Wednesday, January 30, 2013

For You.

I actually think that kindness is one of the most powerful things in the world.  Kindness to ourselves and kindness to each other.  When I am feeling down about myself or my work sometimes I feel like it would be weak to be kind to myself.  Like I would be encouraging or endorsing the things about myself I wanted to change.  Truthfully though I was just kicking myself when I was already down.  When I couldn't find the strength to be kind to myself I was and am lucky enough to have people in my life who could see past my self loathing to see just me, a person who was hurting.  When I couldn't bear to be kind to myself my family and friends were.  It was their kindness that lifted me up.  If I had surrounded myself with people who believed like I did that the only way to change or help myself was to be cruel and point out my flaws (as if I didn't already know what they were!) I don't think I could have survived it.  I count my blessings every day that through the darker periods in my life when I couldn't show myself love or acceptance I had people in my life that gave me a soft place to fall and a refuge from my own internal self flagellation.  Now, years removed from those times I find it easier to be kind to myself in the hard times.  I remember a few parts of last year when I felt particularly low that I couldn't find one good thing to say about myself.  It was then when I was internally searching for something, anything that would keep me moving forward I heard my sisters voices telling me that they were proud of me and that they believed in me no matter what.  I listened to those voices and replayed them over and over in my head until I believed it and I could say it to myself.  Of course I could have chosen to listen to the other voices.  The ones who doubted my choices and discouraged me from taking the risks with negativity and fear.  If I chose to recall those voices in my fragile state I think I would have just fallen to pieces.
Not everyone is going to believe in you.  But you owe it to yourself to find someone who does.  And you owe it to yourself to believe in the way they believe in you until you can believe in yourself.

While we are on the subject, who is it that you believe in?  Who can you offer kindness to when they are feeling low?  Give that person a soft place to fall because you may be the only person in their life who can.

Look a little different?  I'll talk about that on Friday :)

Monday, January 28, 2013

Self Aversion and Lemon Party

I read something recently on the subject of how we often try to avoid ourselves.  Desperately seeking TV or something to read or mindless tasks to perform, anything to allow us not to have to be alone with ourself.  I know that I have done this more frequently lately than not.  Knowing that I will have to go on a 15 minute walk to Whole Foods prompts me to nervously check that I have my ipod in my pocket so I can listen to music. If I should already begin walking and realize that I had left my ipod at home I will silently curse and immediately pull out my phone to check.....something, anything.  Anything so that I don't have to be left alone with myself.  It is such a knee jerk reaction at this point that it takes deliberate and conscious thought to actually reconnect.
But then I remember, those warm nights while I was working in Burbank.  I would walk 40 minutes home from work every day.  After having listened to my ipod all day while animating I needed a break and I would walk home in silence, just myself and I.  I remember thinking how beautiful the sky looked and how long it had been since I had heard crickets chirping.  And that maybe it was a good think that I was stuck in the Suburbs of Burbank because it has the smells and sounds that reminded me of my childhood.  I remember feeling really grateful at that moment.  The crickets and the grass reminded me of the barbeques we would have in our backyard growing up.  The setting sun amongst the houses reminded me of the time before I moved to the city when I could watch the sky turn colours from my driveway unobstructed by tall city buildings.  Walking the streets of Burbank and being comforted by familiar things in an unfamiliar place was really a special moment for me.  I don't think I would have had those experiences if I was listening to music or a podcast.
So why do I avoid myself now?  I think I know it is because on some level I am not being completely honest with myself and perhaps I am afraid to be faced with the truth.  There are things in my life I have been avoiding and because of this I am avoiding myself.  Doing this Failure Challenge has helped me come face to face with some truths.  It has also given me the courage to face other parts of my life I have been avoiding.  But I'll get into that another day :)

I've been getting some requests for my previous lemon attempts so here they are in order.  

These were all done on the same day.  I was determined not to let this lemon kick my ass completely!

Friday, January 25, 2013

A Work In Progress

Well the titles says it all!  I'm working on a small digital piece for fun.  It's weird doing something you don't usually do and having the feeling that you have no idea who you are.
Here is a preview:

Digital Painting in Photoshop.  Referenced from a picture.

Also I've been getting some requests to see the other lemons I painted so look out for that on Monday!!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Lemon Law

Today I painted the same lemon.  4 times.  In varying degrees of success.  The first two I painted made my heart hurt.  They punched my ego in the face and pulled down its pants.  I know that these are feelings I have to feel.  They are OH SO uncomfortable.  But this is the whole point of everything.  Knowing that I have a second sketchbook that I have started that is being filled with anything but cafe sketches lets me see through the haze of discomfort and steadies my heart.  I'm on the right path.  It hurts, but I'm walking it.

