Thursday, July 21, 2011

Suckin' on Soap and Salal

Here's a painting. Once again, it's based off of Salal. Maybe I'll call it Salal Again. It's blurry because I just took the photo in a dark garage.

I don't know if it's done or not, but I'm letting it go for now and moving on. This one's acrylic and oil. I'm also doing watercolours, and some watercolours with acrylic. No restrictions, whatever feels good is what I'm doing. I pulled out the ol' table saw and tomorrow I'm ripping some two-by-fours and having my first go at making big canvas stretchers for some 4' or 5' square paintings. Fun fun. So nice to be using my hands and feeling and moving around to create work, as opposed to slouching in a chair over a computer monitor.


I bet I ate something worse than you did today. Wanna bet? How much? Okay, deal. What did you eat? Hmm.. Here's what I ate:

I found a dog biscuit in my pocket and popped it in my mouth, but it was an old biscuit that had been in my pocket and gone through the wash, so it tasted like laundry detergent.

poo trails and painting woes

I have so much work to do, it's insane. Here's what I have to do in the next six weeks:

1) Many many paintings for an art show in September.

2) Concept designs for a collaboration for an online / interactive thing - due next Wednesday.

3) Sorting through and organizing motion capture data for another project, which includes some technical glitch-figurin', and making things work in three different pieces of software - due two Wednesdays from now.

4) Film Festival Submissions for Perfect Detonator (my most recent short film) - six need to be done by next Wednesday.

(2) to (4) are fairly procedural - I'll know when they're done, and it's just a matter of taking the time. But painting is the big scary one.

For starters, I never know how long each painting will take. I can't whip off a painting in a set amount of time. Some go fast, some take forever. And in the case of watercolours, sometimes I can fuck them up by working them too much, which is what I did tonight.

Also, I need to gather inspiration for the paintings, so in between (1) to (4), I'm spending a lot of time exploring with a camera, printing photos, doodling and trying to give myself open space to think and imagine. That's not especially easy with all the other stuff going on, not to mention that I have to move at the end of August.


Something I think I've learned from bushwhacking lately - if you scare an animal in the bush, they usually take a little poo before they run off, so even if you don't see the animal, you can go to where you last heard them and figure out what kind of animal it was. Of the last three times I've scared something in the bush this week, all three times there's been a poo trail left behind. Two deer and one bear so far.

Monday, July 18, 2011

flat blue flat grey

Here's where I'm swimming these days. Pretty fucking boring. It's a beautiful beach, actually, and apparently the warmest Pacific coast beach north of California. However, beach means endless sand, which means I'm swimming over a giant aqueous desert. There's the occasional seal, some good sized crabs, sand dollars and small fish, but not much else.

I cut the shit out of the insides of my feet trying to climb the pile in the center of that photo. I got up pretty high out of the water, then I started to slip and I squeezed tighter with my feet and scraped them down through a few feet of barnacles before I started to feel the pain and let go.

It's amazing how much colder the water has become over the last two weeks of cloudiness. I wonder how much that's changed the seasonal algae blooms, and all the life they support.

I'm working like a hot demon these days. I have a ridiculous amount of painting to do, which is fun, but on top of that I have a lot of technical animation work, and administrative / marketing stuff to get through, which is not so fun. It's amazing how exercise can almost completely eliminate stress. I'm swimming every afternoon, and going for a little bushwhack every morning.

When I get a chance, I'll post some painting photos. Maybe tomorrow, if nothing exciting happens in the meantime.

Friday, July 15, 2011


This summer on the West Coast has been somewhat apocalyptic so far, in terms of cloudiness and raininess. I've lived in this area for about thirty years, and can't remember a summer so rainy.

On the bright side, the forest is still lush and spring-green.

I have a ridiculous amount of painting to do in the next six weeks, on top of a fair bit of computer work. So my creative muscles are working hard. To recharge, I'm heading into the forests and forested areas in the mountainous center of Vancouver Island; it's the area I was exploring when I first started writing this blog.

I'm finding a lot of inspiration in the groundcover these days. I like how it kind of flattens out into a two-dimensional pattern. Look at a super closeup of the above photo:

Isn't that gorgeous? Look how the water is all wrapped around the flower. They look like tiny halos.

Here's my bush-buddy, and one of my very best friends. We're down in a creek, and we just heard something walking through the bush up above us, just off the left edge of the camera frame. It's nice to have dog around - a good set of ears, a desire to bark and make himself known. I'm lucky because he takes good commands around bears. He's probably seen about a hundred bears in his life, if not more, and knows when to chase them off or when to stick around.

We went up and checked it out after a while. Judging from some fresh poop I found, it was a bear. I think it was a small one, maybe a cub. Her mother must have been further up the hill. This area is crawling with black bears and deer, which keeps things exciting. I'm not around the seals so much any more (although I do swim in the ocean every day), so it's nice to have some land-mammal wilderness replacements.

