Saturday, May 28, 2011

ask and ye shall receive...

...the hard part is figuring out what to ask for.

I asked for "boats" and lo, the boats have arrived!

Someone once told me "It takes about a year to meet friends when you move somewhere new." I've found that to be true in the past, and I'm seeing it happen again. I should have known that most people would have boats on this small island, but it never really became apparent until the past few weeks, when I finally got home, winter is gone, and everyone is talking boats. Here's what I got:

- Fulltime access to a 14-foot aluminum skiff with a 6-horse motor - just across the street. Perfect for fishing for salmon, rock-cod, ling-cod, and crabbing, on the kelp beds and around the smaller offshore islands.

- A buddy with a 34-foot yacht (sailboat), who also builds boats, and is excited to take me out on the water any time. I love sailing.

- Another buddy with a big motorboat (haven't seen it yet) and a cabin on a smaller island down the coast, who is happy to take me out fishing, or drop me off on an island for X days, any time.

My most exciting offer, and what I really asked for:

** A small one-man racing dinghy (sailboat), just across the street, that I can take out any time!

I learned to sail on a small dinghy about eight years ago, and did it for two summers. I haven't done it since, but it's burnt a little heart-shaped tattoo on my memory-sac (what?), and I am bitchin' itchin' to get back out there. I will still swim every day, but I fantasize about mastering the currents and the tides and winds in a little boat, surfing on the whitecaps with it, flipping it in big wind, and dealing with all the other fun shit that comes with being in a boat alone.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Rehearsal of "Plaything" in an upstairs rehearsal room. We're not working with the set yet.

The rehearsals for "Plaything", this dance project, are getting fast and furious now. Wide-open playtime is narrowing down into refined ideas. Soon those ideas will be honed into clockwork-precise timing, and a fifty to sixty minute-long show.

I have some fun new software to learn that lets you mess around with video live during a performance. Quite a bit more animation to do. Some sound synching.

Here are some major differences between pure animation (film and TV) and animation with live performance:

- Live performance never really solidifies until the last couple weeks. So there's a lot of going back and adjusting timing. In film and TV, your shots are usually done when they're done. This means that animation for live performance tends to be less refined. You can't make 100% sweet-ass character animation, because it might change at the last minute.

- Animated shots in live performance are usually way longer than in film and TV. I often have to do several 3000-9000 frame (3-5 minute) scenes, along with some shorter ones. The scenes are usually simple, though, because other stuff is happening at the same time.

- Working with live performance is a hell of a lot more fun than film and TV. You're working with people who enjoy experimenting, who are creating their own work (so they're delighted, not bitter), you never work more than 5-6 hours a day (except for the animator, who pulls heavy overtime, as usual), and you're working with people who have a huge and diverse range of skills, from acting to dancing to rigging harnesses to puppetry to composing music to construction and lighting and costume design.

- Every performance is a reinvention from the ground up. Nothing is a given, nothing is standard. You're never trying to make your work look like something that's already been done - quite the opposite, in fact. You're always trying to push further and do new things.

This involves a lot of risk-taking, and it's a delight to be taking risks with a whole posse of people at the same time.

Monday, May 23, 2011

dumptruck in the face

Vancouver drawing from last week. I like to write down my dreams. There's always something to read into them. Lately I've been having a lot of dreams about my old high-school buddies, and it always involves violence. Maybe it's because I don't see them much anymore.

A drawing from today, because the whole idea of this ol' blog is to do an image a day. Although I haven't been posting daily, I have been managing to draw every morning. It's keeping me sane. I haven't been managing to jump in the ocean every day, but when I do it's a fine fine thing. I've been in once already today, and I'm just about to head back in right now. The water is cold, but warm enough for me to huff around in for a few minutes without a wetsuit before my fingers start to hurt. Maybe I should just wear wetsuit gloves tonight.

Tomorrow morning I'm back in Vancouver. Fuckin' lotta movin' around these days.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

my faded self

Image from the multidisciplinary dance collaboration I'm working on. There are other things happening at the same time, but this is a part of it. Next week I'll take photos and show more.

Five days ago I went to the city feeling like a wolf, taking up space, moving freely. Leaving this morning, I felt withdrawn, like my self had holed up deep inside somewhere.

