How we refuel: with bread, bad news, subway communion. Animation progress, what's up next, the definition of love.
The Café ‘Ino is empty save for the Mexican cook and a kid named Zak who sets me up with my usual order of brown toast, a small dish of olive oil, and black coffee. I huddle in my corner, still wearing my coat and watch cap. It’s 9 a.m. I’m the first one here. Bedford Street as the city awakens. My table, flanked by the coffee machine and the front window, affords me a sense of privacy, where I withdraw into my own atmosphere.
Patti Smith, M Train
I’ve been eating a lot of seeded sourdough.
Toasted on a cast iron pan with butter for a crisp, brown surface. Slathered with peanut butter in the afternoons, drizzled with honey. Sometimes with pomegranate seeds, sometimes without. In the mornings with preserves. Late at night, smeared with herbed cheese. It’s an expansive canvas.
High-strung and edgy, this is what I’ve been drawing comfort from the past few weeks 😅
With production on my animated short Chamoe (CHA-meh) in its latter stages, most every hour has begun to feel like the eleventh; there’s an onset of torpor and restlessness that’s irritatingly typical for me toward the end of long projects. The weirdness of being between covid surges contributes to what feels like living in a constant state of inconstancy as well.
I’d been predictably consuming a firehose of bad news, too—a practice increasingly curtailed, with lapses. Nudged by a few things I’ve been reading lately (like the provocations in recent issues of Dense Discovery), I’ve begun to explore and better understand my motivations for consumption, and what’s actually being centered when I react to things like news headlines (and when the engagement largely ends there).
I’m fortunate to be able to retreat, refuel, regroup, and that’s what I’ve been doing. I’m gonna bite off the next bit of my work, process, repeat—until I’m through the whole.
I get my seeded sourdough from Daily Provisions, by the way.
Exploring my future project: a film in experimental vignettes.
WIP: grinding through latest color work for my animated short.
Provisions: a lush Oscar-winning short film that asks—and answers: what is love? Plus, Ukrainian books, and a little NYC subway story to close out.
For members: Sound and subtitles with latest animation progress; a recipe for my derivation of kitchari, truly a magic food for busy and unsettled people.
I’m beginning to explore my next project
through indirect, experimental vignettes. I hesitate to talk about details too early—it can stiffen ideas, for one thing; gestation is so delicate—but division, separation, and loss are themes rising to the surface. For now, I leave you with an illustration from a few years back, which I’m revisiting as I ramp up:
TLB is an ongoing story. Every two weeks I share progress in my art studio, everyday life in NYC, and what I take in to fuel the work. I hope it’s not only interesting to read and fun to look at, but makes you feel less alone in your own day-to-day ❤️
Bonus issues and other member-only benefits as they develop (live events late spring/early summer??) 🔑
Chamoe is now over 80% in color 🙌
I’ve colorized almost 9 out of 10 sequences in my animated short Chamoe. The past two weeks have been firmly about execution: sitting with Photoshop, painting frame after frame (after frame). Not gonna lie, it got tedious.
I worked on 366 frames, which is 15 seconds at 24 frames per second. I paint every two frames, so that’s about 183 individual paintings after all is said and done:
Each painting is composed of at least 4—often more—foreground layers for texture and shading:
These layers provide the visual variation that feels so magical in motion. The transformation segment alone is 81 frames. That’s 41 different paintings, and all of them whip by in a flash, only a few seconds to show for hours of work 😂
I usually find the repetition in the process meditative—it’s also just the nature of this work—but the latest sequence was a slog to get through.
The compressed work schedule is partly to blame, as well as my emotional state given all the crazy that’s going on. I’ve learned so much while working on this film—what I need to explore, what I want to express, how to do it better. I’m impatient to put new knowledge and preferences to use.
Anyway, I’ve one and a half more sequences to line, and then color. Just gotta push through and get it done. Y’all out there going through your own hard thing: we got this 💪
In this latest sequence, the baby gets a taste of magic, in utero:
Members, check it out with sound and subtitles (I accidentally sent it out as an email too, this week—sorry!)
Regular likes and comments also go a long way to support this publication ☺️
Aside from bread, I consumed a gorgeous Oscar-nominated short last week,
The Windshield Wiper. It’s by turns lyrical, intense, funny, ruminative—and it ended up winning the Oscar on Sunday.
It begins with a man overhearing a conversation at a cafe, then asking us the question: What is love? At the end of the 15 minute film, he answers it—deliciously. I watched it via The Animation Showcase, generously made available for artists in the industry. The trailer, below (⚠️ nudity and sex).
The film sadly only got second-class spotlight at the event, itself a confused, cuckoo, stressful affair for both viewer and attendee. They sure did save a lot of time (the excuse they gave for demoting 8 categories), clocking in at nearly 4 hours to make room for a non-round-year tribute to Pulp Fiction, a focus on Juno of all things, Wanda Sykes making fun of the Academy Museum…truly baffling. (And if you think *I’m* mad…)
The Center for Fiction, a Downtown Brooklyn space with a rooftop bar, quiet nooks on multiple floors, a cafe, and a bookstore downstairs, spotlit Ukrainian literature and non-fiction in their latest newsletter, and it looks like a lovely list:
I was elated last Friday when Substack featured The Line Between as one of their daily five—alongside…PATTI SMITH 🙀
I also got to talk about TLB at the recent Substack Category Tour for Art & Illustration, which was yet another honor, and so much fun. That’s me second from top:
A little NYC subway story, to close out.
The other day on the A express, a prime pair of seats at the back of the car were out of commission. Primly sitting in each was a mysterious little puddle, slyly clear and odorless.
I was across the aisle, close to a woman who seemed to be on her way to the airport. Every time someone approached, lured by the siren call of isolated forward-facing seats, we would watch until the would-be victim poised to plant themself. Just as they were about to land, we’d shout in unison, it’s wet! and the person would jump, heart in mouth.
The woman and I would would look at each other with eyes crinkling above our masks, crisis averted, secretly delighted. She said to me: “You can always tell when you’re with a New Yorker!” And we laughed.
Sh*t’s just plain weird right now, and I think about how I used to stay out late, coming home well after 4am carefree as anything. I don’t do that any more. I admit that I find myself looking over my shoulder, standing strategically on subway platforms, crossing the street when someone approaches aggressively. I think bad thoughts, and can become afraid.
But I love this city more than ever. The volume of good things remains very high. I relish my solo dinners at the bar, continue to talk to strangers. New Yorkers, on the whole, are incredibly kind, and fun, and there’s something we recognize in each other that’s familiar and comforting. There’s a sense we’re dealing with all of this shit together. Which, despite the rough patches, we are.
And sometimes that feeds me more than anything.
Now, let’s get back to work.
Until next time.