August 29, 2008

157: Memories Take Flight

I've been into birdwatching from the get-go almost, but my early zenith came during the ages of nine to 12 when I feverishly scoured the bushes and skies with binoculars and Audobon's Field Guide to North American Birds (Eastern Region). Naturally this passion took a backseat to high school – you know, girls and such – but it rose again in my 20s once the risk of appearing uncool stopped mattering. And today I am a fully fledged bird nerd.

But my memories of those early days persist. Every summer Saturday was spent with the family at Patricia Beach – hotspot for birders but nowadays also for naturists, an awkward mix of skin and binoculars – and some of my most prized bird firsts were here (ruddy turnstone, western grebe, American bittern). My mom took me to Oak Hammock Marsh for my tenth birthday to birdwatch; I now work there. Out during lunch hours I've spotted a white-faced ibis, a red knot and a cinnamon teal. Once – right from my desk, swear to Jebus – I watched a golden eagle snack on a dead rabbit.

This illustration is concocted from memories of my early birdwatching days, wanting so badly to see certain species that, to this day, have not made themselves available to my checklist. Chief among them, the blackburnian warbler is a model of elegance in pattern and colour (my favourite birds all share one trait: a well-thought sense of design). So this is more a tribute than anything – Illustration Friday's current theme of memories will do that to a guy.

Done in pen and watercolour-inspired Photoshop brushes. You can click here for a slightly larger view of the piece.

August 25, 2008

156: Old-Timey Fun-Timey

Just goofing around, experimenting with this 2005 shot of Kerry's niece taken at Batoche National Historic Site north of Saskatoon. The interpretive centre there had a tickle trunk of sorts full of vintage clothes, and Anna – camera-shy on that particular day – was proud to show off.

The edge effect I pilfered from Renee Robinson's (aka the immensely talented Playingwithbrushes) Flickr page. Her photostream is stuffed to the dusty rafters with elegant, delicate portraits and other imagery – the perfect treatment for Photo Friday's current theme of old-fashioned. A closer look at the original photo can be had here.

August 21, 2008

155: X(OXO)

It's been awhile, but I'll admit that part of my self-imposed hiatus was a ruse. I needed a healthy chunk of time to create this poster, which I pieced together over the last couple of weeks in July in order to provide enough time for float-mounting in advance of our ten-year (non-marital) anniversary.

This poster was constructed as a companion piece to a similar one I made in the summer of 2003 for our fifth anniversary (and that poster was modeled after Charles S. Anderson's amazing Seinfeld tribute jobbie for Entertainment Weekly). The initial poster was built around a New York Times Sunday crossword, filling in squares with bits of photos, scans and memorabilia saved over the years. It was always my intent to make a second one, similarly built with a Scrabble board as base.

The board itself is a stitched composite of four flatbed scans, then a layer-happy Photoshop file was made to accommodate the 100-or-so images that fill in the blanks. I made five folders for the years covered and stuffed them with the choicest cuts, so to speak; photos, concert stubs, scans of cards, even maps. From there it was an exercise in patchwork; deciding which images go where, arranging an approximate chronological order of things, tidying up the grid. With my own personal digital camera era in full effect, the selection and scanning process was greatly reduced in comparison to the first poster.

The two posters now share headliner billing at the end of our dining room table. And in the end, we shared a nice little anniversary day.

You can click here and here, respectively, for much closer looks at the old and new poster.