Despite the title, these pixels are anything but lazy. This is a site of my own photos, my own art, my own written text and more. There are no memes. This is not a portal to someone else’s brain. It is an outlet for my own creative soul. I plan to post words and pictures about things that interest me and all the projects I'm exploring in multiple formats: long, short, deep, and shallow. Share and enjoy.

Roads & Castles

1 year 1 month ago

Game bits were the obvious candidates to put a new 3D printer through it's paces and for me to get my own mind around the functionality and limitations of that technology.

As the pandemic steamrolled the planet, I asked my bother (who sells printers) to put a basic kit together for me. I figured it would have some entertainment value and maybe even spark a bit of imaginative fun for the Kid as we were stuck in the house.

Adventure ensued, at least if you consider adventure digging through websites looking for clever models to download then sitting beside a mechanic contraption as it farts out molten plastic into a real-life rendering of that model.

There are a lot of useless things one can print. All sorts of toys and doo-dahs and figurines and stands for things that don't really need stands. We had some fun creating some random objects at first, but the novelty wore off in favour of trying to make something useful.

Enter: game bits stage left.

Most quality board games ship with quality bits. It's the hallmark of the modern board game industry that avid gamers are fine with shelling out sixty, seventy, a hundred bucks, for some cardboard and rules if (and only if) the hundreds of bits that come with it are of substantial quality. Collectible, basically.

"These tiles are made of real etched glass."

"Just look at the fine detail on these tokens."

I'm just as guilty of game collecting as the next gamer. Then again, I also own some games that are purely meant to be played.

We bought into the Catan craze around the time it was getting popular. I'd claim to have beaten it to the viral punch, but in reality we were part of it. That also means we have an early edition, with modest quality bits. Functional. Well-used. Long loved. Classic. Probably not collectible.

In fact, I've gone through stages of trying to rebuild a board and new bits from scratch for well over a decade. I bought a paint-able ceramic tile set about a dozen years back. I tried making tiles from FIMO five or six years ago. And at one point I had tracked down about 75% of the parts to put together a fan-art-style LEGO board.

3D printing some bits was a no-brainer. The designs already existed online... which, to be clear, I take no credit for.. and a week of setup and printing ensued resulting in --finally-- a couple nights ago we played a round with the new roads and castles.

Finding a Focus

1 year 1 month ago

When I kicked off “This is Pi Day” I had a solid idea.

That comic strip which I drew for the better part of two years was grounded in this notion of “kids say funny stuff” — mostly because they are kids, but because they lack the nuanced social filters that most of us acquire over our lives. I could mine the rich vein of parenting gold by doing something as simple as going for a walk or driving home from school. There was always a little seed of an idea that could be rolled between the fingers and honed into a crystal of a comic story.

Then the filter appeared, as if overnight.

Kids become teens and cute becomes awkward.

Awkward is not as funny as cute.

So drawing that strip became this tiptoeing balance of finding a respectful route through less of a gold mine and more of a mine field.

Things change, in other words.

Without stories, comics are just wordless sketches, pictures with little more than a fleeting impression of emotion. Glimpses into a universe that is neither fleshed out nor with purpose.

I’ve been trying to find another simple idea to build on, mostly without success, something in which to ground a new set of art and writing. Mostly I get stuck in a bit of a feedback loop, trying to pull a story from the meta introspection of my own life: the “creative nerds are funny” angle, which results in me sketching characters that are neither flattering nor insulting, but which often have a little too much of myself embedded in them.

There is no easy answer to this problem.

While a little sliver of me thought that penning a post about the problem would reveal the answer, the realistic part of me knows that writers block — artists block — whatever, is the quadrant on the graph of inspiration where openness to ideas and exposure to the universe are both negative values.

Being locked away in one’s own home for most of the day, barely able to leave the neighbourhood except for supplies, and dealing with the emotional weight that creates certainly seems likes it might tick a few boxes on whatever survey is tallying my personal writer’s block analysis.

In other words, I don’t yet have a solid idea. Just the motivation to find one. And that is not coming as easily as I’d hoped.

In the meantime, I’ll keep sketching whatever pops into my mind and hoping that the effort will overcome the static friction of this stationary life.

Garden Update, Part 2

1 year ago

May long weekend both seems to have come early this year and also taken forever to arrive.

Having extended my stay-at-home vacation from that work-from-home drudgery, I afforded myself an extra day to tackle the summer-is-looming projects that will help to shape the garden into a backyard oasis for the season. As we will not be going very far for the next few months, this seems more important than ever.

By far the most notable project of the weekend has been the minor maintenance and addition to our deck. As we’re rarely in a rush to go anywhere these days, I’ve been filling my mornings as the temperature improves enjoying the twelve-foot-square patch of wood stage that protrudes from the rear of our house. A morning coffee. A bit of writing. Spinning through the news or twitter feed.

It’s a northern exposed space and in the mornings it’s nearly perfect for a bit of casual enjoyment. But as the day pressed on, the sun peaking over the house mixed with the exposed unfinished ambiance left it wanting for any more practical use.

