Ava Thursday: I want a toy from Daddy

Before I left for Ottawa last week, I promised a toy for Ava when I got back. I stayed true to my word, but I have some words of advice for you parents who have a young girl and plan on going out of town: Never say that you'll bring back a Barbie but come back with anything less, as your little one will be highly disappointed. I found a cute little doll that was part of a series of Canadian girls, each one with a cute outfit typical of Canadian dress (the one I found for Ava had a Mounted Police outfit). Once I showed it to Ava, she could not hide her feelings and said, "Is there more?" Not to worry, though, because Ava warmed up to the doll the following day.

I love the way Ava drew the airplane in this drawing, but it looks to me that I missed my flight. Maybe I still have her toy in my bag there. And Andrea helped her with some of the letters at the bottom of the page. I love the way kids draw letters, don't you?

And as part of my promise for an extra bonus Ava Thursday, here is another drawing -- part of that set of drawings Ava did back in June of this year (see here and here). Some more big, bold colors, big smiles, and "cool clothes" -- showing off belly buttons, of course. Love the purse, too. The little drawing of a girl in the lower left-hand corner was added on recently.


Post-Ottawa high

So this is what it's been like for me since returning from Ottawa. It was a great festival! I'm trying to figure out how to go about presenting my trip to everyone without boring you all to tears. I might break it down into several posts, complete with links and such, but I haven't figured it out just yet. I still need to gather my thoughts on what I saw and experienced. Plus, it's crazy getting back into it at work! It's so hard to shift gears like this, but hey -- that's life.


A short bit

Hey all, this will be short as I'm currently typing this at a booth at the Ottawa International Animation Festival offering free internet access. So, heck yeah I'll abuse this service! Just wanted to drop in and say that I'm having a great time watching tons of animation, talking for hours about animation, and listening to many animators talking about animation. Did I mention I'm at an animation festival? To my right is Amid Amidi, from Cartoon Brew, and to my left is Emru Townsend of fps magazine, also posting something on his blog. We're total animation geeks. It's a sad scene.

I did want to say that I'm very sorry about not having an Ava Thursday posted for yesterday. I dropped the ball on that. To make it up to you all, I promise to post TWO masterpieces by everybody's five year-old next week. Cool, huh?

So, there ya go. Once I find some more time here, I'll clue you in on what I've seen so far (and some of it has been fantastic).

See ya!


My Ottawa Brief

Don't forget, I'm getting ready to head off to Ottawa for the Animation Festival this Thursday, and since I've been in contact with a couple of you who are going, I thought I'd post here a brief overview of what I'll be checking out. Maybe we'll bump into each other, you never know. Be assured that I'll post more in-depth reviews of the movies, short films, and panels once the festival is over. I may even have a chance to post while I'm in the Great White North, so who knows?

Here's a brief rundown of what I'm thinking about seeing:

I get in around noon, so I'll miss the entire first day and half of the second, but I hit the ground running by seeing the Short Competition 5 at 3pm.
Feature Competition: EMPRESS CHUNG at 7pm.
And I'm looking forward to seeing AVOID EYE CONTACT 2 at 11pm.

I'm curious about the workshop Disney Animation's CG Character Animation: Past and Present at 9am. There's not a whole lot of "past" there, but it'll be interesting to check out, I'm sure.
Pink Panther retrospective at 10am.
I'll be going to the Animator's Picnic at 12:30, which is a big fun event where everybody goes and hangs out with all the filmmakers and students. Stop by and say hi. Be nice, though. I'm fragile.
Internet Competition at 5pm.
Feature Competition: THE DISTRICT at 7pm.
Short Competition 3 at 9pm.

Short Competition 2 at 1pm.
Short Competition 4 at 3pm.
Pee-wee Herman's Playhouse Animation at 7pm. A showcase of some of the animation from the TV show. Looks to be fun!
Jerry Beck's The Worst Cartoons Ever at 9pm.

