Sketchbook Tour - How Sketching Preserves Memories with Aaron Blaise
Hey guys welcome, to proko I visited. Aaron Blais to film him drawing a giant, lion portrait, you, can get that demo at proko.com, slash. Blaze, while. I was there we filmed, a studio, tour and his. Studio is filled, with sketchbooks. Lots. Of sketchbooks, so. Many that we took that footage and separated. It from the studio tour and made. This, video so. Here it is Aaron blaze showing. You some of his favorite sketchbooks. This. Is a sketchbook I'm keeping now, and. This, one I've gotten, into using those brush pens the, emoji, brush pens yeah, yeah. Yeah. Those these. And. They. Look a lot like in Chinese yeah I think they think, of the same brand I'm not sure if it is or not I can't remember how I found these but. I just fell in love with them so I order like bags and bags over time. Yeah. There's 30 of them there I go through them a lot but, um but they put down it's a brush pen but they just put down really, I can get super delicate with it. This. Is a great horned owl I sketched out this. One I did as a demonstration. On the live stream is that watercolor yeah, and then just paint in watercolor right, over the top that's the other cool thing huh. Yeah the brushes are what I see where you get a lighter yep, exactly okay. Yep. And. I was just in Hawaii two, weeks ago and, I was just doing some sketching sitting on the shore in, Hawaii, we went whale watching did. Some drawings of the whales as they went. By. So. Lots, of little things like this. Then. Recently I went to last. Week I went to a birds-of-prey Center that's a really cool one and, dolled. With brush pen and just you know they pull the birds out and then I sketch, them from. Life these are peregrine, falcons. I love. Their shapes so you know from what I'm doing this kind of stuff it's just really quick and and, that's. One of the things I love about the brush pen is I can be really kind of gestural with it but. This isn't what the brush pen this is with a stead liner. So, these are barred, owls. User. Type of aisle that we have nearby right, in our area to here I have one that lives. In my backyard oh really. Yeah at, all yeah he wasn't there last night, but. Uh for. Those that don't, know we had a little barbecue. Had. A little fun Moscow, mules. His. Vodka cranberries, come up pink. This. Is a book I picked this up in China in Beijing, and, I, just love the leather and, the. Way it smelled and and. It's just got cardboard in it. Smells. Like leather. It. Really I like the tone of the paper really so these are little. Ballpoint. Pen sketches, that I do and then I have these jelly roll. White. Pens and I. Can do, these really delicate, little sketches this is weird on to my girlfriend. And. I just do little. Drawings. So. More quick somewhat. More just ridiculous, that, kind of looks like beasts kind of turning into he, looks. Like me and five years, hey. Hey. But. It's a little different than I thought actually no yeah, it's, just a rather. Yeah, exactly. There's. A I was on a little game farm up in Virginia and did these little sketches while I was there, alpacas. This. Is a really nice dog where do you say got this I got in Beijing I want them that there's a little it was like a stationery, shop but, it was all leather and. So. It was it was really cool this, is with my brush pen sketching the dog. So. Yep. So. Fun, stuff it's really cool I've, got lots of unfinished, sketchbooks, lots. And lots of those you collect sketchbook they're cool. I, think I do I can't help it do you do the same okay. Yeah I have a lot of unfinished lungs but this, one this, was my mother I saw, the video yeah this one was was, really personal and. This I'd made a video about this as my mother was, my mother died two years ago. And. I sat with her I was the only one that showed up you know we've had some falling out in the family and that sort of thing and so I didn't. Want her to die alone so I went and sat with her and plessis my mom and I, didn't know what to do I did I just sat there for hours, and hours and hours and and, we basically just had to wait and. And. I just started thinking about the gift that she had given me of you know she, and I didn't always get along but she. Did give me the ability to draw, and. So I kind of got. A little bit poetic in my mind and just I figured as she's going out she gave me this gift you, know as I came into the world and so as she left I wanted to kind. Of send her off and so I did sketches over at the drawings of her as she laid there you know her last drawings, so, that's what that is and I've got another sketchbook over here I only. Did the one drawing in that sketchbook, and then in this one I did I. Did. More and so. This is her, laying in her bed and. I just I really. In. Order to pass the time I wanted to focus I was so focused on her. Passing. And the and the sadness of that that I was trying to take my mind off of that and so, I would focus on like the sheets and I drew the sheets and it was just it, was giving me an opportunity to kind of get my head level, and get it together, someone.