It’s Saturday mid-afternoon as I write this, and I’m sitting out on that exact same deck, but under the protective modifications that we installed yesterday.

See, as I was taking my daily walks around the park it occurred to me to pay closer attention to the decks and gardens of the many houses that back onto the green space. Roughly two-thirds of those properties had improved their decks with addition of a fixed shelter of some kind. Semi-rooves, awnings, or pergolas were numerous, and sitting in the deck below were comfortable looking people enjoying comforting looking spaces.

Research ensued. A whole adventure attempting to purchase a rare and expensive pergola kit during a pandemic retail lockdown occurred. Long story short, yesterday morning we found ourselves with the final missing pieces of a TOJAGrid modular pergola system.

We spent four hours staining the deck and timbers.

We readied the pieces.

We nearly killed ourselves trying to lift the ten-by-ten frame eight feet into the air (until the neighbour generously rushed over and assisted, social distancing-style).

I bolted it in place this morning and hung a couple strings of soft white lights around the upper perimeter and hung the sail shade.

It is a remarkable effect, actually. It’s hard to understand —let alone explain— why eight posts and a square of canvas completely transform a space from a platform in the backyard to a comfortable retreat. We were sitting under the new roof to our deck this morning, sipping hot drinks and noting how different it feels. A frame. A box with no walls and a flap of fabric above our heads and this familiar part of our yard where we didn’t-actually-use-much-to-be-honest was in a day morphed into an alluring outdoor shelter-of-sorts. I can see myself working out here as often as as the weather allows. I’ve spent the better part of today unable to pry myself from both the coziness and the novelty of it. Simultaneously inexplicable and completely understandable in the context of simple human psychology. It has created the illusion of a room and the illusion of a space and the illusion of a protective bubble.

Now I just need to pry myself away and plant some vegetables.

Just the Necessities

1 year ago

Readers who stumble across this website without context for any my history may be surprised to learn that for two years I drew and published a weekly online web comic. In all, I published about 150 strips, nearly all of them slice-of-life gags referencing my life as a dad to a single-digit-aged daughter.

I’ve tried to reboot that strip a couple times since I stopped drawing — a little over a year ago now — but my dabbling attempts have been thwarted by a lack of time, focus, and cohesive new narrative thread. Kids grow up and it turns out teenagers don’t think wry observation of their awkward quirks are very funny, DAD!

Those attempted reboots have left little in the way of published assets behind. On the other hand, my cartooning toolbox, mental, digital, and emotional has been much more fleshed out by the experience. In fact, I often find that I’m in a much better position to just absently sketch something while hanging out bored, while in front of the television, or for no reason other than to draw.

Art then becomes a bit more expressive and bit less prescriptive, more of me trying to get an idea out on the page in whatever form that takes and less me trying to hit a (self-imposed) publication deadline for a Saturday morning comic post.

Some of this is reference art, of course. I often draw hoping that what shows up at the end is something that inspires me to draw it again. Then again. Then a hundred more times so that I can spin the whole thing into another modestly successful comic strip.

If nothing else, I land with something and maybe even something worth sharing.

Last night, for example, we were watching some television as a family and I pulled out my iPad and absently started a self-portrait. I had two things on my mind. First, it has been floating through my peripheral awareness that my hair has never been as long in my life as it is right now. Barbershops opened for the first time in two months as of this week, and I was overdue when they locked down due to the pandemic. Second, having taken an extra day off for the long weekend, it also happens to be my turn to brave the grocery stores and restock our basics.

Doodle. Erase. Sketch. Tweak. Refine. Colour. Tweak. Expand. Shade. Tweak. Et cetera...

And around an hour later I posted this little sketch onto Instagram.

Back when I was doing a regular strip I turned to Instagram as one of the primary channels for sharing my art. And in the over a year since posting that strip regularly, I’ve tossed a few doodles like this (and in a variety of other styles) onto that account as a kind-of “I’m still here” flag. I realized as I posted yet-another-not-my-strip cartoon there last night that it might be and opportune time to consider a rebrand: to rename the account as something more generic to the art, and more specific to me. So... that’s the plan. Or at least the seed of one.

In the meantime, I’ll be over here absently sketching.

Open for Business

1 year ago

Flowers have a color complexity that is often ignored until one finds themselves trying to replicate one on the page. All at once they are delicate yet vibrant. Translucent, yet rich with texture and shadow.

A yellow tulip appeared in my flower bed this morning. I write that sentence as if I didn't plant a bulb there many years ago and tend to a crop of flowers every year, weeding and watching and watering when necessary. That doesn't mean it isn't a pleasant surprise to see the color emerge from the ground each spring after a long, cold winter when that same flower bed was a pillow of white and cold for so many months.

As I write this the city where I live is opening for business like a tentative spring flower: a lone tulip is a yet-to-be-weeded flower bed is an apt metaphor, actually. While the media plays the "back to business" story as if everything is well on it's way to back to normal, the world is anything but. Little has changed since we locked down. The virus is still a threat. The economy is still in the tank. Most people will not rush out into the spring air and open their delicate embrace to an uncertain risk.