A Dreamer Walking

Put a Face on It

Posted in Personal Philosophy by Jacob on August 28, 2018

The only reason we have not been able to find value in “the other” is because we refuse to give them a face. How is that for a Thesis?!

Okay, I’ve learned things that make complete sense to me usually don’t make much sense to others. This is one of those things. I would write a thesis such as this and my mother (English major/teacher) would immediately inform me, people are regrettably unable to read my mind in order to connect the dots. So an explanation…

The first thing to interest me about participating in art was the human face. More specifically, the eye. In one of my first art classes the teacher proclaimed, “The hardest thing to draw is the human eye”. The reason? Because it’s the window to the soul. “When you look into someone’s eyes'”, my teacher explained, “you are in connection to their deepest self”. So I decided to study the human face. Specifically the eye. This drove my future teachers nuts. You are not supposed to start with the eye when doing portraiture. Long story short, when doing portraiture you are supposed to start with the outline of the head and face before going into any detail. So starting with a very detailed looking eye was a big “No, no”…

Oh well :/

Since the gauntlet was thrown, I have drawn hundreds and hundreds of portraits. I LOVED looking through magazines, such as National Geographic, and cutting out pictures of faces. I was able to study the faces of thousands upon thousands of people. They all were fascinating. I saw happiness. I saw love. I saw pain. I saw sorrow. Each face gave me insight about humanity. One of my subjects contained a stare so piercing I felt the need to replicate his eye so it’s sharpness could be seen no matter how close you got. Another contained a stare so outside this world I took out the iris altogether. And the last one, the final portrait I ever painted, was filled with a sadness no amount of deep blue could ever reach.

I am actually intimidated by the human face, often most comfortable studying it through a picture or a lens. I struggle to look directly at others, even those I love, because when my eyes connect to another I get lost. I feel I am being allowed into a holy place. Of course it flows away from just the eyes and is seen in every feature of the face. Each wrinkle gives insight. They can communicate a life of happiness or a life of struggle. The best show both. To be honest I am struggling to articulate what exactly it is I see in the face. In some ways I think it’s wrong for me to try.

The face is a mystery. A mystery that always reveals one thing. Humanity. When flipping through the faces of National Geographic I saw countless shades of humanity. We couldn’t possibly be able to explore every aspect of humanity because no human is capable of discovering the depth we glimpse when looking into the eyes of another. But the very fact we see “the other” is enough to assign value. And assigning values to “the other” is the only way we will be able to get out of the mess we are in today.

Tyrus Wong – Background Artist – Bambi

Posted in Film and Filmaker Studies, Screenshot Series by Jacob on June 8, 2014

Bambi #2

Center frame are two of my favorite characters in all of animation. I grew up with Bambi and Thumper. I watched Bambi (1942) dozens and dozens of times as a child and it moved me every time. This frame comes from near the beginning of the movie when Thumper and his sisters are showing the young prince around the Forrest. Not once during my childhood did I question whether or not the Forrest was real. Yet, if you really look at it the shapes making up most of the backgrounds in Bambi are but simple impressions of the real thing. As you can see in this frame the leaves, grass, and trees are void of much texture and lose almost all their detail at the edges of the frame. I personally consider Bambi to have some of the greatest backgrounds in all of animation because none of the background paintings detract from the characters and action but are able to completely transport you into the movie’s world.

Walt Disney spent a long time trying to figure out the look of the backgrounds in Bambi. With Snow White (1937) And Pinocchio (1940) Walt was much more interested in creating a look you would see in book illustration of the Brother Grimm tales. The movies were influenced by European painters from the 1800s. However, with Bambi Walt was shooting for a realism not seen before in animation. He wanted the animals in the movie to move like real animals you would see in the Forrest and so he had all kinds of Forrest animals brought into the studio to be studied by his artists in order to achieve this goal. Just look at the difference between 1937’s Snow White animals and the ones you see in Bambi, made in 1942. There is a strong attention to the anatomy of the animals in Bambi and there are only a few features exaggerated in order to have them relate more to the audience.

The animator Tyrus Wong said he never met Walt but it is clear Walt resonated with his painting style. Wong was an inbetweener animator responsible for doing the in-between drawings of finished animation in order to create the number of frames needed to have a scene move in a flawless way when played at regular speed. This was tireless and unrewarding work. Thankfully the research artist Maurice Day discovered Wong’s impressionistic paintings he had been doing on the side and brought his illustrations to Walt’s attention. Walt loved them. Not only did his impressionistic style not feel too busy, it seemed to transport Walt and the rest of the artist into the Forrest of Bambi. Wong captured the simplistic shapes within the environment of the Forrest. He also understood how light reflected off and filtered through it’s leaves and rocks. The hand drawn characters who move around in the environment had just enough detail to stick out from the backgrounds while also feeling at home in the frame.

