Improvising an Animated Story: An Artist and Improv

This guest blog piece was written by Jenny Wantuch.  Jenny is a successful painter and recently took an Improv Notebook workshop [Next workshop October 30]  After the workshop she started talking about the influence of improv on her creative process. You will find the story below and the short video detail  how a successful visual artists translates the theories and practice of improvisation to her canvas.

How are you using theatrical improv in your life?  In your work?  Please share your comments at the end of this story.

~William & Rich


Improvising an Animated Story

Novelty creates excitement by discoveries from exploring the unknown. Last week I walked into my artist studio to paint only to find myself uninspired to pick up where I had ended the day before. Instead I wanted to make a short animated story and play with new ideas.

In 4th grade we used to draw figures on each page on small notepad and by quickly scrolling through the drawing sequence the figures appeared to be moving. That was fun, and could have been a good creative outlet even now. But "pen and paper" just wasn't safe for the time being. "Pen and paper" are tools for a Serious Artist with a Sudden Critical Voice. A clever way of getting rid of this serious artist with a critical voice, is to improvise and  through it off by introducing a novel tool. And it worked!

I began a simple line drawing using my index finger on the screen. It was like drawing with my left hand (another great technique). The iPad app, Animation Creator [for iphone/ipod and ipad], was easy to use. Acting on positive impulses, trying new possibilities and feeling free. Stepping into the unknown, what an exciting place to be! What a scary place to be! But I wasn't scared. I was having too much fun, and joy kills fear.

A bird appeared and it was exactly the bird I didn't know I was looking for; playful, fearless and cool.  I now had a stage (my screen), one character (a bird) and an audience. Yes, I created this audience because I needed them to help me move things forward.  They wanted action:

"Hello! We want to watch an animated improvised story. We want to see it now. We really don't need for it to be perfect, and we don't have time for you to edit and delete and have a better idea or fix every flaw you see!"

A few improv techniques helped to keep the audience content and the creative flow going; setting a time limit,  "first thought, best thought", accepting offers from your animated figures and letting go of mistakes. The audience response was fantastic! They cheered, they laughed, they accepted every new move. And when it was done they wanted to see it again and again.  Nothing was perfect and so everything was perfect.

Here is the fully animated, totally improvised story titled: "The Bird Who just Wanted a Clear Sky": [youtube]

Postscript: If you take time to analyze the story a bit, it is interesting to see that the Cloud resembles the Serious Artist with a Sudden Critical Voice. She didn't make it in the end. But what happened to the bird? This is a Foreign film so the ending is left sad and obscure. But I can tell you the bird is enjoying the clear sky and can fly and dig that Euro techno music, any time she wants.

Jenny M.L. Wantuch


Improvise your own story, or see some other peoples stories with these links:

Animation Creator for iphone/ipod

Anomation Creator for ipad

Animation Creator YouTube Channel

Send us your animations and we might feature them here on Improv Notebook!