Friday, December 07, 2018

Writing on the bus

I took the bus to Ottawa to see an art show at Carlton university.
On the bus I started writing something based around the idea of trying to not have someone sit next to you. The characters were four friends taking a bus ride. I loved it. I loved writing about these kids. I loved the kids. I tried to add a bit of magic to the text. I need to revisit it, of course, and edit it, clean it up, add it to something larger, forget about it completely.

What got me was how the actual writing diffused any stress I had. It was as if the solution was right there in front of me, that I loved getting things down on paper, long hand.

In September my dad died suddenly. I never thought this would happen how it did. But it did. And the whole thing left me hanging. It left my cute little affirmations hanging. It left my grander visions and future art projects hanging. I'm slowly trying to get back to a place where it's normal life again but of course it's hard. My grieving mom with all the shock she's going through.

Writing on that bus took me away from my life and situated me in the life of my characters and their ideas. The two and a half hour bus ride slipped by like nothing. I arrived ready for a walk in this other town, full of peace and ready to absorb the novelty of my Sunday away from home.

I wrote a bit on the way back but it was dark and I was tired so I tidied up the story as best I could and now my clipboard sits next to my bed. My kids been sick since then and now It's my turn too.
I'm writing here for the first time since when I said I'd write weekly.  It's tough to do something so simple, maybe it's not so simple. 

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Some sample comics pages of mine

I am supposed to write a little something and upload a blog post every Thursday not because someone told me too but because I in my haste obliged myself to do so. But the shop was busy and I couldn't sit down to compose anything so instead, I've decided to share some pages from various short comic strips, a tiny sampler of strips I've done with actual stories in them!


Add caption







Thursday, July 19, 2018

cut-outs

























I've often noticed that I tend to approach illustration with lines rather than forms.
I'm trying to amend this, exploring how to make forms and then use lines to cut away or add details, lines that are actually part of the negative space or background.
Here is a test I did yesterday. I tried to start with a known figure (bunny cartoon) but quickly became bored with myself so I veered into abstraction (to stop myself from drawing boobs, tbh - long story).
I like the results. I've been cutting out colourful sticky vinyl and this reminds me of that. Paper cut-outs have a similar feel. Cutting away on the screen is easier than scissors and paper.
I've been hooked to the line forever, it's immediate and easy but it limits my vision. Forms, blobs of all sorts, allow a new approach that is still novel to me, fresh. It provides new avenues seldom walked. 

Friday, July 13, 2018

Clear Blue Skies

Clear Blue Skies - Original and Treated


























The above is a clear showcasing of two distinct modes I work in.
The first is the immediate scrawl on paper, in this case, the words CLEAR BLUE SKIES written on a scrap accompanied by a quick doodly sketch, all on a scrap used for note taking around the shop. The tear reveals a to-do list, cut short.
I love this scrap. I've used it to alert customers that the store is closed on beautiful days when the pain of sitting in a quiet shop was too much and maybe anyone would sympathise that I had to get out into the world, where they were.
Next to this scrap is a treated version. I took a quick snap of it with my device, emailed it to myself, opened it up on photoshop, removed the colours and made a high contrast black and white version which I printed out onto a piece of blue bond paper.
I love this sheet of paper. I love the punk zineyness of it. I love xerox art and much of my digital work is done in the service of achieving a lo-fi copier look. I've taken my more precious scrap and turned it into a more accessible, raw, mediated thing, something that inspires me to run off several copies and staple them around the hood.
So here it is, tactile and folksy vs machine tooled. I love them both, these funny kids.

Thursday, July 05, 2018

Valley Lake

Lake

Valley




























I surprise myself by embarking on projects I could never have preconceived. I do this by simply using whatever tools are at hand. Have I told you this one before? My partner has a beat-up old laptop at home that she doesn't use anymore. it restarts every so often so is generally an unreliable drag. But for the most part, it still works.

