Friday, December 14, 2012

On the Mend

I've taken this past week pretty easy while I've been recovering from reconstructive jaw surgery. There have been some bumps along the way but I'm more or less healing on schedule and trying to stay sane inside the walls of my parents' house in snowy Edmonton. I'm eager to get well soon and get back into a routine, especially when it comes to food. Oh goodness, I miss all firm and crunchy foods.

I've taken lots of photos of myself for documentation sake, but decided that in between the bruising, swelling, black eyes, stitches and weight loss that they're are a bit much to share here. Instead, here's a sleepy illustration I did last night. I'm rarely seen without an ice pack accessory these days.

There have been a few really nice highlights. One of which is Lisa Farlow, one of my oldest bestest friends. She's a new resident to Edmonton and it's such a treat to have her in the city.  She is an expert listener and also very good at watching television beside me.

A couple weeks before the surgery I got a really nice email from my Uncle Paul who suspected that I would be spending many hours in front of the computer in the coming weeks. He and my Aunty Celine generously bought and shipped me a new scanner to make my life a little easier. (My last scanner broke in the Halifax to Chicago move.) The scanner is excellent, I used it for the drawing here.

Another highlight has been a daily surprise courtesy of my Aunty Annette. A few months ago my aunt was passing through a small Saskatchewan town and decided to stop in an antique store. There she found several Queen Elizabeth II commemorative tins (which I collect) and she couldn't help herself from buying all of them. (Yes, she is amazing.) She wrapped the tins individually and handed them off to my parents. I've opened one a day, it's been a lovely treat  to look forward too! I've also received some supportive snail mail, for which I'm always appreciative of and I'm happy to reciprocate if anyone would like a pen pal. 

Yesterday I had the stitches taken out, it was a breeze. I start a rigorous regime of physiotherapy on Monday.  My current goal is to be able to eat some sort of holiday feast.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Shooting the B&W Photobooth Animation

A couple weeks before leaving Chicago I shot a stop motion animation in the Model 11 photobooth at A&A Studios.  Leading up to the big day I shot some of the simpler sequences by myself and saved the more complex sequences (which required me in costume and make-up) for that day. Two wonderful friends, Elizabeth Archer and Rachel Winslow helped me immensely with the slow and time consuming process. This post here shows some of the test shots and gives you an idea of the imagery I was working with.

Here are some tests and out-takes from the big shoot. I'm really happy with how the final images look and I'm excited to work on it. Next I have to sit at my computer for a couple hundred hours to scan, align, crop and put the one thousand or so images in sequence. Fortunately I'll have lots of time post-surgery to do just that.



Sunday, December 2, 2012

One Year of Mail Art - November

It's been a while since my last post, things have been busy since I realized my time in Chicago had to be cut short. The last few weeks have been amazingly productive, as I've packed and moved and also incredibly fun as I spent my last days in the city with good friends. I have lots of fun projects to share in the coming weeks.

I'm writing this in my sister's kitchen in Montreal. I arrived here after great trips to New York City and Burlington, Vermont where I was interviewing people for my graphic novel, Photobooth A Biography. Nothing could have gone better, and I'm feeling very appreciative towards all the people who made those trips a breeze.

I'm starting on a batch of mail art for December, which means I can share what I sent to my four recipients in November. The theme for the month was "Miniature" and I had lots of fun making itty bitty drawings, folding tiny envelopes and creating tiny photobooth pictures (taken in a real photobooth by adjusting the focus and photographing an existing strip.) I sent the miniature envelopes in regular sized ones so they wouldn't get lost in the mail.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

When Life Gives You Lemons...

In my high school yearbook, my quote beside my graduation photo was

"When life gives you lemons, you make orange juice.”

To my knowledge, I made this up, though others have probably thought of it. I almost forgot about this phrase, when recently it crept out of the deep banks of my memory and proved to be relevant again. 

Years ago I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis, which is actually a very common disease but not so common amongst teenagers. In some degree or another it does affect my day to day life, but I’m very used to living with it. I really don’t put that much thought into in, but it’s about to be at the forefront of my life.

Unfortunately I have to cut my time in Chicago short to go to Edmonton for surgery to reconstruct my temporomandibular joints. I received a call this past week offering me the surgery on December 7th, I said no immediately, not wanting to pause all the exciting things in my life for this less exciting experience. Then I was informed that if I didn’t take the date, the next opportunity probably wouldn’t be until the late spring.  The surgery requires me to be in Edmonton for a minimum of two months afterwards, so I figured that it’s probably better to be there for the winter and just hibernate my way to health than to miss out on summer fun.

I’m not thrilled about spending that much time in freezing cold Edmonton, or about the side effects of the medications I’ll be on, or that they’ll shave the sides of my head to perform the surgery. HOWEVER, I’m so incredibly fortunate to be receiving this procedure for free under healthcare! And fortunate that my parents are in Edmonton and are willing to take care of me in a very needy state for two months! And fortunate that I get new joints and won’t have to live with the pain and restrictions of my condition (at least in that part of my body) for much longer!

And this is where the orange juice comes in. If I’m stuck in Edmonton for two wintery months then I’m going to cherish the unique situation I'll be in. I've been really busy for the last year, so living with fewer distractions and using my days to work on satisfying side projects could be wonderful. In days when I’m too drugged out to work, I’m going to read that stack of graphic novels that have been untouched for too long. In days when I can work, I’ll have two photobooth animations that require hundreds of hours of editing. And days when I’m feeling better I have a book that I need to finish writing and lots of artwork for it that I’m so excited to tackle.  And on top of all of this, I’ll have endless quality time with my family cat.

