Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Qualicum is Hell

Lots of things going on in this ol' head lately. Instead of trying to write about it, I'll show some sketchbook pages. I think it tells the story well enough.

ps. Qualicum isn't really hell.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


I just spent the last few days camping. It's been a while since I've had good quiet camping time. Not beer-drinking, road-tripping camping, but sit-still, think-and-listen camping.

Several revelations have formed from this brief sojourn:

(1) My contentment is inversely proportional to the amount of time I spend on a computer every day.

(2) I am addicted to thinking. When I want to take a break from work, I will go on the internet and click through links, scanning useless information and speed-reading articles - anything to keep my mind moving. This is worse than useless time - it's actually draining my energy.

(3) When I am looking at a computer screen, I have a lessened ability to form complex thoughts, lengthy threads-of-conversation, and unique points-of-view. In short, I am not using my mind to its full potential when I'm sitting at a computer.

(4) Drawing is meditative and recharges me.

So it's pretty obvious that I need to spend far less time on the computer and more time drawing.

(5) I am going to wake up at sunrise, and stop work at sunset. By doing this, I will be awake and aware at the two most magical parts of the day. My daily routine will be timed by looking at the sun, rather than the clock. So the winter will be a slower time, and the summer will be more active. As it should be. This kind of plan rarely lasts long, but maybe the act of writing it out will give it some solidity.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

what's new

I think it would be a lot easier, in some ways, if my life had less variables to it. It's tempting to get an apartment near a city, get a salary job, go on vacation sometimes, take weekends off.

I can't describe my lifestyle in a general way because I don't know what to relate it to. Also, it changes too often to define - what I'm doing in one month feels completely different than the previous, from place-of-living to state-of-mind to daily routine. It feels like a good way for me to live, philosophically, but it takes work.

Maybe the best way to describe my life is to list some things I've done in the last week:

Figured out how to clear a stripped screw from a steel plate and rethread the hole with a tap.

Oil painted on big canvasses in barefeet outside in the sun. (This is what I'm mostly doing.)

Slept in the back of a truck on the side of the road, watching the moon and listening to owls and a distant house party.

Made notes on Interdisciplinary Graduate research proposals that would merge Ecology, Landscape Architecture, First Nations Studies, Architecture, and Community Planning.

Practiced swimming with a dry-bag containing a towel and camera. While treading water with my feet, opened the dry bag, dried my hands with the towel and took photos. I should just get a waterproof camera. (Photos still on the camera, they're kind of shit, but I'll post some good ones when get them, if I don't ruin the camera first).

Stood shoulder-deep in reeds at sunrise and listened to bugs and a bear crashing through the bush.

Sat on a couch in a storage unit for an hour, reading the rules to an immensely complicated game simulation of the Napoleonic Wars.

Figured out to make my own canvas stretchers and to stretch my own canvas.

Discussed how to make motion-captured Schnauzer installation art interact with an audience.


Sometimes it's hard to accept that I'm making a living at this. Funny, that. I guess I've been well-trained to believe that it's not possible.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

fuck it

I've had two problems in the last two weeks with my main computer. It's my work PC, and I don't even have it hooked up to the internet.

These issues have wasted days of work, and it's certainly not the first time this kind of thing has happened. It's so frustrating for my flow to stop so abruptly, with no warning, and with no easy fix. It's not like I ran out of paint or the weather turned bad. The fucking thing just stopped and I don't know how much work I lost.

This frustration has been going on for a couple years now. I'm no longer interested in spending my days on a computer. I'm tired of pressing a button and waiting for a result, sitting still, feeling bored, feeling like only one part of my brain is working at once, while the rest of my brain and my entire body wallows.

I want to be doing work that I never want to retire from. I want to imagine myself doing that work until I'm 60, 70, 80. I want to imagine myself happy and relaxed, not tense and hunched over and needing to stretch my body and mind and spirit.

I certainly don't imagine myself being happy if I'm creating a fucking boot CD at 11:00 pm at age 65 so I can continue working. So why am I doing it now? Life's too short. It's time to make a change.

I've been looking at going back to school to do an Interdisciplinary PhD, through Landscape Architecture and Ecology. (It's a long story, and maybe it'll come out in this blog sometime). I feel like I can use my mind on that, face a lot of challenges, be creative, be passionate, be outside, and make a difference.

Also, I love to paint. I know I will happily paint for the rest of my life - until I'm blind, at least. Then I'll probably write poems.

I may still animate at times, and I may direct films, write stories, create a graphic novel, or do any number of things I haven't even imagined yet. But I think my days of being a 3D Computer Animator are nearing their end. It's time to evolve and grow and move on. Happily.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

waiting for meat slabs

There's a strange coffeeshop in the grocery store near where I'm staying. It's on the second floor, and there are windows that look down over the grocery store deli counter.

If you ever want to practice drawing retired people ordering meat from a top-down perspective, this is the place.

Monday, August 1, 2011


In a five or six-year old clearcut: Wild blackberries over a fallen log near sunset.

In my past paintings, I would add little characters and/or cartoon-like elements:

I wanted to have the feeling of a narrative in the paintings - almost like they were a cell taken out of an animated film.

More recently, I've been using little characters to try to embody some kind of "spirit" of the subject I'm painting, if that makes any sense:

Last week I was sitting out in the bush looking at the trees and trying to figure out, "What is the 'spirit' in this scene? How could I personify it with some weird little creatures? Or how could I simplify it down into less brush strokes, to show the energy of the overall scene?"

But I'm coming to realize that there is no need to find anything in a subject, or to add any more than what I am seeing. Every glimpse of sky, every angle of a branch is just what it is, nothing more. "Flow of energy" and "spirit" are constructions of my own mind, and it's unnecessary and false to imagine these things. There is enough 'spirit' to discover in the way the trees stand, or the curve of the stem of a leaf. I don't need to create imaginary characters when there is already so much life and personality and creativity in representing each plant, and how light reveals the world in the moment I'm observing it.

In other words, I'm feeling really good about not making shit up and simply painting the goddamned leaves.