May 6, 2009

Walt Stanchfield Lives

It would be a safe bet that anyone working in the american feature animation industry has either known, heard of or seen the influence and artwork of the late, great Walt Stanchfield.

Stanchfield was a longtime animator at the Disney's from the postwar era through his retirement in the 1980s, but what made him famous beyond the walls of the studio were his handouts-his notes from the classes he taught in gesture drawing. Using a model in quick poses, the task was to capture the essence of an idea-to distill as economicallly as possible all the life, weight, and story the observer could find in the pose.

I really can't say much about Stanchfield that an old friend and student of his couldn't say much better: Dave Pimentel. Dave was an avid student of Walt's and took his lessons seriously-retaining enough to teach the "Stanchfield way" himself in recent years. I'd seen some of the notes and had the odd mishmash of 100th generation xerox copies passed on to me over the years, but sitting and doing it was something else again. There's no substitute for drawing, drawing, drawing, and the enthusiasm of a true believer like Dave really revs up the motor.

As you can see from Dave's post, the notes from his legendary drawing classes have been compiled into book form in two new volumes edited by Don Hahn. These are an absolute must for any artist-forget about their importance as "animation only"; there's gold there for anyone. Frankly, for someone who simply thinks idly of drawing for their own pleasure but no clue how to go about it, I'd point them to these books-but the contents are also bedrock for the most serious draughtsman. As Dave points out, this guru of the pen was also full of life lessons. He must have been an incredible person to know. I wish I'd been able to meet him as well as take his classes, but at least there's a benefit of these new books. A lot of thanks are due to Don Hahn for getting them into print.

1 comment:

Floyd Norman said...

Most people think of Walt Stanchfield as the guy who helped them with their drawing. I've a different story to tell.

When I was a young animation artist at Disney, my diet was terrible. Walt was one of the first guys to preach the gospel of wholesome nutrition to me. I've never forgotten that lesson, and I have Walt Stanchfield to thank for it.