Lemon painted from life.  Gouache with a blue underpainting.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Somewhere Along The Way

When I started this blog I had been working for a few years as a stop motion animator and found myself to be laid off indefinitely   During those few years working I had completely neglected to draw.  When I was growing up and all throughout high school and college I did nothing BUT draw.  But what can I say?  I was swept off my feet by stop motion and was completely engrossed in it.  Still the nagging feeling that I was missing something stayed with me and when my job disappeared the feeling was all I had left.
It was amazing how....well how BAD my drawings were when I finally picked up a pencil again.  Comparing it to my high school and college art it seemed I had actually regressed.  This was a gut wrenchingly hard fact to face.  However I knew that the joy I used to feel from drawing was something worth fighting for.  I learned to turn off the part of my brain that cried in despair every time I drew something that did not look the way I thought it should.  It was only by sheer force of will that I was able to get through that part and rebuild the connection with my mind and my hand so that when I envisioned the way I wanted to draw something it actually came out that way.  This of course took YEARS and is still something I'm working on.  
Now that I've decided to take the leap and move onto different subject matter I find myself back at square one.  My brain and ego are taking a beating.  I think in the back of my mind I knew this would be the case but I was hoping it magically wouldn't.  At least this time around I have total proof in the fact that I can overcome this particularly discouraging part of the journey.  Although this time I am going through it wiser and more optimistic.  I can feel the slow and painful rebuilding of communication with my mind and my hand.  It is a brick by brick operation with no technological shortcuts.  I must do the dirty work.  And the fact that I have even started this journey (finally) makes me feel amazing and powerful.

Gouache and China Marker

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Don't Forget About The Love

Lately I've been in a real rut with my cafe sketching.  The last week or so nothing seems to come out right.  I see people, I draw them, but then I don't like what comes out on the page.  Something is missing and I know I've gone through periods like this before but they don't get easier.  I always continue drawing day after day until some mysterious switch gets flicked back on and I enjoy it again.  Today while trudging through an episode of "i don't feel like drawing" mornings I felt especially desperate.  It's not just that everything I drew seemed ugly, it also seemed foreign.  Like someone else had drawn the faces on my page.  Nothing about them had any part of me in them.  Then I kind of realized that that was it.  That was my problem.  I had become disconnected with the people I was drawing and the feelings it could bring out in me.  When I am "in the zone" I am unusually completely smitten and in love with the people I am drawing.  The way there hair falls, the degree of which there nose turns up, the lopsided way they smile or talk.  So I decided to start loving them again. I looked up at a person and allowed myself to be completely charmed by them.  Their double chin that formed when they smiled, how short their hair was that it curled right under their ears.  When I allowed myself to delight in this I found myself in love again and once again I was reflected in my drawings.  It was actually amazing the immediate difference I saw.  I was no longer rushing through drawing, nor was I over thinking things in my head.  I took my time, lingering over the drawing and adding little touches here and there.  Because I wanted to, because that's what I love to do.
The thing I really took away from this was just.... you have to love what you are doing.  No matter what it is.  You have to feel love and feel connected so that your natural inclinations are to spend time, connect and love the details of what you are doing.  Whether you are an artist or anything else.  If you love what you do you will love the things you do.

Failure Challenge POST 2

A sketch I did purely out of my head.   It is something about love.

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Failure Challenge - DAY 1

Lately I feel like I've hit a wall with my sketching.  I find myself all up in my head with all kinds of negative voices while I draw.  I don't like this.  I think a lot of it has to do with not doing improv anymore.  When I was doing improv regualrly it gave me the opportunity to really publicly fail but then have to get back up and try again.  It also always encouraged me to make mistakes and then invest in those mistakes to turn them into gold.  I miss improv.  With the craziness of my travel/work schedule over the past year it has been impossible to get back into it.  The closest I got was when I moved to SF and I thought I would be there for a while.  I emailed the local improv school and was all set to start classes there.  I was REALLY excited.  And then we all know what happened next.
I know I will find my way back to improv... it's just a matter of when.  I actually found a pretty great school here in Vancouver but they ask for you to commit to a certain number of months and at this point I really can't commit since I may be going back down to California at some point.  And I wouldn't want to leave anyone hanging if I had to bail on an improv group.
So it's time to take trying and failing and succeeding back into my own hands.  I will begin using this blog more for its intended purpose.  When I started it back in 2010 it was so I could get back to drawing.  I chose cafe sketching and I posted the results publicly.  No matter how awful they were at times.  Because the point of this blog was not to post beautiful drawings.  It was to post, to share, and to not be afraid of showing people that sometimes I make bad art.  I knew that if I could accept the fact that I failed sometimes then I could take the fear and the power away from failure.  Whether this meant someone would come across my blog and NEVER return because they were so highly unimpressed with its contents was and is not for me to worry about.  The main focus on my mind is just; am I trying?  Am I making?  And  posting on this blog is a way to say YES.  I know that as long as I keep producing art, good or bad it is always a step forward.  A step forward in the education of myself and who I am as an artist and a person.  To figure that out is my main objective in life.  I'm truly not trying to impress anyone.  I'm just making this a space, my own space, where I can go to and accept myself for the good and the bad.  I think everyone needs that safe space in order to grow.
So with that being said here is my challenge to myself.  For the next 30 posts starting from now I will not be posting any cafe sketches (although I will still be cafe sketching every day).  I may sketch and post ANYTHING else, including household objects, landscapes, or just things from my imagination.  I need to get comfortable with failing again and this is the best way I know how.  If anyone wants to join me on this challenge of 30 days of failure I would love it.  Thats not to say you should expect to fail everyday.  It's more in the spirit of - Do something everyday that normally you would not do/be afraid to do because you think you might fail or not be good at it.
But that's just the first part of the challenge.  The second is to look at your failure head on.  Look at it and accept that this is a part of you right now.  It may not always be this way but right now it is and that is OK.  If you're feeling extra adventurous tell someone about how you failed!  Have a laugh about it or have a serious talk about how it made you feel.  Do whatever you want with it because it is your failure.  Let's do this.

