Saturday, March 31, 2012

storyboarding part II

I've sat through the credits of a number of video games in order to watch a final section not available until the game was finished. (No, I don't play them but I live with a fairly skillful gamer.) One thing I've noticed is that at the end of video games or even very short animations there are a whole host of people named who contributed to the end result. The short animations usually have a limited list of contributors as would be expected with a film that lasts five minutes or less, but it's remarkable that these things are rarely done by just one person. However, studio productions of full length movie cartoons, Studio Ghibli, for instance, will list more artists than actors in an average live action major film. It always amazes me.

Now I'm involved in my own small scale production of drawing and writing a story I'd like to read and can see for myself just how complicated the process can be. Should I draw and paint a few highly detailed pictures and write the rest or should I plan on letting more and simpler pictures tell the story? So far I'm still compiling sketches that aren't in much of a linear order but you'll see a few ideas are developing. I spent an afternoon this week writing out a plot summary that may have a climax that's too overblown for the intended length of the tale, meaning I'd have to add much more to the middle. I'm not sure I want to write an illustrated novel either, so for the moment my character is standing at a gate wondering about that next step.

Back to the drawing board.

Meanwhile, here's another little movie I found:

It's not what we have so much as what we make of what we have.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


For the past few weeks I've been entertaining the idea of writing a fictional story but rather than sitting down with pen and paper or a word processing program my first tendency has been to open my sketchbook. Although there are many things involved in telling about any adventure or quest it seems to me that two things are important at the beginning. The first is that you know who your main characters are and the second is that you explore the place before they get there. I've been taking tiny steps to develop a couple of characters - well, one to start off with and this is her. The trick for me will be to keep her recognizable from multiple angles. I hope you'll excuse me not telling you the plot if I explain it isn't very clear to me yet but I promise to post more sketches as the story progresses. It might get long and if it does I rather expect there'll be more writing than pictures. Even though I love Japanese manga I doubt my ability to draw pictures by the hundreds.

Meanwhile, in case you need entertainment right now, here's a very sweet little story about a young astronomer who lives in a world without stars:

Light up from Light up on Vimeo.

Wish me luck with the process. I have a feeling that telling you I'm doing it might just keep me on track.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

an unexpected barque

I thought you might like to see the first of the Tall Ships to arrive in Halifax Harbour this year. It's the Simón Bolívar, a naval training barque from Venezuela. We just happened to see her parked (oops, moored) next to the Murphy's Restaurant when one of our infrequent walks downtown took us to the commercial waterfront. Best of all was being welcomed aboard at no charge and without having to wait in a long line of the tourists and visitors who'll surely be here when the main fleet arrives in mid-July. It really is a beautiful ship and I only wish we'd been at our favorite beach park when she sailed in a few days ago. Next time I'll be paying more attention to the arrivals.

Meanwhile, I read some fascinating quotes by Simón Bolívar himself, the man who is beloved by South America as the liberator from Spanish rule:

"A state too expensive in itself, or by virtue of its dependencies, ultimately falls into decay; its free government is transformed into a tyranny; it disregards the principles which it should preserve, and finally degenerates into despotism. The distinguishing characteristic of small republics is stability: the character of large republics is mutability. "

"Among the popular and representative systems of government I do not approve of the federal system: it is too perfect; and it requires virtues and political talents much superior to our own. "

"Nations will march towards the apex of their greatness at the same pace as their education. Nations will soar if their education soars; they will regress if it regresses. Nations will fall and sink in darkness if education is corrupted or completely abandoned "

"The Ignorance the people live in leads them to commit mistakes against their own happiness "

"The United States appear to be destined by Providence to plague America with misery in the name of liberty."

"To do something right it must be done twice. The first time instructs the second. "

It's easy to see why he's still well liked.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Crow up

This is one of those pictures my enigmatic friend Crow likes to send me from the distant past or the distant future - sometimes it's hard to know which but in this case he included a note to say they were flying over Manhattan. I'll leave it to you to decide when.

Meanwhile, here in Halifax as well as most everywhere else in the Northern Hemisphere, spring arrived just yesterday and summer came today. Now that's what I call progress. Already 60° (15°C) before noon it's supposed to be 77° later today. We haven't lived here long enough to be experts on local weather patterns but it does seem a bit unusual to have it be so warm in March. Still, the arguments about global warming continue and, truth be told, it's a complicated subject especially in view of the fact that popular attitudes are polarized by markedly opposing views. (I'll take a pass on mentioning any opinions posed by the religious right.)

The debate between the scientific groups is based on the views of those who subscribe to two different theories. The first group believes that when mankind began changing the landscape by means of agriculture 11,700 years ago (conversely, some think it was the 18th Century when the Industrial Revolution began) we entered a new geological age called the Anthropocene - the Age of Man. The first few herds of cows probably didn't change the world by much, nor did the first steam engine, but I'm sure you've noticed we've come a long way since then The alternate scientific viewpoint is one proposed by paleontologists who say that in the long view (and it is a very long view) the world is a complex system that's gone through huge changes in climate over the course of millions of years. Even now we're essentially in a planetary holiday period between Ice Ages.

Earth's climate is unstable no matter what we believe the cause may be. What seems really weird is to aggravate the situation by digging up tar sands,  fracking gas deposits,  poisoning the waterways,  chopping off mountain tops, acidifying the oceans, and pouring tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. You might as well claim that because a forest fire was caused by lightning,  dumping planeloads of gasoline around its edges can't possibly do any harm.

Of course, you know all of this as well as I do and what I've wondered is why is it that people in positions of power continue doing those things that make the situation worse rather than plan a course adjustment? Then I read about Hagbard's Law (from a book called Illuminatus!) which states:

Information can only be communicated by equals, since in a hierarchy, those in inferior positions face very strong incentives to tell their superiors only what the superiors want to hear.

That explains it. In today's governments and corporations, the disconnect seems to be pretty much total.

Ah well, in view of the nice day I think I'll go out for a walk along the shore. It's always fun to see Crow land that thing. I hope it's a nice day where you are too.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

may the road rise up

He that is of the opinion that money will do everything may well be suspected of doing everything for money.

Help a man when he is in trouble and he will remember you when he is in trouble again.

A nation's greatest enemy is the small minds of its small people.

Alcohol doesn’t solve any problem, but then neither does milk.

You can always burn that bridge when you come to it

A well balanced Irishman has a chip on both shoulders

If wars were fought with words Ireland would be ruling the world.

Forgive your enemy, but remember the bastard's name.

When all is said and done....more gets said than done.

May you be across Heaven's threshold before the old boy knows you're dead.

"Be not forgetful to entertain strangers, For thereby some have entertained angels unawares." Hebrews 13.2 (not an Irish saying, but it should be)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

a moving lesson

Moving from one place to another is never easy but some moves are more challenging than others. A year and a half ago we moved from Portland, OR to Halifax, NS, a distance of nearly 4000 miles, where we thought we'd find a bucolic little town far away from the complications of modern life. I'm not sure anywhere is that far off the beaten track nowadays. Then again, some people only learn the hard way. If you'd like to know more there's a new Adventure called 'a dubious welcome'.

I tried to keep it brief but it's longer than most. Apologies with pictures on Adventure's Ink.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

friends to affinity

My friend Geraldine was already an excellent artist when we met in Vancouver many years ago. Amazingly adept at drawing, I'd be aghast when she threw away nearly completed illustrations that didn't meet her ideal, a habit that lead me to collecting several wonderful examples of her work from the trash bin in her room. Her art training, including a meticulous attention to detail I envied, had been honed in Ireland, a place that's quite synonymous to me with the word magic. Geraldine's artwork was always elementally whimsical, and very captivating.

She and her family returned to Southern Ireland at about the same time as I moved to the US with the result that although we didn't completely lose touch, there have often been long periods without much contact and I never got to see what she'd been painting and making. Just recently she emailed me some photographs of work she's done over the years. The one posted above came as quite a surprise since it's a painting of one of the world's little known famous female pirates (if such a term be allowed), Gráinne Ni Mháille,  Queen of Umaill and chieftan of the clan Ó Máille.

Also known as Grace O'Malley, her story reads like a wild adventure fiction but there's history as well as myth in the legend of the Irish noblewoman who led a band of 200 sea-raiders from the coast of Galway in the sixteenth century. Twice widowed, twice imprisoned, fighting her enemies both Irish and English for her rights,  she was condemned for piracy, and finally pardoned in London by Queen Elizabeth herself.  Gráinne was one of the few sea-raiders to retire from the sea and die in her own bed as an old, respected, and very rich woman. Geraldine's portrait of her captures the sea queen's power and determination most vividly.

Among the dozen or so images was a cryptic painting titled 'Sherrach'. It's a beautiful picture in colour and form, but not knowing what story Geraldine was referring to I decided to see if there was a definition to be found in the name. The only word that came close was a Scottish one meaning rumpus or a noisy squabble. The painting may not have anything to do with arguments but the clash between water and sky seemed a fit setting for the two beings sheltering from the tempest.

Like many artists Geraldine was never one to stick to a particular medium so it was great to see some of her sculptures. This one, called Con Gái (daughter in Vietnamese), was carved during an art for peace festival held in Hanoi more than a decade ago.

Then there's this little beauty that left me speechless. Nobody other than my dear friend Geraldine  could have envisioned this deeply aware yet innocent goddess.

Such is friendship that sometimes our best conversations contain no words at all.

♡ Erin go Bragh