Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Obviously that means you're not that great at it.

Lots of visitors on the Island for the holidays. You can recognize them because they're wearing fresh-n'-new looking clothes, which look great but aren't really practical (i.e a bright-white toque, which would get dirty if it was used for more than fashion, "pre-stressed jeans", etc..) More money, and more priority placed on surface appearance. I'm glad I don't have to feel those pressures, I was never any good at it.

I'm also glad the Island has lots of visitors. Keeps things fresh and brings in money to sustain the community.

It's amazing how different city-culture is from country-culture. Even by the things people say, you can tell where they're livin'. People living 50 kilometers from each other are that different. I think the separation of water has a huge effect on that, and not because of the time required to travel by ferry. I think there's something about islands that gives each one a distinct feeling. Even tiny islets in the middle of lakes have something magical about them. No matter how small it is, no matter how little water you have to cross, it always feels like you're entering another world when you step out of the water onto new land.

Lots of big wind from the North last night - a real Pacific winter storm. You can really feel the front pushing down from the Arctic. Huge waves crashing on the rocks, pushing logs and driftwood around, whipping the sea into a foam. The power was out for the morning. I just pulled out the camp stoves when it came back on again.

View from the front deck.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

blow me

This is how I feel about today.

Here's another one. I hope you like it.

This one is called "lips". Have a good day.

black magic

I found a new movie to dissect / reverse-engineer-storyboard / study / learn from... "Black Swan", starring Natalie Portman, directed by Darren Aronofsky (Requiem for a Dream), and written by Andrez Heinz. These three people executed their trade flawlessly. The Director of Photography should get a congratulatory slap on the ass as well. And the sound. And everything else, from the casting to editing to the lighting to the performances of everyone else in the film. This shit is FINE.

When you watch it, notice how few of the scenes are guided by dialogue. The entire story is visual. You could watch it in mute and get the whole story (although you'd be missing out on some great sound design, completely used to support the story). The producers (who usually need dialogue to understand a story) took a risk with this one. I'd love to see the screenplay.

I don't want to get anyone's expectations up more than I already have, but please go see it and report back! I'd love to hear comments on what people think.

(ps - Don't get turned off by my sketches - the film is about a ballerina, but it isn't an artsy dance thing.)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

colours of the season

Days and days of heavy rainfall means the creeks and rivers of British Columbia's West Coast are bursting down the hills, swollen and frothing. White foamy trails that lead your eye through lush green foliage.

Yesterday I had a Christmas bushwhack alongside a creek in a deep ravine. I followed it downhill for quite some time, then took a deer trail out into a forested area. After wading through wet-green and brown for the past hour, the colour of these Nootka Rose stalks was astonishing:

Monday, December 20, 2010

nightmares and dreams

I believe that a big part of creativity (and living happy?) is learning to listen to the little thoughts that pop into the back of your head. Most of them sound ridiculous, uncool or unachievable, so we throw them out without giving them a half-second worth of consideration. But these are our innermost thoughts - the things that really want to come out, the things that make us truly unique. I think that's why it's so scary to listen to them - because acting on them is a step into the unknown, and may separate you from what's normal.

I'm trying to listen more. It's a life-long exercise, dat's po' sho'.

My latest Listen is shown in the above picture. I was painting, and I kept getting this thought - "you need to do this painting in stop-motion." I threw it out a few times, but it kept coming back, so I went for it.

Now I have this crazy setup over my watercolour painting. A digital camera goes in the angle bracket at the top. I tested it tonight and it works! I have all kinds of ideas of how I can use this device. Fun fun.

Bonus round:

I had three separate nightmares last night about friends getting cut, bleeding, and dying. Then I had an idea for the start of another animation (which needs to have a soundtrack by Kid Koala). Quick sketches, just so I can remember. "Camera angles" in dreams are always interesting. Sometimes it's really cinematic, sometimes first-person.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

dark getting darker

back of a menu

I wonder how many people work more than five days per week. I work six days a week, on average.

I'm taking this weekend off and it feels good. But weird. I hid under the covers and played with a flashlight for about an hour. Now I'm going to light my studio closet with Christmas lights, put a chair in there, and hang out in there for a bit. A secret place within my special workroom, like a hole with a hole. Extreme privacy.

I might also put a box on my head. No one will ever find me in there.

