Chronicles in Ordinary Time 28: Ending Eras

“So when Walt Disney Animation Studios says there will be no more hand drawn animated features, they mean it. Nine animators from the hand drawn team were let go yesterday. Sadly these are some of the most veteran animators on the team as well…”

The article above saddens me; there is also a small bit of ‘encouragement’ in a weird sense, to know that I’m not alone.
Nearly all of my work nowadays is digitally-manipulated hand-drawn graphite images. I do some entirely-digital work as well as photo-manipulation, but the work I’m most pleased with starts with a pencil and a piece of specifically-selected paper.
My experience so far is that my work isn’t that popular with those folks who buy illustrations for commercial use. I am immensely pleased with comments that I receive from people all over the world, who appreciate my work. I even have a couple of pieces in a museum… but, not a lot of ‘art buyers’ have any commercial interest in my work.

The image above was given to me by my paternal grandmother. I really don’t know who “Milt” is; I think the surname on the back is ‘Shafer’ but I can’t be sure. A vague memory tells me that Milt and I are somehow related, but I don’t recall ever hearing that surname in the family. I don’t know if it’s an ‘original Disney’ or simply a copy of a Disney concept. The calendar on the wall, to the right of Goofy, says ‘1937’ above the risque sketch of an apparently naked woman. Maybe it will end up on Antiques Roadshow some day, or History Detectives, and I’ll learn more about its history.

Back when I did school visits, one of the presentations I prepared was on the history of Illustration. At the beginning of the 20th Century, before photography had become part of the printing world, images that were published were created by engravers who worked in stone or very hard wood. Visual images were translated into intricate carvings, and prints were made from these carvings. The image below is a pen and ink copy of one of these carved images from the 1800s.

Peregrine Falcon

Photography entered the world of publishing. While it created new markets and opportunities, it also made engraving obsolete. The only place for engravers to work was basically in the jewelry and trophy industries. Disney animators have entered into the hallowed halls of the engravers.

I recently taught a couple of art classes for an after-school program at a local Middle School. A traditional drawing class, and a digital art class. I don’t anticipate doing that again. Two of the students in my drawing class were more talented in sketching than I ever have been. A couple didn’t really want to be there at all. I spent a lot of hours putting together handouts for them to work from; I don’t know that I had any positive effect.
The digital class didn’t go much better. The project I designed for the first one or two classes took the entire term to finish; in the process, the more talented kids got bored and the novices didn’t really retain much of the process.

I discovered that I’ve forgotten how much I’ve learned. I’ve been doing this for so long that I’ve forgotten what being a novice is, and what information is needed at the beginning. I think. Or maybe I’m just an ineffective teacher. At this point in my life, I don’t want to add those skills.

And standing for 3 hours, mostly on adrenaline, wiped me out for the rest of the day. Neuropathy sucks. Thankfully, I can still draw.


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