December 30, 2005

46: Plays Of The Year

Image hosted by
I enjoyed keeping this site together over the past year. I've never held myself to a New Year's resolution before – never bothered setting one – and to look back now and see the stuff I've posted gives me a good feeling. Even though the original aim was to create something new each week, I consider the goal reached. I couldn't have factored in things like vacations, a month of moving preparations and spending the last weeks of the year working on Top Secret Project X (which I'll post next week: promise). I posted some reruns, quickies and remakes, but in the end I now have 43 new pieces of work I didn't have at this point a year ago (click here for a better look of the image above). And seeing how during the previous year, I might have come up with less new work than I have fingers on my two hands, I'm a happy camper.

Because I set for myself two other related goals (one failed miserably, the other a so-so pass), the results aren't all glowing. But put them all together, and I still graduated. So thbbbbpt – and on to next year.

I thought briefly about the status of this site a couple of weeks ago. It held me accountable to my resolution, and now that 2005 is over then mebbe it should be, too. After all, with the amount of time updating and writing all this stuff, technically I could have been putting myself to use in other ways. On the other hand, it kept me off the streets, my brain ticking, and largely away from the television. In the end, I decided to keep Jeopopolis on the air. And for 2006, I will keep trying to come up with a new bit of creativity once a week – and posting it here. Consider it a re-resolution.

I'm also gonna go on the record here with a related resolution, to keep up a sketchbook. Though I did all this stuff in the last year, not a great deal of it was with the aid of honest-to-goodness sketching or doodling. It doesn't have to be complex art, just an effort. More pencils. More direct observation. That sorta thing.

Thirdly, a totally unrelated third resolution: this year I am going to ride 2,080 kilometres on my bike before next winter. I have an odometer, and as a stats junkie I like to keep track of the distance it rings up (2,080 will bring it to an even 5,000 since I attached it). Last year, almost solely on commutes, I rode 1,100 kilometres. In 2004 – which was extremely crappy in these parts – I rode 1,200 kilometres, largely bolstered by a quickie spring biking vacation in Jasper. So this summer, I want to use my bike more as a means of exercise/stress-relief on top of regular commuting. It can easily be done. I just have to be all Nike about it and do it.

I want to thank the people who took time to come and visit this site. I never imagined back in January that it would receive as much attention as it has. So, if and when you read this, consider yourself thanked. The comments and support are greatly appreciated. And if you have a favourite image from all the posts in 2005, drop me a comment or an email (j_wolfe at ducks dot ca) and I'll gladly send you an electronic hi-res copy.

All the best in 2006.

December 29, 2005

Sprucing Things Up

Image hosted by
This is our first very own Christmas tree. There are many more like it, but this one is ours. And it's not really a spruce, but a balsam fir we picked up at StupidStore (Canuck shop-o-plex SuperStore, for the American reading masses) for twenty bucks last week. It thawed in our basement overnight, and the next day I sawed a slice off the trunk and fit it into our oversized tree stand. We borrowed leftover ornaments from Kerry's parents. We used a string of white lights, some covered with plastic lizards (above right) from an old strand of lights from Kerry's childhood bedroom, and popped a puffin hand puppet on top as our angel. It's adorable, and I'll never forget it. Size-wise, it pales in comparison to the long-needled monster trees my mom got when I was growing up (mebbe I was just smaller?). They were beautiful in their own right, but a sense of dread always came with them because it was my job to pick up the thousands of dropped needles. Mom wouldn't let me use the vacuum. She said the needles would clog the hose. And I defy that logic to this day.

The two moments I was most excited about when we bought our house was handing out candy to kids at Halloween and putting up a Christmas tree. I feel this year has been that much sweeter having these two moments now tucked in it.

Side note: I'm in the process of making changes to this site (as you can see). I've switched to a new background template to wrap up my first year of blogging, to better enable myself to be able to customize it further in the future. So please bear with me as I feel my way through a dimwitted spell of tinkering with web design (web design lite, really) – and if anything appears funny then by all means let me know, especially those using PCs. I already know it will wreak minor havoc on archived posts, because I've altered the width of the main content column so I can post slightly larger images. But still, lemme know.

December 23, 2005

45: The Hardest Button To Button

Image hosted by
Image hosted by
Recently, the local chapter of the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada (GDC) held a button swap – where interested members could create a design for a one-inch button. The entries were then gathered, printed, and shipped back with each submitter receiving a copy of each contributor's button – and, as it turned out, a whole whackload of their own (which I gave away at a dizzying pace earlier today). Kind of a neat concept, but the turnout was way less than expected, most likely because of Christmas and being broke and such. Hopefully the GDC does another run later on when people aren't so distracted. My button was probably the quickest to make; I took a photo of Kerry's belly button and basically sent it in as is, with this message (right) that wound up getting clipped. Ah well... having the collection is kind of cool, anyway.