Were Just quick little sketches. But. She just she basically just slept and, eventually. You. Know passed away and, but. These are the last little sketches that I did and. Then. Ironically enough this, this, is something. I was drawing afterwards. But. Ironically, enough later. On like, the next year. As. I jumped around from sketchbook to sketchbook. The. Very next year, my. Granddaughter, was born and. So. I have all these drawings of my mother as she's leaving the world and then. I did these sketches of my, granddaughter, as. She came into the world, there. She is with my having. Nursing, when. My daughter and. So, to, me this is you know this is the power of sketchbooks. It can be. You know they can be as benign as just sitting there doodling, in them or drawing people in the park or whatever or they can be as heartfelt. And emotional as, what, I've just shown you and to, me that's that's you. Know that's what it's like to be an artist that's what it's about being an artist and. You. Know something that you know these the rest of these drawings are just little sketches I was doing at the big cat habitat. You know I'm drawing them drawing them the cats there, but. Then you know you've got other things in there that are just super emotional, and super personal. And. You can you that's one of the things I love about sketchbooks, too is that you can really. Get to know somebody through their sketchbooks you can get to know an artist through their sketchbooks, and. You. Know because they are, especially. If it's a prolific artist there so, they. Get to be so personal sometimes and. That's. Pretty cool, yeah. And. What's that video called if people want to see that you, talk about that oh I. Think I think I can't remember it's a sketchbook tour it's yeah it's just basically a sketchbook tour I just, took everybody through a little tour of all my sketchbooks, and yeah I think I think it's called the importance, of sketchbooks, or something this, is one that I kept back in 2002. And. My. Wife. My. Light wife Karen, she passed away 12. Years ago. But. In 2002. We, went on a trip to Maine so. She. Went ahead and, took. The car and the kids and they were on the road for like a month and they worked there wait you know we live in Florida and they, just kind of worked their way up, the, coast and. I. Was, working on Brother Bear at the time and I was in a crunch period, so, I could only get a week off and so I took that week and then flew up to Maine and met. Them and so, while we were there for the week, you. Know in between playing with the kids and having, all that kind of fun then I would, go off and do little sketches. These, are all like fine. Like, I can't. Remember what kind of pen they are but they're really fine pens and, I would do the drawing you know first and then, lay in the watercolor, over the top, so. I just got piles of these. They. Were just it's, everywhere, you look in Maine the special this is around Bar Harbor, this is Acadia. Everywhere, you look it's a painting it's just absolutely, gorgeous and. I. Just. Couldn't I couldn't, not, find it with something to paint and. And. I really was focusing, on the water how to do it quickly and do. It convincingly, and there was a lot of fun in the rocks, you know the richness and the color of the rocks and everything was just amazing. To me and, this, is interesting because it's it we. Had this fog roll in. But. It was about 95 degrees it was really weird it was super hot out and yet, this fog came rolling in and. Did. A little drawing there. Those. All look like backgrounds. From animation. I, was. Definitely influenced, by that you know working, at Disney for so long I sat with the background, artist all the time and just tried to figure out what it was that they did you. Know because they a lot of here we are Catalina, so. Jumped jumped, from Maine to Catalina a couple years later sitting. On the beach there and then. And, then from Catalina now we go to Jackson. Wyoming, and. So, sitting on a little you know Jenny Lake and Grand Teton National Park, and. This. Is the this. Is actually the very this. Is where it gets emotional too this one I always, get a little emotional with that this is these. Paintings were the last trip I ever took with my wife she, passed away just a few months later, so. These are all super important, you know the you that's. The beauty of one of the other things too is when you sit down and you sketch. You're. Hyper aware of everything you're you're sitting there you're observing, you're looking you're soaking, it in you smell it you hear it you draw it whatever and, it records in your brain and so what's. Nice about these, is I can go back and look at them and I. Remember everything.