Masterclass with Michael Dudok de Wit at 9am. I love this guy's work. Looking forward to this.
Workshop: Abstracting the Hyper-Real at 11am. Oh, yes. I'll be going to this as part of my research in working on that infamously delayed third post on THE POLAR EXPRESS and the use of mo-cap and realistic characters in CG. Many notes will be taken during this workshop.
Kids Competition at 1pm. Henry Selick's MOONGIRL will be screened. Hey -- he'll be there, too!
Short Competition 1 at 3pm.
Closing Ceremonies at 7pm, and then Best of the Fest at 9pm. These two run hand-in-hand, and are a great way of seeing what others thought were the best of the festival.

So, there ya go. I'm so excited about going I could just piddle me pants, but I'll try and refrain. Like I mentioned before, I came back from Ottawa last year on such a great animation high, I couldn't stop talking about it. The event gave me a new perspective on the possibilities of animation, that not everyone is so focused on the CG route. If you are on the fence about attending any of the screenings, please heed my call and go. It's a great way of supporting the animation community, plus you get a nice big helping of inspiration. So many incredibly talented artists and animators will be there, I dare you to come away not feeling inspired.

See ya there!


The Artful Bloggers

Amid over at Cartoon Brew has mentioned recently that the summer of 2005 could go down as the animation artist's blog renaissance, and I would have to whole-heartedly agree with him on that. I've noticed an incredibly large influx of new blogs by artists, illustrators and animators, all showcasing their talents to a new audience. So, why is there a big wave suddenly? I've narrowed it down to four factors:

1. It's free.
Simple as that. If you use Blogger (I do), it's completely free and no pressure to upgrade. With Typepad, there is a service fee, along with several other services out there, but Blogger seems to be the big blog service of choice with all these newbies.

2. It's easy.
It's much easier than uploading on your own portfolio site, which can be mundane and tedious, I'm told. Even if your web designer made it as simple as pie for you to upload, it's a matter of organizing and arranging that frustrates even the most timid of artists.

3. Peer pressure.
Most of the new bloggers I've been checking out recently I notice link to their artist friends' blogs, and some of them are even co-workers as well. I can imagine the conversation: "Dude! You've GOTTA get a blog, man! Everybodys' doing it and it's so easy!"

4. Free image hosting on Blogger.
This is the biggie. Even though blogs have been around for a long time, and Blogger's been there from the beginning, Blogger did not offer free image hosting until just recently. And that, my friends, is the real bonafide reason why there's such a huge surge in artist blogs now. Not having to worry about paying an unknown service to host images and then trying to get around to uploading to your blog gives the artist an incredible amount of freedom. It also gives them a great advantage to showcase their work simple and pure, complete with a description on what they're posting. Even better, the artist gets immediate feedback on their work with the comments. It's a win-win situation for everyone involved. Plus it helps that Blogger makes uploading images so easy.

I'm completely loving it. I've found so many cool artists and animators posting some amazing work, many of whom I've never heard of before. Now I'm a big fan. That's where blogging works. It becomes a great close-knit community where everyone supports each other and gives many a great resource for inspiration.

Some blogs I feel are worth noting:
The Daly Blog: animation director for Dreamworks, Donnachada Daly
Enrico's Blog: storyboard artist for Pixar, Enrico Casarosa
Tweedle Sketch: illustrator Michael Fleming
Les dessins de Marco: illustrator Marco Allard
Art-Attacks: animator Hans Bacher
Oscar Grillo's blog: illustrator and animator
Harald Siepermann's blog: animator
Uli Meyer's blog: animator, owns a studio in the UK
Stef's Sketches: illustrator Stephane Kardos
Mattjonezanimation: animator Matt Jones
Khoolsville: animator Sandra Khoo
Face It!: animator Sean Zeles
Captain Yolk: animator Jeremy Bernstein
Lambey's Log: illustrator and animator Steve Lambe
Ovi Nedelcu's blog: animator and comic book artist

Amid just posted about this guy's blog the other day and already I'm a fan:
Portfolio: animator Uwe Heidschoetter

So what you waiting for? Get out there and start your blog! The more, the merrier.

UPDATE: I've added some more blogs now since I first posted -- so enjoy!


