Monday, February 28, 2011


This is one of many reference photos I took this afternoon. No pretty composition or anything. I just liked the light on the salal leaves, makin' em glow. I like the touches of red and orange as well.

Happened upon a big raven roost as the sun went down. Laid on the wet grass and listened to the watery quorks, warbles and rough bass calls of about two dozen of the massive black birds. I guess Raven Mating Season is upon us - there were a lot of pairs chasing each other low over the trees and making sweet teasing melodies back and forth to each other.

An immature (but still massive) bald eagle was hanging out quietly in the same tree as a few ravens. Some kind of falcon also whipped past.

I'm still waiting on the final sound mix for Perfect Detonator (my animated short film) before I can get it mastered and sent to film festivals. The sound is 95% complete, it just needs some small tweaks and mixing into 5-channel sound. This part is being done at a decked-out professional studio, and I'm getting an "indie short film" cheap rate, so understandably I'm a low priority next to any commercially funded feature films that come in. Which means I just have to be patient.

Sunday, February 27, 2011


It's a real challenge to post work-in-progress paintings on here, but I'm going to start doing it, for several reasons:

(1) It's painful to do, and I don't want to, so I probably should.

(2) It allows me to be less precious about the work. Half-finished paintings are usually a poor representation of the final work, and I have a hard time even having them exposed in my studio room when people are around. But I don't have that problem with animation. I think I have to learn to be more open about it.

(3) I've always enjoyed watching artists' behind-the-scenes processes, so I think it's an interesting thing to share.

This painting is fucking complicated. I got the idea last summer while canoeing, when I saw a bunch of seals basking in the sun on a logjam. I have a lot of colours and shapes in there, and I have to bring it together. It's in watecolour, so theres no turning back. I find that most paintings work out eventually, so I have faith.

Highlights of the day, in ascending order:

(4) Watching the Banksy film "Exit Through the Gift Shop", and being horrified / thankful I'm not an art-wanker.

(3) Talking to a tugboat captain and learning about haulin' barges while driving him across the island to pick up a post-driver at his brother's place. Rain on the windshield and a dog in the back. Good times Island shit.

(2) Watching a sheep lick the afterbirth of a freshly spawned lamb.

(1) Harvesting fallen trees from the forest and using them to build a donkey corral.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

paint or be painted

Today I sat down and started painting.

I've been painting on and off for years, but I'm now committed to making a go at it as a career.

I love it more than any other art, and it's been my most precious dream since I was a Little Geek in Grade Six, complete with hair parted on the side and big awkward eyeglasses. Every Wednesday after school I timidly snuck through the big Highschool hallways to attend an extracurricular class with the Highschool kids under Mrs. Paul, their art teacher. It was scary as hell sitting with the older kids, and I was petrified of a tall thin Grade Twelve guy with a mullet and a huge Adam's Apple and a jean jacket with a scary band called "Pink Floyd" written on its back. He only drew Yes band logos and super-detailed closeups of his own hands using a ball-point pen.

That's where I learned how to clean brushes, do watercolour washes, and mix colours with pencil crayons and paint. I would tediously duplicate Robert Bateman paintings, using watercolour and pencil crayon. My parents still have those paintings.

So Little Geek has grown in Big Geek, and I still think about painting all the time. Why have I put it off for so long? Because it's been scary as hell for me to actually go for my biggest dream - how enormously disappointing would it be if I failed? But I worked through some extremely challenging situations to finish my last film, and now I feel like anything is possible if I put my mind to it, so lets fuckin' do this.

I have a gallery hookup here on the Island, and I'm going to sell stuff on my website (which I'll advertise soon), and I'll try to post as much as possible here as well. I have a big portfolio of paintings, but I feel like I should do some new stuff before I start talking to galleries in Vancouver and beyond.

Wish me luck.

ps. I'll continue to animate and illustrate and collaborate and teach and create films, but I'm shifting my priorities around.

Monday, February 21, 2011


Good day.

come save the fjords with me!

View from the top of the bungalow I'm staying at in Tromso, Norway, on a two-day Healthy Fjord project:

Just joking! It's the view from my sister's place in Vancouver, where I'm staying for two days to workshop a dance thing I'm working on. It's looks like Norway though, don' it?

