February of this year marked my twentieth year in animation, all with Walt Disney Feature Animation.
My formative training under Eric Larsen had been a life changing, eye opening experience for me in all aspects of my artistic career. From the first day in the animation community to now, his words and thoughts still ring loudly in my mind. These are some of the nuggets of wisdom from notes I took in his lectures and from his handouts.
He brought to our attention, "Our responsibility is to a team effort, but also to ourselves. If we do not hold ourselves accountable for doing our very best, our contribution to the team effort becomes nil. Our talents have to be nourished every day through observation, analysis, discussion, application and doing.
Eric passed on a quote from legendary animator/director/imagineer Ham Luske: "We must make our action stronger than it would be in real life - or we are not taking advantage of our medium."
Eric challenged us to consider: "Animation, action wise is a pantomime medium and pantomime may be our greatest challenge - every thought, attitude, expression, action, reaction, etc. has to be told in drawings expressing charm and appeal, and sans dialogue".
Eric taught us to think about, in his words: "In the challenge to entertain people we have to have something to say. In animation we say it, hopefully in a way the audience will fully understand and enjoy."
This is the thinking I brought into my 20th year.
The Disney Service Awards Banquet (recognizing years of service with the company) was held at the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles, CA. My twenty paled in comparison to John Hench (50) and Carmen Sanderson's (45) years of service that were highlighted that night.
|(Page from The Walt Disney Distinguished Service Awards Banquet booklet.)|
LaVonne and I at the awards ceremony (didn't quite get the sketchbook behind my back.)
|(LaVonne, Mickey and me)|
Additionally, my pen and ink illustration work was getting noticed. I had a showing of my work in the city of Duarte, CA at the Historical Museum that May.
(This picture of was taken by fellow animator Ruben Aquino.)
Since 1991, I had been a featured speaker at the Black Film Makers Hall of Fame in Oakland, CA.
Marshall Toomey, who headed up the clean-up department on many features, was also on program on this occasion.
|(Marshall and me lecturing in Oakland, CA.)|
The beginning of the year brought recognition of my years of service to the WDC by the studio. In addition to the WDC studio service award recognition in February (my month of hire), the animation department acknowledged those of us who had put serious time behind an animation desk that following November:
The year for me began and ended in awards and the release of a feature Pocahontas sandwiched in between. The future looked bright at this point in time, but the train was gradually slowing down.
|(Invitation to the Animation Department service awards)|
The year for me began and ended in awards with the release of Pocahontas sandwiched in between. The future looked bright at this point in time, but the train was gradually slowing down.