November 26, 2009

Jeopopolis Celebrates Five Years: A Blog Giveaway And Momentous Opportunity To Kick My Butt

It was five years ago today, that I sat and sat and stared at the biggest personal creative doldrums I've ever faced. I punched the clock at work. I sat on the couch and watched
Battlebots. I had a tiny point-and-shoot camera I rarely stocked with film. I had for all intents and purposes forgotten how to draw, not having done it for a years. The phrase "use it or lose it" comes readily to mind, and it had become entirely applicable to me.

So since the end of December 2004 I've devoted myself to 218 pseudo-weekly artistic endeavours, and by fits and starts have rediscovered a creative spark I had previously allowed to fizzle through a rut of daily routine.

But that is not to say I'm cured. Perhaps far from it. Each time I sketch it's a struggle. The Rebel I received a year into my blogging life for my 30th birthday sometimes sits for days and days. I still need kicks in the butt. All. The. Time.

But now and then I enjoy scrolling the oodles and wadges of output and see what I've made. Or read what visitors have written in response. And even though the responses have dropped muchly over the past year, what I'd like to do – to honour my great big fat five years of doing things – is offer up a dose of gratitude to those who have stopped by, to those who still belly up to the comments bar, and to all those who silently look but don't touch. I thank you all so, so much for what you've contributed to this site.

In the form of the ever-popular blog giveaway, I invite all poppers-in and stoppers-by to drop a comment. All you need do is – in the form of the written word – kick my butt to keep me going. Be creative; phrase it however you want. A randomly-drawn winner will then receive a 6X8(ish, depending on dimensions) plaque-mounted print of their choice from this pre-determined selection of the 50 all-time most popular Jeopopolis entries (as deemed by favourited status on my Flickr site). And if the comments overwhelm me, I'll make a second print available for grabs.

Remember to leave me a means of contacting you with your comment. An email address (or if you know I know how to reach you, just say so).

December 31, 2009, at the stroke of midnight – that's the deadline, and when the bell officially tolls five years for Jeopopolis. You've got plenty of time, so think hard about how you're going to kick my butt. And I thank you, in advance, for doing so.

November 21, 2009

Big Pancake

I've never been much of an activist. But when Big Pancake came to me with their sights set square on this humble photo of Kerry's family-recipe miniature pancakes
* – I saw it as a call to arms.

I talked here once about people trolling Flickr for free imagery in exchange for exposure and a photo credit. To Big Pancake's credit, it was not how they approached me earlier in the fall (to be honest, they didn't approach me at all; rather, it was an agency out of the U.S.). The ask was up-front and professional in nature – stating their interest, the end use and asking straight-up what it would cost.

Through some research and negotiation – and with the cook's permission (hesitant, but she did appreciate their tag line: pancake lovers unite) – I ultimately caved in to Big Pancake, and accepted their big pancakey cheque in the mail last week. You can now find an agency-modified version of the photo serving as the current background image for Bisquick's online kingdom (the best view can be had at the very bottom of the page). And I can safely say this is the strangest thing to have happened to me in a long time.

* I would like to stress that no Bisquick was involved in the making of the above miniature pancakes.

November 15, 2009

218: The Brown Owl

This owl I drew in the spring as part of my May sketching spell, but I spent some time tinkering this past week to add colour and texture (and also performing bits of digital surgery, moving the bird's right foot inwards and adjusting a previously-awkward right wing). The original sketch was drawn entirely with a black brush pen. All told, done for hoots and giggles, nothing more.

The verse comes from the poem The Great Brown Owl, by Jane Euphemia Browne.

November 14, 2009

Photo Of The Day

I willingly submit my more oddball photos to the CBC Radio 3 Flickr group, which allows the folks at Radio 3 to use them freely for their online ventures. The way I figure, for the amount of new music they've exposed me to over the years I view this as one way of saying thanks. Last week CBC Radio 3 used a photo of mine for the fourth time – this one as part of a blog posting of random recommended website links.

The image, of my friend Jason on our annual spring nocturnal owl survey in 2007, is a 30-second long-exposure at a frozen Shoe Lake in Nopiming Provincial Park. Over the course of the half-minute, I had Jason stand still with a flashlight for eight seconds in three side-by-side locations in the snow, having him turn it towards his face for a couple seconds before quickly jumping to the next position. A nice, Photoshop-free goofaround session just after sunset before we hit the road for the night-time survey.

November 01, 2009

217: The Skinny

Illustration Friday's brand-new theme of skinny allows me a chance to show off a brand-new freelance illustration endeavour. It also sends me spouting off about blogs' inabilities to showcase or scroll long and skinny horizontal pieces (like comic strip panels and stitched panoramic photos, which I love to build). But on this matter I digress.

Recently I was afforded the opportunity to craft a unique illustration to support a one-pager article in a new magazine being published by Canada's National History Society (makers of The Beaver, a time-honoured Canuck literary tradition). The magazine, Teaching Canada's History, unveiled last week, is being distributed to educators and will also be available at newsstands.

I, of course, delayed any decision to show the piece until following the launch. But as a freelance assignment it was a fun challenge and a chance to work with tall and skinny pre-set dimensions that I’ve taken advantage of with previous Illustration Friday themes like this, and this.

The article called for a support piece that dealt with themes of history and technology, and connections between the two. Wide open skies for an illustrator, and among presented rough concepts to the client is what you see here, with the connection being shown quite literally (in the blue corner, representing technology, the cur-sorrrrr!... and in the red corner...). Also called upon for divine inspiration were Michelangelo’s doodles in the Sistine Chapel.

The hand, based on the hand of Adam, was drawn using soft pencil and charcoals; the cursor icon was created originally with pens and a ruler, then coloured and tidied up digitally. Amalgamation, background texture elements and distressing were all finalized in Photoshop. The final piece measures roughly 3" by 8" – and I do enjoy drawing skinny, so thanks, Canada’s National History Society! And thanks, Illustration Friday!