Friday, December 17, 2010

tin cans

Bangin' cans in the shed late this afternoon - last sounds are officially recorded for the film.

I can finally listen to music while I work again. I don't like to listen to music when I animate because I get a beat in my head, and characters' movements start to look too consistent and predictable because of them beats. It's challenging enough to avoid patterns without having a thump.thump.thump in the back of your head.

Winter Solstice is coming up. I hope everyone is pulling their Jazzy Solstice Lycra out of the bottom drawer and making fresh n' flammable reptile costumes in preparation!

Don't forget to put your eye makeup on your chin and your lipstick on your eyebrows!

Can't wait!

strobelight honey

picture lock

Picture Lock on my upcoming short film was achieved at 10:05 pm, December 15th, 2010. Everything's done but the credits and sound.

My current projects seem like such a walk in the park compared to this four-year film endeavour. All of them will be finished in mere months, if not weeks. It's hard to describe how do-able almost any project seems to me right now. It's just a matter of picking the project I want to commit to and going for it. I hope I can keep that frame of mind.

I'm getting a full-body wetsuit for Christmas, and I'm looking forward to spending more time in the ocean again. Lately I've only been able to do quick jumps in the water. Because the temperature is too low for algae to grow, the water is crystal clear. I'm hoping to get a good look at some undersea magic, starting ~ 1:00 pm, December 25th, 2010.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Is it just me, or does freelance art-ing always get busy around Christmas? I can't remember the last time that I had some slack at this time of year. Not that I'm complaining...

Darkest days of the year are upon us. All this Christmas holly-jolly stuff does not match with my reality. This time of year I feel more of an urge to stand alone in the cold and black and face my demons. Cuss a little bit under a streetlight, write some nasty poems on wet paper.

The only part about Christmas that feels right is the gathering of people in places of warmth, and the sharing of food and stories. It makes sense to take refuge from the weather and celebrate the lengthening days with a bit of a feast.

If happiness comes from that, that's cool, but it should come naturally, not be expected. Everything in life has a dark side, but the only "celebration" in White-Anglo-Canada that recognizes the darkness is Hallowe'en. We need more of that. I think the expectation of constant celebration and happiness makes for much depression and sadness.

In Germany there's some creepy demon-like characters that come along with Christmas. I have no idea what the story is, but there was a healthy sprinkling of scary icons in the Christmas markets I visited when I lived there.

If you're going to have a holiday that's supposed to be "filled with cheer", put it in the summer, for fuck sakes! Gimme some shorts and put me on a hot beach with a bottle of red wine and I'll show you some goddamned cheer!

Monday, December 13, 2010


Part of a piece I'm working on for a show in January. It's stationary right now, but it'll be movin' around once I'm done with it.

Lots of different projects on the go now. I've never been more excited to work. So much to do, and it's all fun stuff:

Final touches on my short film
Recording extra sound for my short film
Illustration gig
Paintings for an art show in January (and ramping up for another one in April / May)
Website reconstruction
Marketing short film (festival submissions, dedicated website, posters, trailer, etc)
Daily drawing to keep limber
Collaboration with a Dance Company.

Fuck me! That's a lot. I predict much caffeine in my future.

Most will be finished by the end of January, though, and I can move on to writing my next short film.

Friday, December 10, 2010


Me n' a friend are making T-Shirts with the Nuxalk language on 'em. The Nuxalk people live around Bella Coola, halfway up the coast of British Columbia. Profits will go towards funding some kind of art / language project up there. Lots of ideas and support, but nothing for sure yet though. I don't know how much I'll take part in the project, but I'm happy to help any way I can.

The art comes from a documentary I did some animation on, with the same friend. In the animated sequence, the drawings were on cue cards that an elementary school teacher would use to teach children the Nuxalk language in the early 80's. After that, I get the impression that the language was not being passed on, and in danger of dying out. Recently, however, one young man has been talking with elders and actively learning the language, then teaching it to kids in the elementary schools.

It feels good to be working on stuff like this.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

wreck my face

I was in Vancouver yesterday, wandering up and down Hastings street, from Davie to Highway 1, taking photos for an art show I'm part of in Vancouver next month. The photos are for reference.

I'll give more details on the show some other time.

