Archive for the 'Events' Category

Symposium Report: Selick, Anderson, Musker, Clements, Moore, and Docter


I would just like to give a quick report and say that the Academy’s Animated Feature Symposium was a great event. Wes Anderson was in London and couldn’t make it, but Henry Selick, John Musker, Ron Clements, Tomm Moore, and Pete Docter were all there. We saw clips from each of the films nominated for the Animated Feature Oscar for 2009 (2010 ceremony). I had already seen all the films, a few of them more than once, but it was a treat to see slices of them placed side-by-side on the big screen. It helped to remind me of each of their strengths.


As of this writing, the Oscars ceremony has already ended and we know that Up was the winner. A big “up” to Pete Docter and the many tremendous artists and technicians that went into its production. Watching the clips from Up on Thursday night reminded me yet again, just what a delightful film this is. I honestly do not say that to be popular, though I realize I’m in good company. One of the clips that was shown at the symposium was the sequence that takes us from Carl and Ellie as little kids to the beginning of Carl’s life as an elderly widower. It is such a profoundly well-crafted piece of film making and of animation. Anyone who disagrees, I’m inclined to set them up for an appointment at the nearest radiologist to see if they still have a heart.


However, I think perhaps the biggest winner in all of this is The Secret of Kells and its director Tomm Moore. I saw the film when it screened here as part of the Los Angeles Irish Film Festival and found it absolutely beautiful. Having visited Ireland for the first time only months prior and having had the opportunity to view the real Book of Kells in person certainly added a great deal to my experience of the film, as well. I’ve also had an appreciation for the Celtic Manuscripts since studying them in my college Art History class. But I think it makes an enjoyable film for anyone, regardless of their familiarity with Ireland or the Book of Kells. It is a visually rich and appealing experience. I loved the simplified, almost geometric designs tempered by fluid, expressive animation. I loved the warm-hearted, appealing characters. And I loved the playfulness with the picture plane and illusion of space. I do hope the nomination of The Secret of Kells brings it much-deserved attention and I hope we can get some more screenings of it in those big dark rooms we call theaters.

I have a great deal of admiration for all the directors who participated in the Symposium (and also for Wes Anderson). Henry Selick is a madman and a genius, whose happiest place is in the middle of production. When posed the first question of how the Coraline project began, he was quick to point out that someone (Neil Gaiman) actually looked in the credits of a Nightmare Before Christmas and saw that it was not directed by Tim Burton. John Musker and Ron Clements made a comic duo as they jokingly bickered about whether or not they bickered as co-directors.

I could go on, but I’ll try to cut this short. I’ll just say that it was a pleasure getting to see all of these guys together in person. Listening to their stories, perspectives, advice, opinions, etc., was inspiring. Thanks to the Academy for organizing events like this one and making them available to the public.

Symposium: Selick, Anderson, Musker, Clements, Moore, and Docter

“Selick, Anderson, Musker, Clements, Moore, and Docter”

…sounds like a bizarro law firm.

I’ll be attending this event Thursday evening, March 4th 2010, at the Sam Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills. Schedules permitting, these guys (pictured below) will be there to talk about the big movies they made that are up for Oscars this weekend.


Tickets can be purchased here for the low low low price of $5, but don’t wait. it’s sure to be a hot ticket. If you see me there, please feel free to say hello.

Events like this are enough to make me post this classic from Randy Newman:

3rd Bloggiversary

Wow! Today is the third anniversary of the Art & Story blog! A pretty slim year for posts. I took one hell of a hiatus after April of 2008 and am still warming up to posting with more frequency again. It certainly hasn’t been for lack of activity that things were so quiet around here. Here’s hoping I’ll have more of an opportunity to share in the coming year. For now, year three in thumbnails:

Animation Guild Holiday Party 2008

I know I haven’t posted here in a few, but if anyone still checks this site or is checking their RSS feeds every minute with the feverishness of a meth addict looking for his next score, I will be attending the Animation Guild Holiday Party from approx. 7pm to Midnight tonight at Pickwick Center Royal Crest Room, 1001 W. Riverside Drive, Burbank. Map:

So please, if you are going to be there, look for me and come up and say hello. Here’s what I look like:


Oops! Wrong picture. This one’s a little more accurate:

Picture 4.jpg

My wife Jamie will be there with me.

I realize this is very last minute, quite literally. It is almost 7pm now, but I figured I’d give it a shot anyway. Bye for now!


