Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Here's my contribution to the 'home' theme of the Art Blocks for Ghana project.  I found out Ghana means Warrior King & I wanted to incorporate forms found in African sculpture so I tried to incorporate all this & ended up with this Warrior King relaxing at home with his pregnant wife and first born son.

These exploratory thumbnails show my thought process-I started out with the image of a communal tree or village, playing around with sculptural iconography.  I guess it's all pretty cliched stuff, certainly not representative of modern Ghana. I was thinking of imagery from a more primitive time in the past.  The meaning of the word Ghana led me to the 'Warrior King' motif which I eventually combined with the 'home' theme for the final image.

(Thanks to Don Shank for the Gesso tip!)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Walt Disney Family Museum

 On a wet weekend in San Francisco recently I visited the Walt Disney Family Museum which opened in the Presidio last year.  It's a very impressive, state of the art installation with oodles of interesting artifacts to offer animation fans.

Walt's childhood and family history is chronicled in fascinating detail. The Disney clan started in France then settled in Ireland before America.   Letters, photos & artifacts such as Walt's Dad's fiddle really bring alive the period young Walt grew up in.  His tough upbringing on a Kansas farm seemed to forge the man he would become-he reminisced about rising at 3am to do a paper round giving a sense of a work ethic instilled by his stern but loving father.

 There are fascinating photos of Walt's early animation days with Hugh Harman & Rudi Ising and an account of the fateful meeting with Ub Iwerks & their subsequent partnership. Supporting the history are dozens of tastefully chosen pieces of art from the Disney films; from original art from the Skeleton Dance and Steam Boat Willie,  through animation drawings of all the films of the 'Golden Age'.  Even the very first design of Mickey is there.

There is an exquisite little maquette of Ferdinand the bull that I'd never seen previously.  Marc Davis' Bambi designs, Milt Kahl's Pinocchio rough sketches, Fred Moore centaurettes from Fantasia, mind-boggling Bill tytla drawings of Chernabog, Eyvind Earl background paintings from Sleeping Beauty, the multi-plane camera, tiny Kay Nielsen paintings . . . Probably the most interesting article for animation fans was a scrapbook put together by Disney Effects expert Herman Schultheis.  It's displayed open in a case but a nearby videoscreen flips through its pages.  It's a collection of behind the scenes photographs, notes & drawings detailing the production of Fantasia

Mary Blair  is well represented with many original paintings including gorgeous colour designs for  It's A Small World.
One of Mary's studio cabinets is on display along with a hard hat made for her by workers on the construction of It's A Small World.

Read more about Mary

 Disney's move into TV during the 50s throws up an amusing anecdote: during production of 'Man And The Moon' Ward Kimball consulted Werner von Braun who phoned him on the day of the first US space mission to tell him "You see, they're following our script!"

(You can read a good article on Man And The Moon here)

The exhibition culminates with a huge model of Disneyland

The Walt Disney Family Museum is heaven for Disney/animation fans.  The entrance fee is rather expensive ($20) but it's worth it -you could literally spend all day in there. . . and it's situated in a beautiful part of San Francisco in the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge.

You can view a photo-tour of the museum  here

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Another skirmish in the gesture class

I struggled a lot in Gesture Class last week. Alex Woo was back leading the class & he encourages us to relate the pose to story.  Before putting pencil to paper think of a situation or character and let that inform the sketch.  It does affect the decisions you make while drawing and should make for more interesting poses.  However with 30secs-2mins I found it tricky to come up with a scenario AND get the pose down.  Everyone else made amazing sketches where the model was a ballerina or diving into a swimming pool.  I must work on this. I feel like I went backwards in my drawing but forwards in my thinking.

Towards the end of the session I started to get into the groove and work story ideas into the sketches rather than getting caught up in anatomy.