Sunday, July 10, 2011


sketchbook pages, playing with new brush-pen.

non-attachment poem

a borrowed car
containing everything you need
and a banana,

once again, moving into the Unknown,
learning a new skill:
don't reference the past to define yourself.

you only exist in the present moment.


the ultimate test of the new skill

At thirty-seven years of age,
move into a trailer
on your parents' driveway.

rethinking painting

There are leaves, forming a pattern and colours
They are constantly changing because of things like wind and sun
All this is going into my brain
My hand brings it back out, in two dimensions:
This is what I saw, filtered through my Self.

Then I judge what my hand just created
And try to “improve” it –
Make it more pleasing to the eye,
Add a colour there for more interest.
What’s the point of that?
Who cares what my eyes want to see?
Is it more that I think other peoples’ eyes will want to see something more interesting?

Perhaps a painting should not be too overworked.
Watch the image record the image
And you are done.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

eleven lines

A new project I'm helping out with for the next half year involves dogs and motion capture. That's all I'll say about it for now. I think it's going to turn into a gallery installation and possibly more.


Some parts of my life are taking a huge swing these days. I'm still doing the same work, but I'm uncertain about where I'll be living. This summer is going to be an interesting mishmash of movement and sleeping-places. It will be a challenge to ride the chaos (which I somewhat enjoy), while maintaining a sense of stability, peace and solitude that is necessary for me to work. I have to flow easily down this stream, let it carry me where I am meant to be, and at the same time find stillness in that movement to observe and create.


My sense of consistency, stability and stillness will be maintained by doing the following every day:

- Sketching and writing, preferably somewhere away from my place-of-living.

- Swimming at least once, and doing one other bit of exercise (more swimming, bushwhacking, tree-climbing..)

- Painting.


I'm looking for a place to live that has the following:

- Access to Vancouver by bicycle and / or ferry.

- Swimmable ocean water within five-minute biking distance

- A friendly landlord who respects my privacy and right to feel at home in the space I'm renting.

- Access to a yard and / or deck that has some privacy.

- Wilderness within 10-15 minute biking distance.

- Good natural light and space for me to work.

- Quiet surroundings, and nothing to see out the windows but nature.

- Proximity to my family.

That's pretty much all I need right now, laid out in eleven short lines. Bring it on.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

long-timey thoughts

It sure feels good to start finding a regular home routine again. Drawing, painting, administrative stuff, biking, swimming, storyboarding, reading, writing. It takes several days to work back up into a steady work pace, but that's a whole lot faster than it used to take. It took me years of frustration and challenge to get to a point where I could work productively from a home studio.

Now that I'm back onto my own work, I feel a strong "voice" emerging from this ol' soul of mine. I suppose it's always been there, but I think it's gained focus and confidence, especially over the last couple years. My art will still be diverse (maybe even more so than before), but it is coming out with more intention and less hesitation than before. More referencing my own reality than anyone else's. More ideas and thoughts and experiences to draw from, I suppose. I suppose it's about living a rich and balanced life as much as it's about making a lot of art.

I don't mean to say I'm awesome, and I certainly don't mean to say that my art is awesome. I'm simply making an observation about my personal growth. And learning and growth is what it all comes down to for me - making art is (hopefully) a byproduct of those experiences. A recording of what's going on in life.

I think this blog has played a big part in focusing my thoughts together, defining my truths and recording my observations. On top of drawing, painting and animating, Draw or be Drawn has become another important creative outlet for me. I hope I keep writing it for a long time to come. Maybe for the rest of my life.

Thanks to everyone who reads this blog. I wouldn't be doing it if I didn't feel like people occasionally stopped in for a peek.

Monday, July 4, 2011

swimming calculations

After three months on the road, I'm finally home and settling in. The studio is cleaned up and I'm just about to start painting.

Swimming is getting good. Now that the winter storms are gone and the water is warm, the big challenge is distance. I'm back onto my goal of swimming from Gabriola Island to Entrance Island this summer, with a double-seater kayak as an escort.

My daily swim is going to be lengths of my local cove - from the point to the pub and back, multiple times. I need to do that three times to make up a kilometer, which is the distance to Entrance Island. I can easily swim one kilometer in a pool, but it's a different story with the waves and cold water sapping my energy away. Also:

Even at the best tides, I need to assume that I'm at least swimming perpendicular to a 1 knot current. I swim about 1 knot on average over long periods of time, so the water will be dragging me at the same speed I'm swimming. I need to aim for a different point than the island, and hope I hit it with the current. That also means I should assume I'll be swimming 1.5 km instead of 1 km. Maybe best to be comfortable with 2km, because the water will be colder and rougher out there.

I'll need to get a good marine chart and talk to some locals about this before I try it, obviously, and I have a lot of training to do to hit 2 kilometers at 1 knot in rough ocean. Eventually I'll probably start training by swimming a bit further out (but not in the shipping / fishing lanes, and not in the strong current areas).

I'm also having a hard time gauging when my body is getting too tired to swim. I don't know what that feels like. Next time I'm in Vancouver I'm going to hit a pool with a lifeguard and swim myself to near-exhaustion so I know what the signs are.

Off to paint..