Teaching yourself

- by Jesper Ejsing

I am often asked where I studied? At which school or under who’s supervision. And the answer is the library and myself. When I boldly conjured the thought that I could earn my living painting dragons, there were no schools in Denmark that fit that kind of stupidty. There is no art schools or art collages here. So I studied literature instead and spent my sparetime at the library reading and taking home books on watercolour technique and oil painting. I quickly put away the oils since it was just too complicated and expensive and it smelled like hell, in my one room apartment . Instead I read all there was about technique in watercolour. I tried it all out, and something stocked with me. The trick where you use salt on a wet surface of watercolour is a technique I overused beyond annoying to the point where it seriously disturbed the reading of the painting.

I read books on drawing and perspective ( Didn’t really learn that part very well ) and about colour theory ( didn´t learn anything there too. The brothers Hildebrandt taught me that part). In the end, I cannot remember much from the readings, apart from the salt trick, but it got me to try a whole bunch of stuff and it got me through a large body of semi bad illustrations and landscape paintings.

So at one point when I started in the studio Pinligt Selskab, where I am still sitting to this day, one of the other guys gave me a pile of pages. They were copies from copies from lectures by Walt Stanchfield. The written down classes he gave at Disney Studios for the other animators. It wasn’t even a book. It was a compendium collected by people from Disney and these pages had been circled out through the animation society for years upon years. Walt talked about gestures in drawing and about telling stories no matter what you were doing. About feeling the gesture and knowing before drawing. Every word in these crumbled pages were like golden acorns of wisdom to me, and to this day, I still use and remembers everything. They are by far the most important thing I ever read about drawing, and they changed my way of thinking about sketching and composing an illustration.


Perhaps it was only because I was at the exact point in my development as an artist, that these words just force thrust me into the future. Or Stanchfield just got a good and solid grip on truth about drawing.

The best thing is, these crumbled pages are now collected into 2 books.
They are called: “Drawn to Life 1 and 2”.

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