About That day I remember everything, surrounding that painting. I remember. You know standing there with my sister-in-law. And my wife who. My sister-in-law, who my wife's sister she passed away the next year from. The same disease and so it was just a horrible, tragic, thing that hit the family but when I read. The when I see these you. Know I can remember like we were pulled over to the side of the road we, were all there together she, was they were standing behind me watching me do this painting, and we're talking and think we're talking about dinner that we're gonna have that night and it's just you, know and yet this is you know this is 12 years ago. So. It's, really this. Is that this is why you know to me these are so, important. They're such important, things to. Do you know in the moment you really don't know a lot of times the. Importance, that they're gonna have for you later on down the road the. Last time I went to Africa. This, is when I do my trips this is a kind of way I usually keep my journals, and, so, I'll sit and I'll, write, about what we're doing that day and. You. Sit in you write about sitting, yeah, sitting in London waiting for connection, that's sitting, in the lounge waiting the board of like, having. A Tusker beer and. Yeah, it's more like what. I did that day because I want to write it down so I remember everything that I did that day and so we write, it down and, and. I'll. Go off and do tiny little sketches quick, little other like things like this and so we went to an elephant. Orphanage. And. I did some little sketches, of the elephants, in the orphanage, and. That. Is this the same time that you have that those photos of the orphanage yes showing, exactly oh that's cool, yep this is the same time and. They're. Really there. It, was awesome. This was a giraffe. Like. Refuge, place that we went to and. Then. We went back to the back. To the elephants again later on. Gray, and orange yeah it's, just so yeah it's like an ochre it's, a little bit of an ochre and a little. Bit of red and a crook and then red oh no, it's okar mixed with. Yeah. Good to get the orange because they're the. Soil there is really, orange, and. So the elephants, you know they're you end up orange and then I just I usually, just go the opposite and, and I put a put. Together ultramarine. And paint. An ultramarine and for the shadows. Over. The top just something fast to colors and they're, just quick washes, over the sketch but those, quick washes that really I don't know it just gives the sketch a little bit of life. You. Know marabou. Stork one, of the things we would do is we go out and we'd photograph. And. Sometimes. I would sketch on location, but more often than not because I wanted to get as many photographs, and as much reference as I can and if I'm just sitting there drawing a single image I'm missing the opportunity of getting, a lot of reference and so what, I would do is I would shoot piles. Of reference, while, we were out on safari and, like, I said a little bit of sketching here and there but then I'd go back to my tent at, night and I had a little writing table and everything the tents were not like they, were I had a king-size bed and everything in him, it. Was like glamour, camping but. I would, sit at the at the desk at night and pull up my images, and then go see the images and I would do the sketches from the day you know so these each day I would, do the sketch at the end of the day and then, I would write. And. So. It's. Just a fun way to put, together a journal and so. This became so when I do those big trips this. Is what I like to do and. It becomes something that I can, retain and long after I'm gone and dead.
You Know my kids will. Have these to look, back on and see the life that I had even things, like you know picking the grafts from the Serengeti, and or the Masai Mara I'm putting it in there, this. Watercolor paper yeah it's all watercolor. Paper and. I've. Just sit and do these these. Little sketches at night I, think. This one I did at the airport waiting for my next flight, we. Went from we, flew from. Kenya. Up to India and, went up into north-east. India. And. I did this little painting up, in a place near Gangtok near. Bhutan and. It. Was just this little village up in the up in the hills at the base of the just, east of the himalayas, and all these terraced, fields and, farms. And so i sat there on the side of this hill and this little sketch and uh. He. Drank a lot of Everest beer. So. I'll. Just keep random, things like beer labels or whatever you. Know this was I was in Katmandu. And. I. Just. Love the intricacy, of the the tile work and the brick in the wood carving and all this kind of stuff on this, building. And so I did a quick sketch of it before, we headed off to our next spot. You, know this is one of the elephants when we were in Nepal I would go out an elephant back every. Day and we would track rhinos, and tigers and, all kinds of cool stuff and so, I did a quick sketch of the. Lady that I rode every day. So. More. Just, more writing and we'd. See these rhinos so this is one of the rhinos that we had seen and. So. For beer labels there, you go Kingfisher. Beer, but. That's it for that one so. It's, just. They're. Really cool so I keep these on my desk every once in a while I'll pull them out and just kind of take a little walk down memory lane yeah, go