How I don't want to work. Progress on my animated short Chamoe; gifts for the artist bon vivant; Rachel Cusk's unpopular opinions on motherhood; winter oysters.
“I never have taken a Peach in my Hand, so late in the Year.”
On Saturday, I shared oysters and a nip of white Burgundy at a beloved West Village haunt with two friends. It was cold but we sat outside, faces ruddy between a mildly radiating heat lamp and a bright slant of light. A steaming plate of fries had just arrived. The conversation was lively and bounced between nostalgic, obscure, and pop: caves in Missouri, the old-lady-recycling-bin motif in La Double Vie de Veronique, neuroplasticity, the Sex and the City reboot. A woman far above on the other side of Waverly Place leaned out of a tiny window. She was smoking a cigarette. One of us remarked how New York that felt for some reason.
I looked across the table at my fellow artist bon vivants and lovers of long-form fiction. Time felt like a warm blanket. Rachel Cusk and Anne Carson don’t often come up in brunch conversations, and I basked in the pleasure of being among my people.
When I feel under water as I have, I largely put off things I enjoy like friend dates and museum-going. On Saturday I relaxed for the first in a long time, and something forgotten began to return to focus.
I talk a lot about taking in good things to make good things, but I continue to be surprised by imbalance in my life.
It’s not at all obvious, how this works—I know what I love, but practicing it seems to routinely require something akin to slapping myself in a dream and saying, wake up.
Maybe it’s just convenience talking, because I don’t much feel like working right now. I also do feel like working right now, but the gravity of the holidays and seasonal interruptions have become inescapable.
To be fair, my schedule is organized—ish—into 2 week cycles, and the last two have each been effectively reduced to half-duration because of family events and Thanksgiving. I’ve been trying to cram usual workloads into probably less than that given administrative obligations. (I know, boo hoo, life.)
Obviously, something’s gotta give, and something always does. Is that something the best thing, is the question. Not even just for sanity, but for creative output.
December’s another month of odd gravity, so I aim to rebalance, find a better way. What will give? What do I want to give?
WIP: the third sequence of my animated short Chamoe
Productivity: life with the M1 Max
Gifts: for the artist bon vivant
Book: Rachel Cusk’s unpopular opinions on motherhood
NYC: an iconic WV brasserie for oysters and a crisp glass of white
WIP: animated short Chamoe
This latest sequence was a monster (a whopping 20 seconds), and there still remain things to refine. But it’s finally at a place where I’m ready to move on. A one minute test run with my new recording setup, above. Excuse the low exposure.
Big lessons were reinforced and introduced—pay more attention to key frames, check how timing feels between adding color, and adding texture…
Stylistic direction is getting clearer as well. I want Chamoe to feel like a second-hand memory. Unclear edges and shadows, with moments of contrast.
I’ve also been having preliminary exchanges with the musician I mentioned in the last issue. He seems super, I think we‘ll start collaborating next month. I’ve never had original music scored for my work before! It’s hard for me to imagine what building with someone is going to feel like versus reacting to existing pieces of music, alone, as I’m accustomed to doing.
There’s so much experimentation involved with Chamoe. I feel both anxious about the risks, and excited about navigating firsts.
Members, feel free to take a look at this long sequence in full, with subtitles and sound, in the supplemental to this issue.
Try membership for free ❤️
Member support keeps The Line Between going strong, and makes it possible for me to work on an animated short every year 🙏
As a holiday special, get a 1 month free trial to access member-only content! Sign up for an annual membership before December 25th.
As always, deepest gratitude to current members for believing in my process and investing in my vision.
Productivity: upgrading the MacBook Pro
As you know I’ve long-suffered a slow laptop and finally gave in to upgrading it. (Members: your support helped me tremendously with this purchase! It’s already making a huge difference in the studio. Thank you so much.)
The machine arrived last week after a long month-and-a-half wait. I’m looking forward to higher productivity (no more “Scratch Disk is Full” errors!) and lower blood pressure.
Good riddance to the touch bar!
A real keyboard is back!
Touch ID is blazingly fast, barely tap and I’m in.
Zippy! A 92-frame segment took 3 minutes to play back at 24fps on my Intel machine. It took 5 seconds on the Silicon. Maybe I’ll be able to finish Chamoe in time to submit to festivals in the spring after all 🙀
I need to use a bluetooth keyboard with the Cintiq (my drawing display), and the new one with touch ID speeds things up even more. Highly recommend.
Beware: third party software lags behind:
Despite what Wacom says, key functionality like Display Settings for the Cintiq don’t work consistently yet. This means I can’t adjust brightness/contrast natively on the pen display—not an insignificant bummer. I’m getting around it for now by using a 3rd party plugin called Quickshade.
Still no video timeline in Photoshop 2022, so I have to continue using the non-optimized, Intel version (2021) for Chamoe.
Legacy plug-ins like Animator’s Toolbar Pro and AnimDessin also only work on the Intel version. (Patrick Deen of the former says he plans to update the plug-in when Creative Cloud dependencies are in place.)
Export to GIF is still pretty slow, but it was already a legacy feature on Intel, so I’m not surprised.
On the whole, I’m ecstatic with these much-awaited upgrades and proud to invest in my work 🤞
Give good things, make good things.
Eclectic gift ideas for the bon vivant in your life who may or may not be an artist. A few of these may be more suited for those who draw or animate, but I think all of them really work for anyone who’s curious or into beautiful things.
Faber Castell pencils · These are high quality pencils that many professional artists use, and come in a classy forest-green tin. They feel fantastic on paper; I like Strathmore watercolor sheets (shown above) because of their versatility, even though they’re not technically for graphite. (For less grain, use hot press versus cold.)
Aaron Blaise membership (lessons & tutorials) · Blaise is an erstwhile Disney animator (he worked on e.g., The Lion King) who specializes in animal movement and character. He talks a lot about general principles for drawing and animating, and it’s a joy to follow along as he works in real time. I believe there’s a holiday deal going on right now, and you can keep content forever, even if you end your subscription.
Canvas · This is a nice overhead lamp with a phone mount for filming process videos. They seem to be getting popular and are often sold out (but appear to restock quickly). They recently added a magnet mount for the phone, which was a huge selling point for me because I hate the hassle of using spring clamps. I also like that they’re a small husband-and-wife shop in Alabama; support is super friendly, too.
Paintings for Ants · I’ve been obsessed with Lorraine’s work for many years. She paints with a 00000 watercolor brush, and I’m particularly impressed by her miniature book covers and paintings of places. Here’s a crazy process video. (Incidentally, I just saw that she seems to use Canvas too!)
Apple brandy · A cordial glass at the end of a long day, with a bit of chocolate if you’re so inclined, is incredibly warming. Some bottles of Calvados give me a headache, but this one is clear-headed deliciousness, every time.
Archie’s Maps · Archie letterpress prints maps. Of cities, outer space, the UNDERWORLD. I love his work and he *just* opened a shop at 219 E 10th Street here in New York. Open Weds-Sun 1-6pm, I can’t wait to check it out.
Member only supplemental
Read on for the secret Vimeo of the latest sequence, with subtitles and sound. Plus, a review of a recent read and details on the NYC gem where I had those oysters on Saturday. Take a gander at the member-only supplemental here.
I’ll be back in 2 weeks with reflections on the first year of The Line Between, and thoughts on 2022.
202F*2! I’ve a hard time believing it’s already come to that. I literally forgot which year we were in during a meeting last Thursday.
Stay healthy. And chill if you want to, it’s your party.
Until next time.