I have just returned from Gdansk, Poland after an intriguing painting adventure.
I was accepted in July to join the team of painters completing ‘Loving Vincent’, the world’s first feature-length hand-painted animated feature film.
The film is a moving insight into the latter days of Dutch painter Van Gogh, exploring the mysterious circumstances around his death, and brings to life the characters he knew and painted while struggling to find acceptance within the society of the time. Each frame of this film is an oil painting – all 62,450 of them!
Several months of intense painting began with a short test, then a week and a half training to practise hitting the canvas in Van Gogh’s style. After this arduous introduction I received my first shot and began the fascinating and ultimately meditative painting process for real. We used still photographs, previous paintings and the footage of the actors as references so that our shots would not look out of place within the scene once completed. To be on schedule, four painted frames of the 12-frames-per-second animation were expected each day by each of the hundred and fifty painters working on the film, something which needed sincere determination and focus. In the end, I am thrilled that my efforts stand beside the work of those who dedicated two to three years to the film, painting scenes inspired by some of Van Gogh’s most well known paintings such as ‘Starry Night’ or ‘Portrait of Doctor Gachet’.
The film idea emerged around ten years ago with writer/director Dorota Kobiela, who began a short film inspired by Van Gogh’s letters. After some efforts, the film shifted into a feature length production with the aid of a successful kickstarter campaign and support of fellow writer/director Hugh Welchman and the studio Breakthru Films – http://www.breakthrufilms.pl. Actors were cast for the roles, and the live action footage was then used as the reference for the team of painters, originally from Poland, but eventually from many countries, including Mexico, India, Australia, Serbia and Ukraine.
What a unique, challenging and wonderful experience this was! I am very grateful to have been given this opportunity to work on a major and pioneering animated film.
‘Loving Vincent’ will be shown at festivals in 2017 and then released widely in the Autumn.