There's so many people and so much noise in the city that I find it difficult to have a long thought, or a calm thought, or an empty mind. So all the deeper stuff that makes me "me" is faded away a bit. I wonder if that holds true for other people in the city.

Maybe individuality needs silence and time and space and a bit of a void to create itself in. Maybe it's just me.


A highlight of the week was sitting on the cliffs that overlook Wreck Beach - Vancouver's nude beach, and a bit of an oasis from the city. (You used to have to jump a fence to get to the cliffs - now you have to jump two, and the paths are overgrown.)

When I was going to University at UBC, this is where I'd go to find some quiet time under the trees, and feel calm and grounded. That was when I started to re-learn how important solitary time in the outdoors was to me. I knew it when I was a child, but I forgot it during my late teens.

It was a beautiful sunny evening, with the familiar light wind from the southwest that is so common to Vancouver on summer evenings. Later, when the sun dropped below the horizon, the air quickly cooled and the breeze picked up and blew hard and steady.

Fifteen minutes later, the temperatures had equalized again, the spring air was perfectly calm, and I sat under the totem poles behind the Museum of Antropology.

Powerful old spirits carved from cedar, staring out into the stillness and the warm night.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

harry potter

Here's my image of the day. Like it? I knew you would!

I don't have a scanner or a camera on me and I don't feel like showing anything from my 'puter work tonight.

The above pages are a quick comic I did this morning - recording a conversation I had with a girl at the Starfucks near where I'm staying. This is pretty much verbatim:

SCENE: In line at Starfucks. Two ladies, mid-twenties, are ahead of JAY in line, talking to the cashier. The FIRST CHICK orders, then it's the SECOND ONE's turn to order:

SECOND ONE: I just want a glass of water, actually, because I slept with Harry Potter last night.

JAY looks up from the book he's reading while in line.

JAY (Amused): You slept with Harry Potter?

SECOND ONE: Yeah! I woke up, and I was like, "I slept with Harry Potter!"

JAY: Like, the actor who PLAYS Harry Potter, or a dream?

SECOND ONE: No, I slept with Harry Fucking Potter. His brother - he looks just like him and he has photos with him. I had sex with Harry Potter.

JAY: Okay, so you didn't sleep with a fantasy wizard-boy! You slept with the brother of the...

SECOND ONE: Yeah! I slept with Harry Potter!

FIRST CHICK: Oh my god, are you going to tell everyone?

SECOND ONE: Yes. I'm going to tell them he performed clitoral stimulation with his magic wand.

By now we are outside. I'm sitting at a table, drawing (writing all this down), and they're sitting nearby. No one else is around.

SECOND ONE's phone rings:

SECOND ONE (answering phone): Hi, I just had sex with Harry Potter. Yeah! Well, his brother. No, for real, yeah! No, seriously! In real life they're genetically related.

JAY cackles.

SECOND ONE (still on phone): I met D-Rad's bro, and I slayed him.

JAY (laughing): You are fucking hilarious. I feel like I'm watching a Seinfeld episode or something.

FIRST CHICK: Oh my god, now random people are, like, listening to you!

SECOND ONE (to me and the person on the phone): No, this is for real, though. He sounded just like him.


She was so excited, and happy to share it with the world. It was pretty awesome. Made my morning.

Postscript: Kelsey's comments below are worth reading. Especially the part where it turns out that Daniel Radcliffe is an only chlid.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

grunting sealions

I did two swims today.

The first was a full-body wetsuit long-distance swim. Judging from google maps, I swam about a kilometer. It's about 800m out to the island I want to swim to this summer, so I figure I need to be able to swim about 4km before I try it, because there will be a lot of current.

As I was stepping into the water, two sealions cruised by at a distance of about 10 meters (the width of a two-lane street). Yet again, this is the closest I've ever been to these animals. The distance keeps on closing, and I'm trying hard to keep cautious about it.

They dove after staring at me for a while, and I waited 2-3 minutes for them to resurface before I swam out. I never saw them resurface, which always scares the shit out of me because I imagine them just sitting there under the water, watching me.

