When you set out to be an artist, looking for a drawing teacher to guide you can be a challenge. Some of the most influential people in my life have been my drawing teachers. E. Michael Mitchell is one of the biggest influenced in my art.
His influences aren't so much in the visual style of my work, but more so in the business and approach to drawing.
I first met E. Michael Mitchell when I started the Character Animation program at CalArts. Mike was teaching a class called, Drawing from Real to Reel and Beyond. It was a hybrid of life drawing and production design for film. Mike would integrate a lot of different stimuli to observe while we drew. From partially costumed figure drawing models, a variety of props, and a projected movie or random nature film.
The goal of the class was to incorporate all of these different visual elements into a theme. A theme explored through drawing large-scale storyboards meant to tell a loose story.
Mike's career in Los Angeles was based around making these kinds of large-scale storyboards as a production design and concept artist. Working on a variety of animated films.
The more and more time I spent with Mike the more I would learn about him. Things would come up in a conversation that would add a layer of mystery to him. From flying over Britain as a fighter pilot during WW2 to drawing the cover for Catcher In the Rye for his best friend, J.D. Salinger.
What mostly stood out from Mike though was his drawings. On a level of being the closest thing to materializing his imagination of stories onto paper with just simple pencils and colored pastels.