I love art that is still a work in progress. When I took a trip to Europe and did the whole gallery/cathedral/monument circuit I realized that as beautiful as the finished art was I actually liked the unfinished works better. Finished paintings by the renaissance masters were amazing – so amazing that they almost make you forget about the artist. They almost become entities unto themselves and it’s hard to imagine that the canvas was ever blank.
Michelangelo’s David was once just a chunk of rock and as impressive as it is, it was much easier to see the hand of the artist and appreciate his skill when I turned around and viewed his “unfinished” slave sculptures.
I guess that’s why, when it comes to animation, I love watching rough pencil tests so much. When the finished product is in theatres it has such a sheen of polish on it that it’s hard to see the touch of the artist. The magic is so complete that you just believe the characters are alive. Of course that’s the whole point – and it’s the mark of a great animator to make you believe it. But what I really love is when I see these drawings, that are still clearly drawings – just pencil on paper – and they STILL come to life. The magic is still there, but I enjoy it that much more because I KNOW I’m being tricked. There’s a magician behind it, putting his heart into his craft, fearing his work isn’t good enough, sacrificing his time to get it just right, learning new things as he does it. It’s beautiful and so, so inspiring.
I usually have to scour the Internet looking for great pencil tests because they’re just not commonly available, but recently I had the pleasant surprise of finding all my searching was no longer needed. Jamaal Bradley has made it easy for people like me by starting a new blog dedicated entirely to pencil tests.
“…Pencil Test Depot…” has most of the work I had found on my own and promises to continue posting more. Go check it out if you like pencil tests, and subscribe if you want ongoing inspiration. I highly recommend it.