Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Still Three Good Fingers on my Drawing Hand

... and when they offer you free lunch to try it, well... I ditched my pencil for soft charcoal and gave it a quick shot. While still a bit uncomfortable, the hand is well on its way back. Thanks, Traumeel.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Climate Change and Comeback Stories

5% of the take from An Inconvenient Truth is going to support The Alliance for Climate Protection, a nonpartisan effort to promote awareness and national discussion of solutions to climate change. I've been loosely following climate studies since an ecology class I took at W&M, and I'm so hopeful that the 2008 elections will become a turning point for the way this country addresses the issue. I suppose it'll take a phrase like "More Trees, not I.E.D.s!!!" or some other sensationalist emphasis on linking national security to environmentalism, but hey, whatever gets Californians and Texans talking...

Al Gore has become one of my favorite public figures these days. People tend to say "if only he acted more like this..." while running for the 2000 election, or even accuse him of using the film as a vehicle for his own political gain. But to see a personality bounce back from one of history's most devastating electoral defeats in the way he has, finding comfort in becoming the face of a movement which was obviously at the very core of his past political ambitions, is incredibly inspirational. In a way, Gore personifies his own cause - or at least, what we hope will become of that cause. At a personal level his recovery also brings to mind Steve Jobs, who might have lived my all-time favorite comeback story; if you haven't seen his 2005 Stanford graduation speech, do yourself a favor and check it out now if you need a little kick start (yes, also a free download on iTunes). Funny to think that Gore also has a part-time job on Apple's Board of Directors...

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


I seem to be developing a nasty habit of injuring my right hand while playing basketball. Frustrating thing: Every time I feel at the verge of improving my game, I sprain an ankle, contort a pinkie, smash a few ribs, scratch an eye... hmmmmm, I wonder if I should consider... nah... Anyway, the real downer this time around is that the recovery is going to keep me from drawing for a while. Tried shooting lefty in today's gesture session, but it was too awkward to be useful or interesting. Damn you, Phoenix Suns: Why can't you just suck and let me get excited about some other sport?

Nevertheless, I intend to go out on some good news today: Rage Against the Machine will be headlining this year's Coachella!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Most Bizarre Pixar Fan Creation Ever

What if you crossed a family-friendly Pixar film about talking plastic toys with a dark, depressing movie about drug addiction? The wonders of the Internets shall make it so...

(Rated... R?)

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Gesture Drawing

Word of advice: If you drive up to the mountains to go snowboarding and people working the ticket counter repeatedly inform you that the temperature reads -50 degrees at the summit, just turn around and leave. Even if you have a free lift voucher and the girl selling tickets has a hot Australian accent, you do not want to know how that sort of weather feels.

That said, this week in drawing I battled a lack of focus and tried to experiment with exaggerating the figure with mixed results. Still getting a little noodle-y at times; need to keep that squash vs. stretch in mind in the torso as well as pushing three dimensions in contact points. Two models (Tues & Wed):

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Gesture Drawing

I've been fortunate enough to have been taking former Disney animator Tom Gately's weekly Gesture Drawing class at Pixar for a while now, which teaches drawing from an animation style. All drawings are done in 30 seconds - 2 minutes, depending on the pose; instead of producing shaded, finished images, we're looking for raw attitude and caricature. Tom - who has an amazing ability to get movement into his own sketches - pushes us to draw with an emphasis on feeling and storytelling; we don't have to draw what we actually see... with luck, it eventually works something like the force. For now, my first day of drawing in several weeks went better than expected; Below are some sample drawings from today, with two sketches from my last Gesture session of 2006 thrown in, too:

If you'd like to see some gesture drawing class handouts from the Disney Studio, try the "Walt Stanchfield Notes" link.

Monday, January 08, 2007

I remember the last time I animated...

There is a point to all this, you know. The Alchemist struck a chord with me because it seemed a near anthem to my resolution for the new year: In the weeks and months ahead, I'm hoping to give my creative side some much-needed new purpose and drive. With any luck, you'll enjoy watching... or at least provide some pressure if I try to put things off any more.

An interest in caricatured animation started me off on my way to California, but I'm really just an 'armchair animator' at this point when it comes to the art: curiosity and opinions, but not as much substance as I'd like. I'm looking to join an existing, solid animation web competition to get things rolling; unfortunately the one I knew (10secondclub) seems to have shut down, so I'd very much appreciate alternatives if you happen to have them! (free character rigs, too!)

In the meantime, I'll be continue to learn where I can from a trickle of animation fix assignments for the sim team at work, dust the cobwebs off an old maya rig, and trust that I'll be able to take things up a notch from previous test attempts:

Sunday, January 07, 2007


Before I become a regular arts critic, here's a real drama for you.

