Home (again), home again, dancing a jig

caddis fly contemplates the nature of home
The film of HOME is finally finished, though I doubt it is more eloquent than the blog post about it from earlier in the year! perhaps I should write more and draw less. It happened. It was fun. I found time to untangle the stupidity of simultaneously
*working on 3 films at the same time - 2 finished, one still not, 
*recreating a 4th film which was lost (when you keep thinking, but wasn't there another version of this, with woodlice in...but you can't find it and start to wonder if you only dreamt it...and then find a crappy DVD copy in the bottom drawer-under-the-bed of the hard drive and manage to extract the soundtrack to go with the 3 million bitmap images)
*writing a narrative (NARRATIVE! No more sloppy organic evolution of non-linear wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey ..oh no sorry that's a quote from Dr Who) about a woman who is also a cactus...for which idea I am indebted to a wet afternoon at a craft fair and a Joni Mitchell track, and mostly 
*running. Which has kind of taken over my life until after September 8th (Great North Run).
From now on maybe stick to one thing at a time? Oh wait, I could make an animation about running. Finally a proper use for the walk/run cycle cliche.


Sound and Image: who's in charge?

circular screen area? why not?
Re-editing...making a 1-minute movie out of a 2 minute movie. How hard can that be?
When you constructed it in an unorthodox way - as an experiment in drawing style, and the raw footage is in a ludicrous format... very. harder than starting from scratch...but it's also hard to let go of a really pleasing visual and a hard-won storyline.

So you cobble together a method and start rebuilding...and then the software, stretched to breaking point by the non-standard usage - breaks.

So you start again.

But then you realise the whole last section COULD go and the narrative element of it just be hinted at with a final image. Great, more punch, more focus. Unfortunately the very end doesn't work now. Visually, yes, but once you have remixed the new soundtrack it just peters out/ or the final sound doesn't match the final image...and suddenly you are redrawing the end , the last seconds, over and over until something clicks. And you wish you'd paid more attention to boring conventions like maintaining separate layers and keeping backgrounds and bitdepths...

And you are musing on the relationship between the sound and the image, how the pace of one affects the pace and the texture of the other. On the relative merits of the gradual fade and the big bang ending...

And then finally you finish having spent days on producing one minute of animation.

And it's a different film.
And it was worth it.



Home is where ancient aunts do crosswords and tell stories of alien worlds with polo ponies and flying fish, where Meccano is on the floor, and John Peel is on the radio.; the Aunt is gone but the crosswords and the music linger on.

Home is where the hills are round and green, clotted with sheep, where you can see the watertower from the top and from that same old walk over the railway bridge with Grandad; the Grandad is gone but sometimes the driver still toots as the train goes under.

Home is when you pass the sign “West Sussex” and punch the air after 7 hours gnashing your teeth on the motorways, when Angus the Satnav voice says 20 minutes to go and Mum has already boiled the kettle  twice. Where you are always welcome and always loved.  Where you are always a child.

Home is here, now, where I am grown up. My own house, full of stained glass and found objects, craft experiments and junk. My own shed. A place of steeper hills, decorated with horses, old waggonways, an angel. The sea, endlessly sandy and fringed with not-quite-islands. Where I hope one day to have “my own seat” in the local pub, where my neighbour works.  A community. Who don’t care who or what, only if you help with gritting the steep end of the lane.  

Home is family. The family we build piece by piece, carefully, like Meccano. Brothers who become neighbours. Lovers who become sisters, acquaintances who become best friends.  Friends ­- who know us as we are and who follow us when we explore who we might be, holding the torch. Ladies of a certain age who socialise at lunchtime, go for nice walks then go home and take our bras off –  just because we can. Who still debate politics, discuss Shakespeare, giggle over love affairs and the prospect of retirement; who struggle to make art. Who still march, but sometimes with a trekking pole. Who might sometimes go clubbing, but are home in time to watch Vera on catch-up.

Home is a snail shell I carry around, full of fragments; fragrant with memories;  light enough to wear everyday.  An identity- that survives different towns, villages, careers, fads, friendships, lovers, samba bands and girlie gangs – enriched and expanded by them all. A beautiful patchwork; a steampunk, Faberge caddisfly case. A place of safety. A place of strength. A place to start from.

I wrote this for "Febulous February", it inspired the image, and the image is now inspiring a film. Sometimes, good can come from randomly trawling social media!


New Year Resolution part 2...Pen

Pen -  a tiny animation
Tidying the hard-drive, finding a failed submission for an E4 channel ident...instead of binning it I decided to re-examine, recycle, and start from an existing sequence to see where
the animation would go. Approaching it as I would walking, and increasingly, drawing. Having fun. It went into images of cages, surveillance, midgies and scary birds.

Sometimes you have to let the story tell itself, and not try too hard to impose a meaning, a moral, a reason. They come.


New Year Resolution part 1 - Drawing

bathroom fish - pen drawing
Besides the usual knee-jerk eat better, get fit, call your mother more often (all of which I am doing quite successfully so far) I have resolved to do an observational drawing every day. In a shiny new sketchbook. It doesn't seem very much, for an artist, yet surprisingly difficult to keep up when you are thinking "I spent all day drawing animated fish, now I have to do a flippin still life?" and when dark evenings mean drawing indoor things (yes I could draw in the mornings, but that's when Im now going running!) and you suddenly realise how much you want to explore the vague and raggedy-edged shapes of the garden, the neighbours' ivy-loaded tree, organic things, instead of hard-edged manufactured objects and square walls. How the cat can sit immobile for 6 hours but begin to prowl when you decide to draw her.
Like the running, it's an exercise - for the drawing muscles. Building up stamina, imaginative capacity, interpretive ability, libraries of sorts of marks. But what begins as a discipline soon becomes a delight. Probably endorphins.