Say hello to my little friends

I have this weird idiosyncrasy when I restock on fresh animation bond paper. I have to put the new batch under the few pages that are remaining because I imagine all the pages as little guys waiting in line to perform. And these guys have been waiting a long time to be snatched up by me to create my so-called "magic," so if I place all the new guys down on top of the old guys, I imagine that they get really ticked off. "Hey, wait a sec! We've been here for days and now we've got to wait longer???"

I blame Walt Disney for this. If he hadn't given inanimate objects anthropomorphic attributes and personalities, then I wouldn't feel sorry for all the old pages of animation paper never getting the chance to be used.

I'm so weird.


Ava Thursday: Big smile

Ava drew this on the same day as this drawing, along with several other incredibly colorful characters, all with big smiles, done-up hair, and hip outfits. Check out the belly-button. Oh, and a funny thing about that: I noticed that Ava was really getting into her Pollies and Barbies for a while back around this time and she at one time mentioned to me that this girl (she held up a Polly) was cool because you can see her belly-button. Eh? Apparently all the 'cool' girls that she sees on TV and through her dolls have their mid-drifts showing. That's the big thing now. And my sweet innocent Ava, who's so impressionable at this age feels that a girl isn't 'cool' unless she shows off her tummy.

I don't know what to say about that. I did tell her that you don't have to show off your belly to be 'cool,' but who knows if she believed me at the time. All I could think was, "Why now? Aren't you supposed to be freaking me out about all this TEN years from now???"


Meeting Giants

It was the early 90's and I was standing in line with my dad at the Cricket Gallery in Buckhead, a trendy, mostly-bar-hopping area just north of downtown Atlanta. It was strange to see a gallery devoted to mostly animation art amongst music venues, beer pubs, and one-week-old-then-they're-closed stylish hip dance clubs, but since this was during the Second Golden Age of Animation, with collectors snatching up cells like it was going out of style, perhaps a walk-in store in this area wasn't that out of place after all.

I was in line to meet Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston, two of Disney's famed Nine Old Men, in town to promote a collection of limited edition sericels and prints from THE JUNGLE BOOK. We were told that anyone can stand in line to meet the two Disney giants, but if you want them to sign anything, you would have to buy the limited edition set, which was about $300. I decided that to be given the rare chance to just meet these guys is definitely enough for me -- even if that meant moppng the floor with my tongue, it'd be worth it.

The clientele was mostly hoity-toity collectors with many a nose stuck in the air. I was so underdressed for the occasion, but I didn't care. I was going to meet two of my heroes. I found comfort in the fact that I was probably only one of a few there who actually were an artist or animator. At the time, I had yet to enter the animation field, still in school and working on my illustration degree. But I knew at the time that animation was my passion, and having a chance to meet these two men would be a hightlight of my soon-to-be career.

As the line inched closer, I was able to watch them, Frank and Ollie, casually meet and greet each person. Ollie was under the weather that night, so he never budged from his chair. Frank was standing, giving hand shakes, big smiles and hellos to everyone. I recall that he was quite tall, even for being in his 80's -- an age where it seems time really takes its toll on the body and everything shrinks. Frank projected a personality far beyond his age. He was like a beacon.

It was my turn. I walked up to Frank and shook his hand. That hand. The hand that gave birth to many inspiring characters, many incredible scenes. The hand that has drawn perhaps millions of drawings, each one a small birth of personality and life. The hand that has moved millions, perhaps even billions, on this planet to tears, to laughter, to sorrow, to pain, to wonderment, to exhilaration, to joy, to love. I shook that hand and time stood still for me. In this frozen moment, I wanted to be some kind of conduit where all his experiences and knowledge of the craft somehow channeled into me. Oh, if only. If only I could gather all his thoughts and feelings about animation, even the anguish and hardships that seems to be so evident of the art-form, and suddenly become this new creation myself, the Tenth Old Man, or something.

