Monday, 6 May 2013

Been Thinking Summer Thoughts

Alright, it's past time to put fingers to keyboard here again. School's out, exams are behind me, and all the projects are completed and marked. Summer is here, and with it a host of possibilities. It's an exciting new summer, in some ways; for the first time since I started university here I've decided to stay in Kelowna for the full summer, an option that I had never considered worth it before now. But, such considerations are prone to change. In terms of money this place might not be the greatest. There's not a lot in this town in the way of profitable summer work, but this time I'm in it for more than money. I was able to close the month of April with an unforgettable backcountry camping trip with some of my favourite people. Our second day on the trail we ended up camping for the night on a bluff looking out over the Okanagan Valley, more than a kilometre in elevation above the city of Kelowna. What a view! My oh so beloved truck has died on me, and I've traded one set of wheels for another. I bought a bike off a friend who was moving and fixed it up. I haven't owned a bike for a few years now, and having that freedom again is a beautiful thing. And, in the words of my buddy Jeff, "every day is legs day". It's a good summer to be outdoors, and I picked the right the right town to be outdoors in. I don't think I've ever been this tanned. Now, to find time for some bouldering on Knox Mountain...

All that said, the outdoor recreation options are attractive, but they aren't my main reason for staying. I took a good, long look at my resume as the school year neared an end and realized something: I have no work experience to my name that would be pertinent to an art-focused career. This, I figured, was a problem. I set about researching every internship I could find that would involve my skills as an illustrator, or engage my interest in storytelling. There were positions open in Oregon and California, and many other appealing locations, but in the end the answer was right in front of me. A somewhat groggy conversation with a good friend during a late-night bus ride brought me 'round to a realization: art shows hold a place on an artist's CV as well as any job experience. What if my art employment for the summer could be a show, rather than a job? And so, that's exactly what it is. I've found a place to live with room to set up a studio, and I've begun to plan for the show I'm going to build. It's going to be the final evolution of a project that never really reached completion over the school year; I had bigger ideas for it, but they never saw fruition. I'm splitting my time between this endeavour in what I'm calling illustrative journalism, and part-time paid work. With a lot of focus, a little dedication, a pinch of luck, and my fair share of late nights at the drawing table, I should have a body of work ready for exhibition in the Fall. More on this project as the summer progresses...

That idea still boggles my mind a little, so allow me muse on my bogglement for a moment. I consider myself an illustrator, and I think of the work I do as belonging primarily to the book arts. I've found education in a program bent on churning on gallery artists to be a challenge. That is to say, I've actively avoided the path of the Gallery. And now I find myself spending my summertime on a gallery show, of all things. Earlier this year (and you can read about it in an earlier post) I created a comic drawn on a lengthy roll of paper. The traditionalist in me, that part that has boycotted digital comics for love of the book, was astounded to look at that project afterwards and find that publishing such a comic made more sense digitally than in paper form. I was nearly as confused about my art then as I am now, but isn't that just the way of it? As artists we sometimes find that our work has more say in our practice than we do. My work would have me prepare a gallery exhibition, so, that's exactly what I'll do, and it will be an adventure!

That's most of what I have to say to bring whoever's reading this up to speed on my art-life. I will say that this post will be followed (hopefully soon) by another massive comics review blog. I might actually split it into a few smaller posts...last Saturday was Free Comics Day, and I have rather a lot of new material to review. But for now, I shall leave you with a sketch, the other part of this blog that has been lacking. Wednesday mornings are spent around a table drinking coffee with a group of local illustrators, and last week we decided to all draw a "panda reporter", interpreted however we chose. I couldn't get Russell Crowe's character from State of Play out of my head, so I drew a laconically inquisitive street-level panda.

From a film I recently watched and fell in love with, for there are far to few beautifully filmed fantasy martial arts movies in this world where The Guy Who Serves The Drinks fights valiantly that he might continue serving the drinks:

"Revenge is an act of style. For all practical matters, no one is known to come back from the dead after being avenged in the name of Justice. However so, man can fight anything but his nature. 'An eye for an eye a tooth for a tooth' will forever make better grammatical balance then turning the other cheek."
- Bunraku

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