Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Steady Ups vs. Doctor Echo

Boar Attack from Jay White on Vimeo.

This is my last animation. There's a few seconds of black before it plays, so be patient.

My new film, "The Perfect Detonator" is about ten times more involved than this one. That's not necessarily a good thing.

I watched a lot of television this weekend and it freaked me out. I hope people watch that shit in a critical manner. It frightens me to think people watch it passively and just let everything enter their subconscious (and therefore, their world view) without really thinking about it and defending themselves from it. How many people believe that a 5-minute news story is capturing all the most vital information about a situation? That the news is telling the most important stories? Do most TV watchers even bother with the news?

How many people believe that happiness is all about good looks and money? That it's important to buy new things? That a cream will make you prettier? That real food comes in packaging?

Actors are no longer beautiful, they're fucking creepy. All I see are facial reconstruction scars and paralytic injections. Sad people. What strange lives they must lead. I can't help imagining how fake and horrified I'd be if I ever found myself at a Hollywood actor party. (I imagine that situation fairly often, and I always end up causing an awesomely uncomfortable scene. Here's hoping!)

The Hours was sweet-ass, though. Dang, there's some good writing and good acting.

I also enjoyed To Have and Have Not, with Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. This 66-year old black-and-white movie would cost nothing to make these days, and it's more captivating than 99.5% of films made in the last year. I think it's the fantastic story (written by Ernest Hemingway) that makes it. The shadowy lighting and stylish acting really helps. Humphrey Bogary is just fun to watch. Same with Lauren Bacall - sexy! There's some hot hot scenes in that movie, and all they do is kiss for a couple seconds.

Hot hot hot!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

what it's all about

"to look life in the face,


to look life in the face

and to know it for what it is

at last to know it

to love it for what it is,

and then,

to put it away."

From The Hours

Friday, November 26, 2010

art for the apocalypse

Am I the only one who finds it difficult to paint out-of-season colours? The trees in this scene needed to be summery. So hard not to at least give them fall colours.

These are the colours that come more naturally at the moment. By the way, I like drawing and painting structures. If anyone wants to commission me to paint a pretty version of their house or cabin, let me know. This painting is not yet complete, by the way. But I kinda like it the way it is.

A lot of my ex-students are Facebook-ing gorgeous paintings that they're creating digitally. The new Cintiq tablets are pretty amazing because you can draw right on them. I've been feeling a bit behind-the-times. Shouldn't I be grabbing a hold of the latest technology, keeping up with the world?

The the power died. I just kept on painting. And with candles, I could go all night. So I felt better. How much would it suck to be art-paralyzed if you were without power? I know that all the students I'm thinking of are amazing at drawing non-digitally as well, but it makes me think - children being born right now might never learn how to use an actual pencil.

It's amazing how much people take power for granted. I like living in places where the power goes out sometimes. It keeps shit pretty real. Makes you appreciate the values of a wood stove, an axe, fresh running water, and friendly neighbours with a chicken coop.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

last reach of sun

last reach of sun - watercolour - 11" x 15"

It's about -10C tonight. I like this temperature - the coolness on my legs as I sit working, wearing a toque because I'm too far from the woodstove. I like the burn on my face when I'm biking.

I think I'm going to pack my winter bag for city camping tomorrow. I've slept in that bag at -30C, so I'll be nice and cozy (as long as no one comes and evicts me from the park...)

I didn't swim today - the waves were really crashing, and ice was forming on the rocks. I jumped in yesterday, though. I think that was the coldest air temperature that I've ever stripped down and jumped in water. My body was steaming when I got out. I want to get a photo of that sometime this winter, I bet it would look cool.

I've jumped in a lot colder water, though. A lake up behind Whistler, right at the base of a glacier, comes to mind. The coldest water was Marsh Lake, in the Yukon. It was mid-May, when the ice first starts to break up. I found an open spot and jumped in. I think that was supercooled water (water that is still liquid, but below freezing temperature.) The colder it is, the better it feels when you get out. Yesterday I felt like an ocean god. My body was completely alive - burning electric and numb at the same time. I felt like I could punch through bedrock.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

no onions

I like sound. I'm going to play with sound in a huge way on my next film. Actually, it's becoming more of a multimedia performance than a film.

On Tuesday night I have a meeting in Vancouver, but it's gonna go late and I'll miss the ferry ride home. Solution? City camping! Check out this honey of a spot. It's going to be -9 Celsius that night, but I have a -10 C sleeping bag. It's an old bag, but I should be okay with a sweater and a toque.

best view from the outhouse

I hate to poo when people are nearby. When I used to work at animation studios, I'd leave the building, walk down the block, and poo in a bathroom in a different building. At one place, I would go into a multistory office building next door. There was a men's room in the hallway of the 4th floor. At another place, I had to use a gas station washroom.

We have a visitor today so I had to poo in the outhouse. PEOPLE: If you ever build an outhouse, it is CRUCIAL to give it a good view, good air, a nice bit of something to look at while you're making your magic. I love this place I'm living in, but the outhouse is terrible. It looks onto an old rusty bucket that someone used as a compost bin. There's old pieces of eggshell laying around, it looks like it should stink.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

winter shore

I've lived on the West Coast for over eighty percent of my life, but this is the first winter I've spent outside of a town or city. My understanding and appreciation for the region is increasing with every darkening day.

As the days grow shorter, a quiet, sombre atmosphere is settling in. There's an otherworldly, ancient spiritual feeling in the trees and along the shore. I've felt a similar vibe once before, on Haida Gwaii, but the feeling was way stronger there. On those islands, when you're walking through the forest, or along the windy dunes, it almost felt like the place was watching you.

Here, I feel the same sense of smallness that I did on those Northern Islands. As the animals hole up for warmth and the leaves fall off the alders, more ancient, everlasting things stand out in stark relief. Red Cedar and Douglas Fir tower overhead - the only living beings that can stand tall against the wind and rain of the Pacific Coast. The stones grow a slippery black coat algae, like they have done for thousands of winters, and will continue to do for a long time after I'm gone.

I can see why the people who lived on the coast were so into spirits. That shit is walking around fo' sho'. I wonder if those spirits still live in the cities and towns? Were they driven away with the plants and the animals? Or are they just too hard to notice through all the noise and lights and distractions?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

spirit of topped trees

"spirit of topped trees" - detail. work in progress

Julian Schnabel is a painter and a filmmaker. He's the guy who did The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, and Basquiat. He was interviewed on CBC Radio today. It was nice to listen to someone who paints and makes films, because those are my two interests as well. I often think I have to choose between one of the two, but fuck that.

Here are a couple things he said, or maybe things I was thinking while listening. I can't remember who said what, or if I mixed our thoughts in the same phrase:

I need to paint in order to live. It's freedom.

Filmmaking is more like a civic duty. Saying something that needs to be said.

I worked my butt off today, tilling The Old Man's Garden and chainsawing / mulching fallen branches on his property. The harvest season is nearly over, all the ground is turned over and mixed with sand, seaweed, mulch and grass. The only thing left standing are the brussel sprouts, garlic and chives. It's a nice feeling of completion - the end of a cycle, and the start of another season.

Long bikeride back from his property, through the old cedar grove, past farms, people riding horses, a flock of wild turkeys.

Life is a bit like sailing. You're constantly adjusting, trying to achieve some kind of optimal balance, which is impossible to find, really. But sometimes you hit a sweet spot where everything is lined up just right and for a little while, everything feels perfect.

Monday, November 15, 2010

rum through me

More thinking about yesterday's robot. I'm starting to like it now, especially if it can crawl out of it's barricade and leave the barricade behind.

Lots of rendering my film now, so I have a lot of waiting-time. That gives me time to paint, and I have a lot of paintings to do. Some are for a curated show in January, and others are to sell either locally, or online, or at a show. The first painting will be done tomorrow - I'll post it.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Lordy Lordy

Trying to figure out a good defensive "Roadblock" robot design for a fight scene I've been storyboarding. The only one that makes practical sense (extrapolating from today's technology) is the lame-ass one on the bottom right. But fuck that, it looks stupid.