I sat up late one night and instead of putting down the damned screen and going to bed, I started taking pictures of myself with the photo booth app. Just horrid, dark selfies of me laying back on the couch, slack jaw and all.

Then I dragged one of these pics onto the desktop and opened it in preview. I have always wanted to see what exactly, graphics wise, one can do with preview. The version I had was an older one that had several limitations. I could copy, resize and paste. No flipping, rotating or mirroring. No changing the contrast/hue/etc of any individual selection. The whole thing or nothing.

My experiments began trying to lighten my midnight selfies. Mucking about with the colours led me to notice the selection tools and then off I went. The above images are collaged from selfies, any semblance to me utterly obliterated.

How would one set out to do this except by circuitous accident?

Thursday, June 28, 2018

World Building Continues

I sat with my notes from my first world building exercise and found that scenes, dialogue, additional characters and relationships simply upped themselves and shuffled into place. it gave me a taste of what may happen if I gave myself more time to do this; if I immersed myself deeper into this.

I'm doing this world building longhand, in an Ikea rocking chair I wanted to get rid of just a few months ago. I sit in a corner of our middle room with a lamp shining down on my papers.

I type with two fingers and have been doing so for so long that it just may not be possible to learn proper typing. Writing longhand allows me to zip back and forth between notes, add to this part, let that part breed something new. Of course, I can do the same digitally but for now, it simply makes good sense to use pen and paper.

Another thing that happened recently is I made yet another new zine. This one is 44 pages covers included. It's a stream of consciousness comic strip about accessing visionary narrative realms via asemic writing. I let it sit overnight, rereading it often the next day. I made some corrections and additions a day after that and printed it up on the next day in the first edition of 20 copies. I mailed some out to some comic book friends in the hopes that my semi-fugue state has yielded something noteworthy. One never knows. It could be junk, it could have something to it.

I like the idea of the unlikely thing being a hit. Usually, the stuff I'm convinced is hot really isn't. My taste is not the deciding factor. In any case, my takeaway from this quick zine making is simply that: Do it. Finish it. Get it out there. Make another one.

The world building I've been discussing belongs to a larger project and it's a relief to have some place to drop my errant thoughts, a basket to catch these characters, names, situations that I have been collecting. While this big thing brews and inches on, I'll pound out smaller offerings, I'll commit my smaller projects to print.



Thursday, June 21, 2018

World Building Begins

So, I am actually on track.

I was reading a short story in an anthology of gothic fantasy, a Gray Mouser story I believe, when a click happened in me.

The author mentioned in passing the places Our Hero had been, you know, the Lake of Whatever, the Mountains of Overthere, like that, destinations that had little or no bearing to what was happening or what was about to happen. I stopped short, muttered World Building to myself, closed the book, grabbed my notes and started listing off the things in my world, the world I have been cobbling together since forever.

I have often thought that I lacked an array of characters and plotlines, which I mostly do tbh. The click was that I should be concerned with where (what world) I want my stories to take place in. This world-building strategy has helped me because as I was listing off elements of the world I wanted to see realized I started listing settings, events and characters that belonged in that world. One followed easily from the other.

For example, of course, there is a band in that world of mine, a touring band. So there are members of that band as well as fans, venues, all the stuff that comes with bands. The stuff of my social life since adolescence. I started remembering jokes I have told myself about all that.

So I'm on track. I haven't written a stitch of a story except for some notes and a tiny piece of dialogue but at least now I have somewhere to be, somewhere to start from.









Thursday, June 14, 2018

Fantasy Writing

I have always wanted to write fantasy.  I was big into LOTR and regularly read SF&F short stories.

I've filled a few pages of the stuff but not much at all. When I have sat down to do so I have zero plan so it goes nowhere. Also, I haven't tried for years. My last real efforts yielded a couple weird short stories that were more atmospheric than anything, all about slugs floating through walls and such. No characterization, no real plot.

