May 28, 2009

I Am A Real American

This past weekend I went in search of an early summer, and landed in Philadelphia where there was much of it to be had.

A whole lotta planning and expecting and general patience culminated in an awesome American long weekend in which I played the role of international visitor, dropping in on friends that I otherwise do not get to see very much (or at all; some I was meeting for the first time). Nice Melissa and husband Rob played both hosts to myself and friend Devon at their still-sparkling condo across the river in New Jersey, and guides into the city as we finagled an insider’s tour of anti-tourist-traps like a buzzing Saturday morning Italian street market and a darkened museum of medical oddities.

Primarily though, the weekend was spent doing what good friends do, whether they live next door or 2,000 kilometres apart. We ate Geno’s Pat's cheesesteaks before noon, chased by giant slices from Lorenzo’s. We sleevefaced at a thrift shop. Bumbled through Rock Band. Bowled badly. Talked baseball, babies and bosses.

The weekend served partially as a small reunion of holdovers from the 2006 HOW conference in Las Vegas. Alongside Melissa and myself, we hooked up with my Sin City roommate Dave for a tour of the Mütter Museum, and good friend Keith, who mach-fived right on over – complete with badass skills and attitude – in his custom-painted Mustang.

Devon commented on one of my very first posts to Jeopopolis; this was our first time meeting face-to-face. Patti, matriarch of the venerable zines
I’ve taken part in over the years, met me with affection typically afforded to a long-lost pal. Karma, Steph, Nikita, David – all of whom took real estate from a valuable and cherished stateside long weekend – joined us for a Saturday evening roof-raiser. I departed for one day and night to Keith’s place where we yelled at an asteroid-strikes-Kansas-City TV disaster movie, witnessed the gut of America at the Quakertown market and laid down ink and made prints with wife Jenn on a muggy, stormy night.

Good people and good-timery always makes it hard for one to come home. At least there is now a semblance of summer at home though, to help the rest of me catch up to my sunburned neck.

May 16, 2009

191: True To My Word, Part Two

I've reached the Ides of May, and have managed to stick to my sketching guns: fifteen drawings in fifteen days. For the most part, I've been able to wake up on any given day and have a pretty good handle on what I might attempt to do for an assignment. Most times I've scoured my photography vault for inspiration. On occasion I've gone through a bird book,
Applied Arts or Communication Arts illustration annual for inspiration or a technique to try. A couple came straight from my head; none, to date, have been from direct observation.

This one was an exception to the above. I'd cracked open my watercolours to try a paint/pen combo piece, and had a paper scrap beside for mixing and brush-wiping. When I was done, I looked at this garble and – like puffy clouds in the sky – began to see shapes. I nabbed my chisel-tip pen and, in the space of two minutes tops, fleshed out this bug. Later I scanned it and cleaned up surrounding blobs (and within the eyeball) so it could stand solo. All told, mebbe 10-15 minutes.

May 12, 2009

190: The Beach Is Back

Top row
(left to right): Kerry pinches the sun; the pincher herself in fading light; curls of beach grass. Middle row (left to right): um, more curls of beach grass; the sun reflected in a rare patch of open water; ice floe. Bottom row (left to right): I kick butt at skipping stones; debut of willow buds.


In one of those why-didn't-we-think-of-this-before moments, Kerry and I headed for the beach after a particularly hard day at work on Monday. She came from the city, picked me up and we drove to Grand Beach for a between-the-dunes dinner of chicken sandwiches, veggies-and-dip, cookies and local brews. The beach is a signature Manitoba place-to-be during the heights of summer – a destination for thousands upon thousands on a good hot Saturday – but a warm spring Monday along a still entirely-frozen Lake Winnipeg is not quite the draw. And that's just the way we like it.

May 08, 2009

189: True To My Word, Part One

It's been eight May days, and I have drawn eight times – tonight, aided by three glasses of red wine, I drew a red squirrel from a photo taken during our 2007 road trip around the Great Lakes. And wine goggles be damned, it's not that bad. But just to prove I've been hard at it, here's a sampling: my May 2 submission, a brown- and black-ink brush pen sketch of Pepper the saw-whet owl, drawn on some graph paper. This took about 20 minutes.

I've been making good use of the brush pens. The black one in particular is beginning to die, and the increasing dryness of it is providing a nice effect.

May 03, 2009

May Day Sympathy

Kerry is once again hard at work on The May Day Poetry Project, a blog-based collective of writing that happens on the fifth month of every year. Contributors try their darnedest here to create a piece once a day during this month – last year only Kerry pulled the feat off – but this time around I am taking a stab at the role of May Day sympathizer, and attempting to draw something once a day as well, through to the 31st. Not only will this loosen me and my plodding perfectionist style up, but hopefully also help build a half-decent stockpile of material to revisit and polish over the summer months.

What this means however, in terms of my own bloggery, is an unknown. Some pieces will make it here fairly soon after completion, while others may pop up weeks from now. Some will be decent, some will be quick, while others will quite possibly be crap. That all depends on my daily schedule: May, for me, will see a hectic work schedule, an issue of GDC Manitoba's e-news, the essential Canuck long weekend and a five-day trek to Philadelphia. In short, I'll be in and out.

The good news? I'm two for two so far. Only 29 to go.