If you look at this background painting without Bambi and the young rabbits inhabiting it, it would feel empty. The environment by itself is easy to overlook. It is made to be inhabited. I believe this should be a key philosophy for all animation backgrounds. Too often we see environments detract from the story taking place. Detail can easily become animation’s greatest enemy. The job of an animated film is not to reproduce reality but rather create just enough in order to make it feel emotionally genuine.

Tyrus Wong is still alive at age 103 and has been recognized by Walt’s daughter Diane Disney Miller and honored with a display of his work at The Walt Disney Family Museum in San Fransisco California in 2013. It is a true shame Tyrus Wong left Disney because of the 1941 strike.

Dice Tsutsumi Interview

Posted in Uncategorized by Jacob on November 2, 2010

Here is a link to a interview on Chiustream of the Pixar artists Dice Tsutsumi. I found this interview very helpful, I love Dice’s philosophy on what art should be about. You should click on his name and check out his website. He did the color script for the latest Toy Story movie. He is someone I would love to work with someday. Dice has the attitude of a student, where he is always trying to learn no matter how high of a position he is in.

Joy of a Boy

Posted in Uncategorized by Jacob on May 14, 2010

After doing so many serious pictures, I decided to go with a fun one. Inspired a bit by Norman Rockwell’s style of painting, I did this watercolor. The shirt and the background are all cold colors, making the face and hair (worm colors) pop out really well. The eyes really seem to pop out as well because they are surrounded by worm colors. This painting is supposed to make you think of a childhood memory. It is a good representation of the joy of being a boy.

Looking Ahead

Posted in Uncategorized by Jacob on May 10, 2010

This is a Portrait of myself I did about two years ago. I made it for my mother. I created three other portraits for three other good friend’s mothers as a present for graduation. My mother of course likes this one the most. I think it is a good representation of where I was at that time and sort am still at now.

I like the way the eyes turned out.  The mouth was a bit disappointing. I for some reason have a hard time with mouths. I think the blues really balance the picture well.


Posted in Uncategorized by Jacob on May 3, 2010

As I hope you can see, I was trying to create a very inspiring look with this man. I show this most vividly in his eye. with this guy I really tried to create a shiny/glossy look, not like he is crying but like he sees something that is bigger than himself and that he won’t stop until he gets there. All the colors really push the audiences eyes to his eye, which is the main point of the picture. The orange shadow effect on his shirt worked out pretty well too.

It was done a few years ago. It is one of my favorite watercolor portraits I have done, even though I think the proportions of the face are slightly off.


Posted in Uncategorized by Jacob on April 15, 2010

This was my third portrait of my watercolor series. I was not as happy with him, I feel that he falls a bit flat compared to the others. However, it is a interesting character and I really liked how the hair turned out. The eyes were pretty good as well. I think I might of made them another color if I had it to do over again. Anyway, I did this painting about two and a half years ago.

The Inner Moral

Posted in Uncategorized by Jacob on April 11, 2010

I am a Christian and I really want to make sure I am staying true to my God in everything I do. I think that many Christians can sometimes take their religion too far and start to not interact with the “world” because they want to stay clean and be true to God. I personally think that if we want to stay true to God we will start to interact with the world.

I have seen Christians who are hesitant in their writing, because they want to “make sure it is coming from God”. This is not a bad thing, I just feel that sometimes my Christian friends have a hard time understanding where God is. I do not think you need to mention God’s name in a Movie, for Him to be present. God moves in all sorts of ways and sometimes a person who is not bound by a religious doctrine and philosophy sees God move in ways some Christians can not.

Sometimes I as a Christian need to rely on faith, that what I feel my heart is saying, is what God is wanting me to say.  I do not think that morals are based on what each individual says they should be, but I do think that we all, deep down, have a sense of what is truly moral. We have become good at avoiding those feelings.

What I think I must do as a writer is listen to those inner morals on what is right and wrong. Good writers follow vision, they find ways to understand those inner feelings/morals and stick to them.

Just something I was thinking about…

P.S. the picture is one of my many ink and watercolor pieces. It represents where I try to be in my faith.

The Smoking Man

Posted in Uncategorized by Jacob on April 7, 2010

Several years ago I did a series of watercolor portraits. This is the first of the series, I did it at age 17. Was very happy with how it turned out. I did not use opposite colors to create shadows and I might of gone a little to tan with the skin tone. I really wanted to contrast the face with the blue background and shirt. The eyes are usually the main piece to my paintings. I usually start with the eyes and work my way to the rest of the face (much different then most painters).