March 16, 2018

Elephant In the Brain

The Ides of March, my sobriety anniversary, or "soberthday", came and went yesterday without fanfare. It's been four years since I quit drinking. 

Every year an old friend of mine calls to congratulate me on staying sober, and yesterday was no different. He said that he was impressed that I had made it this far, and that he knew how hard it was to quit. My reply, as always, was that I didn't find it hard. I found that continuing drinking was hard; not drinking was so much easier.

No self loathing. No little mind games. No shame. Much easier.
But I'm carefully ignoring something: the elephant is no longer in the room, but it's still lurking in my brain.  I'm not accounting for the hidden costs of sobriety. I'm not acknowledging the losses. There are friendships and communities of drinking buddies that fall away and disintegrate. It's painful. Even though you have no issue being around drinkers or being at parties, the invitations dry up. You are excluded from certain events.

The photos posted to Facebook of a girls night out, or a trip to a winery stings a little. You can see the party going on inside the bubble, but you know that you are not welcome. Not because you can't handle it, but because they can't.

And that is just the superficial pain. It runs deeper and with greater intensity, and it touches the raw nerve of your identity. People who have known you your whole life accuse you of having changed. They don't recognize you. They're even angry, as though you'd cheated them, or stolen something they felt was theirs.

You spent so many years covering up the fear and doubt, drowning out the loneliness with booze and being a happy, funny, party girl. They miss that girl. But she is not who you are - she never was.

February 13, 2018

HONESTY laurels!

My short film that I animated for kids to learn about honesty, has picked up a few more festival screenings and one award. So I figure it's time I update the credentials, because my fleet of personal assistants have yet to materialize.

Poster for the short film HONESTY, with PickleWeasel, and festival laurels.
Collecting laurels is fun.

Here we go:

• Ajayu International Animated Short Film Festival 2017, Peru - Official Selection.
• The World Animation Celebration 2017, Los Angeles - Official Selection.
• Canada Shorts 2017, St John NB - Official Selection, WINNER Award of Distinction.
• Providence Childrens Film Festival 2018, Pawtucket RI - Official Selection.
• KidFilm Festival 2018, Dallas - Official Selection.
• Athens AnimFest 2018, Athens Greece - Official Selection, European premiere.

HONESTY was specifically animated with kids in mind, so I entered it into a few childrens film festivals. I'm especially pleased that it got into KidFilm and wow, delighted it made it into Providence - that is such a cool festival, they really care about the filmmaker and give valuable feedback. That Providence Children's Film Festival runs from Feb. 16-25, so if you in the Pawtucket Rhode Island area, get your tickets here.

Thus far this film is entered into about fifty festivals, and I've got twelve rejections and six selections. Rejections hurt, but they help you figure out what festivals your film is right for. I learned this while doing the festival run on my last film, "Papa Pasquale". Celebrate the laurels!

Once I finish my graphic novel, "Ball", I'll set my sights on my next little film. I can't wait to get back to animating.

Support indiefilm for $4 : HONESTY is available for streaming on Teachers Pay Teachers. 

January 29, 2018

"Ball" work-in-progress.

Been busy with all the things of life, but still plugging away on my graphic novel for a few hours every day. The frames are more detailed than I usually do, so it's taking more time.

Here's a few work-in-progress images.

Downshot of girl nearly submerged in rain.
Apparently, water represents the subconscious...

Girl meets the Black & White Thinking Shark.
Facing the Black & White Thinking Shark.

When the story sucks you in, you just have to let it happen. In a way, it's like the story is already there, waiting to be uncovered. I'm super-enjoying this.

More sneak peeks here.

January 4, 2018

Working on a graphic novel: "Ball".

A while ago I was moved to start an illustrated series call Ball. I posted eight chapters (starting HERE) and then stopped, intending to complete the series as a book.

