Monday, January 4, 2010

"Drawning" Babies

About a month ago I began reading Drawn to Life volumes I and II, which are collections of amazing notes that Walt Stanchfield gave to his animation students over the several years he was with the Walt Disney company. These books are all about giving life to your subject- movement, action, gesture... anything but stiff and posed. He talks a lot about capturing the essence of that person, a maximum amount of gesture with a minimum amount of lines. It also talks about feeling that gesture that you are drawing and understanding why your subject is feeling that way. Even though these notes were intended for animators, they work wonderfully for me because as a children's book illustrator my subjects (the actors in my story) need to appear to be in movement, full of life, and even the quietest of gestures needs to be relatable to the child reading the book.

It inspired me to get back in the habit of sticking my sketchbook and pencils in my bag everyday, and making a conscious effort to use them whenever I have the chance. I nanny a few days a week for a family with a nine month old baby and two year old- both girls, so it gives me perfect sketching subjects to start with. The two year old has proved a little difficult to sketch because every time she sees me pull out my drawing pad and pencil, she drops whatever toy she is playing with and practically comes up and sits on top of my paper. "What are you drawning? What are you drawning? Can you draw my band-aid? Can you draw Dora? Can you draw my room?.... " And so begin the questions. The baby is much easier- as long as she does not need fed, changed, or comforted, she cares not that I am observing her every move. Besides that, she is a new crawler so her movements are interesting to draw and all the chubbiness is fun, too. Not that she's easier in the sense that she stays in one place for more than a second- I am training my brain to capture and feel the gesture, and then move on to the next one.

This is just first week observation... stay tuned!

1 comment:

Jack Foster said...

Hey Erin, Happy New Year! Great poses. Love the crawling and the picking up something illustrations. Can almost see the expression on the baby's face without seeing it. great "feel" for the subject matter. I can see that you took Walt Stanchfield's advice to heart. Keep on "drawning" :o)