The ever-present West Coast Winter Clouds have cleared away for the evening. The sky was baby blue, but it's deepening into a darker, richer shade every time I look up. The tops of a few cedars are still shining yellow-green from the direct light, but my home is down in the wet shadows.

Through a few spaces in the trees, bright orange dots are shining through, where the sun is falling down into the West. From that direction, I imagine another bank of clouds is coming in from the Pacific - rearing up like a wave as it passes over the central spine of Vancouver Island.

Big water drops are hanging from the smooth dark-burgundy branches of a young maple outside my studio window. Down at eye-level, the salal is a muted blue-green, dark and wet.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Blue King Brown

Over the last two months I've been doing the final shot of my film. Probably working on it for 2-4 hours per day, 4-6 days per week, while doing other paintings and stuff. It's an 1800 frame pan shot with over a dozen characters and more layers than I got dicks.

Last night I took a look at it and said "This is crap." It looked empty. I wasn't putting my heart into it, and it showed. It didn't match the rest of the film.

So I cracked a beer and sat on the couch and stared at the wall for about two hours, then went to bed and stared at the ceiling for another hour or so.

I stared at the ceiling for another hour this morning, then got out of bed and cut up the pan into four smaller shots with a slower, drifting camera. It's SO much better. In the long pan I had to make sure the whole thing was well-composed, and that there wasn't too much to look at in each frame. So now I can concentrate on giving these four shots a tight composition and a narrower focus. More meaning per second of film.

I looked at the last half of the film this morning, with the new end shots roughed in, and thought "This is it." Finally, this is the end of the film.

The creative process is such a bizarre thing. It's easy to think that I just wasted 2 months on a shot that is now thrown out. But on the other hand, I would never have picked out these four shots (that I really like) to represent the end of the film. More importantly, I am reminded that my heart has to be in it for the art to work. If I'm not engaged, it's going to be shit, so I have to stay conscious of that.

I'm not the type of person who tends to dawdle on projects. My philosophy is that it's better to work fast, finish a project, make mistakes, and apply what you've learned onto the next painting / film / whatever. You don't make a masterpiece by fretting over one thing for years and years. Concentrate on quantity, the quality will come with time.

For that reason, this film has threatened to break my spirit a number of times. I've been at this bastard for three or four years! It's been such a challenge, but I know I've learned a lot. I don't think I'll truly realize what this experience has taught me for a long time, but I expect that it will influence me for the rest of my life. In a good way.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

All output, no input

My life is totally unbalanced at the moment. No exercise in days, except for a walk down the street to meet the local picture-framing guy. It's pretty cool to be able to walk to see people like that, and to meet them in their cabins instead of via email. He's a cool guy, super down-to-earth, the best framing person I've met. He has lots of ideas, and I think we'll be partnering on some stuff in the future. Also, he has a Bonsai business.

I have nothing else to say because all I've been doing is painting and animating. Not even going to the coffeeshop to draw and watch people. I did take a 45 minute break and got some hot wings and a pint at the local pub, which is where this drawing came from.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

a little cramped up but i understand

I just ordered ten huge watercolour sheets - bigger than I've ever used. Feels good. Making big art. Now I need to buy a couple big sheets of plywood to stretch them on.

I'm thinking about doing a graphic-novel journalistic documentary on some kind of environmental hooplah. I want to sneak through the bush and take photos of people doing bad things, but also dress up nice and interview bigwigs. Anyone know of some hooplah I can get my fingers into?

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!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

mid-life crisis

Finally starting to get my goddamned act together and figure out what's next in life. This has been my "midlife crisis" year - trying to figure out what paths to take as I enter the next big phase of my life.

They say that the first part of your life, you just jump into whatever careers and opportunities are interesting at the moment. You don't mind taking risks, and you don't think about consequences.

Apparently, people often reach a point where those first options don't coincide with their deep-down, mature, subconscious desires. So you go through this stage where you try to negotiate between what you have and what you want / need.

Fortunately, I believe that my mature desires are pretty close to what I'm already doing. But let me tell you, making a living as an artist is no walk in the park. It's a constant exercise in faith... that you're doing the right thing, that people will like your work, that another gig is going to come up.

But it blows the balls off sitting in an office nine to five (or six, or seven, or eight, or weekends), working on someone else's project.

