Tag Archives: Johnson the cat

From Crickets to Coyotes and Everything In-between! Red Dot Auction Update!

So much awesomeness! Artists, where do you get all of your ideas? The theme this year, as it has been in the past, was “The Life and Times of Chuck Jones”. Chuck was born in 1912 and passed away in 2002; his nine decade life spanned most of the 20th century as well as the history of the animated film. He was interested in, no, let me put that another way, he was fascinated by everything in the world around him. A voracious reader, Chuck Jones cited influences as diverse as Mark Twain and Carlos Santayana; and from the actor and director Charlie Chaplin to the grapefruit-loving Johnson the Cat.  Nothing was too small not to catch his attention.

That gave our artists for this year’s Red Dot Auction a lot to consider and to be inspired by as witnessed in the works below.

What’s that you say? You haven’t bought your tickets for the Red Dot Auction on Friday, May 1 from 7 to 10 PM? What are you waiting for? They’re just $25 per person online (click here) or $35 per at the door. Be there or be square (just like the canvases!)

Mel Blanc, pyrography (wood burning) on wood, 12" square.

Mel Blanc, pyrography (wood burning) on wood, 12″ square.

Claude and Frisky Puppy, colored pencil on canvas,

Claude and Frisky Puppy, colored pencil on canvas, 12″ square.

"Roughing It" acrylic on canvas, 12" square.

“Roughing It” acrylic on canvas, 12″ square.

Cricket and Kandinsky, digital art on paper, 12" square.

Cricket and Kandinsky, digital art on paper, 12″ square.

 

Valerie Kausen at the Bradford Animation Festival

The talented Valerie Kausen is the special guest of honor at the Bradford Animation Festival at the National Media Museum in the United Kingdom. They screened "The Magical World of Chuck Jones" on the big screen for the first time in 20 years (Valerie was a producer) while Chuck Jones short cartoons played in other venues. The Festival ends on the 17th…so if you're in the Bradford, U.K. area (near Manchester) skootchy on over and see what's happening. (In case you were wondering, "Skootchy" is a technical term that means "come on down".)

BAF Chuck Jones centenary

BAF Valerie Magical World

Valerie, 20 years ago.

BAF Magical World

BAF Chuck Magical World

It's always wonderful to poke around in the Chuck Jones archives (what some people call 'curating' — but isn't everyone a curator? 'Poking around' sounds like more fun to me) to see what might be just right for an exhibition (big or small) like the works selected for Bradford Animation Festival's Chuck Jones Centenary Tribute.

BAF display 1

In the photo above, Chuck demonstrates how three of the characters he developed and/or created are drawn in a similar way: Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Wile E. Coyote. These drawings are featured on pages 132, 133 of "Chuck Reducks: Drawing From the Fun Side of Life" by Chuck Jones.

BAF display 2

The five drawings in the photograph above are from three of the many archive boxes filled with Chuck Jones sketches–animals, children, conveyances. BTW, if you want a baby to look like a baby, don't give it a cigar to smoke (see image lower left.)

BAF display 3

These last drawings appeared in Chuck Jones's autobiography, "Chuck Amuck: the Life and Times of an Animated Cartoonist". Clockwise from upper left, Johnson the cat, Teddy, a dachshund in a wet suit (drawn during the pre-production for Jones's "The White Seal"), a 1941 caricature holiday card from his Unit A at Leon Schlesinger Productions and Johnson with his tongue depressor.

 

Cats That Have Known Chuck Jones, a Portfolio

The cat has been domesticated since ancient times.  Of the genus Felis, the common (and as we’ll discover, uncommon) house cat, Felix Sylvestri (wherever did those cat names come from?), has been the visual inspiration for untold centuries of artists, from the tombs of the Pharaohs to contemporary society.   For Chuck Jones it began with one cat called Johnson.   

Johnson entered the Jones household one foggy morning in 1918, carefully picking his way through the sand at Balboa, to stand looking up at their home requesting admission.  “He moved into our house that morning, bag and baggage.  The bag was that cat bag all cats live in, one of the few characteristics he shared with other cats.  He sat fat and walked thin like other cats, but the resemblance to other cats stopped there,” reminisces Chuck Jones in his autobiography, Chuck Amuck.  “His baggage was what appeared to be a very old, very used tongue depressor, fastened securely about his neck…bearing the crude inscription…Johnson.”

Chuck Jones recalls that morning because he realized that it marked a turning point in his perception of character and one of the most important lessons of animation: individuality.  Johnson demonstrated for Jones that it is the individual, the oddity and peculiarity of character that counts.  In response to the question, “Why do animated cartoonists use animals?” Jones has said that it is easier and more believable to humanize animals than to humanize humans. 

The Cat Portfolio is a limited edition collection of 9 cats drawn by Chuck Jones over a 50-year period.  The ten fine art reproductions on paper (one cat is seen in x-ray as well) that comprise the portfolio are led off by a drawing of Johnson, jauntily wearing three-quarters of a grapefruit rind on his head like a space helmet.  “On such occasions he seemed to enjoy this raffish adornment and would saunter out onto the sand, often with only one eye visible under the overhang, a curious sight to many people, a delight to our family, and a source of sheer terror to small dogs and old ladies,” Jones continues in his autobiography.  And if that weren’t enough, Johnson liked to swim in the ocean, too.   

GICLEE-99 copy