Stuck On A Tree

Sticky Burr and friends sing Stuck On A Tree

When I’m not writing or drawing, I’ve been known to dabble in music. In my book Sticky Burr: Adventures in Burrwood Forest, the main character plays the ukulele and sings. I wrote a little song for the book and included the sheet music on the last page, hoping to encourage young musicians.

Stuck On A Tree musicOver the years, readers have asked me if there was a recording of the song that they could hear, and I’m happy to share an animated video of Sticky Burr and his friends singing “Stuck On A Tree.” This animation was originally created as part of my acceptance video for the Beverly Cleary Children’s Choice Award in Oregon a few years ago. You can see that full video here, and now you can also enjoy the song by itself, see below.

My brother Tony Lechner provided the voice of Sticky Burr and engineered the audio, with additional voices by Jill Connolly and John Melley. I did all the animation, and played the ukulele. Hope you enjoy it!

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Page-A-Day Flip Book – finished!

Page-A-Day FlipbookAt the beginning of last year, I started my Page-A-Day Flip Book, and I’m happy to say it’s finally finished! The aim of the project was to draw one page every day, and see where it led. Although I missed a few weeks here and there, I managed to keep it going all year, and finally finished it up last month.

The project had its challenges. For one thing, if a flip book gets too long, it becomes hard to flip. This animation filled three tablets, so I could never see how the entire thing looked. I also made a rule that I could only draw one page at a time, so I didn’t do any keyframing or storyboarding. And I didn’t allow myself to go back and change drawings, other than minor cleanup. This made it difficult to control timing, but it was a great challenge.

I photographed each page with a digital camera and assembled the images in Flash before exporting as a Quicktime. I worked out music on the ukulele that would fit the piece, and put it all together. It was a fun project, and I hope you enjoy watching it!

 

Winter arrives in Burrwood Forest

Sticky Burr waits for snowWinter is here, a time for snow (depending on where you live) and cold temperatures, and a tendency to hibernate until spring. I think it’s a very inspiring season, because it makes you stop and look around, and see things a little more clearly.

Here is a short animation I created to celebrate the arrival of winter, starring Sticky Burr and his friends, who are also featured in two of my books. The music was composed by my brother Tony Lechner, who also wrote the music for the Sticky Burr theme song. I hope you enjoy it, and I hope you all have a happy and safe holiday season!

My flipbook project, and other news

As you may know, I started doing a Page-A-Day Flipbook at the beginning of the year. Even though I’ve fallen a little behind, I thought I would show the latest progress.

Since actually flipping through the whole thing is difficult, especially with this thin drawing paper, I decided to photograph each page (scanning would have taken forever) and assemble them on the computer so you can see how the animation really looks. I don’t know where this animation is going, but I’m trying to experiment and try out new things. I hope you like it!

Bookmarks and buttons!In other news, I will be participating in the Needham Open Studios this weekend, May 7th and 8th in Needham, MA. Check out the website for more information and a map of locations. I’ll be exhibiting my original work, giving away free stuff (see photo), and maybe doing an art demo. Stop by and say hi!

The following weekend, I’ll be attending the New England SCBWI Spring Conference, and helping teach at Sunday’s Illustrator Academy along with illustrator Dani Jones, designer Kerry Martin, and agent Nicole Tugeau. The amazing Casey Girard is pulling it all together. Registration has filled up already, but it should be an exciting conference. If you see me there, say hi!

Oscar nominations for animation – a few thoughts

Toy Story 3The Academy Awards are this weekend, and in the animation category, there’s a lot of “Buzz” around Toy Story 3, nominated for Best Animated Feature, Best Song, Best Screenplay and Best Picture. I’ve been a fan of Pixar since the beginning, but I’m not rooting for Toy Story 3 this year, because I think it is not one of Pixar’s best films. Despite its popularity, I thought it had a weak script, and it pains me to see it nominated for screenwriting.

You can read more of my thoughts about Pixar in a recent guest post I did for the Animated Writings blog. I invite you to leave comments and let me know what you think. Have you been disappointed by any of Pixar’s recent films? Do you think they are as good as their earlier ones? Do you think Toy Story 3 should be among the Best Picture nominees?

The film I would love to see win Best Animated Feature is The Illusionist, by French director Sylvain Chomet. It’s a quiet film, a quirky film, a film with almost no dialogue and almost no plot. It is like no animated film I’ve ever seen, and several days after viewing it, I’m still not sure what to make of it. It’s a slice of life, a tribute to a bygone era, and a beautifully-animated film.

Snow, comics and flipbooks

Hi everyone, here are a few things I’ve been working on, in between shoveling snow.

I just wrote a new post for my art/nature blog The Untended Garden, continuing my winter theme with one of my favorite books from childhood, Katy and the Big Snow, by Virginia Lee Burton. This is the kind of book that may seem old-fasioned at first, but the closer you look at it, the more remarkable it is. Read my full review here.

My interactive story Elfbook: The Curious Journey was featured in a nice review at Books4YourKids.com.  It’s a project I did with my brother Tony last year, a mixture of a book, a film and a game. I hope to do more like it in the future. (You can see Elfbook here.)

I also recently resumed drawing new pages in the Sticky Burr web comic, and hope to add a new one each week. Stay tuned to see how the latest story unfolds!

Finally, here is an update on my Page A Day Flipbook project, where I draw one page each day. I made a video of the first part so you can see how it’s coming!