Drawing inspiration from my interactions with my son Noah, this is Inspired Illustration project #13, “Michael Jackson’s.”

The other day when we were out, Noah said “I want to go to Michael Jackson’s.” Des and I look at each other a little puzzled not knowing what he’s talking about so I asked him, “Where is Michael Jackson’s?” He said “it’s that place we went the other day when I got chicken remember?” The other day we went to Jack In The Box. I got the connection. He was calling it Michael Jackson’s. I love it! Of course we didn’t correct him because he’ll get it on his own. He’s a super quick learner but a trigger word will get him mixed up sometimes and he’ll connect things that aren’t at all related . The word was “Jack, as in Jackson.” The connection was made and he ran with it. If you’ve ever been around a 3 year old, you know this happens often as they are learning. Whenever Noah does this, my mind also goes racing to visualize the connection he’s made. So this is Michael working the drive thru in his own fast food joint. Interestingly, whenever Noah hears a Michael Jackson song come on, we ask him who’s singing and his reply is always, “Captain EO.” As a little bonus, he calls the golden arches “Uncle McDonald’s.” These are drawings for another time though.

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Inspired Illustration project #13, “Michael Jackson’s.”

The other day my son Noah was playing with a new Batman toy he got. I told him how awesome it was because it had an articulating cape. I asked him if I could have it; it was a little test of his character. Of course he said no. I then told him I would give him $100 for it. Again he said no. So then I asked if I could have it if I bought him a donut. He then said, “OK dad” and he gave it to me. I them told him “Wow Noah thank you so much for being willing to give me your toy but I was just joking, you can have it back. We’ll just share it and play when we get home.” Almost immediately after, I saw a sadness come over him and he began to cry a little. I asked what was wrong. He said I don’t like Batman anymore. It was in that moment that I realized that he was having a crisis in his own little heart. He didn’t like Batman anymore when I gave it back to him because he was certain it meant he wouldn’t get a donut because that’s what the deal was. He gave up the toy for that donut but also was devastated to lose the toy. He really wanted both. After I figured out what was going on, I explained to him that we were very proud of his decision to share with me and I helped him sort through what had just happened. What started out as a joke on my part, ended up being a real test for my son and got me a little emotional too. After this, we hugged and 7eleven was down 1 chocolate donut that night. I told him he could eat half because it was late so he did; he ate the top half! Just as he is learning something new every day about life, I’m learning about his.

Inspired Illustration Project #12, “BATMAN.”

Inspired Illustration Project #7, “The Future.”

Inspired Illustration Project #7, “The Future.”

As a kid I was equally inspired and transfixed by the character of Willy Wonka. How could you not love Gene Wilder’s performance of this mad character. I always loved Wonka’s obsession to his craft and the story of finding a worthy successor. In this illustration, Wonka’s at the start of his career, delivering confectionaries from a cart and looking to the future.

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Thoughts on Animation

“Animators are really actors and actresses with pencils. Their stage is a blank piece of paper, and their performance must not only make a character move, but also bring that character to life.”

The Brave Little Tailor-Disney2

I came across this quote recently and was reminded of why I love animation so much and in particular, the animation that came out of the Disney Animation Studio. It’s taken from a general information document on applying to be a Disney animator. If you’ve ever seen animators sketch or illustrate, you know that they’ve achieved an acute level of control in their craft. It really is an amazing thing to witness. They are very precise and are able to convey movement, expressions and enough detail with simple line work. As the predominant character motion is locked in, the animator’s drawings get further refined.

film2Whenever I think about traditional hand-drawn animation, I marvel at the work involved and the inception of the craft. Walt Disney and his animators were creating something amazing. They were spearheading a new frontier in the world of film which itself was still new. Mickey Mouse was introduced in 1928, just over a decade since the birth of the film industry in California. The films that would follow would set a new benchmark that other companies would never match. They were the masters of animation. I read somewhere that over 300,000 drawings were used for Pinocchio. For every second of film that passes, 24 drawings have elapsed on screen. This includes the drawings and paintings of the characters and the background paintings. When you stop to think about this, it really is astounding.

Pinochio background

The great artists, sculptors, and architects from the Gothic, Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque traditions had their time in the sun and left the world masterpieces to be revered for thousands of years. With animation though, something new was born. For the first time ever, a select group of artists began to develop something the world had never seen; living drawings. Through the guiding hand of Walt Disney and his core animators, the “9 old men,” the world witnessed still drawings come to life. This was their craft and they developed it to lofty heights.

Animation was done so skillfully that in real time, you couldn’t even see the inner workings that made these drawings come to life. On screen, characters convey movement, emotion, comedy, and drama. Because they were only limited to their imagination and the skills attained over the years, they were also able to make these characters defy the laws of physics and used this to deliver comedic gags and give human-like qualities to animals. Remember, 24 drawings for every second. The High Renaissance of the 1500’s in Italy might have had the “Masters” but for about 50 years in the 20th century, we had Walt Disney and the 9 old men of Burbank, California.

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