(By the way, the sealion colony is out at the island I want to swim to, so I'm expecting a full-on-nightmarish experience once I actually do try that swim. I'll have someone with me in a boat though.)

While swimming across my usual cove, a seal came up close - again, closer than a seal has ever come while I've been in the water. I think it's the same seal I always see, and I'm afraid she is getting too comfortable around me. This time she literally swam alongside me, watching me with her big black unblinking eyes. She was about 10m away as well. Every time she dove I had a bit of a panic - I think I would literally shit in my wetsuit if she nudged me. I freaked out a bit when I saw movement right behind me, but it was my own foot.

From now on, I'm bringing my swimming goggles out with me. This "no visibility in the lower hemisphere" bullshit has got to stop.

I now realize I will have a wilderness encounter every time I enter the ocean. It's always different, and it's always a huge rush.

Today I thought to myself, while swimming, "If you keep doing this every day, it's only a matter of time before something dangerous happens, or you have a big scare." Then I thought, there are probably ways to maximize the time before that happens, but I don't know what those are yet.

For the moment, I just act like a seal - stay alert, pop up high and check the far horizon in 360 degrees fairly often. Maybe the goggles will help too.

I went down for a naked swim at sunset tonight and something big splashed in the water behind me just as I was taking off my clothes. It sounded big like a seal, and the ripples were big, but seals don't do that. Big salmon or something? I don't know. I thanked the gods for letting me be so close to these creatures, and slipped in.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

tao sledder

I got permission from the dance company, MACHiNENOiSY, to talk about the show I'm doing and show as much as a like, "As long as I don't say the show blows", which it doesn't. It's a fucking good time.

I'll probably be showing a lot of stuff from it in the next month, cuz I have a lot of animation to do for it, and it's going to occupy a lot of my creative time (although I'll still draw every day to keep my own vibe flowing deep underneath.) I still don't want to give too much away, though, so I'm mostly going to show rough works-in-progress n' shit like that.

The show is called Plaything, and it opens at the Scotiabank Dance Centre in Vancouver on June 18th.

I'm in high-gear animation mode - that familiar cramming feeling where I have 40 hours of work to do, and 30 hours to do it in. I have an unwholesome buttload of work to do before I head back into town on Monday. I enjoy the pace - it forces me to solve creative problems quickly, not to linger too long on decisions - trust first instincts and move on.

The beauty of this kind of work is that the animation is only one part of the whole. I'm not animating an entire scene. For instance, in the scene I've shown above, there will be a dancer and a puppeteer in there as well. (The right image has a stand-in for the dancer). It requires a different mindset than regular animation. This totally fucked with my head on the first performance I worked on, but now I love it.

I love this scene because I'm working directly with children's drawings. I think children's drawings are some of the most amazing illustrations out there - before I even started this project, I've had children's scribble-gifts to me pinned all over my studio wall. I love that kids' drawings are so random and spontaneous and joyful. Just like children are, I guess. Most of the time.

So for this scene, I'm trying to be just as spontaneous and joyful and random. Something I want to do in my life and art anyways, so there you have it.

Friday, May 13, 2011

concussion discussion

Cramming animation and biking and swimming for the next three days before I head back to Vancouver. I'm really enjoying this animation. Kid's drawings coming to life for an upcoming dance performance I'm collaborating on. I'll write more about it tomorrow, barring more wildlife encounters or philosophical breakthroughs or random dinkishness.

grey sunset with orca

Drew this on the plane coming back, in preparation for six weeks of work in Vancouver:

But I get a few precious days on Gabriola first. I wrote the following last night, fingers still numb from swimming in the water:

sunset prayers

the sky was like a big simple watercolour wash -
light grey on top, and darker grey-blue on the bottom.
smooth lapping water, calm at low tide.

climbing out, I took in mouthfuls of saltwater
and blew them out into a mist - hoou! hhoo!
my usual tradition, makes me feel like a sea creature, standing tall.

while drying myself off i see a distant spot in the water.
I keep watching. this time i hear a big breath:

now a dorsal fin, pointed straight up, a lone transient orca.
he takes quick dives, only under for a few seconds
before the fin re-emerges, larger and closer every time,

a nearby seal hears it now, and moves in close to land,
closer than I've ever had a seal swim towards me.
his back is to me, we're both looking out at the water,
watching the fin pass by.

there is so much power and meaning in these wordless encounters.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

more faces

Just figured I'd draw more of my faces to see what happens. I think it would be pretty hilarious if this is all I draw for the next 2-3 years, and it's all I show on this blog.