I figured that Frank had heard all the usual greetings, "I remember when I first saw BAMBI," "I loved that one scene where...." and so I said to him, "Very nice to finally meet you. You know, I'm an artist and I want to become an animator. What advice do you have to give to someone just starting out?" His eyebrows went up slightly when I mentioned that I wanted to become an animator. Perhaps I was the only one there who's asked him this question. He leaned in closer (it was a bit loud with everyone there talking), and said to me these three things:


In retrospect, I realized that Frank had probably been asked this question countless times, and had at that point condensed all his experiences and knowledge down into a pat answer, ready to give out to any fledgling animator. Pat or not, I took this knowledge he gave me that fateful night and treasured it like gold. Even today, I've done my best to try and adhere to these 'commandments', and they are indeed gold to me. The communication part is the hardest to obtain, however, because you can't just simply take a class on it. Anybody can be told to be more observant and all they have to do is just do it. The same for drawing -- it's just a matter of discipline to remember to draw every day, all the time. But learning how to communicate with an audience, now that's something special, and cannot be taught.

Back at the Cricket Gallery, I thanked Frank immensely for his words, wished him well, and then moved on to Ollie. I extended out my hand and shook his. Again, my head began to swim, thinking about this hand that has drawn so many wonderful drawings and sketches, each one magnificent and beautiful, touching each and every one of us who've watched those brilliant Disney films. Since Ollie was ill, I didn't want to take too much of his time, but I did thank him whole-heartedly for the hard work he's done throughout the years and wished him well.

My dad told me afterwards that he really enjoyed going with me, because he liked the fact that he was witnessing the convergence of the Old with the New. A passing on of the torch, of sorts. Oh, how I hope that's true, I said. We've yet to see what I can do as an animator, but I'll try not to disappoint.

To this day, I have Frank's words taped up on my desk, as a constant reminder. When Frank passed away late last year, it was a sad day for me, and I looked up at his 'commandments' and had a quiet moment.

I then said to myself, Now is the time for me to shine.


Ashley Wood does fashion

Click for a larger version.

I've been a big fan of Ashley Wood for a long time. When I stumbled upon his site (check it out HERE), I immediately was drawn to his simplification of stylized shapes and forms coupled with his use of real paint (!) and photoshop techniques. I found a sort of kinship to his work, as he does things with the breaking down of characters -- with the way he draws the hair, the faces, the legs -- that I completely get. I love his work.

About a year and a half ago I was in a Borders checking out the art/design magazine section and came across the latest Luerzers Archive, a thick quarterly mag that focuses on a particular field of graphic design with each issue. The cover immediately grabbed my attention, as I recognized the expressive, painterly look with the stylized ink lines (the image I saw is featured above): they're doing a feature on Ashley Wood! Since I did not have about 20 bucks to slap down on the tome, I checked out the feature inside and saw that Ashley did some artwork for this cool/hip clothing company, 55dsl. I went online to find out that he did all these fantastic illos for a series of stories and poems that centered around a fictitious haunted college (it was for their fall line). The short little poetic stories were kinda dorky, with each one about a particular student who got killed in a bizarre and ominous way, or killed others in a bizarre and ominous way. I could care less about all that, but I had to go through the whole presentation to get to the Ashley Wood desktop wallpapers. It was worth it: great quality images in a large size. Couldn't beat that.

Well, good thing I saved them, as once 55dsl moved onto their spring line, the little creepy promotion was nixed from the site, never to return. I kept checking back on Ashley's site to see if maybe he would post any of the images, but no go there, either. So, here are the illustrations, posted for your inspiration, for your enjoyment. Some of the images are a bit risqué, so if you're not into that sort of thing, don't look. (In one of the illustrations, it looks like this dude is, ahem, with a girl, but it's actually a blow-up doll he's having fun with. Supposedly. Still, just a precaution.)

One thing I do want to say before you check out the gallery -- Ashley did something fascinating with this series of illustrations. He utilized real photos of models in 55dsl gear and manipulated them with paint, ink and scanned linework, still allowing some of the real cloth textures to show through the artwork. Even though these images are basically tweaked photos, they are still unequivocally Ashley Wood. A half-real, half-painted sorta world he's created. It's a great look for fashion illustration, and Ashley pulls it off flawlessly.