December 19, 2005

44: Imagine-ation

Image hosted by
The second-last Illustration Friday theme of the year is appropriately enough, imagine – and as such, nearly every thing imaginable qualifies, like these two chaps imagined from the depths of my brain. They say opposites attract, but more often than not opposites also repel – and these two obviously are not taking the season's good cheer to heart. This was a quick sketch of one bird done in pencil. After scanning, I duplicated the bird, flip-flopped it and then brought the two beak-to-beak. The fill is just some Photoshop goofiness, also inverted for the duplicate bird. Click here for a closer look.

Before the year draws to a close and everybody toddles off to their own corner of the world, I'd like to take this opportunity to wish one and all a fabulous, merry, happy Christmas. Enjoy what time you have off, and take the time to chill and appreciate the good things that are happening all around. Personally, my family is scattering itself across the country – across the New World, actually – to gatherings in Newfoundland, Ontario, Saskatchewan and even Nicaragua (my mom, bless her, avoiding all things freezing and exploring Central America until May). Kerry's amazing family unit is taking me under its wings again, keeping things nice and Christmassy – and for that I am extremely grateful.

And to the wonderfully supportive online clans of visitors from both Illustration Friday and the Howieverse, have a safe and smooth set of holidays. Wherever you may be, and whoever you're with, enjoy.

Bonus: below is a Christmas e-greeting of my company's art department I made for us to send out to all sorts. The top-secret photo shoot was done a couple of weeks ago. That's me in the top right of the group, but all the guys have wigs so don't nobody go thinkin' this is how I present myself every day. Tinting, saturation, type-work (the font is Adobe's Bauhaus) and two out of three moustaches are the result of some added Photoshop magic.

Merry Christmas!

Image hosted by

December 12, 2005

43: Blow'd Up Real Good

Image hosted by
It's Christmas-time, so I hope this little piece of imagery doesn't come off as too macabre. But really, go and peruse the lengthy list of Illustration Friday submissions for the word surprise – then come back here and ask yourself, is there really anything more surprising in life than sitting on a bench, reading a book … and then spontaneously combusting?

Image hosted by
Just this weekend I completed Top Secret Project X and decided I'd let my hair down with this bit of fun. Actually, first I was going to revisit a doodle I made over a decade ago while working at Broadway Pharmacy in downtown Winnipeg. That place was absolutely full of surprises; they'd come through the door daily, destitute, delirious, drunk and (once or twice) dripping in blood. My friend Allan Lorde and I worked there for a number of years as teenagers (and then some), and we'd doodle the dates in the daily prescription copy ledgers the place kept. Sometimes they'd get pretty twisted, but so long as they included a date, nobody seemed to mind. I drew this one (above left; the poster reads death wields a mallet) – on August 12, 1994 – and thought it could use a proper update job as my submission for I-Friday's 'surprise'. But then I figured I'd just include it here along with coming up with something original for the first time in awhile.

Image hosted by
So here it is: a guy sitting on a bench, loosely modeled after myself (right). Reading a book (that's Roddy Doyle's Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha, my favourite). Waiting for the bus. And then: foom!

I used pencil for the loose sketch based from the photo, and then drew the final lines with my precious Pigma Microns. I only sketched it once, and duplicated it five times in Photoshop to get this final result – obviously with some minor amendments to the final bit of the sequence.

Be sure to click here for a better look than I can offer here on the homepage.

December 03, 2005

42: Mama Said Knock You Out

Image hosted by
Not that this week's Illustration Friday theme (
blue) particularly speaks to me, but for some odd reason I find angry people a heckuvalot easier drawing subject than happy people – probably because it's just that much more conducive to line-work. So, the word 'blue' gave me the chance to show off this cranky woman I just finished today. The inspiration came mostly straight outta my head, with a few exceptions; the idea of giving her fat, inflated fists came from a fridge-magnet illustration I made a few years ago – and the white fringe around her figure is created from Photoshop brushes once again complements of Philadelphia designer Keith Bowman (these brushes were also deployed for my Illustration Friday envy submission in the summer).

The initial illustration handiwork was done in pencil and a few different pens (line-work through her hair, collar and pants was helped out with a ruler, too). It was then over to Photoshop to insert the background and fist fills, as well as the bits of text. Clicky here for a closer look, but watch out for them fists.