I studied lit in school some decades ago so one would think that I could figure out the basic building blocks of story writing. Thing is I simply don't put in the effort. I don't give myself the proper allotment of time at the desk to finger peck my way towards a complete short story.

My efforts in comics have seen some fantasy but not the elf/wizard variety. More the dimensional portal/trickster bunny type.

Also, as you can tell, my prose style is choppy.

And next I'll show you an example of how I was going to start this small text piece :

Oblique pathways towards fantasy literature, an early and as yet undying love, take the shape of psychedelic posters, stoner comics, asemic jottings, sigil crafting, magical street art, 

From choppy to snotty.

The stuff I most enjoy reading is sword and sorcery. When I discovered C.A. Smith I was floored. I've loved the old R.E. Howard stuff too. I don't draw this stuff. I don't sketch it, I don't design it on paper. nothing. But I enjoy reading it. I'm not up on the contemporary voices and don't care to be. Still chipping away at the classics.

I've read lots of fairy tales and children's classics. I'd love to write a kids book but here I am stuck with stilted confessionals.

The task is to inch towards a practice that leads to writing fantasy. It can be hybrid, urban, anything as long as it's coherent and complete.



Thursday, June 07, 2018

Towards a Writing Practice

The impulse to write is camouflaged as a choking sensation that I recognize much too late for what it is. So I turn in circles. I go for walks and I chant. I scribble. I practise asemic writing, convinced that I am making headway into new lands. I collect series upon series of art projects, potential books languishing in my drawers, projects neatly organized waiting for an editor to knock on my door wearing nothing but devotion, patience and a huge cash advance.

A couple of years ago I participated in fun-a-day, a community action inviting peeps to choose a project and work on it, for fun, a bit every day for a month. I chose writing text. No concrete, no alien tongues, just word after word in English. I posted each offering online elsewhere. I went for 2 months plus. it was much needed. I got a lot off my chest. I felt a release. Some days were a tough slog other days a whiz of excitement, thinking faster than my two chicken pecking fingers could deal with.

Today the writing I do is on this blog and is centred around the creative process. I upload an image of some visual art of mine and start riffing. The image below is of some hand lettering on found blue canvas. I like the idea of such simple poem signs, an I very much enjoy making text-based visual art. It's simply that I think I wasn't to write write. And do it much more consistently and much more often. 

I want to write and let myself be taken by it. What a romance! I want the practice to steer me and not the other way around and I'll tell you why. I make excuses for not just starting something. I collect fragments that are never revisited. I have no aim, no plan, no plot, no characters, no setting. I have a choking sensation telling me that I'm not expressing myself. Chanting helps, it's immediate and lovely and I'm improving my singing voice. Asemic is radiant in that it stretches my imagination in unforeseen ways but I still fear writing straight and long form.

Here are some excuses....do I use the computer or longhand? Should I get a dedicated notebook? Should I force myself to create a list of characters and a setting and start plotting? Should I trash all fragments to clean house and just choose one project and go with it? When should I write? Family life is demanding. Should I wake up earlier than everyone else and sit at a desk for 20 minutes? Should I remind myself that in other aspects of my life I've near successfully jettisoned the word should?

To date, I've told myself to at least hit this blog more often, maybe once a week, on Thursdays. Maybe the regularity will breed discipline.

I've been told that discipline is the name of the game. Showing up at the office, every day, for a 500-word jaunt or something.




Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Unearthing Monster Island 2























Occasionally I act as editor. In 2003 I edited a small comics zine called Monster Island. I invited a few friends and my brother John to contribute artwork for it. It was a typical ledger size folded in half.

In 2004, bolstered by the excitement of the first issue, I set out on a more ambitious project for Monster Island number 2. Around 20 artists contributed comics, artwork and essays. I also included some bits from reference books on mythology and world mysteries.
The book sported two fold-outs, one silk screened, the other copied, a dime bag full of stickers stapled in, some half pages, kids drawings, essays like I said and was generally a headache to collate.
It was an edition of 150 and I pulled it off for Expozine, Montreal's zine and small press fair.

