Monday, March 21, 2011

NC Wyeth

Before I begin my rant for N.C. Wyeth, I want to comment on Pat Smith's tips for young animators. He speaks from great experience and everything he says (well, almost everything) is extremely valuable. It almost feels like we studied under the same animation teachers – which I guess we kind of did, since we're total Disney freaks.
In any case, I've just finished a wonderful book on N.C. Wyeth (N.C. Wyeth, a Biography, by David Michaels) I've always been a big fan of his, but there were a number of pieces in the book that I'd never seen before. And his use of design hit me so hard that I realized I've got to use more design in my animation.

Especially in his earlier work 1905-1925 he demonstrates the power of shapes, lines, and color to move the eye around. And this is something that's so lacking in art and animation today.
Mr Wyeth would sacrifice detail in order to display a strong sense of shapes and energy. Unfortunately, in his later work, he abandoned these principals and his illustrations, though skilled, lost their dramatic impact.
Aside from the great Howard Pyle, with whom he had a close relationship, he mentioned an Italian painter called Giovanni Segantini. I looked him up and found a real teacher/student influence between the two. I'll show some of his work and you can also see Mr. Segantini's use of strong design and composition.
In the new film I'm working on, "Cheatin'", I want to put much more emphasis on the design aspects. I hope this will give the film a unique flavor, something very different from your typical corporate animated film that's full of extraneous details ("Shrek").
It's often the case that I'll see a museum exhibition or read a book or see a certain film and 2 or 3 months later you'll see those influences in my most recent film.


  1. The early N.C. Wyeth paintings remind me of Frank Frazetta. Dynamic, powerful, with the right amount of detail. Thank you for sharing this. I always love hearing about the artists you admire.

  2. I highly recommend a road trip to the Brandywine Museum (where many of N.C.'s best originals reside)--while you're on your way, stop by the Frazetta museum in PA. The differences between their work when viewed in person are fascinating: Friz's stuff is so small, and very what-you-see-is-what-you-get. Very little is lost in reproduction. But N.C.'s paintings are BIG, and very rich up close. Lots that you can't see in print--yet they're still tremendous on the page.

    And the Brandywine has N.C.'s stuff beautifully displayed.

    Great blog!