Life happened, my family needed me, I quit drinking and got a dog. There have been some money worries too, so I focused on producing clip art and videos for teachers. Now it's time to draw for myself again. I don't have as many free stretches as I once did, but I do have enough to focus on one of my many projects for a few hours each day. After internalizing Ball for so long, it deserves to be let out.

Here's a sneak peek:

Running through the rain.

 Ball is the story of someone who loses a precious thing, and has to somehow find their way out of darkness. It's... an adventure.

I'll try to post updates as I go, and hope you'll follow along.

September 25, 2017

A laurel for HONESTY

My new little film "HONESTY" has made official selection in The World Animation Celebration. This festival is presented by Animation Libation Studios and Animation Magazine and hosted by Sony Pictures Animation in Culver City, California. These are serious industry voices and players; it's an honour for me as an artist, for my TeachersPayTeachers distribution presence, and for PickleWeasel.

It's the first laurel for HONESTY, but I'm especially excited because I used to read Animation Magazine back in the early '80s. Man, I was doing ink & paint in those days! That's how long I've been in this industry.

My film explores the inner struggle we may face on the pathway to choosing honesty. Animation and video are valuable tools for teachers of many subjects, including life skills and character education. See HONESTY here on Teachers Pay Teachers

I don't know yet which program my film will screen in at the WAC, but for animation fans there will be some real gems; they're selecting from 45 countries! FUN.

The World Animation Celebration takes place at Sony Pictures Animation: 9050 W. Washington Blvd. Culver City, California. ​ Doors open 11:00 am Sat & Sun. Tickets available here on FilmFreeway.

June 19, 2017

HONESTY - Character Education Animation

I have this great friend named Kymberli Barney who once drew me as a gangsta. You might leap to the conclusion that this is frivolous but in my animated world, I equate it to being Knighted. Kymberli can see the essential qualities in a person or a situation, through the clouds and confusion.

I draw many. Few draw me. Kymberli did tho.
She also happens to be the rather brilliant teacher of the Middle School Humans of BHiveU. Which leads me neatly to my next point:

I opened up my shop on Teachers Pay Teachers earlier this year, and while I've been a "pro" artist for over thirty years, it's been a struggle to figure out where I fit as a content provider to educators. Are my specific skills best applied drawing clip art? I'm definitely happier doing story-based projects, and things that provoke empathy, and that's what I do here on my blog, or in my books and films. So when Kymberli suggested I do some PickleWeasel 'character education' drawings and animation for the teacher market, it lit me up. Thank-you Kymberli!

Fun with watermarks.

The first six posters are already up in my shop: Honesty, Trust, Kindness, Cooperation, Perseverance, and Accomplishment. It was pretty challenging to depict these character traits in a single still image, I had to dig deep.

And here's my special announcement: HONESTY is now an animated film. Here is a preview:

When PickleWeasel meets someone he likes, he decides to cut some flowers to give as a gift. But, when he discovers the flowers belong to someone else, he finds himself in a pickle. What to do! Pretend he doesn't care? Run away? Or be honest? PickleWeasel learns how to listen to his conscience and choose honesty, even when it's difficult.
This HONESTY life skills animation is a fun too to help you teach kids the value of honesty. So important, right? And there's lots of room for discussion of alternate outcomes and feelings in this story. If you want to see the whole thing, check it out here.

Thanks for supporting my work!

May 9, 2017

American thrill ride: The TRUMP

The view of the USA from Canada:
Would you trust these coaster supports?
Today, Trump fired James Comey, the FBI director who was leading the Trump/Russia investigation.

What the hell is going on in America? Every day, several times a day, there's a Donald Trump related twist. What with Donald lobbing big bombs at other countries while blathering praise for dictators, the GOP's weird obsession with undoing Obama's legacy, or the US government plugging Ivanka Trump's really dumb book, it's several full time jobs just trying to keep up!

Will democracy survive? Will The World survive? Just watching it from the outside makes me want to hurl my popcorn.