January 28, 2008

136: Is A Bear Catholic?


I'm foregoing the task of just meeting Illustration Friday's weekly challenge and tripling the effort to include merits that meet the Sugar Frosted Goodness current theme of hats, IF's own theme of tales and legends ... and a hilarious Flickr drawing group dedicated to – of all things – bears in ill-fitting hats. This troika developed into what you see here, and while the sketch's suitability for Flickr and SFG is clear, for Illustration Friday it's perhaps less so. But there is a certain leniancy to IF's theme this week that allows for some interpretation, so read on.

So how does a grizzly bear come across a papal hat? The answer to that might not be black-and-white, but this concept is loosely based on a legend widely used in the realm of sarcasm – that of the Pope s**tting in the woods. The Urban Dictionary defines "does the Pope s**t in the woods?" as follows: a sarcastic answer to a question with an obvious answer of "yes", or "duh", taken as a combination of the similarly-intended "does a bear s**t in the woods?" and "is the Pope Catholic?" – also phrased in the form of "is a bear Catholic?"

As such, my grizzly bear is clearly Catholic.

This bear was based from a photograph searched for on Flickr, a great source of reference material (the hat itself I found in Google image search). Most of this piece was sketched with my thinnest pen, a Pigma Micron 005, using thicker nibs to hash out any edges. Selective colouring was intentional here; I was aiming for a piece much more sketchy than normal, and didn’t want the use of colour to overpower the time I spent with my sketchbook and pens (click here for a larger view of the sketch-work).

January 21, 2008

135: Jeope, Plain & Cold

Disclaimer! Before you read any further, I must stress that you click here for a larger view of the full image.

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Illustration Friday's theme of plain can be taken a number of ways. I selected the word as a noun, as in, where I live, I am surrounded by the boring, flat, boring and flat plain. You will not find a flatter patch of land in the country than what you see in southeastern Manitoba. For the love of prunecake, even Saskatchewan – for all the ribbing it takes – is hillier, more roly-poly than my home turf.

It is worse in the winter – all this flatness means there's no place to hide when the elements take over. And that's where my illustration comes in, pulling double duty (which I will explain in a moment). For Illustration Friday, this poor chap on the prairies represents the standard Manitoban in winter: despondent, bundled to the nines, shielding his eyes from the glare like a polar explorer, watching o'er the expanse of plain.

And for the Sugar Frosted Goodness! Blank Book Project, a traveling sketchbook a third of the way through its global adventure, this sketch represents my entry. Themed Where I Live, the SFG!BBP showed up in Winnipeg by means of Montréal and the eastern seaboard to myself and fellow SFG! contributor Allan Lorde (who graciously allowed me some page space after I wasn't able to land a spot in the book's 50-member initial sign-up).

Left: Kerry strikes the pose that would help me flesh out the drawing (actually photographed indoors). Right: I pose with the amazing SFG! Blank Book, nestled in its wooden carrying case.

January 16, 2008

134: A Stitch, In Time

I've been in a creative malaise, coming off the holiday season ­ – I make no
bones about it. When I get this way, I see my sketchbook tucked in my backpack and fear it. I fear starting a drawing, even though I know that, quite possibly, even a few minutes into a concept I will be knee-deep in the idea, thinking of the execution and rushing myself toward a conclusion.

Even this week's Illustration Friday theme ­ – stitch – ­ I let slip by until Kerry offered a suggestion of a "creative night", where I would draw (or photograph) and she would work on her writing.

The concept of 'stitch' made me first think of a fantastical species of bird
comprised of parts from all my personal favourites: a nuthatch, a saw-whet owl, a snipe or ruddy turnstone perhaps. But recognition of these ­ – and most ­ species – is largely through the head, or by seeing the bird as a whole. Most of these would not make much sense otherwise, visually. But there is a bird that exists (though I haven't seen one, living as far north as I do) that appears naturally stitched together: the painted bunting. Built from red, green and blue, as if invented by a six-year-old wielding a basic pack of Crayolas, the painted bunting was an easy specimen to craft and contort into a submission for Illustration Friday's theme.

The illustration, using a field guide as reference, was created with Pigma Micron pens (of all manner of thicknesses). Scanned, tweaked and coloured in Photoshop, the piece was eventually layered overtop a texture photo of the bottom of a cardboard box. To view a better look at the detail, click here.

January 10, 2008

Twenty Ought Seven

I've been a little slack in wrapping up the year on Jeopopolis – something to do with a certain marriage to a certain somebody – but now, above, is my third year-end collection of self-directed projects that, as I've mentioned previously, would never have been possible without sitting down and telling myself in the first place to get off my duff and create more. I forget sometimes about the beginnings of this place, created from the murkiness of a deep creative funk I had worked myself into a few years ago.

But over the course of 2007 I also found myself taking mild to heavy advantage of this blog's original goal (that to create something – anything – once a week). You may not have sensed it, but I have, quietly. Sometimes, life creeps in and steals away time that would previously have been spent with my efforts here. That's to be expected. But I need to steel myself and do even more, especially in the sketchbook. I do draw more than before this blog existed, however, the end product of all my drawing made it here to be posted. And, if you look at the grid above, there's perhaps a dozen illustrations or less – my entire drawing output for the year. So, while I don't necessarily set goals for myself often, one will be to sketch more. Not illustrate, but sketch.

There. I said it. Kinda cathartic, really. Now I need my butt kicked (Kerry said she'd do it, right in her wedding vows – no foolin'). Feel free to e-kick it, whenever I go a ways and don't show any sketches.

Click here, for access to a better look at the montage.

January 05, 2008

Cleaning Up Nice

There is definitely something both so intensely personal and public about marriage – for us, a heavy lean toward the former, despite the above image – that I will spare most details here. Married in front of the bay window on New Years Eve in the living room of our house – the Christmas tree cast to the front yard for outdoor welcoming duties – Kerry and I succeeded in forging an event as private, meaningful and in-the-family as possible (her father's application for wedding commissioner status chief among the feats that made this a reality). Our families braved the holiday travel season; snowstorms, winter highways, Ontario airports and all. I eked and managed handwritten vows etched in my pocket sketchbook; Kerry's, in turn, were appropriately of published-author caliber. A lemon-poppyseed cake from the neighbourhood bakery satisfied. Champagne popped and flowed, post-ceremony and again at the stroke of midnight. My first suit-and-tie had Kerry commenting often that I cleaned up nice. Friends braved the elements and our creaking 1912 house supported them all.

I twist the ring around on my finger from time to time – out of astonishment, not discomfort. I suspect in time it will blend, become another body part. But for now I can smile, feeling it under my deep-winter mittens against the pressure of a shovel or hockey stick.

We had no hired-gun event photographer, and images will turn up at our door over the days and weeks to come. But cameras were everywhere, and the best shots will appear on my Flickr account as they arrive.

Top row (left to right): Duncan welcomes me to the clan; my new family – moreso. Middle row (left to right): the moment after; and the moment after that. Bottom row (left to right): Kerry and Christen; and with my family.