I have a feeling the economy is headed into a dump for a few years. And when people run out of money, art is the first thing that people stop buying. But they WILL keep watching Hollywood movies and shitty TV shows.

So I'm going to ride this crazy horse until I can't do it any more, then get back into the TV / film industry if I ever start to starve. So there's some backup.

(I'm probably hurting my backup plan by dissing the film / TV industry on my blog, though.)

sweating banana man

I had a vivid dream of this one-panel comic, so I thought I should reproduce it. Everything I drew is pretty much exactly the same as in the dream, except maybe the plant. There you have it.

I'm still helping the old man with his garden. It's a mudbog now. Lots of hard work turning over the soil and layering it with seaweed, sand, mulch and grass, then rototilling it, then laying the same stuff over top again. It's going to be sweet soil in the spring.

Got up early today to harvest seaweed and sand off the beach. Foggy quiet mornings.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

log boom

Blurry detail of a big painting I'm working on.

I finally got a small thermometer that I can strap to my shorts so I can track the temperature of the ocean on my daily swim-attempts. Today it was 8 degrees Celsius. That's actually a lot warmer than I thought it was. So I'm not as afraid of damaging myself now. It's about pain tolerance, and swimming close to shore in case I freeze up and stop moving.


While I was away this weekend, three or four hundred Scoters showed up on our rocky beach.

They use those big beaks to pull out and crack mussel shells - their primary food source. This makes sense because there's extensive mussel beds along our beach. There are already significant drifts of cracked mussel shells along the shoreline, and those fuckin' Scoters have only been there for a few days! I wonder if they'll clean up the mussels on this beach and move along.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

vancouver part eighty million

Just got back from another ball-snapping triplex of days in Vancouver. Watched an illegal boxing match that my friend was in, bought art supplies, two art meetings, visited family. Butter chicken, greasy spoons, twenty five cents per four minutes of parking.

It's impossible to go into the city without spending money. I easily live off $15 / day on this li'l island, but I must spend $30/40 per day in Vancouver, not including the ferry ride. It's just not possible to spend that kind of money here, unless I was getting drunk every night.

Speaking of getting drunk, I quit drinking coffee (and anything caffeinated). The first day was a bitch. Total withdrawal symptoms - big pressure headache, laid in bed all day, cracking joints.

Friday, October 22, 2010


Last weekend I watched Batman Begins for the second time and I really enjoyed it. I've always wanted to go through a film and reverse-engineer it back into storyboards. I want to do it with No Country For Old Men, but I got the hankerin' tonight, and next thing you know I'm boarding Batman Begins.

As I work through, I've realized that the director/editor/D.O.P. team is making sure every shot asks a question. It's fantastic. If there's not a lot of direct suspense in the acting, the camera frame will open on something unclear, then move onto something. So you start the shot with a question - needing to keep watching, even just to understand what you're looking at in that single shot.

Bruce Wayne doesn't just climb down into the Batcave. Every shot looks dangerous. In the last shot I drew above, Wayne is sliding down a subterranean slope with rope. Right before the cut, you see him slip over a dark ledge. Even for that tiny moment, you're left in suspense, needing to see the next shot to see what he's fallen into.

I'm also learning a lot about directing actors by watching the film this way. You see what an actor needs to do in that one shot. If you look at each shot individually, you only see a tiny action - a glance, or the turn of a head. It's only when you piece it together that you start to believe and be taken in.

There's lots to learn about lighting, composition, and camera moves. And it's good sketching practice - lots of different body angles n' stuff.

This is a tonne of fun! A huge team of very experienced people came together to make this film. By doing this, I feel like I'm learning lessons from all of them.

Maybe I gotta start doing this for an hour a day or something.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

shitsicles and magic

Foggy days on the island. A distant foghorn calls out every few minutes. The shoreline is grey, and the horizon is ocean, fading to white only a hundred yards offshore. Sloshing, subdued, and mysterious.

The skies have been calm, but this evening the wind picked up and blew around the trees for a it. I thought we were in for a storm, but it ended up being only a few minutes of hard rain.

It's amazing how different the weather systems are between here and Vancouver, which is only fourty kilometers away. I can read the weather pretty well in Vancouver, but I feel a little blind over here when it comes to the flow of air and water. I'm learning slowly, though.

I'm so grateful to be able to step outside and piss off my deck and hear nothing but the wind. To take deep breaths of clean fresh air.

