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Work Samples

The Elephant's Song, Excerpt

"The Elephant's Song" tells the true and tragic tale of Old Bet, the first circus elephant in America, as recounted in song by her friend the old farm dog. Their story is portrayed in colorful, handcrafted animation, created frame by frame with clay-on-glass and oil pastel animation.

The Ballad of Holland Island House

The true story of the last house on a Chesapeake Bay island slowly sinking into the rising seas comes to life through fluidly transforming animated clay-on-glass paintings. The house sings of its life and the creatures it has sheltered, and contemplates time and environmental change.

KENDRA's Bay: A Digital Puppet Crab at Light City Baltimore 2016

KENDRA’s Bay: A Digital Puppet Crab at Light City Baltimore 2016 KENDRA, (Kinetically Engineered Networked Digitally Reactive Arthropod) is an animated digital puppet controlled by an iPad touch screen interface so she can respond and react live to the audience. Kendra's Bay debuted at the inaugural year of Light City Baltimore in the Inner Harbor Ampitheater. Kendra was created by Lynn Tomlinson and Colette Searls. Performers are Alex Vernon (Darrell the M.C.) and Sarah Olmsted Thomas (Kendra's puppeteer). Video documentation by Sharon Crissinger.

Fired Up!

Lynn Tomlinson created the third segment (with the umbrella turning inside out) of this animated collaboration made by 14 animators from around the world.

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About Lynn

Baltimore County

Using tactile clay-on-glass and experimenting with the painterly animation processes, Lynn Tomlinson creates poignant clay-on-glass films and interdisciplinary new media projects that investigate environmental and historical stories told from unusual points-of-view. Her newest film, The Elephant’s Song, winner of the Global Insights Stellar Award (the highest recognition) in the 2019 Black Maria Film Festival, premiered at the Maryland Film Festival in May 2018, received First Prize in the Made in... more

The Elephant's Song

(This clip is an excerpt from an eight-minute short animated film - please contact Lynn Tomlinson if you are interested in viewing the entire film)
"The Elephant's Song" tells the true and tragic tale of Old Bet, the first circus elephant in America, as recounted in song by her friend the old farm dog. The verses of the elephant's song are animated frame-by-frame with plasticine clay spread thinly on sheets of glass. The choruses are animated using oil pastels colored over printed frames of video.

Produced and Animated by Lynn Tomlinson
Story co-written with Sam Saper
Music written by Sam Saper
Music performed by Trucker Talk (Abby Becker, Greg Bowen, Jessica Keyes, and Rich Kolm) with vocals by Deletta Gillespie and Brooks Long.
Music recorded and engineered by Shea Springer, Sweetfoot Studio

Artist's Statement: When I first heard the story of Old Bet, the only elephant in America from 1805-1816, and the menagerie that started the American circus, I was touched by the lonely image of this elephant, the only one of her kind, a social animal all alone in a strange land with no way to communicate her memories of her home. It seemed like a timely and poignant story to tell, with the closure of Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, following soon after they had retired all of their performing elephants. Old Bet was carried over the sea, sold to a farmer who first thought she could work his fields, then paraded her up the East Coast in the first traveling menagerie in North America. I went on a research trip to Somers, NY, a beautiful town in the Hudson River Valley, called the “Cradle of the American Circus,” to the site of the Elephant Hotel, which the elephant’s owner, Hachaliah Bailey, built as a center for this new business of exhibiting exotic animals. Following his success, his neighbors soon owned giraffes, hippos, camels…. all living in their pastoral New York State fields and barns. I also discovered that at the same time as Old Bet’s journey, Charles Wilson Peale, an artist and naturalist who had the first museum in America, was excavating a mastodon skeleton right on the other side of the Hudson river. I was moved by the idea that Old Bet walking on the land that held the bones of her extinct ancestors. My film alludes to this long history and other related themes, like the ivory trade, in the choruses, using oil pastel on video prints to preserve the reality of the reference images, while Old Bet’s story is told in the verses in vibrant clay-on-glass animation, a stop-motion process using colored modelling clay spread thinly on glass sheets. Old Bet’s song, written by Sam Saper and performed by the band Trucker Talk with vocals by Deletta Gillespie and Brooks Long, draws on American folk, blues and spiritual musical traditions. My clay-on-glass animation involves both planning and improvisation. It’s a bit like finger painting, using warm modeling clay that looks like thick oil paint. It is a stop-motion process, meaning that I create an initial painting, and then alter it bit by bit to create the movement. The process is both creative and destructive: As I change the image, the original is changed over and over until it no longer exists. I spend about three hours under the camera to make one second of finished animation. Often, instead of a storyboard or movement pencil test, I edit a video-mashup-from found video mixed with artworks and historical photos. Sometimes I use this video collage as a rough guide, and other times I actually rotoscope or trace the movement, to add a life-like quality to my moving paintings.This film combines both clay-on-glass animation with oil pastel over video prints to capture a sense of photographic reality. Because the film is set in the Hudson River Valley in the 1800s, I looked at paintings by early American painters like Edward Hicks and the Hudson River School for inspiration. Completed May, 2018, World Premiere at the Maryland Film Festival. Awards include: First Prize - Made in Baltimore Film Festival at the Creative Alliance; Global Insights Stellar Award - Black Maria Film Festival; Best of Festival and Best Animation - Peekskill Film Festival, Best Animation - University Film and Video Association; Best Sound Design and Best Environmental Short Animation - Chesapeake Film Festival, Experimental Animation Second Prize - Los Angeles Animation Festival. International Screenings include: Animation for Peace at the Hiroshima International Animation Festival; Ajyal Youth Film Festival in Doha, Qatar; Wildlife Vaasa Festival in Finland, Edmonton International Film Festival, Canada; Aesthetica Short Film Festival, York, UK; Xiamen International Animation Festival, China.