Today is all about videotaping dancers, screens and projectors, stop motion ink and stuff like that.

Saturday, February 19, 2011


Wild Crocus from my back yard. The first flower of spring:

I'll never forget the delight I found in the purple Wild Crocusses that grew at the top of the banks of Marsh Lake, where I lived in the Yukon. After six or seven months of white, brown and blue, it was amazing to see these delicate little buggers suddenly appear during my daily walks. Tiny dabs of colour bringing the promise of summer. As the sunlight thins each evening, the Crocusses close up until the next day.

Here's the latest sketchbook page.

Super rough storyboard brainstorm for another film, and a sketch of some salal that grows outside my studio window.

Friday, February 18, 2011

why do you round up

People at the coffeeshop are starting to get wise to my hijinx. I can't draw the regulars any more.

I spent a couple hours today skulking around in the bush, along the forested shortcut between my house and the village. Today some guy was in there bulldozing down trees and throwing them into a giant bonfire. Obviously he has a legal reason to do it, but it felt good to be sneaking around and taking photos and filming and pretending I could "expose" the guy and he would stop bulldozing.

This might sound like a childish waste of time on my part, but I believe it's good exercise to follow through on those little suggestions at the back of your head. As an artist, I think it's crucial. You have to work based on instinct, and you can't do that if you don't even know how to listen to your instinct. Listen!

My instinct is telling me to keep hanging out up at the shortcut. It's good to watch the forest get torn away and actually be conscious of how I feel about it, as opposed to every other time I've seen it happen and I've been too busy or too young to really pay attention and consider it. Taking time to think is important. It creates reasons to make art that has meaning to me. Otherwise, I think I start working without putting my heart into it, and I think you can tell when art's got no heart.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

vector mathematics applied to my fucked up head

If I had a dollar for every back-of-the-head I've drawn on an airplane, I would not be rich. But I would probably be able to get a sweet tune-up on my road bike.

I have way too many art ideas right now. Feels a little unproductive because I'm running in eight directions at once. I'm just going to do whatever feels good in the spur of the moment, and hope it starts to sort itself out and I will only be running in 2-3 directions at once. I hope those directions are within a 180 degree arc or my run-vectors may add up to a net "zero" distance traveled.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

suckin' windpants

I just got back from visiting here:

(More complete pics of the igloo on a friend's cam)

Now I'm back home, here:

I almost forgot how much I love this island. Dark gray ocean today with foaming whitecaps - sleek gulls trailing alongside the ferry and beautiful streaks of white cloud / blue sky / grey cloud.

Friday, February 11, 2011

blue n white

Icefishing huts out on Lake Winnipeg. A horizon of ice.

I was out on the prairie today. It's possible to walk forever with nothing to stop you but a barbed-wire fence every few kilometers. Maybe it's different in the summer, when farmers might get pissed if you're tromping around on their grain or wheat or barley or whatever.

In some parts, the snow is wind-packed to a depth of three to five inches. That's igloo-makin' conditions, people! If I get time this weekend, I'll give it a try. I don't have access to an ice-saw, but I'm sure it's possible with any old saw.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

hello, winter

It's always nice to get out of the west coast fantasy winter and into the real Canadian winter.

Winnipeg takes a lot of undeserved flak from the rest of Canada. Don't trash this place until you visit, people! Let me count the ways - two a day until I leave:

First - it's the outdoor gear capital of the country. Whether you want mukluks, rifles, fishing tackle, ice fishing augers or Canada Goose jackets, this is the place to come. Logic would dictate that the province is spackled with outdoor good times, and I haven't been disappointed with the few ice and non-ice fishing trips I've had here.

Second - if you want oldschool mom-and-pop greasy spoon restaurants and dirty old bars that still have posters on the walls from the 70's and 80's, (and not because it's cool) - this is the place. This place is honest, and humble, and isn't changing at 100 km per hour, like a lot of places.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

yee haw

Here is a visual representation of my creative prowess at 12:36 AM when I had three hours sleep the night before, six hours' travel today, with three meetings sprinkled in for good cheer. It also happens to be the bedside table at Executive Express Inn near Vancouver Airport. It's a party over here, can you feel it?

