Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Glen Keane: What an amazing Artist!

Watch this video and I want you to just think of how you draw.  Do you draw from life?  Is there passion and soul driving your pencil?  Are you telling a visual story?  Glen Keane is a master draftman, artist and animator who does all of this and so much more.  He is a gleaming example of how drawing from life can make you a great artist.  Here are some of his sketches

Glen Keane was born on April 13, 1954 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Bill Keane, the creator of the popular comic strip Family Circus, and the late Thelma Keane, being one of six children.  Glen was greatly influence by his father being a cartoonist but found that his style of drawing would soon become very different than his father’s.  While Bill didn’t have much formal training and tended to draw more simplistic but sincere drawings, he urged his son to pay close attention to bold, passionate drawings as well as ones that have real life and solid anatomy to them. In the fourth grade he gave Keane a copy of Dynamic Figure Drawing by Burne Hogarth (highly recommended by the author and studying it will make animating worlds easier) and soon he was attending life drawing classes.  What Glen did take from his father though was an ability to communicate an expression and feeling through a pose and to make his work clear.  He would constantly draw in the desert and found that he had developed a very personal and intimate relationship with drawing and painting. 

During high school, however, he was a great football player and wasn’t the typical cartoon geek that a lot of Disney animators come from. After high school Glen had to choose between taking a scholarship to Arizona State to play football and going to the California Institute of Arts to pursue a career in painting and drawing. Since he felt that drawing was like breathing to him and he just had to do it he picked the later option.  However an odd twist of fate happened when Keane’s portfolio that was intended to go to the School of Painting was accidentally sent to the School of Film Graphics, where he was accepted. “I never planned to be in animation,” he remembered. “It was something that just sort of happened by accident to me. I wanted to go into painting or illustrating. I just knew I wanted to draw. I didn’t know anything about animation. My portfolio went to Calarts to get sent to the school of painting but somehow or another it got sent to the school of animation, and I was accepted into that. I thought ‘Oh well, I’ll give that a try.’ And I found out about animation. It was a combination of all the arts together. And there was always this sort of ham side of me that wanted to act and I found out animation was really answering that desire. I love to draw figures and realized that animation requires a good understanding of anatomy and figure drawing, so I could use all that information in animation plus acting.”

In the summer of 1973 Keane worked part time at the uninspiring, low quality studio Filmation on some of their poorly made TV series.  However everything changed when members of the Disney training program came to the school and presented their tests. “Suddenly I realized I could do that,” Keane fondly remembers. “I didn’t feel I was good enough to be an animator but that I felt I could do.” Around that time he applied for a job at Disney and showed his portfolio to the great Eric Larson.  Instead of marveling about what Glen was showing from what he had learned at Filmation, Eric just flipped through the portfolio really quickly, stopped on one drawing (a very simple, rough drawing of a figure), and said that if he could do some more like this one maybe he would have a chance. He also advised Keane to forget everything he learned about animation at Filmation because Disney wanted people who knew how to draw that they could teach how to animate.  The young man quickly started spending excessive time sketching and worked hard to improve his skills. In 1974 Glen Keane was hired at the Disney Studio.

No comments:

Post a Comment