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Posts Tagged ‘Chuck Jones’

 

You can’t force inspiration. It’s like trying to catch a butterfly with a hoop but no net. If you keep your mind open and receptive, though, one day a butterfly will land on your finger.

–Chuck Jones
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I came across the quote above from the great animator/artist Chuck Jones and it made me think of a blog post I wrote back in 2009, citing him as an influence. Nine years later, I still feel that way as strongly as ever. I still see hints of his landscapes in my own. His strong visuals, along with those of the early Max Fleischer Popeye cartoons, really imprinted on me. I thought it deserved a second run. Actually, I just wanted to show Marvin the Martian again.
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Marvin the Martian and Daffy
I have cited artists here who have been influences on my work, people who are often giants in the world of art and sometimes lesser known but equally talented artists. But sometimes you overlook the obvious, those ones who have always been right in front of you.

What's Opera DocLast night [from 2009], TCM honored the great cartoonist Chuck Jones by showing a documentary and some of his landmark cartoons starring Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd and Daffy Duck. He also did the Roadrunner/ Wile E. Coyote cartoons as well as the seminal holiday favorite, How the Grinch Stole Christmas. His work was and is a vivid part of an incredible number of people’s childhoods. His What’s Opera Doc? with Bugs and Elmer in a Wagnerian setting with a tragic ending is classic and might be the only exposure to higher culture that many viewers may get.chuck_jones-opera-set

For me, I was always so drawn to the color quality that Jones had in his cartoons as well as the way he interpreted the landscape with a form of artistic shorthand that cut out extraneous detail yet never took away from the feeling of place, unlike some of the lower quality cartoons from Hanna-Barbera in the early 60’s. Don’t get me wrong. I loved those cartoons as well but even as a kid I was really distracted by the poor quality of the landscapes that scrolled continuously behind their characters. With Chuck Jones, it always felt fresh and real, as though there was thought given to every detail in every frame. Who else could put imagery like the above scene from What’s Opera Doc? before the eyes of impressionable children? Probably only the artists from Disney can match Jones’ work at Warner Brothers, but that’s another post.

His work also treated you, as a kid, like you had intelligence. They were smart, clever and nuanced. They never talked down to you.

For a kid this was potent stuff. Scratch that- it’s just potent stuff. Period.

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Snoopy and Schroeder DanceAt the Kada Gallery opening last week,  a very pleasant man asked if my work was influenced by the Peanuts cartoons.  He said the work had that same feeling for him.  I laughed and said that, of course, these cartoons had been a large influence on my work and probably the way I see things in general.  After all, Snoopy was the first thing I ever learned to draw, the result of an older boy on my school bus ( thank you, Tom Hillman, wherever you might be) showing me how to do so in several easy steps.  Throughout grade school Snoopy was drawn all over every piece of paper I came across, his Joe Cool and World War I Flying Ace characters being personal favorites.

I explained that many of those early cartoons — the great Chuck Jones’ Looney Tunes , the very early Popeyes , the Disney cartoons with their gorgeous color, and so many more–informed and influenced the way I looked at things and set a pattern for the way I would later interpret the landscape.  They created a visual shorthand in the work that simplified the  forms in the surrounding landscape yet still gave a sense of place and time and emotion.

And that’s precisely what I try to do in my work today.

For me, A Charlie Brown Christmas is as close to perfect as any cartoon can be.  It’s a wonderful blending  of mood, movement and music with a smartness and charm that never seems to diminish. For this week’s dose of Sunday morning music, what could be more fitting than the Vince Guaraldi’s Christmas Dance from it?

Have a great Sunday and, if you feel like it, dance along with the Peanuts gang.  It’ll do ya’ good…

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We have quite a few pileated woodpeckers that call our woods home.  They’re a very large bird, about the size of a crow, and the clatter of their pecking echoes loudly through the forest as does their distinctive cackle.  They do a hell of a lot of damage to the white pines but I love seeing and hearing them, which  always reminds me of the Woody Woodpecker cartoons from my childhood.  I was a big fan for a short time but moved on eventually to what I felt were more sophisticated cartoons, such as the Warner Brothers work of Chuck Jones and Tex Avery.  But I still have warm memories when I hear that crazy woodpecker laugh clatter through the trees.

I was also reminded of Woody when my friend Brian recently sent me an interesting link to a New York Times article that talked about one of his animators, Shamus Culhane.  During a scene depicting an explosive moment, Culhane inserted cels into the film that contained art that more resembled that of the abstract expressionists that that of a traditional studio cartoonist.  There is a multimedia link on the page that shows the sequence in a frame by frame breakdown and amid the very smooth edged cartoon rendering there suddenly appears a  short series of frames with raw, rough brushstrokes.  When you see it in slow-motion, you realize how different htis was for normal cartoon fare. 

The article points out that this was not Culhane’s only foray into the edgier side of cartooning, describing other cartoons where other abstract imagery is inserted and a prankish few that contained bawdy hidden humor such as doorways  in an Eastern castle being phallic shaped.  Maybe theose caartoons really were a bad influence after all?

Anyway, it was an interesting article and one that will come to mind whenever my pileated woodpeckers send their shrill laughs through my woods.

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Marvin the Martian and DaffyI have often cited artists who have been influences on my work , people who are often giants in the world of art and sometimes lesser known but equally talented artists.  Sometimes you overlook the obvious.

What's Opera DocLast night, TCM honored the great cartoonist Chuck Jones by showing a documentary and some of his landmark cartoons starring Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd and Daffy Duck.  He also did the Roadrunner/ Wile E. Coyote cartoons as well as the seminal holiday favorite, How the Grinch Stole Christmas.  His work was and is a vivid part of an incredible number of people’s childhoods.  His What’s Opera Doc? with Bugs and Elmer in a Wagnerian setting with a tragic ending is classic and might be the only exposure to higher culture that many viewers may get.chuck_jones-opera-set

For me, I was always so drawn to the color quality that Jones had in his cartoons as well as the way he interpreted the landscape with a form of artistic shorthand that cut out extraneous detail yet never took away from the feeling of place, unlike some of the lower quality cartoons from Hanna-Barbera in the early 60’s.  Don’t get me wrong.  I loved those cartoons as well but even as a kid I was really distracted by the poor quality of the landscapes that scrolled continuously behind their characters.  With Chuck Jones, it always felt fresh and real, as though there was thought given to every detail in every frame.  Who else could put imagery like this set from  What’s Opera Doc? before the eyes of impressionable children?  Probably only the artists from Disney can match Jones’ work at Warner Brothers, but that’s another post.

His work also treated you, as a kid, like you had intelligence.  They were smart.  Clever and nuanced.  They never talked down to you.

For a kid this was potent stuff.  Scratch that- it’s just potent stuff. Period.

Read Full Post »

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