Click on each thumbnail to view a larger version.

Identity Crisis

I was going through my usual blogroll, checking out the latest and seeing what everyone is up to, and I noticed a huge influx of new animation blogs popping up recently. There's so much great talent out there right now that it's very invigorating to see this sort of stuff first-hand. I was going through these new blogs and the first thing I do is always check out the links. With animation, since it's mostly informational sharing, the majority of them listed the usual (great) suspects: Seward Street, Animation Podcast, Persistence of Vision, Animation Mentor, etc. Through it all, it suddenly dawned on me: The Ward-O-Matic was hardly mentioned at all. Now, please don't get me wrong -- I'm not some ego freak, desperately searching for some acceptance or respect. I just thought it was interesting.

See I started this blog because I wanted to talk about animation, as well as art and whatever floated my boat. I thought I'd share some of my experiences working in the industry, because someone animating in Atlanta might have a slightly different viewpoint from an LA- or NY-based animator. But things started to change throughout the course of my blog's history, and I understand that that's pretty much normal. I started to post my illustrations, sketches, and I started to talk more about my family and started Ava Thursday, etc. It became clear to me that this thing had a life of its own. I nurtured it and honestly did not know how it would turn out.

So, just what kind of blog is this? Is it an animation blog? Is it an art blog? A sketch blog? A links blog? A daddy blog? A lifestyle blog? I'm not sure if I can say. I would be very curious to know what my readers think of it, as I'm sure I'd get a very different answer from each and every one of you.

Basically, people get what they want out of a blog.

I can't tell you how to take what I give you. You get what you want out of it, and use it for your own personal interest. Whether it be for informational purposes, for entertainment value, for poops and giggles, it's all there. At least I hope.


It is interesting to me about all this, because I've never felt like a true participant in the online animation community, anyway. I feel a bit out of place. I don't post anymore in the Animation Nation forums like I used to, because I realized that most of the participants posting were the same 10 to 15 guys. Nothing new was being unearthed. And honestly, I don't blame those new animation bloggers for not linking me as I don't focus on animation 24/7. I don't have any passed-down 20th generation-copy notes from any animation legends to share, like some of my animation blog bretheren, and since I wasn't mentored by anyone, I don't have that much to offer in terms of pure textbook-quality animation knowledge. Plus, I didn't go to CalArts or any other über-cool animation school that pump out super-talent on a routine basis.

All I have is me: self-taught and extremely passionate about animation. I have my own style, I have my own way of animating. I look at things differently and I love to watch animation from all around the world, and I like to talk about what I see. I enjoy this life I'm in, and I'm trying my best to make the most out of it.

I am an animator and I'm always learning. That's what I am.


Ottawa bound!

Heads up. I'll be attending this year's Ottawa International Animation Festival and I'm so excited I could bust! I was on such an animation high after last year's festival, I swear my co-workers had to pry me off the ceiling. It was that good. This year, the festival will take place September 21-25, and it looks like it'll be another doozy. Henry Selick will be in attendance to showcase the premiere of his newest short film, Moongirl, John Canemaker's The Moon and the Son will be screened, as well as many many others. In fact, 109 films from 64 countries were chosen for the Official Competition, with many more in out-of-competition and special screenings. (Cartoon Brew's Jerry Beck will be presenting some interesting goodies.) Another aspect of the festival I enjoyed was the workshops and panel discussions -- geeking out animation-style is definitely something I have no shame about. Many notes will be taken.

One of the reasons I started this blog was that I wanted a place to discuss all the films and panels I checked out at the festival last year. Instead, I ended up going off on several different tangents, talking about other stuff that interested me at the time, such as reviewing THE INCREDIBLES, Gerald McBoing Boing on the HELLBOY DVD, revisiting NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS (in two parts, no less!), and then going off on THE POLAR EXPRESS (oh, yes -- two parts, there as well).

