March 29, 2012

264: The Leaf Charmer

the leaf charmer
This was fun. This fellow and his leafy prey is about an hour's work all-told; output from last night's meetup with good friends Allan and Chris at Pop Soda's Coffeehouse (and brief after-party at my pad). The three of us had hooked up on a couple of other man-date occasions to talk shop – and decided for "ManDate III: The Reckoning" that there would be instruments of sketch destruction involved. It was some mid-week loosey-goosey catharsis.

As to where the idea came from for the drawing, I have absolutely no frickin' idea.

Check here to see a more detailed look.

March 27, 2012

263: The Music Man

the music man
This illustration – as a sketching exercise – goes way back to those hazy, crazy days of the summer of 2010. I signed up and vowed an online pinky-swear with my American friends Melissa and Amy to try a little exercise in collaboration. Each of us would blast out an hour of sketching with some Pigma Microns, filling roughly one-third of a page, then mail it on to the next participant. Then repeat, and pass it on again. The end goal would be three filled pages, with illustrations shared and completed equally among the three of us. Easy-peasy.

Except that after two rounds of play, life set in and the exercise disappeared into the ether. I can't even remember what happened on my end of the deal, with the third piece, to let it sit on my desk for an eternity and a day. But fast-forward almost two years when, during a cleanup of my drawing space, I came across the incomplete final installment.

And I thought, nuts to this, finished the thing and mailed the finished three-person creation home to Amy in Arizona. I'm also holding fast to the assignment's original rule that no one finished piece be displayed until all three return to their humble place of origin. But in the meantime, here's a rejig of my original drawing that got it all started: a one-hour pen drawing of Canuck gadzoople-threat entertainer C.R. Avery, who I saw at the 2009 Winnipeg Folk Festival – run through the Photoshop-machine.

Click here to nab a more detailed look.

March 20, 2012

262: Drawing The Shades

collect all four!
Kerry and I bought ourselves an introductory class in letterpress and bookbinding techniques at Winnipeg's Martha Street Studio for Christmas. The sessions began later in January, just wrapping up last week. It was an invaluable experience for myself – I've always wanted to plant my butt at Martha Street and get dirty doing something decidedly un-digital. That it was something the two of us could share made it all the more sweet. The place kicks ass.

The basic bookbinding stitch techniques we learned bent my brain into a pretzel – always a sure sign that I'm learning something. I'm now unashamed to admit I had never needle-and-stringed anything before, beyond coasting through one term of a junior high home-ec class on charm and procrastination. Though I didn't exactly master the skill, I can at least be a tiny bit pro about it now and say hey, the stab stitch is my favourite stitch.

I was more enamoured with using the ink, chase, quoins and other old-timey tools of my trade with the presses. Again, all very basic stuff in this class – which was ideal. Scrounging through the studio's trays of type I found a face I liked, and set to work making these flash-cards – for lack of a better word – to underline yet-to-be-created illustrations I'd create to hopefully match. These pieces eventually became a quartet of simple, geometric – and above all, hand-made – cards featuring two-toned songbirds, shaded in brown and black for Illustration Friday's current theme of shades.

No computers were consulted/harmed/touched/even thought about, in the creation of these pieces.


March 18, 2012

261: Summer/Winter

summer/winter IV
I took a road trip today, to see if the countryside had transformed from winter to spring at as rapid a pace as it has the city. This past week has been unprecedented, with the weekend a staggering twenty-one degrees above seasonal average. It's been enjoyable, if not completely oddball – and thus, a little frightening.

summer/winter II
I drove a circuit from the Seven Sisters Falls dam and Whitemouth Falls, up to Pine Falls and back down to Grand Beach where I snapped these photos. I went for a walk in the heat and humidity(!), the still-frozen-solid lake evaporating and shimmering out to the horizon. In these parts Lake Winnipeg usually doesn't crack and melt until the end of April, so I was encouraged by the ice not budging. But the temperatures were throwing other aspects of nature a curve: pussy-willows budding, but flocks of snow buntings still poking around in the sand and slush.

summer/winter III
I like to make an annual pilgrimage to Grand Beach in the spring, trying my best to time it with break-up on the lake. I've never witnessed the place at its crazy flesh-parade peak, opting to visit during spring thaw and autumn – and winter, too, since we discovered the park's network of ski trails. The beach was fantastically empty and nearly winter-free. On my way back I stopped at Patricia Beach, a few kilometres to the south. It was completely socked in, nary a place to scramble without my bare legs sinking to the knees in snow.

summer/winter I
The furnace has been off for three days now; I suppose I should be thankful for that. Windows have been opened, briefly. Bike tires pumped. The lawn raked of spring detritus. It's been a strange and incredible weekend. I was skiing a week ago. Now I'm not sure what to fear more: a slap-in-the-face return to the season we should be experiencing, or the possibility of this freakshow as the new norm.

