How we enter into light. Reflections on color, a process video, afternoon martinis the way they used to be.
Of what can be certain except this that we are fertilized by mysterious circumstances?
—Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
It feels almost indulgent to talk about work now—about color, making lines move, my small travails in the studio. But I’m not sure what else to do. There’s much helplessness and pain these recent days, layering on top of fresh scar tissue—but I can at least do this. I can talk a few minutes of story and creation with you, hoping that it moves the needle northward, however minorly, in the balance of an angry universe.
Last Sunday night I had a hard time falling asleep.
In addition to anxiety about local and global instability, I was entering into a week whose weight I already felt crushed by. Tunnels are always longer on the front end, and I couldn’t see anything but darkness through.
I fell asleep well after 3am, having tried wind-downs, rain sounds, reading. What finally worked was stopping my ears with industrial-grade ear plugs in an already quiet night. Turning inward toward silence of a more familiar and approximable quantity, I felt protected by the cottony soundlessness. It felt palpable, like a weighted blanket over my racing and laden mind.
Ultimately, the week was a productive one. I’d anticipated trouble from a particular segment I needed to animate, and was dreading hours of struggle. But I ended up progressing steadily from one step to the next. I was surprised—not at the resolution or even the process, but that both were ready at hand. Rather than being taken aback, perhaps it’s time to set a new bar for myself.
In any case, I felt, on the whole, relief, and for the first in a while, that I had a bit of room to maneuver, and to breathe.
Falling asleep on the other side of the week, I was reminded how, as a passage traversed submerges again into darkness, one enters into a light that must always have been there.
WIP: color in my animated short + a process video
Provisions: classic afternoon martinis
Member support helps keep The Line Between going, and makes it possible for me to work on an animated short every year.
TLB is also my way of documenting, and visibly prioritizing, process over ends. However indirectly, I aspire to support you in your own day to day through what I share. I hope these 10-minute chapters read like fun and interesting letters from a friend, perfect for quiet moments with a cup of coffee or tea.
Bonus content for members almost every issue + access to more benefits as they develop ❤️
Color in Chamoe
I’ve been working on my 2 minute animated short Chamoe (CHA-meh), the story of my mother’s cravings for out-of-season melon when she was pregnant with me, for almost a year now. It’s scheduled to be completed within a few months.
I touched on this before, but I see my work as something that gets revealed to me as well as designed and fashioned by me. This understanding has brought a higher level of openness and fluidity to my process. I don’t plan everything in advance; sometimes I see meaning and order develop as I go.
A good example of this is color in Chamoe, and I wanted to share some thoughts on it with you.
There’s a progression that I’ve been seeing in the palette, beginning with washed out sepia as my mother starts to remember. The vibe is inspired by old family photographs as well as the mid-century work of a wonderful Korean photographer Han Youngsoo:
The palette coming together:
Continuing further into memory, my mother’s child self goes through an opening in the wall to a place where she can seek comfort and relive what happened:
The subsequent color palette—which I hadn’t consciously assembled with much thought to overarching motifs or underlying meaning at the time—deepens and becomes warmer, more saturated. My mother is venturing even further into the story; she's back in the womb, far into the past:
When I have to fill in the blanks—my great-grandmother never divulged where she’d gone to procure fruit that was months out of season—I imagine impossibilities beyond memory: she must have transformed into powerful, charging beasts. The colors become brighter, more vivid, a departure from previous scenes. This felt right at the time, and make even more sense in hindsight:
The fruit—not just produce, surely—buoy up in a dreamy monochromatic wash, lost in their private world of sea and fabric.
In the latest, Sequence 06 (and the rest of the film), we return to the warmth of the womb, with splashes of gold, always in the company of deep and abiding shadows.
Here’s how Sequence 06, for which you saw some lines in the last issue, turned out:
And…a glimpse of process from the line work I did for Sequence 07 and 08. This is the segment I’d anticipated would be a struggle:
…but it turned out much as I’d envisioned, with few issues.
The past weeks, I’d intended to color Sequence 06 and line Sequence 07, but ended up also lining 08. So I’m a little ahead of schedule! This is a nice schedule buffer and I’ll continue to add more insurance as I’m able.
Members, please take a look in the supplemental issue to watch latest progress with sound and subtitles ❤️
Take in good things, make good things
Quick hit: if you’re in downtown Manhattan, you can show a little love and support for Ukraine by eating at Veselka, an institution since the 1950s here in NYC. Try one of my favourites—the borscht. A comfort during winter, it’s available here 24 hours a day. The rice krispie treats look pretty good too:
The past few years have been so much bad upon bad—and we’re the well-off ones—that it’s hard to remember how things used to be. How there would be regular pockets of ease, lightheartedness, fun. So when I stumble upon a bit of such, I soak it up to savor for days:
A few weekends ago my partner and I were having a late-afternoon martini at Bemelmans. We seemed to be surrounded by locals who were doing the same (we’d chatted with a few before entry). Just a bunch of New Yorkers hiding out from the cold, listening to Robert Mosci at the piano singing Sinatra tunes.
I relished those hours, which felt strangely stolen. War had yet to begin overseas. A friendly neighbor bought us a second round. Most of us had had covid recently, numbers for the virus were down, and it felt safe to be among. It felt like the beforetimes, when being together wasn’t dangerous. For those few hours, we were relaxed and easy. Everything was ok.
Members, feel free to continue on to the supplemental, where I share a secret Vimeo of latest work with subtitles and sound. I also talk about a new NYC gem, a hidden place with antique kitchenware and rare, out-of-print cookbooks—perfect for getting lost in on a Sunday afternoon in Manhattan.
Thinking, as ever, of our friends in Ukraine.
Until next time.