It's been a year, but I still want to talk about that experience. I will eventually, but in the meantime, I plan on reporting on this year's festival as it unfolds. (Assuming that I can find a cyber café nearby -- do they still have those things?) If you're in the area, I do encourage you to check out a screening or two. Hope to see you there!


Ava Thursday: Happy Anniversary, Mommy & Daddy

Sometimes when I want to give Andrea a gift for her birthday, Christmas, or anniversary -- and I'm in hot water for not remembering such yearly milestones -- I have Ava draw a picture for her. It usually works like a charm, warming the coldest of moods Andrea might be currently riding at the time, no doubt caused by my ineptitude.

But this wasn't one of those times. I think. Anyway, in the midst of our anniversary last Saturday, while Andrea was out of the house, I asked Ava to draw a picture that we could give to Mommy. I told her what today meant to Mommy and Daddy, that long (!) ago we got married and that just like how we celebrate our birthdays each year, we also celebrate this special day. She liked that. I asked her if she could draw us getting married, as I thought that Mommy would love that. She agreed, and went right to it. She's drawn wedding scenarios before, complete with "the man with the book," who marries the couple featured, but this time she just drew Andrea and I, decked out in dress and suit. In the drawing, I am giving Andrea a bouquet of flowers, even though it seems that she has some flowers of her own. That's a fireplace to the right of us, with a tall chimney. How that fits into our wedding, I don't know and I didn't ask. I like how I look a bit shy, with my meager smile and big glasses.

Needless to say, Andrea loved the drawing. I love it, too.


Primal Screen: 10 Years Young

On Thursday, August 25th, Primal Screen celebrated their 10 year existence with a nice, big soiree. Andrea and I were both able to attend sans kids, so it was a rare treat for both of us to walk around the nice, sleek, minimalist, über-hip club where the party took place. It was a great event, as the theme was 10 Year Reunion and everybody who at one point either worked with or at Primal from the past ten years was invited. It was packed, and I know many who still could not make it.

Primal Screen. My place of occupation for five years. It's the longest I've ever been employed by a single company, and I have to say that I've never been happier. Not to say that it's been a piece of cake for me the entire time. No way. When I started on August 1st, 2000, the sayings "trial by fire," and "drop him in the water and see if he can swim" come to mind. It was a crazy couple of first months, but after looking back on it now, those strenuous first months seemed necessary, in a weird way. Having a hard time early on made the rest of my Primal career seem like, well, a piece of cake.

Primal Screen was started in 1995 by Douglass Grimmett in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. With a modest start, Primal focused mainly on music and animation for broadcast, with the majority of the work for Cartoon Network. With Atlanta housing the headquarters for their top client, as well as the city having a much larger talent pool, it seemed logical to move the entire operation here in 1997.

And it worked. Business boomed. I remember when I heard of this new upstart company moving here, hiring all the available freelancers they could because of this big high-priority job for CN. I came by to check out the place back when they hadn't been in the city for three months. Some of my animation buddies had been hired full-time there, and so I was very curious. I was surprised to see so many fresh faces, as I was used to viewing the animation community here in town with a limited scope. I remember that I could count all of Atlanta's animators on my two hands, with some fingers to spare. Now, there were easily 10 to 15 NEW faces to add to that pool. I was amazed. Grabbing new talent from Georgia State University, Atlanta College of Art and Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD), Doug & Co. were able to jump-start this sleepy town into becoming an animation contender.

Now with about 30 full-time employees, along with several interns and freelancers running around, Primal is a happenin' place. Even with CG and Flash seeming to take over the entire animation industry, I'm happy to say that we still crank out tradtional, hand-drawn animation here -- along with those new-fangled styles I just mentioned. There's a great symbiotic relationship between everybody here. Somehow we all fit together. We also do music and motion design for broadcast and commercials as well. So, if you're ever in the vicinity of Atlanta, be sure to check out our swank digs here at 550 Ralph McGill Ave. I'd be glad to show you around. And for the record, we are always looking for new talent, animation- and design-wise. Be sure to contact us via our website.

What we look like:

Click on staff photo to go to the Flick page, complete with notes for who's who!