Ollie Johnston, 1912 - 2008


I just watched the documentary film “Frank and Ollie” last week for the first time. I knew that these two guys (Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston) were legendary Disney animators and two of the “Nine Old Men.” I also had some idea that Frank and Ollie were good friends. I didn’t know just what good friends they were. What a very special friendship they had. A deep understanding of each other’s minds, immense wisdom and patience and love for life. It’s a wonderful story about two friends, really. And two great people. In addition, they created these wonderful works of animation that are and forever will be such huge contributions to our culture. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Pinocchio, Bambi, just to name a few examples. That’s big. And yet, their contributions were so often such little things when it came down to it. A slight change in expression. The shape of the eye changing, a lean of the body one way or another, beautifully pushed, yet understated mannerisms. And the feeling behind those movements so wonderfully conveyed so that we really feel there is a living entity there, even if only in our imaginations (which is a lot). All embodied by some lines drawn on a piece of paper.

After watching “Frank and Ollie,” which was produced in 1995, I was saddened to learn that Ollie’s wife and his best friend Frank had both since passed away. Saddened after seeing what beautiful relationships Ollie had with these two, I imagined him then quite elderly and alone, but at least he might still have those friends, the trains. I wondered if maybe he was too elderly to care for his trains anymore. Then I learned that his train, the actual, life-size, restored steam engine, had since been purchased by John Lasseter (a long-time friend of Ollie’s). Where was Ollie now? And was he happy? It seemed to me, or so I hoped, that in spite of the loss of loved ones and the difficulties that come with age, he might still find some solace in his living an exceptionally good life. Which means having dear friendships, making a contribution to humanity… and what I saw in that film was a radiant inner joy, peace, and spirit that Ollie seemed to have. Of course, I think it’s pretty unlikely that he was alone. He was living in a long-term care facility in Sequim, Washington. That’s on the Olympic Peninsula, not far from Seattle (where I lived for 8 years), and it’s a beautiful area. The Olympic mountain range is there, Hoh Rainforest, hot springs nearby, Pugent sound to the north and east, and further west is the Pacific Ocean.

Ollie died of natural causes on Monday, April 14th, 2008, at the age of 95.


We’ll miss you Ollie. Your passing puts a final page on the story of the Nine Old Men, but your work and your legend will live on forever in some of the finest animation that we have ever (and may ever) experience.

Computer Upgrades!

My computer for the past eight and a half years has been a Power Mac G4. The very first Mac G4 ever produced, known as the G4 “Yikes!”

I purchased it within the first month of its release in September of 1999, and at that time it was considered so powerful that the U.S. Government declared it a “supercomputer.” Today, with a 400MHz processor and a 10GB internal hard drive, it’s anything but super, but this machine has held up surprisingly well over the years. It came with Mac OS 8.6 installed and has since been upgraded to OS 9, then to OS X 10.0 Cheetah, and finally 10.3 Panther. It was able to run all of the operating systems relatively smoothly, but I don’t know how it would’ve handled 10.4 Tiger and I think 10.5 Leopard simply would not have run on this machine. The limited hard drive space became an issue quickly and I added an 80GB external drive and then a 250GB external drive to hold all my applications and files. CD burning had only just come on the scene when I got the computer, so I’ve always had to do that with an external. I’ve had two external CD burners over the years and it looks like my second one is now broken. With all of these peripherals, it’s come to look as though it’s on a sort of life support.

About four to five years ago, when I had to color a storyboard assignment in Photoshop using only a mouse, the budding carpal tunnel that I felt in my wrist urged me to purchase a Wacom Intuos tablet. This streamlined my workflow in Photoshop a bit more. It gave coloring and pretty much everything a great deal more natural feeling, but I would continuously run into walls using Photoshop simply because my computer couldn’t handle the heft of the program, particularly when working on large files. At times I would have to wait minutes for it to complete a single action and saving large files could take ages. Anywhere from 15 minutes on, and in some rare cases, over an hour.

Well, no more. My new machine is a 15” MacBook Pro. The processor is 2.4 GHz. That’s six times the speed of my G4. The internal drive is 250GB, twenty-five times the size of the G4’s internal drive. It has wireless internet and bluetooth capability, a DVD/CD burner, a built in iSight camera, a nice video card, and comes with Leopard and lots of bundled apps, including iLife ’08, and on top of all that, it’s portable! I’ve gotten iWork, so there won’t be any need to install Microsoft Office on this machine, and now I have Photoshop, too, so I can get to work.

The Wacom Intuos has always been great and for a variety of things it is far far better than using a mouse, but drawing/painting on a separate surface and looking at another was always rather counter intuitive, no matter how well I may have adjusted to it over time.