Well, languishing in storage for the last 14 years or so were 15 remaining copies, uncollated. Just this last week I delved in, finally pulling this stack of paper out of deep freeze and put it together, complete with cardstock covers and french flaps. It was an act of will, spring cleaning and desperation. This stack had been kicking around my studio for far too long in a state of limbo and if I didn't bite the bullet and just deal with it I was afraid it would eventually get tossed away out of frustration. I saved myself a bit of heartache and just did the job, So now there are 15 copies of this thing in my shop. You are welcome to buy it, I want 15 bucks each because it was a pain AND it's vintage now I guess.

Here's the contributor list:

Young Adonis (Jesse Bochner)
Marc Bell
Helene Brosseau
Andy Brown
Jake Brown
Patrick R. Burger
Howard Chackowicz
Meaghan Garner
Francis Hitchings
Shawn Jefferies
Leyla Majeri
John Mavreas
Bernie Mireault
Marc Ngui
Joe Ollmann
Owen Plummer
Salgood Sam (Max Douglas)
Carlos Santos
Zachary Silberberg
Egerton Sykes
Sara Tonin (Jen MacIntyre)











































Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Make a simple collage zine














Collage zines are satisfying to make for a number of reasons. They can be made quickly, they accommodate accidents and improvisation, they can use text and/or image, they can be launched from found source material.

I usually use one 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper, folded over twice. I keep track of which end is up and which quarter will be the cover, back cover and centre spread. I glue and reglue, spinning the sheet around as I go. Narrative emerges when I'm quick enough to think I've spotted one.

Collage, in general, does away with any kind of blank page syndrome because you can redirect your focus on the found material, such as a few measly pages of a magazine, instead of your lofty art goals. Zines, as opposed to finished frameable art, have an ephemeral quality that is also pressure relieving. You can make 10 photocopies of your zine, leave them in the coffee shop and start working on the next one. The idea that you are making serious art should be left with the snippings you toss in the recycling box. This letting-go gesture just may be what bolsters your sense of actually making meaningful work.

I usually make a few copies of a zine and then tackle my next project.

That's it. Today's blog post, as inconsequential as it is, was sparked by me finding the above image on my desktop and thinking I can write a paragraph or two about it.

Also, try to make collage without scissors, it really brings the beast out and that direct use of hands-on paper is quite emotionally satisfying too. It also does away with preciousness and persnickety scissor habits.




Friday, April 06, 2018

First to Last Lines

























There are shudders through the body demanding to be honoured. If they aren't addressed, these small breezes can catch a corner and turn vicious. Full emotional sweeps can leave one shaken, can rend otherwise fine days, can turn love sour. Also, and this is key, they (the feelings buried) can rise and erupt in ways unwanted - as disease. Dis-ease, as they say, and discomfort.....signs that something is not being addressed. Not only, of course. Illness isn't a one-track nightmare, the reasons for it way surpass any unscientific understanding of mine. I just know, that for myself, if I do not address my strong emotions they plunge down deep and wail away somewhere in my system, making the house crazy.

Hey, sometimes I actually forget that what I need is exercise. I need to engage my body in action, pound out the squeals through a brisk run or a goodly chant. Voice demands space. Voice not given turns bitter. And so sometimes when direct bodily action is somehow neglected, the quick flurry of small art making happens.

Here is some. The last few distilled bits from a much larger stack of full sheets. I took looseleaf binder paper, blue lined, classic. I rubbed it on stamp pads making ink clouds. I sprayed my fingers in minor wand work against the back of the paper, the front resting lightly on the ink pad. I kept going. I looked at the results, some too discrete some too loud. I chopped, I chopped, I sequenced. Me Me Me.