When I was living in the Yukon I didn't have indoor plumbing, so I was forced outside to the outhouse no matter how cold it was. Cold enough that you don't use a toilet seat in your outhouse, because your ass will freeze to it. (The substitute for a seat is a piece of rigid insulation with a hole cut in it.) Cold enough that your poop would freeze before it had a chance to settle down flat, so eventually you'd have tall pillar of shit in the outhouse pit, growing up towards your arse. My neighbour called it a Shitsicle - like, as in Popsicle. You had to take out a shovel and smash down the Shitsicle every few weeks.

The outhouse was a blessing because it forced me outside. I remember rushing outside on many nights in the blasting cold, doing my deed, rushing to get back in, but stopping in my tracks when I saw the Aurora Borealis blazing in the sky above. Standing there and just watching, awestruck. If you've seen those Northern Lights, you know that it's magic. I don't care what they say about the earths's magnetic field in the atmosphere blah blah blah. It's fucking magic.

The T'lingit people of the north say that the Northern Lights are the spirits of their ancestors walking across the sky.

I hope to find something that awesome and magical here, by the ocean, this winter. But I have a hard time believing anything could match them old spirits in the sky.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Now that the animation of my film is one, it's time to move on to other projects. Next stop - art show. I started on a few paintings today. I'm expanding my art enterprise into other rooms of the house. Now I have Animation Room, Watercolour Room, and Oil/Acrylic Room. I feel very privileged to have this much space to make art. That's one big advantage of living outside the city - way more space.

I'll post paintings as I finish them. I haven't even thought of where I'll show them yet. I tend to focus way more on the creation of work than the marketing of it - something I need to work on.

I've learned a lot about marketing short films, though, and have set aside a bunch of time this fall to make posters, DVD cases, and a website to showcase The Detonator. Or The Perfect Detonator. Haven't finalized the title yet.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Empire of the J25

It looks like a flock of Coots and a half-dozen Harlequin Ducks are going to be wintering on the shore near my place. That makes me very happy. They're two of my favorite waterfowl. Check em out:

It's pretty obvious why the Harlequin is a good duck. Purdy. Here's a Coot:

The Coot has a flashy bit of white, and colorful red legs, but they're not nearly as decorative as most male waterfowl. I like Coots because of their feet. Instead of webbing between each toe, their individual toes have flaps on either side. When the Coot pushes its feet down through the water, the flaps splay out, so the toes become really wide for a moment, like tiny red flippers.

I've been swimming in the ocean every day, but not staying in for long. It's bloody cold - colder than usual. Apparently this is will be an "El Nina" winter - an unusually cold winter because of cold ocean currents.

I've tried swimming in the wetsuit, but I don't like it. Today I swam in shorts, and it wasn't bad but my chest was burning and aching after a minute or two, and my chin (of all things) was also burn-aching, like that feeling you get when cold snow gets down your back, or into your boot. Except the cold snow is covering my whole body. A mountaineering friend of mine calls it the "screaming meanies". He gets it bad on his hands and feet because partial frostbite has reduced the circulation in his extremities.

This weekend I'm buying a thermometer so I have a better idea what the hell I'm doing out there.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


I got to thinking about the Cyclops. If you only had one eye, you'd have to evolve very differently to overcome the lack of depth perception. The traditional "giant man with one eye" doesn't work for me.

Whales have developed all kinds of ways to see without using their eyes. Humpbacks have lumps all over their heads, like big ingrown hair-pimples. Inside the pimple is a super sensitive cluster of hairs. Using the whole array of pimples, they can sense the motion of fish in the darkest ocean depths, and get 'em!

My cyclops has grown big chunks of hair that are slowly bonding together into sensitive lumps. I don't know how they help him see, because air doesn't reflect vibrations like water does. Whatever. Maybe they're like teats, and there's some milky fluid inside that jiggles to some mysterious frequency or whatever.

(The one on the left of the top image is a baby cyclops.)

Centuries later, they evolve into the Sniniq / Sasquatch / BigFoot / Yeti. One-eyed sumbitches with a bunch of teats on their chest! Gah! Moss grows on their wet hair so they're super-disguised in the bush. If you come too close, they crouch down and squint their one big eye and look like a stump. They're watching you.