Monday, February 7, 2011

yesterday's doodle is today's mystery

Check this out:

I drew that yesterday. The conversation went on (this is pretty much verbatim):

"Maybe I should just use it for cooking."

"You can't do that, it's a $2400 bottle of wine," she said casually, flipping through a magazine and barely listening.

"Well, maybe I'll have some tonight. I think it would go great with the Camembert Cheese I brought."

Then today I see the same two people, wearing the exact same clothes as yesterday, coming out of a shitty little cabin down the road. Were they just making up shit about a $2400 bottle of wine because he knew I could overhear? What up with that?

I think I just got outDrawn.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

gettin' all serious.

This is the shortcut I take to get to the Village every day. It's a more direct route than the paved road that circumnavigates the island, but I think it takes just as long because it's a winding series of trails and dirt roads. It's a steep climb up a long, squat ridge to the top, which is a quiet, magical area (pictured here), that always causes me to stop and listen for a while. Usually there's a Raven or two squawking in the trees, or flapping noisily across the grey sky.

Part of the trail was a well-worn dirt road that looked like it had been walked- and biked-upon for decades. A few weeks ago, the road has been levelled and widened by the single pass of a bulldozer. I don't see any survey tape around yet, but I sense that this quiet hilltop will be developed sooner or later.

It won't be the first time I've seen a special place paved over and subdivided into house lots. Off the top of my head, I can think of half-a-dozen wild places where I used to play that are gone now. I often wrestle with the sadness of this kind of loss. I do like them woods.

An idea is starting to gel in my head - a creative way to document these places before their magic is diluted by grass lawns, right-angles, fences, and barking dogs. It won't be a defiant "stop the change" kind of thing. Just a way to honour these places by recording them, so they can be remembered after their gone. I think that might make these transformations easier for me to accept.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

pimpin' gear master

Also, if anyone has a line on a used one-man dinghy (sailboat) somewhere along the Salish Sea, let me know.

Friday, February 4, 2011

windsurfer post partum storyboard winnipeg

In the last few days I've been suffering from post-partum film syndrome. It feels weird not to be animating. I have big plans to do a lot of painting this spring and summer, but I think the Filmmaking Itch is going to stick around.

Going to Winnipeg next week and I'm not bringing any work, so maybe I'll chill in a few coffeeshops and start playing around with some storyboards.

ps. if anyone knows someone who wants to sell a windsurfer in the Vancouver / Van Island area, please let me know.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

wing night

Wing Night at the local pub.

Nice to get to know people on the Island. It's hard to go anywhere now without knowing at least one person.

Talkin' tonight about summer - I'm already getting excited. In the tourist months, the "Surf Pub" is open - a five minute walk from my place, with a killer deck that looks over the water and the sunset. Whenever I wanted a sodie-pop I would just bike down with a coffee mug and they would fill it up for free.

Yuss yuss yuss.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


I got a full-body wetsuit for Christmas so I could swim in the water this winter (as opposed to taking a 15-second screaming jump in, which still feels nice but doesn't last very long). The wetsuit is great, but the gloves I chose were too thin. They're basically bike gloves. I couldn't stay in for long because my hands got numb fairly quickly.

So last week I bought thicker gloves and it's amazing how much more comfortable I am. You really do lose a lot of heat out of your hands - especially when they're surrounded by water, which conducts the heat right off of you.

Yesterday I swam across the cove, like I was doing 2-3 times a day last summer, and was surprised at how much harder it was. Maybe it's harder to swim in a wetsuit, but I think it's more that I'm out of shape. If it wasn't for the floaty wetsuit, I would have been pretty scared on the way back, because I was suckin' wind pretty hard. Fortunately, a number of cars stopped to watch (including the local police car), so if anything happened someone would have been there to help. But I think it would be impossible to drown in a wetsuit - you can just float there.

It sure is nice to lay on my back in the middle of the ocean and watch the raindrops hit the water.