No wind on the water today - a low mist in the forest made the treetops fade into grey silhouettes. The sky was like a giant grey-white lightbox casting down a completely diffuse light, so there were no shadows and no sense where the sun was. Perfectly quiet and still.

Swam in the ocean for the first time in a few days.

I recently learned that a lot of the indigenous people of this coast submerge in the water as a means of prayer - a way to commune with the spirits, and the Universe.

If you ever go out into a wild body of water and jump in, alone, you'll know that this kind of prayer isn't some hokey-jokey bullshit that requires any kind of faith or traditional culture to understand. It's real. You will feel it.

Break the surface of the water, stand up, breathe deeply, and look around you. You are an animal, purified, emerging from a bath like billions of other animals have bathed. You belong there, with the birds flying overhead, rain falling on your shoulders, water lapping around your feet.

As they say in Newfoundland, "Lordy Lordy, that is somethin'."

Friday, November 12, 2010

downtown brown

When I was a kid, my Big Dream was to be an explorer in the jungles of Africa. What that involves, specifically, I have no idea. That thought evolved into a desire to study animals. I wanted to be a "naturalist," whatever that means. By age 8 or 9, I had it sorted - I wanted to be a Marine Biologist. Pretty specific. I guess it's because we used to camp along the Pacific Coast, from BC to Oregon, and I spent hundreds of hours studying all the creatures in the tidal pools along the rocky coast.

Twenty-seven years later, here I am living in a giant temperate rainforest, with giant old-growth cedars towering above me, ravens chuckling in the canopy, and moisture dripping off the salal. I live in a northern jungle. Dreams come true.

Every day I walk along the rocky beach, still studying tidal pools, watching the birds, learning the habits of seals and otters. I'm a hobby marine-biologist. Fuckin' A.

I've always had dreams and goals in my life, and I'm always stunned at how quickly those dreams come to fruition, once I actually have the courage to be specific and say "I want to do this" to a tangible idea.

My last Big Dream was to "Be Able to Support Myself From my Art While Living in Cabin in the Bush." Pretty specific - I thought it was going to take a lifetime to happen. Five or six years later, I did it. And I'm doing it again. It's nice. But I need something else to work towards - I can't be finished yet!

I have some big abstract dreams about what kind of person I want to be in my old age, but for the past 1-2 years I haven't been able to figure out the Next Big Dream.

I've known that the Next Big Dream must involve:

- Wilderness / Animals
- Art
- Sharing with / serving others

Too general though. I need something specific that I can visualize and plan toward. (That's the kind of guy I am).

Yesterday, after hundreds of days of wandering and wondering, The Dream came to me. But it's too fresh and precious to share quite yet. One day, though, you'll see.

Exciting shit, people. Exciting shit.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

beat pharmacy

Five-foot long watercolor painting for a long pan shot. Work in progress.

I've never been a big follower of astrology or anything, but every time I get some kind of in-depth reading with Tarot or numerology or moon phases or whatever, it always hits me hard, and speaks directly to the things that are happening in my life. (Actually, that's not totally true - I read the I Ching fairly often... so I guess I am into the mystical shit.)

I got my numerologies done today, and part of it was a Tarot Card that is associated with the next four months of my life, from October 10th to February 10th. It hit me so hard I started sobbing. The Tarot card was The Hermit. Reading the explanation made me feel like I'm not a total lunatic...

But I'm not going to write out the explanation because it will make everyone else think I'm a total lunatic.

Which I'm not.

I wish I could tattoo the words across my body.

Fuck yeah.

Monday, November 8, 2010

ghost dub

Dude at a coffee shop this morning.

Sunday, November 7, 2010


Background stitch for the second-last shot of my film. I have it printed out, now tracing it onto watercolour paper, then I'll stretch the paper and paint, then scan. Then photoshop shadows onto it in the appropriate places, then render in 3D animation software so it matches the camera move.

