Friday, December 30, 2016

1320 - Kid Next Door Sketch

The year ends, and I've neglected my sketchbook.  Bad Jeff!  Searching for something to document, I recall an event that happened a few days ago.

We were having a small Christmas party at home when the silent night was disturbed by a shrill and very un-Christmaslike war cry.  We looked out the living room window and saw that the neighbour's kid was hacking apart our snowman with a machete.

Some background: we've had enough unseasonable snow for both a white Christmas and a humble, lumpy snowman in our front yard.  And while the neighbour's kid likely fancied himself to be the Next Great Canadian Ninja, he was bundled up in enough winter togs to make Ralphie's Mom from "A Christmas Story" feel happy.  

It was too dark for the camera so I didn't get a picture, resolving to record the event in my sketchbook instead.  Besides, I think I gave the kid a bit of dignity in my picture.  In real life, he was more like kneeling in front of the pieces and clubbing them with his toy knife while yelling "Hi-yah!" over and again.  

Kids.  I dimly recall being one once a long time ago, and being roughly as destructive.  Still, death by mincing for our innocent snowman?

"Hey, don't you think you're being a little weird?" I called out through the window, adding "even for you" in my thoughts.

"It's okay.  It's just a plastic machete," he says.  How reassuring!

Right now, I can't tell if in twenty years we're going to be telling the press at the crime scene "He was such a quiet child," or if we're going to be voting him in as Prime Minister.  I mean, I wish I thought of chopping up my snowmen when I was a kid.  

Saturday, December 24, 2016

1319 - "50-50 @ 0,0,0"

Fifty-fifty at zero, zero, zero!

Just what does that mean?  The photo I snapped tells all.  First, it's my bother-in-law's birthday today (happy birthday), and he turns an ancient and unprecedented fifty years old.  Second, it's also the fiftieth anniversary of Star Trek, which premiered on CBS a half century ago.  So, fifty and fifty all in one picture.

The "zero, zero, zero" is geek talk for the spatial co-ordinates of Starfleet Headquarters here on planet Earth, the very center of the Federation Of Planets of the future.  This picture was snapped on the precise spot on Horseshoe Bay in San Francisco where the Federation's central base of operations will stand in the year 2161.  In fact, that garbage can in back marks the exact location where Captain James Kirk accepts his commission from Admiral Nogura to command the USS Enterprise.  I had desired my brother-in-law to climb into the garbage can so that he would be in the correct location, but a friendly yet stern park warden told us not to do that.  I did explain the cultural significance of the spot, and he relented, but the light was fading so I took the best picture I could get at that moment.  Maybe I will Photoshop my brother-in-law into the garbage can later.  

 Since I somehow managed to take the picture of 50-50 @ 0,0,0 without getting the famous Golden Gate Bridge in the shot, here is a picture of me and my wife in a nearby spot.  There's the bridge, too. 

My wife took this photo of me bending one of the support struts for the Golden Gate Bridge.  It's a wonder of the post-modern era that you can just go out and display any superpower you have at hand and publish it on the Internet without any mask or costume, and pretty much nobody will care.  I mean fifty years ago, if I were to demonstrate my ability to bend steel girders with my bare hands, I'd be the lead for every newspaper and media broadcast for a month.  They'd give me a superhero name like "Mr. Stupendous".  I'd have a decent government job protecting the planet from supervillains.  I'd probably have my own headquarters, maybe even at 0,0,0.  

Instead, since movies and television are absolutely glutted with superhero entertainment, people are incredibly jaded when it comes to dealing with folks with exceptional powers.  It's very much a "what have you done for me lately?" mentality.  On the one hand, it's easy to become downhearted since it's so difficult in today's media to gain any recognition.  On the other hand, I don't like crowds so I'm comfortable knowing I will remain anonymous no matter what I do. 

In any case, the formerly stern park warden wasn't at all pleased to see me bending the Golden Gate Bridge, but he was too frightened to stop me.  He was a lot bolder when he returned with full reinforcements from the National Guard, and apologizing the entire time, I used my super strength to repair the damage I had done (not pictured).  

Well, this JSVB Post was supposed to be about my brother-in law so I drifted a little there.  Mea culpa, and Happy Birthday! 