A gouache painting from life of the chair in our living room

Friday, January 11, 2013

I Want It That Way

Quick note - I will be getting back to a somewhat "regular" blogging schedule of Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.  So come on by!

Lately I feel that I am forcing a real fork in the road.  Well several forks.  And when I think about it, it all becomes very overwhelming.

I don't know what lies ahead, I don't know how one choice will affect my other choices in the future.  I can guess, but I can't know.  
Sometimes I stop and think why I couldn't have chosen a more mainstream career.  One where you get to a company, work your way up and feel somewhat secure.  But if I did that I think my life would be a little more 

When I look at that I know its not the right choice.  I know that even if I haven't quite figured out who I am I know at least what I don't want.  With all of the craziness and uncertainty at least I have more options.  More chances to do or experience something that I don't even know exists yet.  My life has been full of surprises.  In the midst of it it was all very stressful with dizzying highes and bottomless lows.  But it's been interesting.  I will take an interesting life over anything else.  I think I'd rather live in the extremes than be in the middle all of the time.  When it comes right down to it I just really need to keep that in perspective so that I can weather through the uncertainty until it carries me on to the next adventure!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


So here is whats up.

When I returned from my most recent work trip I picked up work on my short.  I got SUPER excited and was so super motivated from the energy I had felt working on Robot Chicken.  I decided to do a walk test with my ball and socket armature.  I set it all up and had him take a step.  I felt totally alive and thrilled as I finally animated my little man.


The thread lock came loose.  For like the THOUSANDTH time.  I had 9 joints in the neck alone and the thought of one or all of them going while I was in the middle of animating gave me a headache.  Have you heard that saying "to do the same thing over and over again and expect different results is insanity"?  Well I realized, I could re-clean  the joints, reapply thread lock AGAIN and maybe this time it would stick.  But louder than that voice came another one that had been stirring ever since I worked on the Moral Orel special.  I really loved those armatures.  They were wire armatures but the way they were made was amazing.  I could animate it as hard as I wanted and they never broke.  When I returned to Burbank later in the year to work on RC they used the same armatures.  And again....  I loved them.  Before I made a decision I asked myself a question:
- if the puppet broke while I was animating it would I have fun in stopping to take the time to fix it?  Or would I be annoyed and impatient and want to get back to animating?
Answer: I would be seriously annoyed and impatient.
So I've made a decision.  I'm going to remake the armature out of wire.  I don't want it to break while I'm animating.  I care more about animating than I do building.  There is just more joy for me there.
When I came to this realization I felt both relief and panic.  I had spent MONTHS of time working on the ball and socket armature.  Had I really wasted all of that time?


When I look back on the time I spent in my cold studio with my fingers freezing trying to piece together the steel armature what I recall the strongest was how happy I was.  I love building things.  I always have.  I love using my hands.  This is really why I love stop motion so much.  I had fun building that armature.  I can't think of a better way of spending my time than by doing something I truly enjoy.  The sum of that time is not a useful tangible object but rather bits and pieces of knowledge that I gained while sorting through the many small obstacles I encountered.  To me this is priceless.  What else is priceless is knowing that I worked on the things I thought I wanted most - a ball and socket armature.  And to be shown that when I thought I had to choose between A or B there was actually a C I didn't even know existed.  I love being surprised, especially when it changes my mind about something I was so sure of.

So I happily pulled out my original sculpt.  I measured it and made a scale drawing, shrank it in photoshop and am now using it as my template for my new armature.  Using wire will enable me to get back to the proportions I had first envisioned.  Smaller joints, thinner limbs.  I'm excited.

Monday, January 7, 2013

So Much

So much to talk about.... So many decisions have been made.  Too much now to go over, I just really wanted to get a sketch up!

Stay Tuned!

Also!  HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!  What will 2013 bring for you?