through the page as well so. Here's, a couple more I just love I love these Strathmore toned grey pads, that's, like the only thing I, buy now because I like being able to go in and, you. Know this is a chick that I saw at the, airport I had the drawer and I, loved going in there with the with, the light, pen the white pen and and a. Pen. Pencil. All. Point pen and. I've just got piles and piles of, all of these I. I. Got, hired early, on. The. Netflix. Mowgli. The the, the. Jungle book movie that came out on Netflix not. The Disney version but, the. The. One that just came out on Netflix they hired me to do the character design initially, and so, the very first thing I did was sit down and I looked up you know the first, of all the bears that are in India called sloth bears they've, got these big furry moppy, ears, and, interesting. Really interesting nose and I thought these characters, these bears, are really cool-looking, and. But. It turns out they wanted a more traditional looking, bear, so he didn't survive I did all these facts there that's a really cool-looking bear I thought he would have been great and uh but. That sketch actually, the the designs, and the movie they. Ended up going really really kind of looking. Like humans, and and. So we didn't really agree with the, creative. And so I ended up leaving the project but, but. They I mean it was it. Was cool it was a fun experience I was working with Andy Serkis and, but. These are all little. Sketches done for that muscular. Looking, yeah, Bagheera. These. Are early early, early, drawings. For myself, that, is amazing, that's Justin I was watching Planet of the Apes and then. I got really inspired and, and went, back to my desk and just. Sat down and started sketching. And. Uh, it. Was cool yeah I just whip it out I, just sit down and. These. Are all these are done from life this is in Wyoming standing, on the side of the road and, sketching. Bison. And. Then this one I went back to my room later in the evening I'd photograph this raven I did some sketching of the Raven in my room a young, moose. Looks. Like you have a few styles, you, know my sketchbook, is like a I know it's like I jump, all over the place but, you keep it consistent through each sketchbook, though right yeah, that's pretty cool I like that, this. One's like very a. Lot. Of directional. Repeating, lines yeah, very. Skinny. Yeah. And then you'll see this, is a that, was a leopard, that was drawing from life. Then. You'll see something, like in. This next sketch book that you'll see this.
One These are all sketched from life these are little. Sketches of a cougar, Florida. Panther that they had at a center down near where I lived so, I went down there and just did a bunch of sketching of him. And. They also had a lot of birds, there so, I sketched them and, then. Here I am at the zoo, in Nashville. So. That, that's the other thing to use the sketches they're just all over the place this was up in Vermont sketching, a bald. Eagle when I was up in Vermont last time. Peregrine. Falcon. This. One I just sat in my hotel room and had. This image of a guy that I had photographed in, Nepal. And, so. I did, a drawing, of him, sitting. On my bed, killing. Time. Joker. Yeah. I think I think I can't remember what that was going to be for but he just started to sketch it. So. There. You go. Wait. Who, is that that looks like an actor oh it's. It's, just it's. Just my head yeah, but. It could almost be Tim Burton yeah. So. Yeah. Sometimes I just like to just. Make stuff up this one now this. One is when I started using. This. Is from a friend of mine it's, another style, the. Sketchbook yeah, it's like well kind, of look, it's like this might have had the white areas, are more solid yeah, well I had some different tools like this is a sketch I did up on top of this mountain in Colombia I was, in Bogota, and having. Lunch at this place and so I did a sketch of the scenery looking, out. This. Is a lady along the side selling, stuff and, I. Did. The sketch of her. Now. Then then we go again yeah so now we go back to but, now we're, using, this so I'm using like the brush pen. This. Is just in Colorado I was sitting on the side of the road in, Colorado, and I, just. Looked up this hillside and I just thought it was pretty so I did like a 10 minute sketch. You. Know this. One was a lot more involved, I just sat there and drew, and Drew and drew at the side of this little stream. Nice. And, then these are the, others new drawings once again all with the brush pen so I've really, gotten into using that, brush pen quite a bit. Your. Cat. That's. Your favorite zoo you've. Been my, favorite zoo that I've ever been to, obviously. San Diego is probably. The best zoo in the rule dude yeah, but um I went, to a zoo called Tama Zoo just, outside Tokyo uh-huh, and that was one of the best zoos I've ever been to. And. Then here it was good, about that one it was the though animals, are beautiful pens. It's, huge, and, there was nobody there. But. You, can see them basically, yeah yeah, but, this is at the Smithsonian I went up to Virginia, to. Visit my girlfriend, Vedanta. Who now lives with me but while, I was up there she was working so, I went into the Smithsonian and spent the day and just sketched, all the mounts all. The, mounted animals so. These are all, animals. That were sitting in cases. Mounted. And. Then