posts were all that popular by Blogger standards.  That's something of an issue, though.  I thought that Blogger was un-loved the previous year, but in 2014 blogs were deader than dead.  Google, the parent company that owns Blogger, has done little to keep their service up to date, and they have been actively shuttering third-party developers like Picasa to make the blog experience walled up entirely within the Google realm.  I can't complain: I found Picasa terribly cumbersome to use, and every year at this time an update would break it.  Now that there are no more updates, at least things work predictably if not efficiently.  As a bonus, Google has drastically increased my storage space for free.  It reports that JSVB is now using 0.14% of its storage space.  I guess I should stop optimizing my pictures for web, but old habits die hard.  

So what were my favourite posts?

1. "My Super Power".  I don't know why this one isn't more popular, because it makes me laugh every time.  Mind you I didn't write the joke, so maybe it's good that it remains obscure.  I bought a bunch of books on comic book drawing and inking since this post inspired me to expand my art style.  

2. "Kirby-esque Sylvia In Colour!".  Since the super power art convinced me to draw more comic book stuff, I attempted to duplicate the style of one of the masters in the trade.  And I also made Sylvia happy with it, which is the best right there.  

3. "MCLAREN-44".  I think my favourite pieces are the ones I know for sure have made people happy.  When I discovered that the fellow who sits in front of me for BC Lions games was a player in 1977, I decided to make for him a custom-made collectible card.  From an artistic perspective, composing the image, getting the card stock to look authentic, and getting the whole thing to be convincing, it was a success.  From a personal perspective, it turned out to be one of the best art projects I've ever made.  

4. "Elegy For A Re-Used Roaster".  Sure, the artwork is nothing special, but I thought I did a very good job with the poem.  And that poem earned me a new re-used roaster made of steel.  

5. "Happy Birthday To Me (5)".  Again, I don't know why this one isn't popular.  If I knew that, I'd be on TV or in the movies by now.  It sets the bar too high for Happy Birthday To Me 6, that's for sure. 

6. "Squirrels In Love".  This was part of a set of squirrel-based wedding invitation artwork.  I had fun doing it, and the client loved it.  Win-win!

7. "Town Haul".  I enjoyed making the caricatures, and the image proved to be popular.  It's also the picture that got me involved in the lawsuit mentioned above.  No harm done, though. 

8. "The Hamster Who Saved Christmas". This project began in 2013, but ended in 2014.  This year, I made a present of it to my wife by having it framed as a holiday decoration.

9. "Commission: Harp!".  A massive boardgame playmat, this was the largest printed file I had ever made.  It forced me to learn new Photoshop techniques for .PSB files, which are for images larger than poster-size. 

10. "JSVB Post #1,000".  It was a milestone, and fun to do the animation.

2015 promises some big opportunities for all of us. Ars Gratia Artis ("Art For Art's Sake") is a terrific sentiment, which was why MGM Studios adopted it as their company slogan (It's also the shield motto of Delta House Fraternity in the movie "Animal House"!).  However, only big studios can get away with that kind of blarney these days.  Small-time artists like myself depend on your kind word of mouth and better still, your paid commissions and funding of my work.  

Keep care, loyal JSVB readers!  Remember that you can order much of this art for purchase.   It makes great gifts for you and your friends!