I only have fifteen days left in Chicago, which makes me terribly sad, but I hope to be back in the new year. And before I go back to Edmonton, I’ll be making quick stops in New York, Vermont and in Montreal for interviews for my book. It should be interesting. 

B&W Photobooth Animation

I shot a stop-motion animation in a photobooth at Auto-Photo's warehouse in Montreal this May. (You can see details about this here and watch my first two animations here.) I've been slowly chipping away at the huge task of editing it over the last few months. And even though I'm not finished editing, I decided to take advantage of my situation here in Chicago and shoot another.

At A&A Studios there's a beautiful Model 11 photobooth that I use almost daily. I have access to the interior of the booth so it allows me a lot of control over things like paper type, filters, exposure, chemical temperature and strength, which all significantly impact the photos. The booth can run on both black & white and colour chemistry but I chose to shoot this one in b&w, as my others have all been in colour.
In preparation of the animation, today I spent two hours removing the old chemistry, troubleshooting problems from the last batch and mixing new chemicals. I won't lie - this is disgusting and potentially very hazardous work. There is absolutely nothing glamorous about this task, I will equate it to changing a baby's diaper. You love that baby but it doesn't mean that you love handling their poop.

Another advantage to shooting this animation at A&A is that I'm not rushed to shoot it all at once. So I've already started on the simpler parts that I can do without assistants. I'm about 10% finished the shooting and probably 2% finished the overall work that will go into it.

Here are some frames from the first strips I've taken. Some are tests and others will be in the finished film.  

Sunday, November 4, 2012

In Spirit of the Season

Halloween is one of my very favourite holidays and I was excited to celebrate it in a new city this year. Unfortunately, a nasty cold+flu combo has been dragging me down lately and put a halt to my plans on the actual night of Halloween... meaning I have a costume that has gone unworn. However, being sick didn't kill my love of the season.

A couple weeks ago I went pumpkin picking with some friends (and their vintage film cameras) at a nearby farm. We even had some adventures in a corn maze.

 I have a very tiny bedroom here in Chicago but that's no reason to not make it feel like home. I found some items I really like at a rummage sale and at a nice stationary store so I whipped up this focal wall.

Monday, October 29, 2012

One Year of Mail Art - October

I had lots of fun last month putting together October's Mail Art with these vintage envelopes (that were a gift from my friend Lisa.) The theme was Spooks and Specters and the letters included ink drawings, paper ghosts and skull inspired photostrips. As per usual I included two puzzle pieces from the 24 piece puzzle I made when I started this project in June. The letters on the back of the envelopes also spell out a message once they've received all twelve months and I give them the arrangement key. 

I'm working on November's Mail Art now and I'm feeling mighty clever about it.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Camera-A-Day Project

All the beautiful cameras at A&A Studios have really started to grow on me. So a couple weeks ago I started sketching a camera whenever I had a free moment at the studio. It's been relaxing but also good practice for my graphic novel, for which I'm drawing lots of mechanical devices.

I also like the reversal of making a drawing of something that takes a picture.

All the drawings were drawn with ink and brush and coloured later in photoshop. I'm regularly updating them at my Two Hands Two Crowns facebook page, so you can follow them there.


Friday, October 19, 2012

Photobooth Workshop Series!

I'm super duper excited to be co-instructing a three week workshop series at A&A Studios, here in Chicago. Each workshop explores a different aspect of photobooth techniques and photostrip manipulation.

Here's a sample of the techniques we'll be using in the first workshop. The rest of the workshop descriptions are below. If you aren't in the Chicago area, please tell your friends that are!

Explore filters, exposure, mirrors, magnification, composition, backgrounds and costumes.

Take full body photos with a custom backless photobooth. Also explore alternative papers, chemicals, dyes and collage.

Apply all techniques to make your own large piece of photobooth art with instructors at hand to assist you.

$55/class or $145 for all three classes. 
All workshops are 10 - 5.
Unlimited Photos,  Materials Included.

A&A Studios is located at 350 N.Ogden Ave. Chicago, IL, 60607 - 4th Fl. 312.278.1144

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Incoming Mail...

About a week ago, I had a meltdown when a Photoshop file malfunctioned and I lost a weekend's worth of work. So what did I do? Well, after I held my head in my palms and rocked back and forth for ten minutes, I scooped myself a heaping bowl of ice cream and logged onto eBay.

These airmail envelopes were the damage I did that night.

Firstly, in honor of the place I'm temporarily calling home, I bought this Chicago envelope from 1986. 

Next, in the spirit of the American election, I bought an original set of these JFK envelopes. My most beloved pen pals may actually receive a letter in one.

Then I went on an international kick and bought these from Brazil, I love the yellow stripes, I don't have any others like them in my collection.

Next is this pair from Israel, I really enjoy the Hebrew text.

And lastly, these four different ones from Poland, I really like the graphic design of the postage stamps.

I have a rule that I don't spend more than $10 on an envelope, including the cost of shipping. Usually they are a lot less (the first one from Chicago was $0.25, for example.) I mention this because I exercised a whole lot of restraint by not buying this black Austrian envelope with beautiful line work and the most fiercesome stamp I've ever seen. If anyone feels like buying it for me, my birthday is only 6 months and ten days away.

You can check out other envelopes in my vintage airmail collection here.