Brain Pickings

The Art of Pixar: Behind the Scenes of 25 Years of Beloved Animation

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A peek inside the creative process of modern animation’s greatest gems, from sketchbook to screen.

For the past 25 years, Pixar artists have delighted the world with their whimsical short films and charming side projects. More than two years ago, animation historian Amid Amidi brought us The Art of Pixar Short Film — a wonderful journey into the charisma and visual eloquence of Pixar’s storytelling.

Today, to celebrate Pixar’s 25th anniversary this year, Amidi is back with The Art of Pixar: The Complete Color Scripts and Select Art from 25 Years of Animation — a priceless behind-the-scenes tour of Pixar’s 12 beloved feature films, old and new, including Toy Story, A Bug’s Life, Up, Cars 2, and more. The art comes from the Pixar Living Archive, created during the development of A Bug’s Life. From the complete color scripts for each film published in full color for the first time to the stunning visual development art that took these stories from sketchbook to screen, the tome is an absolute treasure for animation aficionados and visual storytellers alike.

Color script: The Incredibles

Color script: Up

A foreword by the legendary John Lasseter adds the ultimate cherry on top.

With 320 magnificent pages of animation magic, The Art of Pixar offers an unprecedented peek inside the creative process of some of Pixar’s greatest gems, a fine addition to our favorite sketchbooks of great creators.

HT @openculture; images via The Awesomer

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Balloons for Bhutan: Jonathan Harris Documents Happiness

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A portrait of happiness in the last Himalayan kingdom.

Since 1972, Bhutan has been attracting international attention as the only country in the world that quantifies its nation’s well-being not by Gross National Product, the narrow and soulless measure of our economic monoculture, but by Gross National Happiness. In 2007, artist Jonathan Harris ( ) traveled to Bhutan to explore the Gross National Happiness paradigm. Balloons for Bhutan documents his effort to capture “a portrait of happiness in the last Himalayan kingdom” in his signature style of multimedia storytelling.

Harris asked 117 people of various ages, occupations, education levels, and social status five questions related to happiness: What makes them happy; what is their happiest memory; what is their favorite joke; what is their happiness level on a scale of 1 to 10; if they could make one wish, what would that be. He then gave each person the number of balloons corresponding to their stated happiness, and wrote each person’s wish on the balloon of their favorite color. On the final night of his journey, he strung up the inflated balloons at Duchala, a sacred mountain pass at 10,000 feet, bobbing amidst Buddhist prayer flags.

Here’s an excerpt from Harris’s 2007 EG / TED talk, where he talks about the project:

Explore the project in its full audiovisual glory for the complete effect. Then, grab some of these 7 essential books on the art and science of happiness to better understand this complex, universal aspiration.

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Maurice Sendak’s Rare Velveteen Rabbit Illustrations circa 1960

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Two icons converge in obscure vintage children’s volume.

It’s no secret I have a wicked obsession with vintage children’s book illustration, especially from obscure editions by famous authors or artists. For instance, I recently discovered some fantastic little-known artwork by Andy Warhol for two volumes of the Best in Children’s Books series from 1958-1959. But the series, it turns out, is a treasure trove of hidden gems. The the 1960 volume Best in Children’s Books #35 features a version of The Velveteen Rabbit illustrated by young Maurice Sendak, predating Where The Wild Things Are by three years and done right around the time when legendary mid-century children’s book patron saint Ursula Nordstrom was busy nurturing Sendak’s budding genius.

The charming duotone illustrations bring Sendak’s signature style of simple whimsy to one of the most beloved children’s stories of all time — a priceless combination.

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you.”

Complement Best in Children’s Books #35, which is hard to find but is well worth the hunt, with Sendak’s little-known posters celebrating the joy of reading and his rarest art of all.

Images via Vintage Kids’ Books My Kid Loves

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