January 20, 2009

174: A Nasty Case Of The Smurfs

I had no ideas for Illustration Friday's theme of pale, and I wasn't set on doing much of anything in the next little while as I prep my spare time to do some work for the local chapter of the GDC.

But I was putting away clothes and caught a glimpse of the Smurfs All Star Show LP I won in the fall during a quiz game at Cinemath̬que's second cereal-and-cartoons marathon. I pictured a portrait of a smurf matched with its closest-matching Pantone swatch Р"Smurf blue" as it were Рand also paler varieties with their own companion swatches. Kind of neat, if not a bit gimmicky.

I tried instead to make my own take on a sickly-looking smurf (a caricature of a cartoon, harder than it sounds), using "pale" in terms of illness. The absolute palest, sickliest, smurfliest smurf-smurfing smurf I could come up with – in a fairly short time span.

Currently my Smurf remains nameless, so if you have a suggestion now's the time to pipe up.

January 12, 2009

173: On Recognising Contained Rage In A Chipmunk

Probably one of the more premier examples of first drawing something, then working backwards to fit Illustration Friday's theme-of-the-week (contained) – though not entirely the case to begin with. My initial idea was to sketch a run-of-the-mill bunny rabbit, duplicate it and place a squiggly spiral (see above) over one to illustrate the difference between a content rabbit and one displaying contained rage. But then I opted for a chipmunk. And then, it veered in this slightly different direction.

Drawn with a .005 Pigma Micron pen (using a field guide for reference), then layered in Photoshop with paper texture, text additions from Illustrator and scanned/clipped book copy. Click here for a much better look at the detail (recommended!).

January 11, 2009


One of my favourite websites since the dawn of all creation is the venerable Drawn! The Illustration and Cartooning Blog. I've discovered so much here – case in point this quick and unassuming post by site contributor John Martz on talented Australian illustrator Mel Stringer, complete with the addendum that she was accepting cold-call portraiture commissions for a special – and very reasonable – January sale price. So I jumped. I submitted a handful of photos, a few notes – and this morning my beautiful mug was returned to me (above), based largely on this supplied photo (compare for yourself), taken earlier this winter at Beaudry Park.

I'm so jazzed. And so next up is one for Kerry, who is now a convert.

Click here to view Mel's portrait gallery, and here to view my portrait in more detail.

January 10, 2009

172: The Littlest Birds

2008 marked the fourth time I participated in the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada (GDC) Manitoba chapter's annual pre-Christmas button swap. Previously I crafted buttonized versions of Kerry's belly button (2005), Rocket Robin Hood (2006), my own avatar (2007), the building-block brand of our New Year's Eve wedding (2007) – and now this year, the little bird that graced the cover of Kerry's first published book of poetry, The Sleeping Life. Blame it on the weather, the economy or what-have-you, but the '08 crop of buttons was a touch smaller than usual – though the submissions were no less stellar.

Drop me a line here if you have eyes for these fellas; there's still quite a few left (less so of previous years' buttons, but lemme know if you're into them as well and perhaps I can comply). Or we can swap. Novel idea that, actually – swap buttons from a button swap.

January 06, 2009

171: Dark Meat White Meat

For Photo Friday's current theme of disorder, I sat down and took a close inspection of one of my favourite Christmas gifts this year – this small, but heavy, scrap-metal bird sculpture. I absolutely love the seemingly chaotic and carefree manner in which it was constructed, knowing full well that quite the opposite was the case. There's bumps, drops and general disorder everywhere I look on this fellow, yet it exists as a cohesive and well-designed piece of art.

Both portraits used the 100mm macro lens. The portrait on the left was taken with the bird atop a faux-leather portfolio case, with our dimly-lit foyer in the background (but a touch of light on our red IKEA cabinet). For the portrait on the right, the bird was perched atop a stack of jewel cases and positioned to peer downward at the camera, and a window, receiving full afternoon sunlight, blanched the background out. Higher quality versions of the respective portraits can be had here, and here.

January 02, 2009

Ought Eight In Music

If anything happened for me in '08, it was increased exposure to more music. As I've mentioned in the past, I'm no
connoisseur ... yet. But I make up for it, and more, by being extremely finnicky. And that's where I become at odds with other music lovers, in that I'm rarely happy enough with albums from start to finish to warrant nabbing them whole, and instead have fast become a fan of – gasp – the single. I often find myself rummaging through iTunes these days like a scavenger, picking off sensational songs here and there after sampling albums that say much less to me. Not to say it doesn't happen for me though; I broke a personal record this year for buying albums in a year I'm hearing critics and experts dub less than stellar. I've also noticed a trend in my buying habits in that albums I do get tend to drift towards material I'll listen to together with Kerry, while singles and part-albums I amass veer more for just myself.

Here's my top 10 albums and singles from 2008. Some may be late-2007 crossovers, and the singles list does not include songs from the albums list.

Asking for Flowers – Kathleen Edwards
Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes
Consolers of the Lonely – The Raconteurs
New Seasons – The Sadies

Narrow Stairs – Death Cab For Cutie
Mountain Meadows – Elliott Brood
Gossip in the Grain – Ray LaMontagne
Oh My Darling – Basia Bulat
The Hold Up – Donovan Woods

"The Rip" – Portishead, Third
"Halfway Home" – TV On The Radio, Dear Science
"Help I'm Alive" – Metric (single)
"Lights Out" – Santogold, Santogold
"In the End It's Your Friends" – Shout Out Out Out Out (single)
"Bitches in Tokyo" – Stars, In Our Bedroom After the War
"Time to Pretend" – MGMT, Oracular Spectacular
"Time Machine" – Sweatshop Union, Water Street
"Body of Years" – Mother Mother, Oh My Heart
"Believe In Me" – Sloan, Parallel Play