Sunday, August 29, 2010

Illustration Tutorial: Masking Shapes while Painting

Here it is, my first video tutorial. I plan on doing a handful of these, and this one is basically a test to see how it looks all edited and uploaded. Looking back I think it was a moderate success, but I promise the next one will be more informative & entertaining. Until then...

TUTORIAL: Masking with Paint

Afterwords, here's the mask I made for some of the details (you can see the bottle of wine wasn't actually done on it's own, I just did that to show you how to do individual masks):
Which ends up looking like this:

And for some stuff it's not necessary to create the same shape over & over, you can create it once and use that to 'stamp' those shapes to the canvas:

Although, be warned that the more of the same shape you have, the boring-er your picture will end up. You may be able to hide the fact that it's the same shape by flipping/rotating/changing colour, but your picture will always feel a little homogeneous. Plus, the more you re-use the same shape, the fewer happy accidents you'll encounter.

And here you can see why this technique is valuable in the first place. Look at those crisp sharp edges created with a minimal amount of careful painting. Most of those sharp edges were created with broad brush strokes over my masked surface. You can also see how the background around the character (like the shadow under his nose) can be added afterwords with the reverse-mask I mentioned in the video.

Here's a few shots of the finished artwork:

Abstract Afternoon

Sometimes I like to pretend that I'm a real artist and make real paintings. I know, it's silly to pretend things that aren't true...

Saturday, August 28, 2010


He was saving the bottle of wine for a special occasion. But it seemed that special occasion would never come.

But on second thought, why isn't this occasion special? Why not toast to a life well lived, with the company of the moon and the stars, right here, right now, at the end of all things...

It's as special an occasion as they come, so "cheers".

And when our own health fails, our loved ones pass on, and all hope fades, don't wait any longer to open that bottle you were saving - because every moment of your life is a special occasion, special enough to savor.

Post No Bills, Illustration Show

So there's this art show that I did last year that's going on again this year. It's called "Post No Bills", a poster show, and the theme this year is movie posters.

My "La Fin Du Monde" 3d poster will be on display: If you're around on Sunday Sept 12th, you should swing by the gallery for drinks & mingle-bait.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Coming Soon

Sneak peak at my latest painting. Stay tuned for the finished piece, and some news I'm anxious to share.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Dangers of Braining

I have a problem. When I'm in the midst of creative fury, I often can't get anything done. The problem is when I get too deep in my own thoughts I stop existing in the real world. I call it "Braining", and it's my worst enemy for productivty. It usually goes like this - I'm working, I reach a step that brings my mind elsewhere, and 30 minutes later I realize I've been pacing back & forth spending time in my own brain instead of working.
In many ways it's not such a bad thing. I mean, it's sort of a pure creative act, fast paced conceptualizing of idea after idea. Admittedly some if not all of my best ideas are born this way. So you might say that braining is actually an important part of my creative process. I know this, which is why I often allow myself to brain more than I should, because I tell myself it's okay to let my mind wander endlessly because I'm creating, and it just feels right. The problem is that it's so easy and enjoyable to live inside your own head that the real world (and the task at hand) takes a back seat to the conceptual world. Which is all well and good, but at the end of the day what do you have to show for it? I may have spent my afternoon coffee's energy throwing around some great notions and made some terrific growth, but if I walk away empty handed then I've failed at the one thing I know I should have been doing - making paintings.

The Elusive Forest Whale

This piece was created for the "Post No Bills" art show last fall. There's a new show this year, I'll give you a notice as soon as they're ready. This was the first time I attempted a true 3D collage style. A pain in the butt to make, but it was a moderate success so you'll see at least one more attempt at this style soon.

The Spiders in my Workshop

Last spring I read the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Soon after, I noticed a big black spider lurking in the entrance of my workshop. She was quite hideous, big and black. At first I let her live because I was too lazy to kill her, and soon enough I started saying "Hi" as I passed her on my way to paint. I called her Shelob, after the spider in the Lord of the Rings. Seemed a proper name from the way Shelob was described in the book, big and black and old and rank, but also wise and ancient. Then when winter came she died, but she left behind a big egg sack and sure enough the following spring there was a whole new generation of Shelob's children keeping my workshop's entrance bug free. I didn't name them all, but I noticed there was one who had taken up residence in Shelob's old spot (right by the bottom of the door, where she had dibs on all the best bugs crawling in). I called her Shelob the Second. I just noticed that she's dead. I never cared for spiders before, but then again I never got to know any. Let me just say I'm a changed man. I'll never again kill a spider that's not bothering anyone, and I'm looking forward to meeting Shelob the Thrid next spring.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Work in progress

Ah, the cluttered workstation of a work in progress. Expect to see the finished piece here very soon.

Stargazer, 2008

This was another important piece in my mind because it was the first time I painted the shadows on in this way to create a 3D-ish diorama sort of feel that I always tried to achieve through collage & photography before. I've since used this technique on most of my paintings and it's actually changed my way of thinking about the 2d space.

Before, I found that if I abstracted too far then the sense of form was lost. Which was sad, because I like abstracting. But I also like creating pictures with a believable dimension. This push & pull technique allows me to create non-realistic abstracted characters that can exist in a real space (albeit a 2.5D shadobox space). Still, take a look through my portfolio and you'll find that almost everything has some element of the shadows you see here.

Oscar's Room

When she found out she was pregnant, Melissa 'commissioned' me to make a set of paintings for Oscar's room. I tried to have them done by the time he was born, and I almost made it. But he came early, so it wasn't my fault! I finished them up when he was about a week old. They're hanging in his room now.

2010 Family Portraits

Every year or two I create a new set of family portraits. I rather liked the ones we had above the couch. Then we birthed a baby and we needed him represented. Melissa didn't think the post-it note portrait of Oscar was cutting it, so I had to paint a new set. For the best, this set makes the old ones look like ugly.


Oscar William Jolicoeur

In case you were wondering why I didn't update my blog for a few months, I was busy with this:

Yeah, I know. He's the cutest baby in the milky way. Speaking of which, he's a big fan of Melissa's boobs. Makes 2 of us. (Don't tell Melissa I was talking about her boobs on my blog)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

"Within Reach" - 2008

A little history. First, I went to school. In school, I painted. Then, when school was done, I did computer stuff (still do). Then, I wanted to paint again, so I did. This was the first painting from this generation of work that I was proud of. I still am.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Wacom Bamboo Pen & Touch Review

First let me say that I'm no hardware snob. For me, value is the most important aspect of a purchase. I'll admit it, I'm cheap. So you'll never see me paying 500+ bucks for a huge fancy Intuos or Cintiq when a perfectly usable Bamboo can be bought with enough change left over from a $100 to get a coffee & a cookie on the way home. That old saying, "A craftsman is only as good as his tools" does have some merit, but don't go thinking that if you spend enough you'll reach a higher level of productivity or perfection. A tool is only as agile as the one who wields it, and when it comes to Wacom pads I can wield a 5.x8 inch graphire as good as any 27 inch Cintiq. I think lots of designers prefer the large size tablets because of the high degree of precision, but to each his own. The small size feels perfect to me. But then again I like drawing small, most of my sketchbooks are pocket sized.

I have owned this pad since my birthday, 2 months ago. If I had to guess I'd say that I've spent 150 hours using it. It was an upgrade from my old Bamboo Fun tablet. But it has a feature the Fun didn't, the ability to use your fingers.

So as you probably guessed, the "touch" portion of it's name means you can use your fingers. Now you won't be doing any drawing or fingerpainting, your fingers aren't nearly as precise as the pen. But there are some cool things you can do with the touch function. There's a set of predefined "gestures" that can be used to control various functions. For example, you can place two fingers down on the pad and rotate your hand to rotate photos and Photoshop documents. All the gestures work reasonably well, although Illustrator (on the PC) isn't compatible with the gestures, and no patch has been released yet. I hear the Mac versions of these programs are working fine, but I'm on PC (and if you've got a problem with that I'd gladly schedule a back-ally knife fight).

I found the gestures to me most useful when doing normal stuff like surfing the web. You can place 2 fingers down on the pad and slide to scroll around pages, you can make a "pinch" motion to shrink or zoom pages, and the pad make right-clicking and left-clicking feel natural by placing hotspots beside the active finger. It feels like a tablet version of the iMac's mouse - So basically, it just feels right.

But my favorite part of the package is the pen. The pen is shaped just right for my taste, with a sharp squared eraser on the back end, a classy beveled side that holds the side buttons, and the tablet has a fabric pen holder along the side (a stroke of genius). The pen feels just right on the surface of the tablet too, with just the right about of friction to feel somewhat paper-ish, but not as much as the older Bamboo Fun which was so textured it started to show signs of wear after about a week. My Bamboo Pen & Touch still looks brand new (when I wipe off the fingerprints and coffee splats). The 4 built in buttons look and work great too, nice and sexy.

But it's not all fun & games, there are some notable downsides to this tablet. One gripe I have is the software. It works well enough out of the box, and most users will have no problems adapting to the gestures system, but I found it quite limiting. I really hope in future versions of the tablet/software that they provide a gesture editing suite to customize the device's usefulness across the board, not just in the applications they pre-programmed. Picture of all the buttons on tablets were pre-determined. It'd suck not to be able to program "undo" to button x if you wanted. The gestures should work the same way.

Another gripe is the cord. The Bamboo Fun had a great cord system - miniUSB. It was removable, so when you tossed it in your bag the cord didn't have to be bent and mangled and eventually break (like my Graphire 3). For some reason they went back to the built-in cord, and even now I can tell it's the weak link that'll be the death of my pad.

But my biggest gripe - the glitchy touch. This doesn't happen often, and when it's working it's a pleasure to use. But every now & then the touch function will get all drunk and do weird stuff. Silly things like crumbs underneath the tablet or sweaty fingers will sometimes make the cursor accidentally right click, or jump across the screen. Sometimes there's no visible reason why it's being glitchy, and all you can do is turn off the touch function and wait until it starts working again on it's own (which it always does).

A few small gripes aside, this is a good tablet at a great value. The touch function is amusing and often helpful, but not game-changing and won't really affect your workflow as much as it'll affect everyday tasks like simple browsing. If they came up with a customizable gesture system in their software, fixed the application compatibility (for PC users) of the touch functions, and went back to the Bamboo Fun's miniUSB cord, it could be perfect. But those are small gripes, if you like Wacom's smaller tablets or you're a cheap chap like me, upgrade to the Pen & Touch and you'll be a happy camper.

+ Great new pen & sheathe
+ High quality build and sexy aesthetic
+ Touch function is fun and useful
+ Awesome value

- The touch function has limited usefulness for doing actual work due to the inability to customize the functions through the software
- The touch surface can occasionally start misbehaving
- The cord isn't detachable miniUSB, so if it breaks your pad is useless
- Compatibility issues with PC applications (like Illustrator)
Grade: B+

Smokin' Hot

Finished this one a while back, but I was never really satisfied with it. I spent another session on it and I think I like it enough now to give it a spot on my site.

And kids, don't smoke.

Friday, August 13, 2010

La Fin Du Monde

Ladies and gentlefolk, I present you with my piece for the September 2010 "Post No Bills" illustration show, which takes place on Sept 12th at the Leslie Jones venue in Toronto.

This is the first time I made a frame like this. A success methinks, you may see such frames on future pieces.