The animator

Herewith what I consider a very entertaining narrative by my friend Jill C. Halliday, a longtime resident of Mississippi Mills, Ontario. Jill formerly worked for the Walt Disney Corporation.  In 2002 at forty years of age she suffered catastrophic surgery for the removal of a massive benign brain tumour.  We’re trying to raise $30,000 for cosmetic surgery to correct the resulting disfiguration of her face.  If you care to contribute to the cause let us know!

I attended Sheridan College in the early 1980’s for the Classical Animation program. At the time, it was one of only a handful of schools in the world teaching the trade. Nobody was an animator. I guess people thought Fred Flintstone was a real actor.

Sheridan’s course was an intense three year program which included classes in all aspects of filmmaking and drawing. My lovely reader might be surprised to learn that, before one can draw any animated character properly (even a silly cartoony one), the artist must have solid life drawing skills. That is, the human figure. Nude. Naked. Buck naked. Not just standing at attention. But bending down. Squatting even. After lunch. Our first day of school, it was made perfectly clear that “without strong drawing skills of the human figure, we would fail miserably, our dreams of animating would crash and burn and we may as well pack it in now if we weren’t willing to put in the BLOOD. SWEAT. TIME. TEARS. REVISIONS. and REHAB.”

And that was just the first day.

Ohhhhhh. My first day of Life Drawing. Little Jill’s first day of Life Drawing. Little Right Out of High School Sheltered Jill’s first day of Life Drawing.

So, no big deal, right?  I’m cool. I’m sittin’ there, all cool, outside the life drawing class studio, ya…. just sittin’ there all cool at the picnic tables with all the lots of many guys and all the guys and all the other guys, and the only other female, Maureen. Look at me bein’ all cool, right? I’m fine. No! I’m SUPERFINE!  Cool as a cucumber.

Then Maureen leans over to me and whispers, “Why are you so nervous?”

Shocked! I whispered back, giving up the truth immediately! … in the whisperiest whisper ever whispered,

“i’ve never seen a naked guy before”

To which she straightens up in shock and literally exclaimed in a foghorn  voice!


great. WHY IS THAT WEIRD??!!! and all the guys stopped talking and turned their stupid dumb faces to me and blabbed, in unison

“YOU’VE NEVER SEEN A NAKED GUY BEFORE???!!!!!!” followed by a chorus of volunteers shouting “ I’ll show you! No, me! Pick me!”

Thanks Maureen.

Then! The bell rang, we all hopped up, and headed into the big drawing studio!

The robe dropped. And there it was.

The penis.

Or at least I think it was there. I never actually looked directly at it. And so it went for many weeks. I would draw and draw and draw and I would render and shade and do all the details of the most beautiful elbows and knees and lovely renderings surrounding a blank space. The lower belly. The upper thigh. That lovely part where the hip meets the outer muscle of th’…until I would run out the clock. And the bell would go and end the class, and I would be so relieved and think that I was pulling the wool over my instructor’s oh so wise eyes, until one day in the middle of a long pose drawing where we were all quietly at work, she did what she often did and stood behind me quietly observing while I drew with great care, and some skill I might add, the nose hairs of the male model before me. I was just about to start working on the other nostril when I felt her reach over my shoulder and grab, with some force, I might add, my almost completed, very detailed work.

(Warning: she has a thick accent)

“Hooooo theeeeeks dat eeet eeeezzzz tyme for Jeeeeluh tooo drawwww thu PEEEEEE-UUUUUSSSSS.”

All graphite down, hands up, all stupid dumb laughing  faces on me.

I died a little that day.

But. It’s amazing how much detail one  can see with one’s peripheral vision.