Tomorrow is my last day in the Yukon for a while. Over a month house-sitting, hanging out with two beautiful dogs and countless humbling vistas, constantly-changing skies, hissing quiet winds. Eating snow, drawing and not-drawing, hanging out with old friends, making new friends, and solidifying medium-length friendships.

I will miss the shit out of this place, like I always do. And as always, I will shed a tear or two as the plane takes off and I get my last glances at the gorgeous untamed wilderness that extends for a thousand kilometers in every direction.

Up next is six more weeks away from home. I'll be living and animating in Vancouver, finishing off this dance collaboration that's been on my plate for a while.

Just as important - I'll finally have other peoples' faces to draw instead of my own. Watch out, coffeeshops!

Watch out, Salish Sea! We need to have some serious re-introductions, my old friend. Twice a day? Whaddaya say? Lets fucking do it - swimming season is ON!

Monday, May 9, 2011


I draw people all the time, but it's rare that they look like the subject. I'm okay with that.

People often ask me to draw them. I never do it. I have a fantastic ability to make people look emaciated, creepy and old.

I don't see the point in drawing someone so photo-accurately, although I think it's a great exercise in observation and proportion. I am looking at your face and my pencil is drawing what it sees. Your image has been filtered through my eyes, my brain, my creative intuition, my fingers, and the lead / ink / paint, and this is the result.

There's a bizarre kind of introspective loop that happens when I self-doodle like this. How much of the drawing is direct observation, and how much is a projection of how I feel about myself? It's kind of fascinating shit. I bet you could spend years just drawing /painting your own face and make some pretty deep discoveries.

Friday, May 6, 2011

new paper

I like the new (old) sketchbook I just got into. The paper is thin and crumply like parchment.

Nothing creative is happening for me lately. The last three weeks have been a complete void of imaginative thoughts, and that's been difficult for me. Maybe this is supposed to be a recharge time. Lots of walking and fresh air empty thoughts is good, probably.

I wasn't even drawing for quite a while there, but I'm back into the sketchbook for a few minutes every morning, at least. The routine of drawing, even when I don't feel like it, is crucial to maintaining my sense of purpose, and, by extension, my happiness and possibly even my sanity.

It feels like I have a bunch of words or poems calling me from the back of my head, but I keep ignoring their rings and not listening to the messages. Maybe I should stop trying to work tonight and just sit down with my sketchbook and a cup of coffee out in the dark.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

drinking urine

"Drinking Urine" is the name of my new band. Do you like it? We rock pretty hard.

Welcome to my world.

Do I expect too much from myself, or am I actually really continually falling away from my dreams?

Speaking of dreams, this was on the previous page of a half-finished sketchbook I just started into. This was a drawing of a dream I had years ago. I don't remember the exact details - just that a girl was sitting in a chair and tied to a lone tree, and no one wanted anything to do with her. The part I clearly remember was that she seemed completely at peace.

Monday, May 2, 2011

yukon sounds

It's a windless morning.

When I stop walking and the dogs are far over a ridge, there is perfect silence.

Once in a while I may hear the distant chatter of a squirrel or a few notes from a far-off songbird, but nothing else.

After a minute, my ears readjust and I hear a faint popping hiss.

Maybe it's the static of my ears,or the sound of snow melting, or trees stretching.

I don't think it's my ears because I can clearly recall the silence of the deep winter, when I lived up here, and there was no sound at all.

In the middle of the night I'd step out from my cabin and walk way out on the frozen lake that was my extended front yard. The lack of sound was overwhelming.

The soundlessness, the uninhabited moonlit ice stretching to the horizons, and the aurora borealis overhead.

I will never forget those winter moments. Gloved hands hanging down at my sides, hood pushed back so I could hear nothing but my own breath. Those were some of the the most humbling, spiritual, profound moments I have had in my life.

This goddamned place - once it takes your heart, it never really lets go.