I chose a few, the final stragglers that made the cut, the rest went in the bin. Then I stamped some small words on them. I was left with the above. I like them fine. they are small scraps. I don't know what to do with them now. They are fragile little things, whisps. is it one piece of work now? Is it a poem? Does it remain a jpeg, a blog post or do I wrap it up in formality and present it for coos in a proper setting commanding eyes and cash money? Ha.

These are the remnants of a tiny storm that brewed one afternoon. Honour one's emotions. They hint loudly.




























A List of Potent Words





When I was thirteen or so, maybe fourteen, I combed through my copy of Roget's Thesaurus highlighting the words that inspired me, words like 'wretch' and 'talisman'.
At one point it seems I wrote some out.

I refound this card in a small box I've labelled "handwritten notes'. I sell them each for a buck in my shop. I tossed the note in there when I was clearing out my teen poetry a couple of years ago. (don't you worry, I saved some of it, the dazzling examples of purple jottings I'll wow you with one day).
I plucked this one out again because as I get older I realize that the important things for my well being are things I was inspired by before sex drugs and rock-n-roll came and ruined everything.

If I am to move towards wholeness and healing I am going to have to make a clearer space in my being for magic and spirituality. And that includes the darker aspects of things as well as the rainbow light.

When I was fifteen I acquired my magic name. I associated it with some weird abstract art I had begun to make. It then got associated with some ufo saint iconography I developed. As well as asemic languages.

Lately, I feel I have to explore my personal faith a bit deeper. It entails trying to reach out to this imagery, much of it scary as hell. It means accepting that I am able to access shadow realms. It means proudly delving into these realms and erecting a structure of odd shapes, weird creatures, unknown tongues. It means invocation of seemingly demonic forces. Oh well. Such is life.

I know these things/ languages/gestures aren't really demonic. They are shadowy, though, and kinda heavy. But I like them, they are familiar. They are kinda metal and kinda D&D and kinda me. It's ok to serve Chaos. It's ok to delve into shadow. It's ok to snark at oneself and smirk at the whole world. It's ok to scream and laugh and cry. It's ok to not know. It's ok to have allies that would scare the shit out of you if they walked into the room.

Blessings to all




Thursday, February 15, 2018

AFIR AFOR AFIN AFON


I draw on the computer with a mouse. My arm is killing me. 
I should get a tablet and all that but you and I both know how 'should' works. It'll be a while, although it already has been a while. It wouldn't be so bad if the desk was the right height but it isn't so I'm all out of place. I also draw at a desk and sometimes I don't sit in the right chair. I also don't draw for 6 hours on end but I do go on jags where I am drawing every day for an hour or two a day.

One of my preferred methods of digital drawing is actually collage. I use an existing scanned image, made by me and uploaded or found on the net, which I then manipulate. I usually do it like so; turn image into high contrast black and white, select a random bit, copy and paste, overlap, crop, continue, finish, use finished image as initial image, start again. 

The image below was sourced from a digital illustration of a bird that I drew to satisfy some desire to prove (to myself and others) that I could draw a bird. I drew the bird. It was ok. I cut it up and made this thing.

I like it because I like asemic nonsense, metal iconography, industrial culture aesthetics, minimal forms.










Wednesday, June 28, 2017

New Abstract Comics

I've been drawing this way for a long time but only this week have I formatted these drawings into a decent series of abstract comics.
I've often thought how I would / should go about piecing together my scratchy doodles into way can be presented as comics.
After a decade or so I have figured it out. I have drawn six pages as of this blog post writing. Six pages today. In the last couple of hours. I draw like I tap my foot.
I get frustrated with myself regarding making comics because I think I should draw comics fast too and have tried various ways to do this. It's a silly thing to try to draw comics quickly. One really cannot draw comics as fast as one can jot down words unless one goes the minimalist stream of consciousness route. I've gone down that road and now have 200 or so pages to show for it yet they languish because editing needs to happen.
With textless abstract stuff like this I can pound it out, so to speak, and still enjoy a certain satisfaction of holding finished product.
I drew these using a nice Bic pen with a classic nib that someone left in the shop. I don't pencil or edit, just start, allowing panels to merge into each other. I outline my thin panel borders with a Sharpie and it's all done.
I'm hoping to add to this series until there is a hefty amount to either file away for ever or possibly get published.





