Friday, May 20, 2011

Ryan Woodward and the Lines of the Body

If I could have any skill that I do not currently possess (and that's a lot of skills), it would be to draw like Ryan Woodward, or... someone just like him.

I've always been mildly obsessed with line and shade drawings that perfectly convey the shape of the subject while still maintaining a sense of imperfection, spontaneity, and "sketchiness".  Every time I go looking for art to buy or ask artist friends for sketches of things, this is what I imagine finding or receiving.  Every time I think about drawing anything (even though I know I can't), this is the style I imagine it being.

I like other types of art immensely, but nothing holds a candle to this.  Maybe it's because it looks so... easy!  But, as anyone who has two left hands (that's right—new phrase!) knows well, it isn't easy at all.

I came across Ryan's artwork last week—as did many of you!—when his work was featured on the Google homepage.

See the official version here on YouTube

I was intrigued.  Someone had posted a link to the artist, so I figured I'd click.  Turns out that Ryan is a storyboard artist who has worked on some pretty big name films.  I perused his work, much of which reflects a comic book-style, illustrative technique that is quite lovely.  This led me to his personal side project, Cont√© Animated—all absolutely stunning gesture drawings that really show off the shape of the human body.

And then I found this.

I don't remember doing anything in the last week that stands out more than finding this gorgeous animation and watching and re-watching it dozens of times.  It could be because he uses a song from a band that I completely adore (The Weepies), or that he's been able to animate something that I also wish I had the skill to do: contemporary dance.  But essentially, I think it's just that the story of the animation seems so heartbreaking and beautiful... I can't turn away, and I can't seem to stop pushing "replay".

This YouTube user nicely describes how I see this video:
cazboen: The story is about a boy who is madly in love with a girl. This girl was everything he ever wanted: mysterious, and almost like an angel (white outline and vivid shapes). He tried to capture her heart, and bring her "down to earth" but couldn't succeed. Until one day, he finally got her, and suddenly she wasn't all that he thought she was. Mysteriousness was gone (her outline turns black), there were no more sparks (watch their hands). In the end he left her, and the girl was heart broken.

There are many interpretations (as was Woodward's intention), but I think that this version is pretty spot on; it's exactly what I felt... what I continue to feel.  What could be more heartbreaking and more common than disappointment in love?  Seems to be a too-often occurrence, if you ask me (which, of course, you don't).

So, yeah.  I wanted to share this video and Ryan's work with you because it's beautiful, and everyone deserves a little beauty in their lives.

Happy sunny Friday, everyone.

Image: Ryan Woodward


  1. I really can't get enough of this animation, either. It's so impressive, not to mention hypnotic. The creative touches, like the grasp of her that he manages to get - just for a moment - before she disappears... the slow motion jump where he hastily grabs her in mid-air, refusing to let go...

    *sigh* so beautiful and heartbreaking, and everything that I love about contemporary dance. Puts me in the mood for "So You Think You Can Dance", which starts again tomorrow! =)

    Thanks for showing me this, Stace.

  2. Thanks so much for sharing this! Wonderful animation and music ... didn't know the music but loved the sound. The grace and beauty of the dancing is simply enchanting.
    So much talent out there!