Malcolm Sutherland

Malcolm Sutherland
I love the immediacy and visual charm of location sketching, in which quickly realized sketches can often carry more feeling of place and time than elaborate drawings.

Canadian illustrator and animator Malcolm Sutherland has managed to capture, and animate, some that feeling of informal charm and casual rendering, along with a strong sense of “being there” in his short animation La Fete (top two images, above).

This is an observation of passers by at an event called La Fête Nationale (essentially, the “National Holiday”) in Montreal, Quebec.

If, like me, you love to watch people pass by, particularly at events and gatherings where they are often deliberately putting themselves on display, you will immediately recognize that sense of observed life in his simply realized outline and color fill drawings. He uses clever fades and transitions to isolate members of the crowd, just as your attention might pick out individuals or small groups an focus on them.

You will find a numerous of other short animations on Sutherland’s Vimeo page. They feature a variety of subjects and approaches, from the simplicity of his “Untitled Drawings” in which he creates stream-of-consciousness drawings as if in stop-motion, to more elaborate pieces like The Astronomer’s Dream, a ten minute tour de force of surreal imaginings (above, third down).

Among his other shorts on Vimeo are his nicely bizarre reimagining of Star Wars scenes, his contributions to the Star Wars Uncut project.

There are a number of additional short animations, along with a gallery of illustration, on his web site. On the Theatre page, I was particularly taken with the animation Birdcalls and its fascinating use of pictographic representation of sounds.

Sound plays an important role in Sutherland’s work, for which he turns to the assistance of several collaborators.

He experiments with several forms of animation, such as the combination of stop-motion, hand drawn shapes, abstract rotoscoping, animation projected against 3-D objects, and jazz-like improvised collaboration with contributing musicians of Forming Game, for which there is an accompanying “Making Of” short documentary.