April 27, 2009

188: A Tale Of Theatrics

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There's a long-ish story behind this fellow; and, to be entirely honest, his story began well in advance of this week's Illustration Friday theme of
theater. But along the way he struck and overcame obstacles, had a near-death experience and then, earned a shot at redemption. What started as an honest attempt at drawing something – anything, really – without using my fine-nib Pigma Microns, was shunted to the wayside following a misguided stab at adding charcoal to the mix of ├╝bersoft pencil shading.

I wrecked it. I was mad. I almost tossed it in a theatrical fit of frustration.

Instead I let the drawing sit for days before eventually deciding to scan it anyways and use it for an attempt at some loose-and-dirty Photoshop colouring. Truthfully I didn't know where it was going to go. I tinkered with various ideas before Illustration Friday came along with its curious theme and I set to work honing this final piece. All told, from start to finish, it simmered for almost three weeks. The final illustration is concocted from a few different soft-lead pencils, charcoal, Photoshop colour layers and washes, an overlay of wood grain and a few other miscellaneous photographic offerings. You can garner a more detailed look right here, in my Flickr stream.

April 26, 2009

Cross-Country Checkup

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Participants of the 2009 GDC Annual General Meeting (photo courtesy of Adrian)

I spent the larger part of this weekend – plus Friday, plus Thursday evening – partaking in the annual rite of spring that is the
(deep breath) Annual General Meeting of the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada (GDC). I lost out on the 2008 event in Saskatoon, but with the hometown setting there was no missing it this time around. The event took place at the historic – and notoriously haunted – Hotel Fort Garry; no ghosts were on hand at the proceedings however, just some 40-or-so attendees (give or take) and some 39-or-so MacBooks (I was the holdout, it often seemed, opting for a pen-and-Moleskine tandem). I represented as the host chapter's communications chair, a role I've been filling since 2007.

From a personal standpoint, this was a learning experience for me. My work has paid GDC membership dues for years, and only since I joined the local chapter executive did I begin to reconnect with the industry profession I'd chosen, following years practicing in the Manitoba hinterlands (sorta). So the AGM was the next step in branching out, meeting reps from other regional and provincial chapters, the national team, and all the big heads that make this volunteer organization run. Should I be so fortunate to again attend a national AGM – perhaps next year, on the road someplace – I'll have this weekend tucked in my pocket and a stronger taste for bigger-picture thinking and doing.

I wanted to add, one could not meet a nicer, smarter, keener and more dedicated crew of designers and related sympathizers. Even though I was an AGM rookie – on my home soil no less – I was feeling comfortable and included within minutes. Each person in attendance was there on their own clock, away from the comforts of home and the demands of their businesses to partake in the bettering of our profession and its direction in this country. Good on yeh, GDC.

Click here for visual evidence of all the goings-down.

April 13, 2009

187: The Owling, Part VII

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Top row (left to right): Jenn, the rookie; Jason, the captain; Kerry, by evening light. Middle row (left to right): Kerry stands tall at the Pinawa Dam; Tulabi Falls (and Lake, still frozen). Bottom row (left to right): Kerry's last photo for the day, I swear; me, chaneling my inner Luke Perry.

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April means it's time for my first real getaway opportunity of the year: the annual spring nocturnal owl survey that my friends and I have taken part in for the past seven years. Our route in Nopiming Provincial Park is not remote by any stretch of the imagination – about two hours north of town – but at this time of year (and day) we may as well be the only people in the
region for miles and eerily quiet miles. This year was no exception.

This spring has been more disagreeable than most, and I half-expected to be very much encased in winter as the changing of the seasons out there typically lags behind the city by a few weeks. But we caught a rare (so far) glorious early spring Saturday and made a bit more of a day out of it than normal, arriving on the scene early in the afternoon to check out some nearby scenic haunts; the old Pinawa Dam and Nopiming Park's Tulabi Falls, a locale I hadn't been to since the mid-90s. Both places were in fine form, a curious mix of snow, ice, muck and torrential meltwater.


Not surprisingly, our survey route itself – a lumpy logging road – was snowed in; we came to realize this fact about a mile or so in. This resulted in the same mile being driven in reverse on a pair of snowy tracks in the dark at walking speed. Getting stuck would mean a night in the car and who knows how many more hours contacting another person or vehicle. Back on dry land though, on our back-up route – despite the late spring conditions – we did hear four owls, alongside some grouse, geese and mysterious chewing noises coming from the dark.

April 05, 2009

186: I Doodled

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A couple of months ago or so, my Alabamanian friend
Mary devised a simple enough scheme to exchange small pieces of art through a small doodle swap. Twenty or so folks joined in, and were divided into a pair of groups who exchanged addresses and were given a send-out deadline in mid-April. And nice for me, since in a few weeks these things will begin randomly dropping in my mailbox – if all goes according to plan – on ten separate occasions.

Some folks, I believe, are theming their cards; me, I went straight to the heart of doodling and created ten individual scribbles with little or no link to one another. Some were ├╝ber-quick, some I spent more than a handful of minutes on. A couple I even tore up and started over (going against everything the doodle stands for). I used a scrap of brilliant orange posterboard, littered with X-acto scratches from its previous life as a cutting surface for old Howiezines. I used two pens – one ultra-thin and a thick calligraphic nib – and a brown-ink brush pen, with bits of pencil, white watercolour paint and blue ball-point thrown in for good measure. I rubber-banded the lot and let them bang around in my backpack a week or so to erode them a touch. And as a bonus, on the backs of the cards I pasted equally-random photographs.

Shown above are four of the total ten. I'm not divulging who they were sent to, nor for the moment offering a closer look until the swap is complete – keep pants on.