they weren't alive, they weren't alive so they actually sat still for me Wow yes, and. Then, then. All the skeletons and stuff that were obviously, really cool so. I do a lot of sketching of those you. Have a lot of your own yeah, I do, go, myself. Over there we'll, work, our way over there this is going to the dog park sitting. In the great. Sitting. In the dog park with my dog that's. And while he's running around I'm out there sketching that's my dog right there he's got the curly tail, yeah, that's nasty yep yeah. Back to more cats. More. Buff bison. What. I got in here more. Bison, this is from when I was up there this. Past summer. Doing. Little sketches. Oh. Here. We go. This. Was just a meet-up kind. Of bird of prey I was sitting on the airplane and this, one to do something that would take up a lot of time so I decided to draw every feather. Coyote, and. This. Is the charcoal so I did it I did a pen drawing of, this, hangar and then, also did a charcoal, version of it that you showed earlier yeah that I showed earlier exactly. This. Is a cool this is a really cool. Practice. If you if you ever want to draw like. Exotic stuff but you can't go there chances, are there's a webcam, that's watching and, so, up, in Alaska, some, of the rivers they've got webcams, when the salmon run is happening and you can watch the Bears live and so I sit in front of my computer here. In Florida and watch these bears live and I do sketches of them while they're fishing it's. Kind of fun. So. That's what this baby's doing video, quality good, enough no yeah it's pretty good yeah, yeah. Man this is a picture, of my girlfriend on, her, phone when we were in the Philippines. She. Was jet lag in pretty bad. Quick. Sketch, in the Philippines, are one of the monuments, this is in Manila and. Then, I, did this one when I was in. Brazil. And saw Paulo, so these, check these sketchbooks, go all over the world with me I was. Down there for Wacom I mean. They have tea right yeah always, traveling.
All Over the world yeah yeah. Hey that's fun WAP op op-op put, the faxes. Now. This is this was all for inktober, this is all inktober stuff, I, don't think I got it all filled up. These. Are all really. These, are super little delicate. Little pen drawings, but. Lots of fun I love using that white pen. This. Was a little demo that I did I did. This one on. A live stream. And I did this one on the livestream as well using. The brush pen all, that, same time do, you document your sketchbooks. Like after you feel sketchbook do you photograph everything, no I mean. I hardly ever fill one because I'll get sidetracked, on to another well you have so. Many sketchbook I do yeah, this is sitting in a park in Tokyo and. I did this sketch you know just sitting there in Tokyo a. Businessman. Eating. His lunch, was. It you that said that you lost a bunch of sketchbook yes so, I, was, moving and. I. Was moving back from California to Florida and. The. Frickin truck. Driver was overloaded, when he hit Arizona, and so, he just dumped my stuff he. Dumped out a whole bunch of boxes so, that he could make weight and, so. He got his, truck down to the right weight and came and delivered my stuff without. Like. 50. Boxes in it and a lot of us my sketchbooks, were in there so I lost them like there's those, are copies, those, are color copies, of, one. Of my first sketch books that I started keeping right after I graduated, college and, that. That's one of them that that's gone how. Did you have copies of them we did a sketch, book show at Disney. A while, back and they didn't want to have the originals, up so we did copies and and. So that's what we did. Well. Yeah. It's just lots. Of cats and. Stuff. So. Piles, and piles I've, got about three. Times as many sketchbooks. In reserve. That you haven't, seen yeah, but piles of them alright, that's it if you want more Aaron blaze there's, a studio tour coming soon and be. Sure to check out his lion demo at pro catacomb slash blaze he. Uses black and white charcoal, on toned, paper to. Render a realistic. Lion this. Guy knows his stuff and, he takes you through his whole process, learned. From Aaron at proko.com, slash. Blaze. I'm, an artist for a living I mean how can you not be happy me being an artist you. Know making your living doing that and on. Top of that I draw, cartoons, and animal. Recently. I've started drawing. Really. Large, charcoal. Drawings, of animals my favorite subject, I'd, like to take you through my entire process, and show you how I do it. Do, not be a slave. To. Your reference, you, have the ability to make it anything you want and that reference is just there to, help you with Anatomy or help you with lighting but, it's up to you to really kind of take it and make. The image your own I. Have. A very unique background. To coming into animation I was trained as an illustrator, I went in not. Knowing anything, about animation, never been exposed to it all I knew was help I just do how to draw a. Lot. Of people ask me you know how do you get to know how to draw animals out of your head you, have to understand, how they're structured first, it just takes a little bit of time, well. If you're if you don't think you'll ever get professional, standards, and you're already down to do stuff you, can't you can't go out of it like that and if. It's something you want then. You just have to drive and. You.