I’m now able to work directly on screen with the Cintiq 12WX, a newer model of Cintiq that brought the screen size (and the price) of the Cintiq a little more into the realm of possibility. It’s still not a cheap item, by any stretch, but it’s a powerhouse of graphic potential. This should really streamline my storyboarding process, in particular. No more scanning necessary (while technically also true of the Intuos, I could never get the hang of drawing with that, even though painting seemed to work more or less okay, so I always had to draw on paper and scan it in). I have no intention of abandoning physical media entirely, because there’s really just no replacement for that, but this will be a lot of fun to experiment with and will certainly give a boost to some very key areas of my work.

Sketchcrawl 18, Part III of III

UPDATE: More after the jump…

Continue reading ‘Sketchcrawl 18, Part III of III’

Sketchcrawl 18, Part II of III

UPDATE: More after the jump…

Continue reading ‘Sketchcrawl 18, Part II of III’

Sketchcrawl 18, Part I of III

UPDATE: More after the jump…

Continue reading ‘Sketchcrawl 18, Part I of III’

Sketchcrawl 18 tomorrow!

(Logo design by Enrico Casarosa. Used with permission.)
Tomorrow, Saturday March 29th, is Sketchcrawl 18. People will be gathering in cities and places all over the world to sketch. If you enjoy drawing from life and your environs, please join in the fun. Visit to find people sketchcrawling in your area. All are welcome. I’ll be joining the L.A. group at Lake Balboa Park in Van Nuys, where the cherry blossoms are supposed to be in full bloom. Hope to see you there. Look for more from me in the next day or two, as I post my results from the crawl!

UPDATE: Here’s another image appropriated from Enrico. A map showing all the places in the world where people will be sketchcrawling tomorrow! Click it for a larger version.

2nd Bloggiversary

Today is the 2nd anniversary of my blog! And now a review of the year past:

sketchcrawl17_04b_crop20080123_grapevinePJDoodsZzz..char69Another BeautyWhat's This?Oh No!!! Another Doodle!!!Whatchaganadoo?Moleskine Addiction — StackedPan-Shot ThumbnailAerial CityscapeA & A Body & Paint — CroppedWhat day is it?Eastern PlaneThat Down Beat JazzBackwards BillMoleskine Mod and Small Watercolor SetMoleskine ModPortrait of JamieInk Splatter MigrationThe Georgian, Santa Monicaheader39Smokin' Geisha (Sketchcrawl 15 Revisited)A Girl and Her DogArachnid's GhostTents and City300 block, E. 1st St.IMG_1026.JPGDessert and DigestifConan O'Brienchar62cCreature from the Black InkMr. IncredibluestreakShannon McNally T-Shirt Design (detail)Scaredy CatThe Dark Thoughts ApproachingFemme FataleDon' TripOMG LOLSad Toad ManMonterey CypressInky WorldOliver Sacks, 1986GASPCreepIMG_0921char46field36...Aaaand I'm Back.America SmellsHey, KidGrumble Grumblechar36700. Lapin Agile306. Downward Dogchar28b - Pizza Box Doodlesmisc13field35char27misc12char26 - More Doodles!sketchcrawl13_03char24 - Smiley Girlchar25a - Hepfield34 - Beachgoer in Brachar23 - More about me. Bla bla bla.field32 - Beach Daychar22 - Screamin Mad Doodlechar21 - Hey, Dudedjchar20 - Odiferouschar19field31_card02 - El LoteriadorShock and Awww with Watercolorchar18char17achar16char15char14amisc08bmisc07

Brave Voters Ignore Signage and Cast Their Ballots!

I went to my local polling place today and cast my vote in the ‘08 primary election. My neighborhood polling place seems to be in a different location every time. Once it was in a barbershop on Pico called “The Headmaster.” This time around it was in someone’s junky old garage. It smelled musty, it was loaded with different kinds of weird junk and what space was left over had everyone just short of being shoulder-to-shoulder. One of the funniest parts, though, was this sign hanging outside the door. Now, you’d think they could maybe take this down on election day. I mean, what kind of message is this sending to potential voters?

In case you can’t make it out, the hand-painted portion of the sign reads:



The day after Sketchcrawl 17, I met with Martha of Trumpetvine Travels for a mini-crawl of sorts. We met up in North Berkeley, an area that Martha knows well and one I was interested in getting to know a little better. Even though I grew up in the city of San Francisco, I didn’t venture outside of it very often, and so it’s only in more recent years that I’ve gotten much of a feel at all for areas like the East Bay. There’s still plenty more in the Bay Area that I haven’t explored, but my brother lived in Berkeley for a while and my visits there helped me begin to get a sense for it. I like the slightly warmer weather (vs. the city of SF), the spacious laid-back feel, and the craftsman-style homes.

