Animators visit Drawing and Painting classes

Noa Yadidi

Artists and experimental animators Tanya Haden, Ruah Edelstein and Masha Vasilkovsky visited art teacher Alyssa Sherwood’s Drawing and Painting I class to screen some of their animations and discuss the process with students.

Haden visited the class Feb. 27 and screened “The Visit,” a short animated film she directed which included thousands of hand-drawn frames. The film was Haden’s thesis project at the California Institute of the Arts where she studied animation and was Sherwood’s classmate.

The four-and-a-half-minute film is about a woman’s trip to the dentist that Haden turned into a love story. To create the film, Haden had to draw and shoot every single frame and then edit them together to create the animation.

Haden’s sister, Petra, did an a cappella version of “Scene d’Amour” from the 1977 film “Bilitis” for the film that fit perfectly without any editing necessary.

“It’s kind of what’s fun about animating is that you can have this character and make it come actually to life, make it smile and make a story,” she said.

Although Haden has not continued with animation since the film, she has pursued drawing. She showed the class a variety of different pieces she has done, many of which included elephants as she described having a fascination with the animal.

Vasilkovsky, who also attended Cal Arts with Sherwood, and Edelstein visited the class March 6 and screened a number of films, some of which they each created individually and one that they created under their collaboration they call Lumen Animae, or the light of the soul in Latin.

“We have united with a purpose to create collaborative partnerships with other artists, so Lumen Animae is whoever works with us at the moment,” Vasilkovsky said. “It is directed towards betterment of humanity in some way through art.”

The pair began by screening Edelstein’s 13-minute film “Died 100 Times,” a film in which Edelstein drew every layer of each shot. The film, which Edelstein said would normally take up to a year to produce, took her a little less than six months.

“It’s a happy thought though,” Edelstein said of her film. “By dying what I mean is you go through different life experiences, some of them seem to be unbearable but once you go through them you’re never be the same. It’s almost like you are beginning a new life.”

“A death is an opportunity for an upgrade,” Vasilkovsky added.

Vasilkovsky also screened her “Tango” animation that was commissioned by the movie “Curve of Earth” and her last completed film from her time at Cal Arts entitled “Fur and Feathers.” She also screened a film she has not fully completed yet and calls a “work in progress.”

She described her method of using her fingers to paint on glass to create her animation. Each time she creates a painting she wants, she captures it with a camera and then moves the paint on the same piece of glass and takes another shot. She continues the method until she gets all the shots she needs.

Vasilkovsky advised students to try new mediums to progress their art and keep their work fresh.

“The medium that you work with guides you through your feelings,” she said.

Vasilkovsky and Edelstein also screened a film that they worked on together at a conference in Pasadena with an audience in which they created a storyboard and then had the audience use lights to draw out the scenes, which they then captured and animated.

Vasilkovsky, a native of Russia, and Edelstein, a native of Lithuania, both discussed how they got into art and experimental animation.

“My favorite part was learning not only about the artistic training the women had to go through, but also their individual stories as they came to the United States,” Anelise Florescu ’14 said.

“I realized that the training I had prevented me from doing art,” Vasilkovsky said regarding her formal art training in Russia. “It held me captive because my hands were too trained to make anything else but what I could already draw. I was a prisoner of the skill. And so when I [found out] that there was such thing as animation, I jumped at it… I had a revelation.”