Friday 21 September 2012

Chuck Jones: Paper and Pencils

As a boy, I was forever drawing - and forever running out of paper to draw on and pencils to draw with. My brother and I were largely dependant on small bundles of scrap paper brought home by my father from that mysterious place 'The Office'. These sheets we would often divide with horizontal lines and do our drawings as a series of friezes - more pictures to the page. This chronic paper shortage has left me with a mild case of stationery fetishism (a surprisingly common condition) and a paralysing reluctance to waste good paper by actually drawing on it. The great animator Chuck Jones - whose centenary it is is today (and who is also celebrated here) - had no such problem in his boyhood, rather the reverse. His father was a businessman who was forever setting up new businesses, only to see them fail. Each time, he would buy huge quantities of stationery and pencils bearing the company name ('Acme' I hope) and, when the inevitable happened, he would hand these over to his children, urging them to use them up as fast as possible, no doubt to erase his painful memories. Thus Jones and his siblings grew up drawing at a furious rate and in great quantity, with the result that several of them went on to artistic careers of one sort or another. When Chuck was at art school, a professor told his class that each of them had 100,000 bad drawings in them, which they must get out of the way before they could possibly draw anything worthwhile. Chuck was much relieved, as he calculated that he must already be well past the 200,000 mark.


  1. Lovely post, Nige (but then I could say that just about every day).

    Do you still draw? I think many children are forever doing it - my eldest, for instance. But it tends to stop, for no really good reason I can think of. It's a shame.

  2. Thanks Gareth - you're right, drawing does tend to stop, probably driven out by 'Education', like so much else. I draw v little nowadays, usually on holiday - but my hope are high that I'll do more when I retire (roll on the day). If I can bring myself to use paper freely, that is. Perhaps I'll have to rule lines across it first...