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.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


One of my favorite things about Canada is our First Nations contingent. We're so lucky to have a relatively large population of people whose cultures are (were?) ingrained with living off the land and respectin' it. Lots of amazing knowledge and wisdom. And clothing!

Canada, do not take for granted the Mukluk!

I'm not talking about Ugly Boots, I'm talking about the real thing - hide boots, maybe with a little beading on the toes and maybe covered in fur, or with fur trim.

Put some wool liners in those suckers and you're good to go in the coldest weather. Your feet stay as warm as they would in any boot. If you're only walking on cold, dry snow, the leather bottoms will take a few winters to wear down - and you can sew on new leather if you start to get holes.

They're extremely light, as well. Feels like you're walking naked. You can see how awesome it would be to be totally naked except for a fur suit on, like the people of the far north.

My only pair is a heavy-duty caribou-fur boot, and the fur sheds like crazy. Not cool for inside. So I ordered a pair of short ones today from a lady in Saskatchewan. Give her the size and she'll sew you up a pair. If you have a house with cold floors, or are too lazy to keep the wood stove stoked, these are a life saver for wearing around the house.

My other excuse: I've noticed that I get pretty chilled after swimming, so I need something to cover my feet to warm back up. They're always cold afterwards.

PS. I snuck up on a posse of four seals today. I was hiding in the rocks, warmed by the sun. They were floating about thirty feet away laying on their backs, absorbing the sun. Thirty feet! That's pretty close.

Friday, October 15, 2010

this is heaven

From living up north in cabins, I figured that the best place for a wood stove was in a cold-climate log cabin in the forest, with snow on the ground and northern lights undulating slowly across the sky. I now believe that a wood-stove heated cabin is just as good by the Pacific Ocean. Smellin' that wood smoke mix with salt and seaweed while walking on the beach, watching the sky darken, listening to Oystercatchers (small birds) chatter on the shore, is real nice. Real nice.

Nice enough to come up with the title for my next film, "This is Heaven." The title works perfectly for the theme. Above is the cover book I'm using for the first ideas and sketches. My sister works at a publishing house and they get these sample books called "Dummies" that book printers use as samples. The publishers get overloaded with Dummies, so she passes them off to me. Free sketchbooks! Usually glossy paper, though, which makes it a challenge. No pencils, no watercolour.

When I told my sister that I had ideas for a new film, her boyfriend said "Not already! I thought you said you were going to paint?" I think my family stresses about my career, somewhat. Long hours on long projects with a bit of payoff every 2-3 years.

I'll still paint, but I ain't gonna stop making films, people!

Thursday, October 14, 2010


Working myself up into painting, one sketchbook-page at a time.

Swimming in the ocean again every day. It's cold. The weak link is my balls. I've always thought I could just get used to it, but I didn't consider the nether regions of my person. I don't think it's in man's nature to toughen up his scrotum.

"Yeah, hit me one more time down there... yeah, I'm getting used to it. One more time!"

It just doesn't happen.

I've been reading about whales, and a lot of scientists free-dive to get close to them... apparently whales don't like all the bubbles that come out of SCUBA, so free-diving is the way to go. So I feel a bit better about the idea of using a wetsuit, because it would let me go deep and practice holding my breath. Apparently the Orca (Killer Whales) were around again last weekend, which is exciting and scary.

Granted, I've been swimming naked lately, so maybe a pair of shorts would do wonders.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

burning fuck poem

coffee and pencil - looking over a roof at the trees.

It's hard to say no to an old man who wants you to garden for him. I have a lot of art to do, but I can't turn away from old Tom, who makes us halibut-salad sandwiches and tea for lunch, and never critiques how I work. Most of all, I think the garden help is the only real company he gets most of the time. It keeps him active and thinking, and caring about something. If he didn't have his garden, I don't know what he'd do. All he talks about is his plants and the weather.

I guess it's a matter of keeping a balance. I'd be over at his place 5-6 hours a day if I didn't draw the line.

I can't believe how much easier it is to work on projects that take a few days, rather than a few years. I'm having a good old time designing a CD cover right now.

My film is basically finished except for adding some subtle melody under the existing soundtrack. But my composer / sound designer is booked until late December, so the film is on hold until then. Not a biggie, I'll be keeping busy with plenty of projects anyways. I may even start on my next film...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

cleaning up

After three weeks of doing business out of a backpack, I'm home and dying to get back into a creative routine. Things are backing up: I have a two-page list of people I need to email. The old man's garden needs a lot of work before the rains hit too hard. My tolerance to swimming in the cold ocean is deteriorating. My belly is growing, and my arms are getting weaker.

I'm dying to paint and I need to get into a good routine so I can start doing that every night.

On top of that, I have 4-5 other creative "gigs" going on at once. Lots of fun, but overwhelming when I'm not organized enough to dig in.

That's about it. I have a solid evening of emailing to do. It's a coffee-beer-water-drinking night.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

new book

First page of my new carry-along sketchbook. Just because I'm putting up an image every post doesn't mean it has to be a nice-lookin' image.

I need to get the final edit of my film done today, but I also have three hours of heavy garden work to do, which includes taking sand and seaweed from the beach.

Then its another six days living out of a backpack - this time mostly in Vancouver. Early ferry ride tomorrow, then seeing a film I worked on at Vancouver Film Fest, three days of sound editing on my film, and a meeting for the dance show I'm working on. Then a two-day Thanksgiving with my family, then straight to a screening of my last film, Boar Attack.

I haven't shaved since I went up to the farm two weeks ago. I better do it today or I'm going to have a nasty beard by the time that Boar Attack screening rolls around.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

warm up the hearth

View from a buddy's place, where I spent the last two nights partying with some random good people. Blessed be the ocean. Blessed be the random good people.

I did a tonne of sketches in the last few days, but last night in front of this campfire I had a fit of inspiration and finished off my sketchbook, duct-taped feathers onto it, wrapped it in a potato chip bag, and sealed it up to send to a friend in the Yukon.

We've been sending hand-made, creatively-bound comic books to each other for years. The title of the publications are "Perfect Detonator" (the same name as my film). The publication must say the date, and have a price. Usually it's some exorbitant amount, but this time the listed price is:



So the sketches will remain between myself and my buddy. Unless you want to make a trade.