Tag Archives: watercolor

At the Bus Stop–Oxford Circus – London 1960

As we get closer to installing the Chuck Jones exhibition at the Chuck Jones Experience in Circus Circus — Las Vegas, we continue to unearth amazing little gems of drawings and watercolors from Chuck's travel notebooks.  In 1960 he and his wife, Dorothy, traveled to Europe and visited England, Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands and Germany.  

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When I showed one of the drawings to Chris, the Center's resident teaching artist, he said that you knew by looking at the drawing that Chuck just had his hand to paper and wasn't looking specifically at the drawing as it unfolded, but at what he was drawing — that the free flowing line (so simple, but so telling at the same time) conveyed the immediacy of the moment — really, you could have been standing there next to him, they are that fresh.  On display at the Experience will be several of these notebooks revealing moments that Chuck experienced first-hand and because of his natural genius and talent with pen & ink (and watercolor as seen in the work featured here), you will be able to do the same.  

AQUABEE PAD #810-1 72 dpi

Image of the Day: Much Ado About Nutting

Another classic silent film (except for the music and sound effects, of course) from Chuck Jones and his amazing team of animators and artists, including Maurice Noble, Lloyd Vaughan, Ken Harris, Ben Washam and writer Michael Maltese.  Rolling into theaters nationwide on May 23, 1953, "Much Ado About Nutting" pits a little red squirrel against the nut of all nuts.

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Pre-production model sheet (gouache, watercolor and ink on 12 field animation paper) by Chuck Jones.

This cartoon pre-dates Jones's "One Froggy Evening" by two years, but thematically they share much in common: the desire we all have to succeed, the roadblocks we encounter on that path and how hopeful we reman in the face of the increasing difficulties placed in our way.

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Pre-production layout drawing (graphite on 12 field animation paper) by Chuck Jones.

You'll note with what care Jones takes to achieve the verisimilitude of a real squirrel in the above drawing, detailing not only how he chews, but also how he should blink and the timing involved in making this cartoon world come real.  

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Thumbnail background layouts (graphite and colored pencil) by Maurice Noble.

Maurice Noble's contributions to the films directed by Jones cannot be overstated.  Noble's unique ability to at once create an environment in which the actions of the characters may shine are delightfully balanced by their beauty, color and sense of humor.   They never overshadow or dominate, they always are moving the plot forward and yet they maintain their own integrity as works of art.   Watch and learn and laugh!

Chuck Jones and the California Watercolor Movement

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.

Chuck Ford Consul 1961
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: 

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"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.)

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"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.  

Image of the Day: Nelly’s Folly


Nominated for an Academy Award, this 1961 fable directed by Chuck Jones (with co-directors Maurice Noble and Abe Levitow) tells the tale of a singing giraffe whose life takes unexpected turns.  It touches on the cult of celebrity and the addictive nature of fame plus it’s absolutely endearing.  You’re bound to fall for Nelly.  (Several years ago, we had the opportunity to take a behind-the-scenes tour of the world-famous San Diego Zoo with Chuck Jones.  He had spent many a productive hour at the zoo over the years honing his drawing and watercolor skills.  One of the highlights of the tour–there were so many!–was visiting the giraffe compound.  They are truly elegant, beautiful creatures with exquisitely long, luxurious eyelashes that flicker languorously over the deep pools of their obsidian eyes and the longest, blackest tongue you will ever hope to see!)


Image of the Day: Compressed Hare

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“Are you in, genius? Are you in, capable?  Are you in, describable?” The unmatched
genius of Chuck Jones and writer, Dave Detiege, made the pairing of Wile E.
Coyote and Bugs Bunny some of the funniest animation ever produced.  Here we have a scene from the 1961 Jones directed
Compressed Hare rendered in Jones’s
incomparable hand as an elegant and hilarious watercolor.  

Chuck Jones painted wherever and whenever he
traveled, making visual diaries of European vacations as well as closer to
home—the coast and cities of California.  And of particular joy to him was
his rendering of the cartoon characters he so lovingly brought to life on the
silver screen.  A master of the difficult
and exacting medium of watercolor, Jones has brought to bear his formidable
talents to this classic moment.


Image of the Day: Grimsby Harbour

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"Grimsby Harbour + Black House" watercolor sketch, 10" x 13", by Chuck Jones.  This undated watercolor 'sketch' by Jones is a fine example of a travel diary entry (as we've discussed before.)  Grimsby, founded in 1790, is located in Canada on Lake Ontario and butts up against the Niagara Escarpment.  

Jones' facility with watercolor is evident in even something as simple as this sketch of a harbor (and, of course, there is the black house, which for anyone, at any time, would be a sight to behold.) The fresh line of water lapping at the prows of the boats on the lake, the people standing in silhouette, not in black as one might expect from figures so small, but in playful red and blue, which confirms Chuck Jones' excellent eye for detail.  All of this making the image fresh, fun and of the moment.  

Image of the Day: Sunbathers

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Summer vacation is drawing to a close, many of you are making preparations for the back-to-school excitement, but there's still a couple of weeks left before the Labor Day holiday and what better way to spend it than a day at the beach? 

During a summer holiday in Europe, Chuck Jones made a stop in the Isles of Scilly just off the southwestern coast of Cornwall in Great Britain.  Moderate in climate and one of the sunniest places in the kingdom, the Isles of Scilly have long been a vacation destination for Britons and Europeans alike. 

Jones, traveling with his bag of art supplies, created several wonderful works of art while enjoying the pristine beauty of the Isles.  This watercolor of sunbathers soaking in the rays on the Isles of Scilly was used as the basis for a limited edition fine art reproduction on paper, limited to only 99 examples.   

Image of the Day: Nescafe Fur Jeden and Bus Queue London


This watercolor (above & currently on view at the Tempe Center for the Arts Chuck Jones exhibition) on paper by Chuck Jones was painted during a trip he took to visit his daughter Linda and her husband while they were living in Berlin, Germany in 1960.  It clearly demonstrates his amazing facility with the medium and his unerring eye for character.  In a similar vein, his "Bus Queue London" watercolor (below) from the same trip in 1960 captures a vibrant joie de vivre that is one of the hallmarks of Jones' style. 

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Image of the Day: Untitled Watercolor (Two Stagehands)

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Untitled watercolor and ink on paper (Two Stagehands) by Chuck Jones, 11" x 14", circa late 1950s.  Although Chuck Jones is known primarily for his work in animation, he was also a serious and respected fine artist.  Classically schooled in such exacting artistic mediums as oil painting and watercolor, both of which he was a master, Jones was an avid chronicler of his real life, travels, friends and family throughout his long life.  This watercolor captures a moment on a soundstage (perhaps on the Warner Bros. lot) where two of the stagehands are caught watching the action unfold out of our field of vision.  Their posture and attitude is sublimely conveyed by Jones' inimitable handling of the medium as well as his elegant and simple line work. 

You may view more of Chuck Jones fine art series, "Incognito" by clicking here.

Image of the Day: Bugs Bunny Riding Lord Mischief

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Chuck Jones' watercolor birthday 'card' to his daughter, Linda, on her 12th birthday (1949.)  This image continues a tradition of Jones' to celebrate special occasions with original works of art.  It and its accompanying photo of Linda riding Lord Mischief (see below) are part of the survey of Chuck Jones' art opening at the Tempe Center for the Arts on February 26th. 

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