Monday, June 2, 2014


Yesterday blog reader Jeff Jordan commented: "Just curious, Jim--when are you gonna bust out a Gurney animation? I sense there's something in the works........."

You guessed it, Jeff! Here's the first look at a series of animated films I've been working on called Clementoons.

Clementoons gets its name from the main character Clement, a three-inch-tall cartoon person who began as a castoff toy in a clementines box. He is trying to find his way to Melville, the enchanted world where comic characters have come fully to life.

Along the way he'll meet other characters living their lives among us in the real world. Not all are cute and friendly.

I'll be premiering the first episode this Thursday at 8:00 a.m. Eastern time. I'll launch them here on the blog and on my YouTube channel.

During the last six months, I've been carving out time from my other work in plein-air painting, illustration, writing, and lecturing to design and build the dozens of stop motion puppets required for this project. And I've developed several techniques of animation that I'm quite sure will look like nothing you've ever seen before.

I have also been documenting the process on video and will be releasing tutorials showing everything from puppet fabrication to animation techniques to Lego-powered motion control dolly systems.

This is a return to a joyful obsession of my youth. I spent much of my free time in high school and college creating animated films, and my first job was in the animation business.

More previews tomorrow.


Tom Hart said...

This is great news James. Your sense of joy is palpable, the concept of going back to a "joyful obsession" of youth is something we all should do. Good for you!

jeff jordan said...

I'm looking forward to seeing what you've come up with, Jim! Thanks for mentioning me, and many more thanks for all the information and inspiration!

Joel Fletcher said...

Wow James, I have no idea where you find time to "carve out" for something as ambitious as stop-motion filmmaking. In the picture, it looks like you are making full-figure replacement cycles ala George Pal Puppetoons. If that is what you are doing, you have been seriously bitten by the bug. ;-) I am really pleased to know that you love stop-motion enough to create your own animations at this stage in your career. Looking forward to seeing the films, as well as the behind the scenes documentation!

James Gurney said...

Joel, thanks. Yes, George Pal's Puppetoons were a huge inspiration. Also Ray Harryhausen. Ray showed me some of the replacement faces he made for Pal when I visited Harryhausen's studio in the 1990s.

Tom, thanks. I was going to say "passion" but that word is overused, so I said joyful obsession. My wife is pretty understanding, because she could say "insane mania."

Jeff, you bet. I added the link to your site.

Dan said...

Fabulous! Best of luck, James. Looking forward to seeing the results. Stop motion is a really interesting art form. Have you seen Wes Anderson's work?

Unknown said...

What!?! I suppose I'm not as quick on the uptake, I didn't see this coming despite all the animation-related posts. This is very exciting news. I'm amazed that you are tackling a project of this scope by yourself, while still maintaining your other endeavors. Incredible.

Tim Fehr said...


I've always contended that I don't take up a hobby, rather whatever I choose to explore becomes a joy filled obsession.

As in any area of interest, the more you know about a subject, the more you realize you don't know.

I now try to choose things that won't bankrupt me to concentrate my time on; that's just common sense. I dare not take up Italian sports cars or fine hand-crafted watches. I can admire them from afar, but I've come to learn the danger signs, so I don't allow myself to get too close .

Pierre Fontaine said...

Wow...I can't wait James. This is terribly exciting as I'm about as passionate about stop motion and animation in general as I am about illustration. I think you've made my year!

Ernest Friedman-Hill said...

Sooooooo excited! Can't wait!

Ernest Friedman-Hill said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Your work is so inspiring! It's amazing to see how sincerely you share your process. I've learnt a lot from reading your blog. Thank you! :)

d-vallejo said...

Absolutely inspiring!

James Whitehurst said...

Did you ever finish plans for casein ,,,water color pochade? And are you familiar with Ala prima pochades? I have a few of his and would like to convert one for casein. Awesome blog thanks for taking the time.

James Gurney said...

Thanks, everybody. I'll be doing Clementoons posts all week.

James: I'm still using the watercolor / casein pochade system that I blogged about recently, though I've recently made some improvements that I'll be talking about.

Dan, I've seen Fantastic Mr. Fox, and liked it. Very interesting style. I'm also a big fan of Laika as you probably know.

Len De Angelis said...

I can't wait!
As much as your creativity abounds, it also astounds.
I've been "toying" with marionettes to use in a PTSD project...along with all the rest of life I try to juggle.