This site never does justice to such horizontally-skewed photos. Click on the images directly to view them in greater detail.

March 14, 2012

Bachelor Exercise No. 1

Bachelor exercise number one: a list, of the songs in our iTunes library that I'm pretty confident I could sing all the words to, if someone were to put a gun to my head and instruct me to (in alphabetical order, by performer):
  • Take On Me, A-ha (see above)
  • Already Yours, Bahamas
  • A Day In The Life, The Beatles
  • Because, The Beatles
  • I've Just Seen A Face, The Beatles
  • Maxwell's Silver Hammer, The Beatles
  • Norwegian Wood, The Beatles
  • Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, The Beatles
  • Rocky Raccoon, The Beatles
  • Taxman, The Beatles
  • Stand By Me, Ben E. King
  • Oh Alberta, Elliott Brood
  • I'm Popeye The Sailor Man, Face To Face
  • Business Time, Flight Of The Conchords
  • My Daddy Was A Rock N' Roller, Jason Collett
  • Back Dirt Road, Oh Susanna
  • That Was Your Mother, Paul Simon
  • Jeremy, Pearl Jam
  • Big Time, Peter Gabriel
  • Even Better Than The Real Thing, U2
  • With Or Without You, U2
  • Our Retired Explorer, The Weakerthans
  • One Great City!, The Weakerthans
  • Virtute The Cat Explains Her Departure, The Weakerthans
  • The Hardest Button To Button, The White Stripes

March 04, 2012

Technically Speaking

Me and tech, we begrudgingly share an OK relationship. I've warmed to it in recent years but by no means do I chase technology. Case in point my Canon Rebel. It's responsible for taking all the lovely pictures you've seen here since the fall of 2005. Technically, anyways; if it hadn't been swiped from me in the ballsiest of brazen swipe jobs almost two years ago to the day, I wouldn't have upsized to a newer model like I did out of necessity a month later (in the thick of my photo-a-day challenge).

And that's my point: if it hadn't been stolen, I'd more than likely still be content with my 2005 camera, rather than salivating once a year (or more) for a newer model. That sounds like crazy-talk in 2012, but it's how I roll. The old Rebel did the job of capturing, and I could handle things from there. And like my friend Ian I think once said, or typed, or something: the best camera for you is the camera you have. Truer words were never spoken.

The newer, replacement Rebel takes pictures X times larger, and that's come in extremely handy. And it has the ability to attain a higher ISO setting, which is great in the dark (even though the noise levels suck). And it shoots HD video, which I frequently forget when I'm trying to nab a tricky moment all the while not realizing hey, I could shoot a video of this. Like I managed to convince myself with the above snippet.

131 \\ 15-06-10 \\ hey 
Consequently, it bugs me that my second-generation iPod sits behind me collecting dust simply because my computer doesn't have the proper Firewire ports to sustain it anymore and our sound system's dock doesn't configure with it. The thing works like a charm, even if it holds a charge for an hour (tops). If my Touch lasts anywhere near as long, I'll be a happy digi-camper.

It bugs me that the immediacy of iPhone cameras and Instagram filters makes my habit of uploading photos the next day seem archaic. It bugs me that a well-planned and wordy blog post, like this one, seems archaic – because I could tweet it (which I will, later) or find a near-identical diatribe someone else wrote and share it and say yes, this is how I feel too.

So I dig tech, to a certain degree. When it suits my needs Рjust not when I need to suit its needs. I can be amazed that, for example, right now as I type I'm waiting for Kerry to arrive, knackered, at her hotel in Córdoba, Spain, so I might catch a glimpse of her on Skype or hear her voice via GoogleChat. And I can suitably relax knowing the money I don't spend on gadgetry and upgrading will go handily towards that plane ticket that will have me there with her in a few quick weeks Рcamera and iPod in tow.

260: Brushing Up

Up late-late at night, dickering with a recently-doodled office-meeting doodle and trying out some freshly downloaded freebie Photoshop brushes from Chris Wahl (I think it's set seven, if you're scrolling through his wares). Please click here for a crisper, better view.

And now I am zonked. Good night, all.