Martha introduced me to the area of North Berkeley known as the “Gourmet Ghetto” — primarily a one-block stretch of Shattuck Avenue lined with several restaurants, a.k.a. “Foodie” establishments, the star of which is Chez Panisse. Apparently, you have to book about a month in advance to dine there, so we went to the Tapas bar one door down called César. We spent about an hour chatting and sipping Cava (Martha knows how to start lunch right!) and munching on beet salad and little salmon sandwiches. Everything was quite good, but the little dish of olives they brought out shortly after we sat down was quite possibly the most delicious part.

At some point, and after ordering a couple cappuccinos, we figured we’d better get to sketching. I took a somewhat slower pace than at Sketchcrawl (it helped that I was mellowed by sparkling wine and good food and wasn’t freezing) and just completed this one sketch looking toward the bar:

The sketch was done in my “Frankenskine” sketchbook, pictured here:

…a Moleskine daily planner which I gutted and converted into a Watercolor sketchbook. The construction of this book was developed by Martha. She’s filled many of these modified Moleskines with her beautiful sketches. Detailed instructions and samples of her sketches are available on her blog. Here’s my account of the project.

Update: Martha has posted her sketches from our lunch over at Trumpetvine. Be sure to take a look! I love the way she uses negative space in her sketches and simply leaves things out. I have a hell of a time doing that (in case you can’t tell from my sketch, above). Her approach can lead to some interesting results. Organic sorts of compositions and non-rectangular framings. They’re not overladen with detail, and so they are very relaxing to look at and leave a bit to our imaginations. In that way, they can help transport us to the scene being depicted all the more, because life is like that. We tend to look at just one thing at a time, and often in an impressionistic way, feeling it, rather than looking at the minute detail, and objects in the periphery are frequently either vague or almost non-existent in our experience/memory. Also, another effect of her use of white space is the quality of light. Take a look at the second sketch in her post and you get the sense there’s bright light shining through the windows.

Also, more sketches to come from my visit to San Francisco…

Sketchcrawl 17!

I spent the most recent Sketchcrawl (#17) in San Francisco’s Chinatown. It was one of those tricky days in SF. The sun was out and shining brightly, but everything was cold everywhere. If the sun’s rays hit you directly, you could get a little toasty, but as soon as you were in the shade… brrrrrrrr! I sketched as fast as I could, trying to keep my hands warm. The plus side, I suppose, is that it was not raining.

So here are my sketches from the crawl.



The gamers/gamblers were a popular subject:



Little comps:




One of my favorites from the day is the one on the left here with the lanterns:


I really slapped this one onto the page fast. Not too happy with the colors, but I do like the way it looks in grayscale!


And of course, Chinatown would not be complete without Peking Duck.


The crawl was great. There were about 65 sketchcrawlers there, in all. I finally got to meet a few people whose blogs I’ve been following for a while. Namely, Pixar artists Enrico Casarosa and Ronnie del Carmen, and Martha of Trumpetvine Travels. There were new people as well, and lots of great sketches from everyone. Many different tools, techniques, and styles, and lots of inspiration.

Visit the forum to see work from others at this sketchcrawl and crawls all over the world.


After months of admiring the “LOL Cats” cartoons by Flickrpal Ape Lad (aka Adam Koford), I finally ordered one (for only $20 on! The timing couldn’t have worked out more perfectly. My birthday was this past Saturday, September 15th, the very day that my LOL Cats cartoon was mailed. It arrived today on Monday!

What day is it?

I requested that he sandwich the cartoon in some cardboard, because my mailboxes are ridiculously tiny and my mail carrier, disgruntled. He was oh so generous and threw a little extra cartoon on the purple board.


“Mebbe a vineyard asploded?” LOL!!! Also pretty serendipitous, because Jamie and I spent this past weekend celebrating my birthday wine-tasting in the Santa Ynez Valley area of Santa Barbara County. Yes, folks. That’s “Sideways country” — and we did stay at the Buellton Days Inn, or “The Windmill.” This is our second time visiting the area for my birthday. The last time was in 2005. Our favorite wines continue to be made by Daniel Gehrs, who does not own any of his own vineyards, but purchases grapes from various places throughout the region and turns them into bottles of heaven at his winery in Buellton.

Great Grapes

And I got more goodies today! A birthday present arrived from my brother. Wrapped in images of outer space, were two E.T. “Original Collectibles” from 1982. I was E.T. crazy when I was a little kid. These are showing some age, but still in their original packaging. Kinda like me.

The Original Collectibles