By Craig Kausen
I was asked recently about the lore that Chuck only drew on one side of a piece of paper.
The short answer is that, yes, he rarely drew on both sides.
I think from a purely practical point of view having images on both
sides of the paper often created a difficulty to view or reference both
drawings. He used to jest that it certainly would have been
troublesome if da Vinci had painted the Mona Lisa on one side of a
canvas and the Last Supper on the other.
The entire practice of using only one side of a piece of paper
actually started for him and his siblings when they were very young.
As Chuck would tell the story, my great-grandfather, Charles Adams
Jones, started a new business venture quite often. Each time he
created a new company, he bought reams of new paper and boxes and
boxes of new pencils, each complete with the new company name and
letterhead. And, invariably, the new venture would find its demise
sooner than later.
He notes in the documentary Chuck Jones: Memories of Childhood,
“We were forbidden—actually forbidden—to draw on both sides of the
paper. Because, of course, Father wanted to get rid of the stationery
from a defunct business as soon as possible, and he brought logic to
bear in sustaining his viewpoint: ‘You never know when you’re going to
make a good drawing.’”
On a rare occasion, we would find the beginnings of a sketch on one
side of a page and a completely different portrayal on the reverse. I
never knew if this was just an abandonment or an oversight as the paper
flowed easily through his home studio.
I include here a few sketches from different times of his life as a memory of his creative endeavors on paper…