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?