Art Clokey was a stop motion clay artist who is known for using basic clay forms to complex film techniques in his works. Art (Oct 12, 1921 – Jan 8, 2010), as said before used clay in his stop motion projects, he studied at the University of Southern California, his career started in the year 1955, when his work, Gumbasia, was released. Art is best known for his character, Gumby and his horse Pokey, who he created alongside his wife, Ruth. The character became so popular that they even created a TV show with him as the main figure, it was called, The Adventures of Gumby.
The Adventures of Gumby was what made Art Clokey best known to the public. Gumby, who is a little green, and flattened character that was made of clay, has a misshaped head, representing a cow lick, that makes one side go higher than the other. The inspiration for that lopsided look was in memory of his father, who died, when Art was 9, in a car accident, he had a cowlick hairdo.
In Art Clokey’s early Gumby Action shows a lot of Arts techniques and style he uses in his works. Art typically uses clay for this animation, just like his others since he is a clay artist, but he uses pre-made objects as well. Art likes to use geometric shapes to provide a lot of the material. Some of the shapes include: squares, cylinders, triangles, and circles. The shapes he use also have a tendency to be flattened, rolled, and crumpled. As for the characters in the clip, they are small figures with a limited body size, for example, Gumby is flat with not a lot of depth to him, similar to a gingerbread man, but thick enough to be able to stand on his own. For some of the other landscapes, creatures, and figures, Art uses toys that are pre-made from rubber or plastic that can move giving it a living feel. A few of the objects used were toys, a dinosaur, and fake model and toy tractors, trainsets, and cars.
In Arts Mandala piece, it was very complex at points but created an outstanding work. Art used layers, and a lot of them, to create most of the film. The layers transitioned from one scene to another, for example it had us looking through a hole and we can see the next layer and it continues on for a good portion of the film. The film had a moving image as well, new material was added all the time, creating a feeling of moving out from a point to another. Along with the layers and moving images, Art also used the camera to move across the scene. Everything stayed where it was while he moved along revealing more of the set. For the landscapes in the film, there was a lot of walls, which had flat sides with holes put into them to allow us to see through it. All of the landscapes weren’t made out of clay, he also used real life landscapes and people to give it a more realistic and a whole different style. Some of the clay animation he used were used on making heads that would morph and change into something else or dissolve completely. Along with the heads, there were objects like flowers that would open and close to give a sense of movement. Another style used was of just pictures he took that would jump to completely different ones quickly like a fast-forwarded movie.
Arts Gumbasia Film was another piece he made that featured a lot of shapes. The shapes were similar to the early Gumby action film. In this piece he liked to take his shapes and collide them together to make a different form. He also liked to have his objects and slice them apart making smaller forms or just pieces that he would once again mush together to make something else. Also with the clay he had, he would make the clay grow larger by adding to it in between frames to make it appear as it is growing in size, or do the complete opposite and make them shrink down. If he didn’t have them shrink in size, he would completely flatten the clay to a puddle like form. The most creature like objects of clay in the film were worm like, long and rounded clay that would squiggle around the scene. Along with the worms, he made stripes of clay that would just be pulled across and around the set.
Art Clokey was an outstanding and creative clay stop motion artist who influenced many artists in his lifetime and even after his death. He created simple and complex art using clay motion techniques. His work was for all ages, which is why he was even given his own show for his loved character Gumby. His art ranged from simple flat characters to complex moving and layered objects that showed his creative art style very well. His wife was a big helper in his work, especially in his Gumby work when she helped create his animal horse sidekick Pokey. Using different styles and techniques, like camera movement, layers, moving clay, and growing and shrinking clay, he was able to make countless films and clips that were able to stand out over other artists of his time. He was also not afraid to use a mixture of clay stop motion and stop motion using toys and pre made objects to complete his works creating a harmonic combination. Art has also mastered using clay to make it appear as the camera is moving through a tunnel, but in reality, he just adds and takes away clay as it moves closer to the camera. The effect is very complicated to create but Arts many years in the art field has given him the ability to do so. Art was a very well-known artist for his art and work that allowed him to be able to become successful enough to keep his work going and to actually have his own show that many people have been able to watch, and become inspired by his work.