Friday, December 23, 2016

1318 - "Hope"

After going to see the new "Rogue One" Star Wars movie in the theatre, which I enjoyed, I was moved to comment on the dips into the so-called "uncanny valley" effect that occurred within the film when certain characters were de-aged or brought back from the dead through the use of clever computer graphics.  

My intent was to depict Leia delivering her penultimate line and the thematic piece that ties Rogue One into the Star Wars canon, but with the Princess as a puppet with some bored-looking operator moving her lips using his hand.  Or maybe the operator was going to be Yoda, since that would have been nicely metaphysical.  

However, when I was looking up visual references for my artwork I discovered that a few hours ago Carrie Fisher, the actress that portrayed the famous princess, has suffered a major heart attack and is not doing well.  So, I got rid of the satirical elements in today's JSVB Post and just kept the sketch, which I think turned out nicely and is as good a representation of that final scene in Rogue One as I can do by memory.  

Leia, in this picture, is saying the word HOPE.   

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

1317 - Nativity 2 - X

Faces!  Faces make the difference in artwork.  For most of the iterations of my icon, I put off doing the faces since they are fussy and technical.  There's a pretty good reason to do the faces first, though: if you're going to make big mistakes, make them at the beginning where you don't have to undo a large amount of established work.  

The faces start off very pale and mask-like, not at all human.  That's from laying light coloured paint layers on a dark form. Once the first cycle of paint is laid down, the second cycle is brighter and more colourful since light colours are being painted on light colours.  You need the dark form, though, to create shadows.  

Originally, the figures had a fairly realistic flesh tone.  That looked horrible, since it broke the colour palette of the layout.   And which flesh tone is realistic?  Galileans likely would not have the same skin colour as comedian John Cleese, whose skin seems to match the look of most religious images.  There are dark-skinned post-modern icons, but orthodox icons have yellow ochre skin since yellow ochre would have been a common pigment available to the medieval artists.  You work with what you have.  


Tuesday, December 13, 2016

1316 - Oh Frosty My Frosty

- Who Had Enough Of Christmas
& Literally Snapped Off His Base - 

Yes! I brim my goblet with Yuletide wine,
Drink of draughts deep with crimson as twilit rose,
Sweet scents of an intoxicant nose
Bacchus' vine-borne gift of liquid carmine

My season's blear dawn: bleak parchments of snow,
My nights fall Stygian with bitter-fraught cold,
Eventide absorbs bright daylight tenfold
Yet blood-warm wine thaws sinew and core when north winds blow

Frosty is my sobriquet and in mien I be snowman -
As famous as I am, I am yet unglued and my drink
Advanced this longest night's festal collapse I think
Too many bottles have so abridged my proud life span

Now begins my slumber, blanketed by mine lowering element as here I lay
The day after Christmas the city snow removal crews to shovel me away.


I have as much Christmas cheer as the next person, but when confronted with a venerable snowglobe ornament from the 1980's that finally broke (somehow Frosty became unglued and he now flies around his little snow-filled cell like Superman in a Fortress of Solitude that is two sizes too small), I knew I had the material I needed for the final Ungood Art Day of 2016.   I used Photoshop to insert a couple of wine bottles, since drunken Frosty makes for cheap holiday schadenfreude. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

1315 - Nativity 2 - IX

The rocks are as done as they are going to get.  I don't want to over-render them.  I've begun work on the faces of the people, which is getting onto the last phase of writing this icon.  

The underpainting is fiddly and detailed, and I am struggling with it.  The pasty colours make the people look like living X-rays.  I know from experience that the underpainting normally looks awful, so I will have to pour some faith and talent into making the next layers look right.  


Thursday, December 1, 2016

1314 - Nativity 2 - VIII

Now that we are into Advent, Christmas comes ever closer.  So does the prospect of finishing this icon, although the completion date and our celebration of the Nativity will miss each other by at least a couple of weeks I figure.  

I've managed to complete all the rocks in the background including my red and green mountains, which make for a spiffy horizon line.  I'm blocking the foreground colours and since I've got a lot of browns, umbers, and reds, I'm also working on Joseph's cloth.