Hey, check this out: you can see a gallery of pics of when AIGA-Atlanta had an open house at Primal back in April. Just click HERE and then click on Primal Screen Open House. You'll see yours truly waxing poetic about animation, no doubt boring the socks off the unfortunate few who sadly set foot into my cubicle.

You can check out the architects who were behind the "adaptive reuse" of the 1940's printing warehouse that Primal currently resides in HERE. Yes, even the building has won an award.

Create Magazine recently wrote an article about Primal's fun and whimsical website. (The website won a BDA Gold and some AIGA awards, by the way.)

We do a lot of work for PBS Kids, including many of the ID's and bumps that you currently see on the network. A couple of years ago, PBS wanted to do a Studio Tour online, sort of a "behind the scenes" kind of thing. You can check it out HERE. Yes, I make an appearance at one point during the tour. Laugh it up, fuzzball.

Hope you enjoy your Primal tour! Like I mentioned earlier, be sure to swing by if you're ever in the neighborhood. We'd be glad to have ya.



I don't know about you, but Andrea and I are riveted by what's happening in New Orleans right now. Although it's a relief to see some troop activity finally, it's sad and terrible to see what the city has been reduced to. Truly sad.

New Orleans holds a very special place in our heart, as Andrea and I spent most of our honeymoon there, 11 years ago. In fact, to the day, September 3rd. Yes, yesterday was our anniversary. But it's been difficult to be celebratory about our union when there's so much devestation and struggle happening in one of the most unique and fascinating cities in America. Both Andrea and I have been meaning to share with you all some images that we've taken in the Big Easy, but we'll wait until things look better, out of respect. We've returned several times since 1994, the most recent being last year, when we celebrated our 10 year anniversary there -- which was quite a story in of itself, and worth sharing. But all in due time.

In the meantime, Andrea wrote a very moving post on hula seventy about the situation there. Definitely worth a read.


Illustration Friday: Dreams

Ava asleep. She's one of those perfect sleepers where she looks like an angel while slumbering. I know that this sounds like a typical parent thing to say about my own kids, but it's true. She's so peaceful, so content. Like a small lake at 5 in the morning, smooth as glass, you wouldn't dare disturb such beauty. Like a small treasure that only you know exists and you want to keep it to yourself.

Well, here I share my perfect little treasure with you all.

What is she dreaming about? Only she knows....

Ava Thursday: Dreaming

Ava drew this the other night, right before she was going to bed. She told me that this is a girl dreaming ("It's not me," Ava tells me). The girl is dreaming about another girl on a school playground laughing at someone. Ava said that the girl is laughing when she's not supposed to -- which is a big issue with Ava. It has always bothered Ava when somebody laughs at her, even if it was because she was doing or saying something cute. To Ava, whenever she's trying to say something, it's meant to be serious (unless she's making a joke, of course). There have been numerous times when a friend of ours giggled or snickered at whatever Ava was saying -- not meant to be mean or rude, but because that kid of ours is very cute in the way she talks. But Ava gets embarrassed, or even mad if she picks up on any unauthorized laughing. She'll close her eyes and turn away. Andrea and I will just let her be, as we know if we draw attention to her doing this, she'll retreat even more. Sensitive kid, that Ava. She got it from me.

Anyway, this drawing is so intricate and amazing, and since there is someone who is dreaming, I thought I'd submit it to Illustration Friday, since the theme this week is "dreams." This makes it Ava's first entry. Thought people might get a kick out of it.

For anyone who doesn't know, Ava is my 5 year-old daughter, and I post a drawing or painting of hers every Thursday, dubbed appropriately enough, Ava Thursday. If you're curious about previous Ava Thursday entries, just check out the pull-down menu over there on the right column. There's plenty to enjoy.

And by the way, the next day Ava went back to this drawing and added more to it. You can check out the rest of this on-going masterpiece by clicking on the thumbnail to the left. She added some characters at the top, with a refridgerator over on the right, complete with a piece of artwork taped to it. There's so much more to mention in this drawing, and I could go on forever, but I'll just stop now. Enjoy!