Saturday, July 4, 2020

Two Art Books

I'm so happy, even in the depths of all this craziness going on, because I just received two books that I totally love.  They've arrived via Amazon, and they're two art books featuring works from my favorite artists.

The first one is a large "coffee table" book about the work of N.C. Wyeth, who I've written about before in this space.  One of the giants of illustration and painting - I've been influenced by his work ever since I first saw it during college.

What struck me about his work is the way he designs his shapes to help tell the story.  His shapes are amazing - and he'd often favor the shapes and dark shadows to accentuate the emotions.  Actually, there's not a lot of detail in his work, it's covered over with dark shadows that overtake the unimportant stuff.

N.C. Wyeth "The Opium Eater"
N.C. Wyeth "Deer Slayer Threw All His Force into a Desperate Effort"
You'll notice in my animation how I try to keep details to a minimum, so I can make the characters more powerful and engaging.  That way, the story comes through a lot stronger, no distractions.  I could talk on and on about N.C. Wyeth, but I don't have the space or time now...

The other book I received - and also love - is about Thomas Hart Benton, the famous rural American painter from the 1920's to 1950's.  What I love about his work is his powerful storytelling and the exaggeration of the human body.  In fact, his subjects are so distorted that they often seem like cartoons.  They are very twisted, almost bent.  I'm not aware if Mr. Benton took drugs (I'll find out in the book, hopefully) but you can see a very close resemblance between Benton's stylized characters and the stoner comics of artists like R. Crumb.

Another reason I love his work is the fact that he ignores perspective.  In college we all studied how perspective has two or three vanishing points, and all angles had to point to those spots. Well, Mr. Benton threw all that crap out the distorted window - that's why many of his paintings are so dreamlike.  If you watch my films "Idiots & Angels" and "Cheatin'" you'll notice how I distorted the perspective a lot, to a much more interesting result, I think.

Thomas Hart Benton "The Hailstorm"
Thomas Hart Benton "Persephone"
Both of these artists influenced me a lot, and I still don't believe I've fully developed as far as I want to go with their influence (Hey, I'm still learning.)  As I've suggested many times, I've been influenced by many great artists and I'm not shy about admitting that fact.  Yet people tell me how unique and identifiable my animation is.  So I'll always keep my style my own, but it's also fun to be influenced by other artists - just so long as it isn't anime.  I hate when young artists come to my studio, looking for work and all their drawings are rip-offs of Japanese animation.  I toss their portfolios out the window (just kidding).

Today's cartoon is not for children - yet I wonder if children will even get the joke.

--Bill P. 

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