Friday, January 05, 2007

The Alchemist

About the best New Years Eve reading material a person could hope for... Tara gave me a copy of this deceptively simple book, a quick read which was thought-provoking, calming, and inspiring all at once. Even as a largely non-spiritual person following a story that speaks an awful lot about God and the Soul of the World, the key ideas here - namely that most adults tend to bury the voice of their innermost dreams and ambitions - resonated strongly; the core of the story can be appreciated by anyone as a kind of contemporary fable. Anyone facing a major junction in life should check this one out: It'll play out in your mind for much longer than the time it takes to read!

Some favorite quotes:

"Everyone on earth has a treasure that awaits him," his heart said. ... But, unfortunately, very few follow the path laid out for them - the path to their Personal Legends, and to happiness. Most people see the world as a threatening place, and, because they do, the world turns out, indeed, to be a threatening place.

So we, their hearts, speak more and more softly. We never stop speaking out, but we begin to hope that our words won't be heard: we don't want people to suffer because they don't follow their hearts.
(p. 131)

... and moving on from there:

They continued across the desert. With every day that passed, the boy's heart became more and more silent. It no longer wanted to know about things of the past or future; it was content simply to contemplate the desert, and to drink with the boy from the Soul of the World. The boy and his heart had become friends, and neither was capable now of betraying the other.
(p. 134)

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Children of Men

We had a screening of Children of Men today at work, which is nothing short of amazing. The setting reveals a brutal near future (2029) in which the entire human race has mysteriously been rendered infertile for 18 years with no end in sight, deteriorating into a violent chaos in the face of its inevitable expiration. Well-directed and shot action drama surrounding a single discovered pregnant woman ensues.

The brilliance of the film, however, is that it is ultimately a look at human nature confronting hopelessness; the infertility crisis could easily be replaced with a more plausible worldwide scarcity of resources like food or clean water, in which wealthy military powers like Britain and the U.S. would become pillars of survival. Finding its way through refugee camp sets that strongly resemble the war images we see coming out of Iraq today, the "sci-fi" world you're watching becomes intensely, frighteningly real, which makes the emergence of all sorts of characters (optimists, power-seekers, heroes, or potheads) extremely compelling.

Please, please don't let this movie bomb like 12 Monkeys...

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


As I seem to have gained the upper hand in recovering from the lovely head cold given to me just in time for the New Year by the one and only Lone Star state (score -1 for Airborne!), I wanted to take the time - finally! - to kick off this blog. I'm hoping it will become a way to keep in touch with friends and family around the country over the next year: Expect stories, reviews, opinions, drawings, comics, proposed new Warriors logos... any happenings on life out West. Your comments and thoughts will always be appreciated.

To get things rolling, I offer this brief piece of advice: When staying the night in Texas, always get the rental car.

On December 29th I flew into Dallas-Fort Worth Airport for two-day stay at the Marriott Las Colinas in Irving. I was in town to attend Jon and Angelique's wedding on the 30th, which was terrific - those two are an amazing couple and put on a great party. I enjoyed my very first Mashed Potato Martini - make that my first two - and even got to be an usher, albeit one who hardly knew his way around a church:
LEAD MUSICIAN: "Pssst... Hey, could you do me a favor and signal to us when they're done with Communion?"
ME: "Sure... Remind me, though: How will I know when they're done with Communion?"

The 29th, however, was begging for a little pregame Texas drama. While friends' flights were turned back by a gathering mass of unseasonable thunderstorms and tornadoes, the daring crew of American Airlines 1443 stepped on the gas and found a break in the clouds, miraculously getting me on the ground and off to my hotel by cab early afternoon. Renting a car hadn't occurred to me, since I expected to be around a number of people attending the same event and neglected to account for the sheer sprawl of Dallas. Unfortunately, I found myself alone for the evening in a Marriott that offered no food in house or in the immediate vicinity. By 8pm I was starving. Eyes darting between my room window and the Weather Channel's incessant Tornado Watch, I saw a lull in the storm and made a dash to a quiet patch of restaurants a half-mile or so down the road.

Halfway there, the storm kicks right back into full gear.

My pocket umbrella was snapped by the wind and I was drenched, surrounded by tornadoes and ravenously hungry. And then Texas offered up its finest cuisine:
"Japanese Restaurant" - This just doesn't seem very... Japanese. I mean, at least name it something cultural. Pass.
"Subway" - Would have sufficed, but closed due to inclement weather.
"Italian Cafe" - 'Ethnic' food options not promising... Pass.
"Texas Bar & Grill" - Sure, what the hell... but I take one step in and realize they allow smoking in bars in Texas, and this place wreaked. Being a health-conscious Californian, it was back to 'Italian Cafe'.

The worst Chicken Parmesan I've ever had put away, I trudged back to the hotel in the rain. Feeling a sniffle coming on, only one thought was on my mind: When staying the night in Texas, always get the rental car.