Thursday, December 7, 2017

Founding Members of the Natural Foot Society

Ant Hill

Looking around my studio for the strangest thing I can share this week... I think it has to be these drawings. 

I don't even know how to explain this. 

I started by drawing five colourful little creatures with a variety of 'adventuring gear' - ropes, pitons, belts lined with vials and knives, backpacks. Then I made that into a poster for my son's room where the quintet is lined up under the title 'Founding Members of the Natural Foot Society' (derived from a name in Gerald Vizenor's Chancers).

Then I made up character sheets for these five fellows using a tabletop roleplaying game (RPG) ruleset.

Then I started drawing a huge map of an anthill and doing a lot of research on ant physiology, ant hills as hive minds, and insects that cohabit with ants, or live alongside them in ingenious ways.

Now I'm using the RPG to simulate what would happen if the Natural Foot Society (founding members) had to enter a giant anthill that was infected by a weird phantom spirit disease. 

Then I started drawing scenes from that simulation. (It starts violent, but it's going to change as the NFS become more like ants and see the hive as a body and organism that they are now integrated with.

Now I'm filling out the simulation with dialogue, and starting to write a script so it all makes sense. Also writing a roleplaying game scenario for it. I think it would be interesting to roleplay a being who comes to experience what it's like to be part of a larger hive-mind.

So that's something I'm doing. 

(ps. did you know that adult ants can't digest food because their abdomens are too narrow? They don't produce digestive enzymes, but their larvae do. So ants carry solid food to the rooms where the larvae live, and soak the solids in pools of enzymes that the larvae drool out, and then they suck up the dissolved goop. So the brood of the ants also functions as a living 'gut' and digestive organ for the whole nest-as-body.)

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Something is better than nothing

I've really dropped the ball on posting here regularly. I want to share something at least once a week. So instead of posting nothing at all, I'm going to go easy on myself and not worry about writing a lot, if I don't have the time. 

Here are some pages from a documentary-style comic I'm doing, about people and salmon. 

This is part of a two-year collaboration with sound artist and ethnographer Jenni Schine.

One day there will be a website for the project and I'll share that here, because I think the subject of wild salmon health is important and needs to be shared. But I do want this blog to focus on the process and less about glitzy final products and successes and the things you usually read about on social media. I hope I can keep this blog messy and complex, somehow. When I have the time.

As I work on these pages, I realize that I've always been more influenced by comics and graphic novels than any other storytelling medium. It's nice to be working with panels and pen and ink. The film is on hold until December 19th, for an intermediate deadline with this comic.

That is all for now! Until next week..?

Friday, October 6, 2017

Sexy Pollutants

The first shot of my next film! 40-50 more shots to go!

The film is coming from drawings I do every morning. I've been drawing without a specific intention except to say "yes" to whatever strikes my interest. What is consistently emerging are drawings of misshapen and asymmetrical insects, chunks of plastic bags floating in the ocean, and water-borne liquids (pollutants). Sexy!

Central to many of my drawings (and the film) are little red dots that are inside all the living things. Life force? Souls? Spirits? I don't know yet, but I'm discovering it as I work on the film.

An underlying intention is that I want the designs and colours be beautiful and fantastic. I want it to be something that will delight my son.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Three Superimposed Things

Three Superimposed Things

I overlaid these studio-tidbits for this post, and now I'm wondering if something like this might be good for Alicia Hansen's new album cover. (She's asked me to do the art). Her next album is coming out in Spring 2018 and it's so vulnerable, heartfelt and raw that I can't stop crying when I listen to it.

She gave me permission to post the lyrics to one of her new songs, which fits the theme of the blog:

I Don't Believe It

Maybe I suffer from grand delusions
Maybe you should sell your soul down the river
Maybe we have made nothing but poor choices
Maybe they were right about that after all

But I don’t believe it, I don’t believe it
I don’t believe it, and nor do you

Maybe I lack essential drive
Maybe you really are too sensitive
Maybe we are naïve and foolish
Maybe they were right about that after all

But I don’t believe it, I don’t believe it
I don’t believe it, I don’t believe it

(addendum: She thinks it might be too "bodily fluid" coloured. Point taken.)


Sunday, September 24, 2017

Fantasy Land

Sunday Snapshot

I struggle to describe myself as an artist, because I straddle so many mediums and genres. Because of that, I sometimes feel like there is no focus.

I need to continually remind myself that my focus is the process.

By process, I mean that it's not about the outcome - it's about showing up to the studio and listening to what wants to come out of me that day. It's not about forcing a project to completion - it's about trusting that some projects will come to completion in a joyful way if I just show up and keep making. Perhaps my description as an artist will be the aggregate of all my work when I die. It's not my job to determine what that is.

I have a quote from Will Smith that I think about a lot: (From subreddit /r/inspirationalquotes ):

"You don't try to build a wall, you don't set out to build a wall. You don't say 'I'm going to build the biggest, baddest, greatest wall that's ever been built.' You don't start there....You say 'I'm going to lay this brick as perfectly as a brick can be laid'. And you do that every single day and soon you have a wall."

For me to perfectly lay a brick, I need the studio to be a safe place. This is where I come to evade the chaos of the internet, the expectations of others, and the responsibilities of the rest of my life.

It needs to be a safe place because this is where I need to be able to continually say, "This is not possible," and do it anyways.

I need to be working on the impossible, because if I thought I was making something that was already predetermined and easy and known, it would be a waste of time, and uninteresting to me. There is no point to making art if you already know what it's going to be.

My studio is a Fantasy Land, where I build impossible, joyful little bricks. One by one, it happens - every morning.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

 Best Studio So Far

Four years and one day later, I'm returning to Draw or be Drawn!

After forty-three years of life and forty years of drawing, I think I've finally settled into my own way of working creatively.  This blog will be a celebration of my own particular ways of working, and hopefully a way that other people can reflect on their own unique ways of having an impact in the world.

At present, I think this blog will be a way of sharing a few things:

1) My personal creative processes, which are messy, joyful, intense, emotional and abundant. I feel that I have two things to give: my artwork, and my experience with making the work. This blog will be more about the latter. I probably won't show much finished work, but I will show works-in-progress.

2) The things I get excited about, when it comes to writing and making. I'm influenced by scientific advances, animal lives, science fiction, tabletop roleplaying games, comics, films, indigenous knowledge and storytelling theory. I want to share the things I get stoked about.

Artists tend to only show finished work, or heavily edit their 'works-in-progress' so even those look great. Here, I hope to be vulnerable and show my mistakes and trials as much as my successes.

...But as with any creative endeavour, I have no idea what these posts will turn into.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

be my ocean

Uprooting again.

This time there is comfort in the move, and I think it's because I'm not entering a completely foreign territory that I'll have to re-learn to navigate. There will be Douglas Fir, Cedar, Ferns, Ravens and Deer. I take comfort in knowing that the relationships I am developing with my current surroundings will not lay dormant, and that I can transfer that learning to a similar place. Maybe it's like learning the same language, but a different dialect:

I will no longer have the rocky coastline nearby, or River Otters, Herons and other waterfowl. I will be slightly inland, and on the mainland, with a new vocabulary of Coyotes, Bear, Skunks, Porcupines and Raccoons. I've been missing these larger omnivorous mammals in my last five or six years of living on islands and in the city, and I'm looking forward to seeing their signs again. A lot of the Gulf Islands are ecologically unbalanced - deer are allowed to propagate freely alongside humans, cats and dogs, because the coyotes have been culled to protect house pets, and to prevent competition for human-farmed meat.

It's undeniable that the majority of the world is already one big human-farm in one way or another, but I still enjoy feeling the power of the things that surround me - not just in terms of grand scenery and beauty, but in terms of a wariness and respect that other powerful entities are out there that can do drastic things outside of my control.

I suppose this is why I've gravitated to the ocean when I've lived on the Gulf Islands. There is a definite sense of humility in bobbing along the boundary between water and air - being completely incapable of even perceiving what is happening in the water that surrounds me.

May the bears and the storms be my ocean, in this next place-of-living.