Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Chuck Jones Part 1: Chouinard

So I've been busy preparing a post on Chuck Jones, gathering and preparing artwork that I've found inspiring by him to share here. While going through the image files I noticed a particularly interesting block of text that was next to a drawing I scanned. I'm pretty sure it is from his book "Chuck Amuck", but it could be from "Chuck Redux" as well. Both books are worth reading, but more on that later. This paragraph was so interesting to me that I wanted to share it now.

This particular passage is about Chouinard, the art school Chuck Jones attended in Los Angeles. I highlighted what I thought the most important part of the text was, but there's a wealth of information beyond that as well. Here is the text:

Wow. I have a lot I can say about this, but I'll try to keep it as short as I can.

First off, if you admire Chuck Jones as much as I do, then you'll appreciate actually knowing what the most important thing he discovered at art school was, and what his number one rule is for great drawing, because his drawings are phenomenal. It's told straight from Jones to the reader in this book.

If you don't know a lot about the art school called Chouinard, it's worth researching. Marc Davis taught there as well as many other extraordinary teachers/artists. My Great Uncle was actually a student there in the early 1950's and I have some things to share about that in a later post. Chouinard is the school which eventually became the California Institute of the Arts, otherwise known as CalArts. I attended CalArts from 2001-2005, so I also plan on sharing some things about that here later as well. It's also interesting what Jones says about his figure drawing teacher, Donald Graham, in this excerpt too. I'm hoping to write a post later on about figure drawing that relates to exactly what Chuck Jones talks about here regarding "imposing a personal style of drawing" on students.

Finally, I'd just like to make a note on researching things, and what else that I've found important in the text. Chuck Jones mentions about 15 things in this paragraph that are worth looking into. The first one I already mentioned is Chouinard. Chouinard is of special interest to me, because many of the artists I look up to in animation went to the school, and said that they learned a great deal there. The more I can find out about what the students were taught and the teachers who taught there, the better. I truly regret not asking my Great Uncle more about Chouinard before he passed away in 2005, unforunately I didn't really know how important the art school he attended was until he was near the end of his life.

The next things Jones talks about here that I think are interesting are the art and artists he mentions in the context of his "most important and stunning discovery" in art school: Cro-Magnon art, Claes Oldenburg, Beatrix Potter, Feininger, Kandinsky...ect. I haven't even really looked much at the work of these artists myself, but they are probably worth checking out if you like Chuck Jones. It's insightful to see who Jones seems to admire and who he considers to be accomplished artists in this paragraph.

Lastly mentioned again, is Donald Graham, whom Jones says was his greatest teacher (Graham also taught classes to the artists at Disney as well). Donald Graham wrote a book himself called "Composing Pictures" that is also worth reading. I started reading it a while ago, unfortunately I haven't finished it yet. I hope to get back to it some time soon. Simon Nicolaides is also mentioned here as being a great teacher too. I suspect that it's a misprint and that Jones was actually referring to Kimon Nicolaides, who wrote a book I've heard great things about called "The Natural Way to Draw: A Working Plan for Art Study".

I hope that it doesn't sound too much like I'm lecturing here. My primary goal is to share information which I've found interesting or exciting. I also hope that it can encourage students, and maybe even some working professionals, to supplement their learning with books or to revisit some that have been sitting on the shelf for a while. When I read a passage like the one above, I see not only the great knowledge that Jones imparted about his opinion on the importance of line to us, but I also see all those other names and things to look up and research. Just through reading this short passage and a bit of research we've been lead to two other entire books to read (5 books total if you also include George Bridgman's), and a dozen more people to research further. That's the really exciting thing about it for me.

When I hear people complaining about the instruction they've received in Art School, I can relate to it and had some issues with it myself, but on the other hand there is also always an opportunity for us to read a book and learn something too. I will write more about that later though, for now I'd like to stay focused on the wonderful work of Chuck Jones.