I’m three weeks into studying documentary film and yesterday we had our first real assignment screening. It was called the SoundSlide project, and it was designed to get us started thinking about story process and post production. But it took out all the wiggling around of the camera. We were encouraged to choose a subject who would be patient, kind to our fumbling with the equipment and to whom we have good access.
Carrie is an amazing artist. Really, she paints awesome stuff. But she would be the last to tell you that, and when she holds up her paintings to show you, she can only seem to see the things she doesn’t like. And then she’ll just give it to you, despite your protests.
I was trying really hard this summer to do some painting. It was a last minute thing, a sort of realisation that I’m never really going to get into fishing as I was encouraged to do by other people who have spent time on Spring Island, and so I better get really into whatever it is I’m into. So I bought a small collection of watercolour paints, some paper and a few brushes. And didn’t even google “how to watercolour”. Instead, I asked every. single. guest. if they knew anything at all about painting. I lucked out maybe three times.
Joy pointed to the mountains across the water from us and said, don’t look at the mountains, look at all the space around the mountains, and fill in the colour all around that space.
Paul told me that if you do anything enough, you’ll probably get good enough to not hate what you do.
And Morgan (6 yrs, also known as Gooner) complimented literally everything I painted. He knows what’s up.
The point: I’m trying to learn how to paint. And I really like hanging out with Carrie. So I killed so many little birds with one school project stone by making Carrie the subject of my first project. We screened all of our slideshows yesterday and it was so interesting to see everyone’s creations. So many eyes looking at the world in so many different ways. And so much more to come.
I stopped halfway over the second narrows bridge a couple of days ago. This is a carefully timed event; due to construction, only the west path is open and so the crossing is a practice in urban cooperation. But no one approached, so I took a moment up there. It’s an industrial view, to be sure. Downtown Vancouver grows out of the western horizon like a small succulent, spiky and dense and rising right out of rock. Compared to many, Vancouver is a very green city, but from up here it looks nothing like the sort of views I have been used to lately. Even this inland sea looks tamed compared to the constant surge of the open coast.
But yet. I realised on the top of the bridge the other day that despite its urbanity, this current undertaking is not to be underestimated. After all, adventure is about stepping outside of one’s comfort zones, no? And there is little question that I am less comfortable here than way out there. I won’t belabour this point – its not that interesting and purely a result of a serious amount of time in the last few years spent in remote places rather than some innate urban disinclination.
This is cool, I thought. This is what it must be like for all the people who I guide around all summer. I’m sure I’m missing things purely because I don’t see them; our eyes have a hard time focussing on things our brain doesn’t yet know exist, I have learned. I can pick out a wolf on a distant beach purely because my eyes are so good at seeing the beach without the wolf. Movement means something, out there. Here, I try to look in between the things I can see. I look for unusual shapes, I notice all the graffiti. Across the road right now, someone has painted a large red wagon on the wall of a building. A red wagon? I look even closer and I realise that care was taken to paint around it when the building was repainted recently. A saved red wagon.
I get it, though, that there is less appeal in reading about someone bumbling around a new city that in reading about someone crossing oceans, scaling mountains or traversing continents. I get it. So it’s not for you, it’s for me. I’m going to try and capture these moments that are fresh and shiny to me despite their slight dusting of smog and road grit. Most people I know in cities talk about escaping the city as much as possible. And while I know I will feel that way probably sooner than later, for now I am willing to embrace the grid layout of the world as most people know it.