Friday, June 09, 2017

Studio View w Bunnies

Where the bunnies multiply - My studio inside Monastiraki

I've Kept Busy

I have. My studio space, a corner of the shop behind the counter, is working. I am painting, I am exploring. My papers are getting in order without a vast army of help. Some key angels stepped forth, heeded my bidding and helped in ways that would have kept me behind for years without them.

A piece of large furniture was cut down to size making room, a closet was regained and stored with my boxes of scraps. I went through some of my art archives and maybe have a handle on it now.

I don't want to run screaming from retail any longer. I like my shop. I think it's in a good place.

This is not something I have easily said in the last many years.

I'm taking up more space in this place. My name is on the walls and so are many of my pictures. I don't scramble to show what I do, I put it up online and in house all over the walls. If you've ridden along with me for the ride this has been you'll know that this just may be quite the feat. I've never had a  problem with attention, I've sought it out honestly. But this time I may have put aside the shame of it and told myself and thus the world, it's ok, this is your corner, show yourself.

How many years did it take for me to realize what it is that I had the whole time ? Way too may but here I am.


The Sandwich Board Wording That Struck a Chord With Me

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Recent Bunny Paintings 2017


Here are a bunch of recent bunny paintings. 
They all date from this year. I had a rather large acrylic painting on panel outburst come unbidden in deep Montreal January. It was a good way to get through the mid winter and magically I was able to sell some online which countered the rather poor performance of my retail space which is routine come the freeze.
I have been making my peace with these little bastards. I have left far behind me some of my high art pretensions and embraced the fact that I enjoy these things and it's ok to make them. I used to have no problems at all in this area but sometime several years ago I started thinking way too much about things like the art world. Even while I knew perfectly well the non hierarchical glory of things like mini comics, zines and mail-art.
In any case, the bunnies are here and they are multiplying. I tried rebranding them as demons a few years ago but they've bounced back as bunnies. Sure they could be mice or bears or owls or bats too. they are made of joy and nightmare. Some are gleefully happy, others brood. They aren't psychotic or malicious though.
I make sure that the facial expression is one I can honestly sanction before declaring it done.
Some below may not be finished, most are. 
I'm sure there are other things I wanted to write concerning these things but i think that may be it for now.
Thanks for reading this far and thanks for taking a look at the critters below.
You are welcome to contact me via my brick and mortar shop, Monastiraki (drop in or email) to inquire about availability, sizes and prices.

























Sunday, June 04, 2017

EmojiBunnies : heartsick and revolting art for the weary citizen

I spent the day yesterday painting acrylic bunny creatures on either found pieces of wood scraps or right over other bunny paintings on panel. I paint over a bunny if I find that it's facial expression is somehow lacking.
In any case I feel I had a productive day. I usually post crappy photos of my painting on FB to show my friends and maybe get someone interested in buying art.
I've made peace with painting bunnies.

What I haven't made peace with is the bullshit violence that occurs all around the world.
Yesterday there were a few attacks in London. I was home when I settled into the angst of responding to this bullshit in my own way.

The kid was sleeping and my dear one was out for the night having supper and cocktails with friends. I was home alone and still felt the creative fires burning. I turned to my handheld device and a cheapo drawing app to express myself vis a vis terror attacks, environmental degradation and all around heartsickness at the handful of prickish billionaire industrialists and their buds that make up the global scene of warmongers, slave traders and culture killers.

Here are those digital responses, pop art masterpieces composed of the appropriately relevant emojis, bombs, trucks, shit, fire, planet earths, soccer balls, disco balls, etc.
Some of my finest work ever if I do say so myself: