Monday, January 28, 2013

Work in Progress: Agar

Here's the second of my series commemorating the jiggly-wiggly substances known as hydrocolloids -- aka gelatin and its related substances. (The first of the series: The primal yet proper God of Gelatin.)

Agar is an Asian aquatic hydrocolloid derived from red algae. It makes a great vegetarian substitute for gelatin and thickener for soups and preserves, but is best known for its use in Asian sweets such as anmitsu (sort of a Japanese fruit salad with cubes of agar and red bean paste), yokan (Japanese blocks of sweetened red bean paste), sago gulaman (a Filipino drink), Vietnamese thạch (a layered jelly dessert), various Indian desserts (where it's called China Grass), and even in Russia, where it is used in ptich'ye moloko, a sort of jelly-custard that is often coated in chocolate.

Like gelatin, agar is used extensively in biology as a medium to grow bacteria, fungi, biomolecules, etc. In some ways it is even better at this than gelatin because it's often indigestible to organisms and porous, among other properties.

Lastly, agar is also known as kanten. It's mostly fibre, which makes it a great natural regulator of the digestive system. It expands in the stomach and makes people feel full and has a lot of bulk for relatively few calories. It might become the next big diet fad!

I dressed the agar-lady as a Japanese pearl diver with her goggles and net and wooden barrel. These amazing women dive deep into the sea, holding their breaths for two minutes at a time and coming up for air for only a few seconds before they go back down. Historically this job was performed by women because it was believed that they had greater lung capacity than men. To me, agar offers bounties far greater than pearls!

-- Julia

Monday, January 21, 2013

Illo for Registered Nurse Journal

New client! My friend's sister is a nurse so she'll be getting this in the mail soon. It's always fun when friends and family see my work some place they recognize -- Makes the whole freelancing gig more real to them!

I enjoyed stuffing lots of nursing-related bits into this one, including a tracheostomy tube, blood pressure cuff, sample jars, RN Journal magazines, IV stand with bag, and a model of the brain (the writer of the article is an advanced practice nursing educator in neuroscience).

This is a kinda-sorta repeat client, in that RN Journal and SOCAN's magazine (here's what I did for SOCAN) are designed by the same firm: Fresh Art & Design Inc.. Repeat clients are my favourite thing ever -- and my second favourite thing ever is new clients :).


-- Julia

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Happy Birthday Mom!

I painted a watercolour scene of some of the birds my mom has seen in the backyard. From left to right: cardinal (female), junco, cardinal (male), tree sparrow, song sparrow, red poll, and goldfinch. The red poll was a particularly interesting find (he's the one with the red cap!). Missing from the illustration is the Cooper's Hawk that's been hunting in our area. When he's around, these little birdies make themselves scarce!

The green thing at the top centre of the picture is the bottom part of a squirrel-proof bird feeder. The birds perch on the bar and eat out of the holes, but the perch won't take the weight of a squirrel and will make all the feeder holes close. Pretty ingenious! Of course, there's more than enough seed on the ground for the squirrels to feast -- but still, kinda cool.

I was very pleased that my mom could identify all the birds from my drawings. I'm no Audubon :P.

Here are some of the other cards I've made!

-- Julia
Portfolio site

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Latest Macleans on newsstands

Here's my latest for Macleans. The previous one I did for them also involved twins but this time only one of the pair was killed. Adrian Oliver's dad was an RCMP officer and he and his brother Ben followed in dad's footsteps after a youth spent playing sports and fashion modelling in Greece. 

Because the family has such strong ties with the RCMP I decided to model the whole frame to look somewhat like the RCMP crest. Instead of a crown at the top I put clouds and mountain ranges that have the same approximate shape. Around the frame are the maple leaves that border the crest. 

The twins were born early and had to spend their first months in neo-natal incubators. They'd been flown to the hospital in an air ambulance, which is a pretty dramatic start to life!

The long building in the top right corner is the RCMP detachment their father worked during their childhood. The jerseys below that indicate their participation in hockey, particularly Adrian's time spent playing for the Rockland Nationals. The numbers on the jersey are his birth year.

The tall building opposite the jerseys is a building and river that suggest Carleton University, where they both studied criminology. Below the jerseys is a Greek building and polaroids to symbolize their time spent modelling. The building to the left of the townhouses in the middle is the RCMP training academy in Regina, and the townhouses are the ones they dreamed of living in, side by side. About half a year after they made this dream a reality, Adrian was killed in a traffic accident.

Spot illustration for the iPad version:


-- Julia