Voici une petite vidéo—en français! My dad and I collaborated on this fun educational animation last week, for use in french immersion classrooms. Five magic words/phrases that wee ones ought to know: bonjour, s'il te plait, merci, de rien, et je suis désolé! All taught by an enthusiastic french rabbit who jumps out of a magic hat.
To see all the behind-the-scenes sketches and such, head over to the originalPatreon post!
I've been finding it to be a bit of a struggle to figure out what to share this month, so I’ll just start by sharing some honest bits of my mind and see what happens…!
Health & Stuff
It has been a relatively challenging month for both my mental and physical health, and since most of my energy has gone towards trying to manage them, it has left little bandwidth for creative motivation/productivity. I know a lot of people can relate to this, especially right now.
I’ve been keeping most of the demons at bay by focusing my energy on healing activities such as making nourishing foods, reading good books, learning simple balfolk tunes on piano, picking the guitar, stretching, breathing, meditating, going for walks in nature and being attentive to the new wave of birds migrating through.
A cute little Pacific-slope Flycatcher
I do feel that soon, along with the shift of the seasons, I will find better grounding and be able to stabilize some of the current imbalances I'm experiencing. These things, like many (all?) things, seem to come and go in cycles. Sometimes it helps just to remember that!
One saving grace throughout the whole pandemic for me so far has been learning and playing folk dance tunes from the Honeywood Tunebook that my friends Emilyn Stam & John David Williams put together. I discovered that when I find my creative tank has run out of juice, it's nice to just switch my brain-gears and read some simple sheet music that someone else wrote instead of trying to force the creation of original music when it's not feeling natural.
Remember last year when I showed you my collaborative Art Bird Card with the juncos? Well, Seán and I got an opportunity to try our hands at another local bird—the bewick's wren—for the new 2021 edition of the deck!
Our collaborative digital illustration: bird by Seán, background by Kate
You can read more about the card, as well as a summary of some spring things on our Hummingcrow post 🌱
With the unseasonably warm temperatures this week, the bird bath has been busy with hot & thirsty feathered friends splashing vigorously and gulping down beakfuls.
Speaking of feathered friends, here are some relevant paintings!
An “intergrade” Northern Flicker at the bath.
I recently received a whole wack of colours of POSCA paint markers as a gift from my mum, and was eager to try out the new selection. I sifted through some of my bird photos and chose a few attractive woodpeckers and a robin to model for me.
Read more and see all of the paintings on the original Patreon post.
I recently bought a used hybrid nylon-string guitar (one with a lighter body and narrower neck for smaller hands like mine)!
Kinesthetic memory never ceases to amaze me: while I was testing it out at the shop, my guitar-brain magically began thawing after a dozen years in the cryogenic freezer. After about one minute of awkward playing, everything came rushing back and I was able to remember everything from where I left off (when I was about 19 and playing more regularly).
So, just for fun, here's a little phone-recording of me running through a handful of tune-bits from my memories of guitar past a couple of days after acquiring the new axe. My dad taught me all of these tunes when I was a teenager, except for the last one, which I made up during my first year at art college.
Read more and see all of the paintings on the original Patreon post.
It was originally intended to be the cover art, but a different aesthetic was chosen for the cover in the end (which I think fits the feel of the album really well), so this art became the next best thing— the insert-booklet cover, which also includes a few of my process drawings:
A few months after finishing the art, I went on a week-long tour performing around BC with Saltwater Hank and Vic Horvath, which was a super fun time (see my very weird three-headed, four-armed tour-poster on the original Patreon post, as well as process sketches, and more!)
Album Cover Throwback Series – Part 1: Never Say Never
In the summer of 2019, I got a call from a children's entertainer who I had previously met at an accordion-themed event in Vancouver. He goes by the stage name Ishdafish— “Ish” for short. He had seen some event posters that I illustrated and thought I'd be the perfect fit to redesign and illustrate the cover of his 2012 album, Never Say Never.
He was extremely enthusiastic and positive about the whole thing and had a lot of exciting ideas he wanted to include in the new cover. To start: a hot air balloon—full of instruments, just beginning to take off—surrounded by a parade of musicians and clowns and animals and children!
Hello friends! Hope this past month has treated you well & that signs of spring are becoming more prevalent in your neighbourhood.
Since I don't have any music clips ready to share just yet, I thought I'd instead share a summary of some of the things I've been up to this past month! Here goes:
1. Easter Pysanky
Using the traditional wax-resist dyeing technique, Seán and I made 3 experimental egg designs each. Feel free to read more about the process in my blog-post here and see the full 360° of each egg in a short video here :)
I’ve been wearing a pair of black SAS walking shoes almost every day for the last year, and decided to paint them on the anniversary of the day that I bought them (indeed— it’s such a rare thing for me to invest in a proper pair of new shoes that it is considered an “event” and goes into my datebook as such).
I like to let the shoe be a normal shoe for a while before painting it. I think I do this partly to just appreciate it in its original state, and partly to break down the intimidation of the “perfect, blank canvas”— let it get dirty and scuffed up a bit, then I won’t be as perfectionistic about it, and feel more free to experiment:
When I saw the call-to-artists for an upcoming show at the Metchosin ArtPod for 'art using photographs as a base', I figured I could manage to put something together for it (considering the massive pile of digital photos we have of things around Hum Hill from over the last two years, heheh).
Looking through the photos, I was inspired by several close-up pictures of various fungi and lichens. They seemed to scream, “you must adorn us with creatures!”, and so it began:
The first in hopefully a series of creatures digitally plopped atop photographed micro-scenes.
Catalyzed by our virtual Japan trip, Seán and I have gotten into the habit of doing daily Radio Taiso calisthenics. They're fun & short workouts with just the right amount of silliness—and the perfect remedy for sitting at the computer more than usual.
I thought it would be fun to try out a very short & simple animation of an Anna's hummingbird doing some radio taiso exercises (see 1:43 for the portion that the hummer is doing). I chose that part of the routine because I find it to be one of the more fun(ny) ones :)
See the full animated hummer video, sketches and other behind-the-scenes bits on the original Patreon post !
S'more combined bits!
I'm writing this post in scattered bits while being distracted by various gulls, vultures and ravens outside the window who are soaring playfully in the gusts of wind. There's also a female Anna's hummingbird who is having a relaxed sipping session at the nectar feeder. It's nice. Birds are such good medicine— hope you can spend some time bird-noticing this week!
Here's another attempt to combine 3 more wee tunes I made up on the piano:
It seems to have a hopeful feeling to start, including several peaceful moments, and then some darker broodiness, only to rise up again for a hopeful ending. I'm pretty sure the first bit was inspired by memories of one of my uncle's piano songs.
Here on Hummingbird Hill, one of our most important duties is to keep the hummers happy. We have a handful of hummers year-round who regularly come to sip the sweet stuff from our two saucer-style feeders. When we were still new at it, we found it difficult to remember which of us changed the nectar last and when. This resulted in confusion and—more importantly—the potential risk of unhappy hummers.
So, I came up with a solution.
Enter: Nectar Refresh Schedule!
Read the full article and download the schedule on the original post on my collaborative blog, Hummingcrow & Co. :)
One of the new ditties I'm working on
Back in autumn I was experimenting with several little tune-flows on the piano. Lately I've been trying to see if I can puzzle some of the pieces together— will they create one big tune, two medium-tunes, or just stay as a handful of tiny-tunes? This recording was an attempt to stitch together a few of the little tunes/phrases: