May 31, 2013

The Rewards of Blogging and the Frustration of Big Personal Projects

So here's my written post for the week! I binge painted all long weekend; Monday being Memorial Day. My written post didn't come together in time but I happened to have oodles of art done so the visual and written post got switched this week. Here I am at a cafe with my laptop:
Each Sunday morning I go to a cafe with my laptop and work on a blog post for Tuesday. I spend about 2 hours answering emails and writing up at least a rough draft of a blog post. Basically I do something on my computer until the battery dies. It's become quite the ritual for me. I have come to find a lot of satisfaction and contentment in blogging.

Some of the benefits I experience and reasons that I blog:

-I have a regular schedule/ritual which gives me some stability and comfort
-I document the making of my short film
-I share my progress and life going-ons with friends and family around the world
-I retain new information that I research and I am able to look back to posts if something learned slips my mind; tags and linking are especially helpful for this purpose
-Blogging encourages me to keep up with news and watch movies/learn about artists or at the very least jot down thoughts on daily goings ons and be analytic about information that is "coming in"
-It brings awareness to my short film
-I offer something to fellow animators/artists via tutorials and researched posts about applicable subjects - if a non artist type person dares to skim over these posts and read the personal bits they can still get a sense of things that I'm learning and doing and how it makes me feel

My laptop sticker collection reflects the adventures I've been having in San Francisco. There's room for a few more stickers yet.
Since I commited myself a couple of months ago to doing one written and one visual post a week, it really encourages (forces?) me to learn and work on my film and reflect on things in my life. I've been doing a bunch of Toonboom tutorial posts recently since I thought they would be something helpful to offer to fellow animators also getting into the animation software. I keep realising that there is so much more about it to learn!

I have written before that I believe I "bit off more than I can chew" here with this project. I am sometimes frustrated because I want to improve as an animator, a film maker and a storyteller. One great way to do that, as Ira Glass says; "the most important possible thing you can do, is do a lot of work. Do a huge volume of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week or every month you know you're gonna finish one story." Now, maybe a story or animation every week or month is a bit much. Ira is talking about writing and story crafting, he himself is a public radio personality. But the idea of producing a great volume of work so that you can look back on it and improve over time is a really good one. So while I'm happy with the project I took on, I just wish it didn't take SO long to complete. Check out these videos of Ira Glass discussing storytelling. That link there will take you to the first video of four.

I spoke recently with someone about how it can feel frustrating to have this project (my short film) on the go that is taking so long to complete. They suggested that maybe I should just "wrap it up". What does that mean? I instantly went on the defensive to say that I'm happy with the film and it's what I want to do. How on earth could I just wrap it up? I instantly visualized a version of my film with rushed paintings for backgrounds and still frames of character poses instead of any animation. It was a piece of advice that perhaps came from a well-meaning place. But I can't imagine just quickly finishing this film and being ok with that. Often it seems that people naturally seem inclined to suggest solutions to problems that aren't necessarily even problems, or issues that I wasn't actually seeking advice on. Sometimes that is helpful. For the most part, when I tell people that I've been working on my film in my spare time the usual reaction I get is; "oh it's good to hear that you're still working away on that", which is great. I actually love to hear about other people personal projects and going-ons as I find that sort of thing highly inspiring. It's exciting to be able to direct your own project and get it just the way you like it! Do you have any personal projects or goals on the go? What are they?

This past weekend I reached a milestone on my background paintings. I've got all the backgrounds that serve as backdrops for character animation done or nearly done. A handful of shots I'm going to leave for now and finalise the lighting when the animation is done. That way the action will get framed just right and I won't have to paint it twice. I would like to shift gears a little bit at this point now that I've accomplished so much on the backgrounds. I will probably relax my dedication to Pickled for a couple of months and in that time try to get to the gym, life draw, play my ukelele and learn more about animating in Maya. I actually picked up my ukulele this week for the first time in about a year and a half! I just didn't want to look at a computer screen anymore.


  1. Great post! I love that you share your personal benefits of blogging. It's also clearly evident that you are not only passionate about your project, but also dedicated to producing the highest quality work that you can. The results of your work is very important to you. It's also nice to hear that even when you are so dedicated to a project, it's o.k. to take periodic breaks from that project to keep other aspects of your life in balance and perhaps, to refuel your passion.

  2. Thanks for reading :) Blogging is my outlet and I do think it's benefiting me a lot. I'm sure everyone has something that is best for them to feel energised, reflective and calm. There are so many things I want to do, yes it's good to take breaks and attempt to use the time I have in ways I want. I don't want to be in a perma-black hole of working on one project. As I write this I am sitting at a friends house with friends around me; responding to emails, checking on friend's blogs and I'm just about to tackle some Maya tutorials. We're working together so that we can stay focused and encouraged. I love it. I will add one thing to this response; that nothing worthwhile is easy and there are certainly sucky days and depressing times. But that is no reason to "wrap it up". That's just life. I think the enjoyment I receive from working on my film far outweighs the tough days.


Take a Deep Breath...

Here is a small taste of a big scene I've been working on! It's been so addictive to work on this. I hate doing a bunch of work and ...