Chuck Jones’s first cartoon as a director premiered in October of 1938 “The Night Watchman”. His advancement to ‘supervisor’ from animator at Leon Schlesinger Productions was noted in the film trade journal, Daily Variety, prompting not only a flurry of congratulatory letters from co-workers (Grim Natwick, for instance) and family (his brother Dick, an in-betweener at Schlesinger), but also a few telegrams from the likes of Mickey Mouse, Walt Disney, and Max Fleischer (sent, we believe, with a wink from his co-workers.)
Top: Model drawing of the head rat from “The Night Watchman” by Chuck Jones, colored pencil on 12 field animation paper, 10.5” x 12.5”. Model drawings of the Night Watchman by Chuck Jones, graphite on 12 field animation paper.
Bonus feature: “Text messages from the early 20th century”!
At the Chuck Jones Experience (coming to Circus Circus–Las Vegas in October) there's going to be an entire display case devoted to all things Oscar® and Chuck Jones. There'll be all sorts of memorabilia, including congratulatory telegrams, letters and official Academay Award nominations. One letter that caught our eye (and interest) was this one from Walt Disney. He's responding to a letter from Chuck Jones (which we hope to find) and he has some interesting things to say:
We ran across this photograph the other day on our way to something else (as usually happens) and delighted in what it said about Chuck Jones' passion for drawing and painting every day of his life.
On May 1, 1960 we find Chuck Jones sitting on the back of his 1960 Ford Consul convertible (this car was made in England by Ford Motor Co. and sold in limited release in the U.S.) up in the high desert outside of Los Angeles with his watercolor paints in a tool kit as he contemplates a work-in-progress (or has he completed it? We're not sure.) Which put us in mind of two watercolors of the high desert vistas that he did complete:
"Joshua Tree," a watercolor on paper (18" x 28") by Chuck Jones was completed around the same time as the photograph. His classical training really shines through in a work such as this; his facility with the medium is without peer and reminiscent of the California watercolorists such as Phil Dike (who worked at one time for Walt Disney Studios) and Millard Sheets, both of whom taught at Chuck's alma mater, Chouinard Art Institute (now CalArts in Valencia.)
"Storm Clouds" watercolor on paper (20" x 30") by Chuck Jones again indicates his familiarity with the California watercolor movement with its emphasis on color, form and the landscape of the state. This movement was defined by a large format, expressive brush work and strong colors (you can read more about the movement by clicking here.) You can see in both works how Jones used the white of the paper as a color and form, another attribute of the movement.