Friday, December 31, 2021

Animated Thoughts: 2021 End of year wrap-up

As the year drew to a close, I decided that rather than reflection, feeding my soul was more important. So since it was my birthday and I had the day off of work, I drove to Detroit in order to surround myself with art at the Detroit Institute of Art. Within moments of walking through the doors, I felt my internal batteries start to recharge. It's an odd feeling--actually is a physical feeling, kind of like a tingling that runs just above the base of my skull, down along my spine reaching to the base of my sternum, and across my shoulder blades. I can't really explain it. It's not an unpleasant sensation, just... odd. After a couple hours, I feel this sensation of being "full" and that's when I know it's okay to leave. I also get this sensation when walking around Toronto or being at animation festivals.

Animation-wise, I'd call this year a successful one. I didn't have (make) time to do a lot of animation as I was teaching Animation History at Central all year--Fall 2020, Spring 2021 and Fall 2021. But we've got the new schedule in place so it looks like Fall semester from here on out, which leaves my Spring and Summer open to prep for the Fall semester's class as well as pick up some freelance work and dabble in some personal art projects.

So rather than spout off about projects that I'm hopeful to complete in the coming year (and I do have a couple), I'd like to share some photographs that I took at the DIA in the hopes that they will feed your soul as much as they did mine.

Red Gladioli, ~1919
Chaim Soutine

Sylvette, 1954
Pablo Picasso

Fruit Piece, 1849
Robert Seldon Duncanson

Petunias, 1881
Henri Fantin-Latour

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Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Animated Thoughts: What are the odds?

Jack Slutzky
Image from Jack's Twitter feed

I received a Hanukkah gift last Friday.

Back in the day, I was visiting R.I.T. on my way to the Ottawa International Animation Festival. And as my former professor Jack Slutzky had published several books, I bought a copy of one that caught my eye at the campus bookstore on my way out of town. Over the years, I'd pick it up and read a couple pages when I had time, but eventually, I forgot where I set it down. It bothered me to no end that I couldn't find my copy of Mindscapes. I have one of his other books, but that was my favorite. I swear, it's in the house here somewhere, I just can't find it.

Mindscapes by Jack Slutzky
Well, after searching for years, I admitted defeat, hoped that where ever it was, it was being enjoyed, then I bit the bullet and bought a new copy... sort of. As it's been out of print for over a decade, I did a search on they had a used copy on sale for a very reasonable price. So, I plunked down the cash and waited for it to arrive.

It showed up a couple weeks early, on Friday of Hanukkah of all dates--an interesting coincidence as Jack was Jewish. Well, I opened the package and the book was indeed "used". It was pretty well used, as a matter of fact. Upon closer examination, it was a library copy--which explained the condition. I leafed through it to ensure that it wasn't missing any pages and discovered that it was from the Le Roy library in New York. The same city that Jack lived in. Another coincidence? Perhaps.

Then I looked at the first page. Written were the words:

"To the LeRoy Library
Thank you for being here"

Signed by Jack Slutzky himself. 

I quickly pulled out the hardbound copy of my MFA Thesis paper to compare the signatures on the page where my carefully selected committee had signed off on my thesis. Then I cross referenced it with a letter Jack wrote me several years after I graduated from R.I.T. 

Sure enough, it was Jack's signature.

What are the odds that the book he autographed and donated to the library in the town where he lived would be blindly purchased at a used book sale on by one of his former students? And not just one of his students, but one of his graduate students for whom Jack served on the MFA graduate thesis committee?

Some see coincidence. Others see serendipity. I see providence.

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Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Need a Christmas gift for that someone special?

Christmas is right around the corner. If you're looking for a gift for that special someone in your life, I hope you'll consider some of the following products that were produced by women animators: 

Jessica Borutski
Jessie has her own line of children's books that she publishes under her PandaRamaPublishing brand:
Monica Theiler (née Bruenjes) 
Do your kids like penguins? Monica has a book following the adventures of her original characters "Penguin and Peep". 'Penguin and Peep: Feathered Friends' is for sale online via Monica's webstore.  

You can also find her book, as well as some extra Penguin and Peep merch, for sale on her Etsy store: ArtistMonicaBruenjes.

Angie Novak (née Hauch)
Lake Michigan inspired and produced jewelry using Great Lakes natural resources (and some not so natural) sold through her "Straight from the Lake" webstore

Catherine and Sarah Satrun 
The Satrun sisters have lots of their original artwork for sale on their webstore and you can find selected prints of theirs made into t-shirts on their Threadless shop.  

Joan Gratz
Need a little serenity in your life? Academy Award winner Joan Gratz has released a coloring book of her designs for sale on Time to break out the colored pencils and pens for some quiet time with The Amazing Cosmic Coloring Book.

Corrie Francis Parks
And lastly, but certainly not least, for that budding animator in your life (or maybe the experienced animator who wants to expand their toolkit) we have Fluid Frames written by Corrie Francis Parks.

If you'd like to see Corrie's bona fides, as it were, check out her film 'A Tangled Tale' on her website -- or watch it below. This hybrid digital/traditional sand animation film was produced using many of the techniques she discusses in her book.

A Tangled Tale from Corrie Francis Parks on Vimeo.

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