Angels and Demons, Portage and Main

I’ve had a creative concept mulling in my head for awhile. I’m still in the process of execution but wanted to share my work as it sits in progress.

The inspiration is my hometown, a place often ostracized for not being beautiful enough, progressive enough or safe enough—arguments that do, I admit, hold a grain of truth but are primarily steeped in ignorance. To many, it is a city that just exists. A sleepy prairie oasis on the Trans-Canada highway acting primarily as a rest stop between Toronto and the more affluent economic hubs of Western Canada.

In a sense, I appreciate this nondescript reputation. It keeps things secret. It keeps things mine.

With this series, which will merge romanticism illustration with modern photography, I aim to celebrate the beauty and ugliness, the darkness and light, of my beloved hometown: Winnipeg.

 Winnipeg: Angels and Demons, Portage and Main (©Deborah Clague, 2018)

Winnipeg: Angels and Demons, Portage and Main (©Deborah Clague, 2018)

❤️

I love winter nights spent in sipping hot cocoa. This animated gif started as a sketch which I decided to bring to life as an ode to my favourite beverage of the season (I’m all about the marshmallows and whipped cream).

Project incorporated hand-drawn illustration, Adobe Illustrator for vector creation and Adobe Photoshop to animate. For inquiries on how we can partner on creative work, connect with me:

 Animation ©Oblada Creative (2018).

Animation ©Oblada Creative (2018).

Original sketch, done in the margins of some meeting notes, that provided the base for the animation:

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The Simple Life

Winter is coming.

Which means I am getting all up in my feelings, nostalgic about the passage of time and currents of change, and trying to capture it all for posterity through the words in this journal. There’s something about the first snowfall, as the flakes fall softly to the ground and blanket the landscape in silence, that leaves one ripe for introspection. It’s almost as though nature is encouraging a pause.

I’ve been in deep thought about my future of late. Especially about how what motivates me now is to re-live moments of my past.

Visiting my mother is the one tether to a familiar reality that I covet to embrace again.

Every time I visit my mother, I am not only catching up on the happenings of my hometown but also seeking solace in the relatively unchanged world of my childhood.

One of the highlights of my most recent visit—beyond being showered with puppy kisses from my much-missed Monty—was simply sitting with my mom every morning, sipping orange pekoe, and playing along to the Price is Right. Pretty much everyone in my generation gets hit with waves of nostalgia as soon as “Come On Down!” is uttered; watching it was a ritual as a kid, especially when at home sick from school. After all these years, most of the games have remained the same. Plinko is the perennial crowd pleaser, but I was always partial to Cliffhangers which I’m happy to report is still in rotation because the theme song is such an ear worm. Throughout our bonding exercise, my mother and I got worked up, cheering for contestants who walked away with cars and trips around the world, and feigning disappointment with those that didn’t know the correct price of a basic toaster.

Banal moments like this may seem like the filler that connects the more pivotal, recorded events of our life, but I’m learning to take more pleasure, more presence, in them. It’s not just watching a game show with my mom; it’s the perfume of love, history and comfort that permeates the room without wont of spoken word. The essence of life is coded in these moments of simplicity.


Now all those simple things are simply too complicated for my life
How'd I get so faithful to my freedom?
A selfish kind of life
When all I ever wanted was the simple things
A simple kind of life

My Rosebud

While cleaning my condo one day, I discovered something that I’ve carried with me since I was about four-years-old. Tucked away in a cupboard filled with odds-and-ends that I don’t have use for at the moment but can’t bear to part with, such as an unopened Holga camera and a Fitbit that taunts my guilty conscious, sat one of the first books that my parents bought me. With the title “Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animals”, the content is pretty self-explanatory but it turned out to be so much more than just words on paper to my kinder self.

From the time I saw it on the bookshelf of Woolco, I was mesmerized. What were these majestic creatures on the cover? Were they monsters? Were they some form of dragon (and, if so, where was the princess that would inevitably need to be saved from them)? I wanted to learn more. My mind was blown when my father explained that they actually once inhabited the very same planet we lived on. As a child, it was almost too much to process (and apparently still is for a number of religious zealots). He explained how they lived and evolved, and theorized on their demise. From that point on, I became obsessed. The toys in my room were increasingly taken over by stuffed triceratops and scale-model T-Rexes. My father noted this and took me on a dig at Dinosaur Provincial Park and to visit the Royal Tyrell Museum of Palaeontology, both in Western Canada, which I try to still visit once a year.

Other than my name written on the inside front cover, the book is in really great condition considering how old it is and how much I would have referenced it growing up. Opening its pages today takes me back to sitting on the floor of my childhood bedroom, light pink walls and grey mottled carpet, as I soaked in every detail of the illustrations. The intricacies of the beast’s scaly skin, the ombre colour of the cretaceous landscapes … the book welcomed me into new worlds of which I would regularly visit in my mind and began my journey of being an unabashed bookworm. The price sticker for the book is still present. Just four dollars and ninety-five cents. A minuscule investment into a child’s imagination that has spawned decades of learning, wonder and enjoyment.

I don’t think I will ever get rid of this book. I don’t think I could. I have a bond with it that might seem silly, but it is my “Rosebud”. A thether to a simpler time and to a young girl that I never want to lose touch with.

 “Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animals”, one of the first books I ever owned (©Deborah Clague).

“Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animals”, one of the first books I ever owned (©Deborah Clague).

 As a child, I wrote my name in all of my books (©Deborah Clague)

As a child, I wrote my name in all of my books (©Deborah Clague)

 The illustrations captivated me as a child (©Deborah Clague)

The illustrations captivated me as a child (©Deborah Clague)

 Up until the age of thirteen, I wanted to be a palaeontologist because of my early curiosity about dinosaurs inspired by this book (©Deborah Clague)

Up until the age of thirteen, I wanted to be a palaeontologist because of my early curiosity about dinosaurs inspired by this book (©Deborah Clague)

 Check out those arms (©Deborah Clague)

Check out those arms (©Deborah Clague)

#GirlsWhoCode

Every autumn, as the cool weather sets in and I prepare for winter’s hibernation, a wave of inspiration washes over me and I just feel the need—the necessity—to create. Something. Anything. Winters in Canada are long and unforgiving. I’m thankful to be blessed with the curiosity, patience and skill to use the downtime to master a craft.

As such, I’ve been learning to code in Scratch with the ambition of creating a simple 8-bit video game. It won’t be Fortnight but heck, maybe it will be the next Pong. Below are two character concepts I’ve created for two different games; I want one to celebrate the nature and wonder of my home province of Manitoba, and the other is (of course) my Monty who will star in his own adventure.

 Churchill the polar bear from a game concept titled “Churchill Rush” (©Deborah Clague)

Churchill the polar bear from a game concept titled “Churchill Rush” (©Deborah Clague)

 My Monty from a game concept titled “A Walk in the Park” (©Deborah Clague)

My Monty from a game concept titled “A Walk in the Park” (©Deborah Clague)