I'm a bit embarrassed that I haven't finished the film yet. I stopped (with two shots to go) in early September when a bunch of other work came up. I'm working on it now, should be done in a couple weeks except for the final sound which will happen in January.

It's really hard to work on this film now, especially because I'm dying to start working on my new ideas, and because I have other collaborative projects that I need to get moving on. Not to mention that this shot, the second-last one, is the longest and most time-consuming shot in the whole film, with 9-10 characters and a 1200 frame pan.

I'm going to miss the work, though. I'm pretty sure I'll need to dig into another personal project quickly to keep myself feeling right. Painting will be good.

But there's something about animation that just tickles. I love the technical challenge, the variety of ways that you can approach a shot. I love that I've been animating for a long time, and that I could do it for the rest of my life and still be learning. I think I want to keep learning.

The next time I animate, I'm going to concentrate on motion and movement. Keep things simple, and tell the story with the basic elements of animation - timing and posing, weight, all those things that are easy to forget when you do 3D animation.

I'm going to stay completely open about shot choice and choice of mediums. I don't want to be restricted by all my past work experience and training. No more traditional cutting patterns.. at least not for the next film.

i live on an island

I was just out lookin' at the water and trippin' out that I live on an island.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

prince far i

photos by hazel venzon

Late-night seaweed run for fertilizing the old man's garden. Low tide is at 23:30h, and the other low tide isn't very low. So now's the time.

Thank you, seaweed (and all the little gribblies and snails that live on you). Your contribution is appreciated. We won't take too much. May you turn into some tasty cherry tomatoes or something like that.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

hurricane not i

double-lane bitchslap - pencil


My problem with the city is,

(1) I can't follow the rules.

(2) I'm extremely sensitive to closed people. (And you have to be closed to stay sane in dense human hives.)

(3) I get overstimulated easily - especially with noise.

(4) I tend to speak my mind when (1) (2) or (3) turns into a human interaction. It almost always results in some kind of scene.

Don't get me wrong, whenever I'm in the city I have great talks with strangers and share smiles, give someone a quarter when they're a little short for change for the bus, etc.

But my Vancouver trips always end up in some kind of argument with a butthole. This time in Vancouver there were two scenes.

Number (1) was a guy on moped-with-bike-pedals who yelled at me for biking through a red light. What the hell does he care? Let me be. This turned into an extended conversation at each red light, with him yelling over me and not letting me get a single word in. I had polite things to say, but by the end I was furious that someone was taking out all their shit on me and not even letting it become a dialogue.

Looking back on it, I wish I slapped him on the face.

Number (2) Was a guy playing a video game on his IPod on the 45-minute bus ride from the Ferry terminal into Vancouver. With the sound turned up. Everyone was irritated, you could tell, especially the guy sitting next to him. I ended up giving a two-sentence lecture on respecting the people around you. On the bright side, everyone was happy I spoke up when he muted his piss-machine.

What's my fucking problem?

Sometimes I feel like a bear wandering around the streets. I'm doing my thing, but people don't like it. Fine. Then they have to get in my face somehow, maybe without even knowing it. Then I get mad.

I'm really lucky I haven't been beat up more often than I have been. My close friends tell me that a lot.

Monday, November 1, 2010

dirty poem


chew on grass
sour foam
creamy spit
tight pants

I was actually thinking about chewing on grass when I wrote that.

Artwork is going well these days. I've been in a bit of a funk lately, but I'm back on the wagon and riding it hard. It's funny - whenever I lack confidence or feel down, it always correlates with a lack of time spent making art. I'm not sure which is causing which. I get the sense that the not-making art part is causing the downer.

I remember watching a documentary about Andy Goldsworthy, the outdoor sculptor / space-maker. He had to leave a project to give a lecture at some university. On his way to give the talk, he said something like, "I haven't been creating for two days now, because of travel. I have no idea what my purpose is, what I'm doing here. I don't know what to say to these people today. When I'm not working, I get lost so quickly. I forget what it's all about."

It was the only part of the movie where he wasn't working, and it was the only part where he seemed lost... drifting.

That's why you got to stay creative, bitches! Draw or be Drawn!