  • The Elephant's Song, Excerpt

    "The Elephant's Song" tells the true and tragic tale of Old Bet, the first circus elephant in America, as recounted in song by her friend the old farm dog. Their story is portrayed in colorful, handcrafted animation, created frame by frame with clay-on-glass and oil pastel animation.

The Ballad of Holland Island House

Animation: Lynn Tomlinson
Lyrics: Lynn Tomlinson
Music: Anna Roberts-Gevalt with Elizabeth LaPrelle

The Ballad of Holland Island House tells the true story of the last house on a sinking island in the Chesapeake Bay, brought to life through fluidly transforming animated clay-on-glass paintings. The house sings of its life and the creatures it has sheltered, and contemplates time and environmental change. Told from the house's point of view, this film is a soulful and haunting view of the impact of sea-level rise.

Process:
My clay-on-glass animation involves both planning and improvisation. It’s a bit like finger painting, using warm modeling clay that looks like thick oil paint. It is a stop-motion process, meaning that I create an initial painting, and then alter it bit by bit to create the movement. The process is both creative and destructive: As I change the image, the original is changed over and over until it no longer exists. When I spend three hours to make one second of finished animation, I enter a state of flow, concentrating on altering the malleable clay, changing it slowly, frame by frame. For this film, instead of a storyboard or movement pencil test, I edited a video-mashup-collage animatic I edited from found video fragments (of trees falling, boats rocking, crab feasts and model ships sinking) with well-known artworks and historical photos. Sometimes I used this video collage as a rough guide, and other times I actually rotoscoped or traced the movement, to add a life-like quality to my moving paintings.

A haunting photograph I saw on the internet inspired this story: a house standing alone in the water. Reading more about this particular house, I was struck by its story, and its relevance today, when so many communities are facing challenges from sea-level rise. The painterly, expressive, visual style reflects the artwork of Winslow Homer, VanGogh, and Kathe Kolwitz, artists working in the late 1800's, the time period when the house on Holland Island was abandoned. I wrote the lyrics to the ballad and began the animation for this film while on a two-week artist residency at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, across the bay from the remains of Holland Island. I created this film from start to finish in two months: two very intensive months!

Medusa: The Immortal Jellyfish

A live visual theater performance/installation blending animation, ceramic sculpture, underwater plastic-bottle puppets, live video feed, and multiple projections. The process and the product are created live on stage simultaneously, creating an immersive world from the hive-minded perspective of the jellyfish. Low-tech meets high-tech, digital meets DIY, building a speculative Post-Anthroposcene environment: a Neo-Precambrian world of human remains where jellyfish rule the sea.

Aqua Dome

Aqua Dome is a pedagogical collaborative interdisciplinary project that premiered in Towson University's Watson-King Planetarium in December 2018.

Aqua Dome is a collaborative animated dome-film and artwork. Working with over 150 collaborators across disciplines and age groups, Aqua Dome combines mixed-media stop motion animation and animated kaleidoscopic collage video projection with an immersive soundscape in four movements.

Aqua Dome was conceived of and directed by Lynn Tomlinson (EMF), Zoe Friedman (Art Department) and Elsa Lankford (EMF). It is edited and composited by Kat Navarro (Baltimore School for the Arts). The first public screening will be projected in the Watson King Planetarium, kindly facilitated by Professor Alex Storrs in Astronomy. Multi-displinary in nature, Aqua Dome was selected for the first Towson University College of Fine Art and Communication CoLAB interdisciplinary project grant.

Artist Statement:
I was excited by the creative possibilities of the space, which has much in common with VR, but unlike that solitary activity (with goggles, etc.) watching a dome film is a communal experience. The spark for this specific project began with a Ruby’s grant proposal I wrote. When I didn’t receive that grant to make a dome-film of my own, I decided it would be fun to try something similar with students, so I adapted my proposal to fit COFAC’s new CoLab grant, and we were fortunate to receive funding. I reached out to my colleagues and collaborators Elsa Lankford and Zoe Friedman. We also collaborated with students from Baltimore School for the Arts, working with teacher Kat Navarro, who edited and composited the entire video. Kat understood our kaleidoscopic, DIY approach to making the video fit the dome format. She took our creative ideas and materials and ran with it.

  • Aqua Dome Trailer

    Trailer for the Aqua Dome screening in the Watson-King Planetarium at Towson University.
  • Aquadome still 01.jpg

    Aqua Dome
    Still image of the planetarium dome projection of the collaborative animation project Aqua Dome.

Kendra's Bay at Light City Baltimore, 2016

  • KENDRA's Bay: A Digital Puppet Crab at Light City Baltimore 2016

    KENDRA’s Bay: A Digital Puppet Crab at Light City Baltimore 2016 KENDRA, (Kinetically Engineered Networked Digitally Reactive Arthropod) is an animated digital puppet controlled by an iPad touch screen interface so she can respond and react live to the audience. Kendra's Bay debuted at the inaugural year of Light City Baltimore in the Inner Harbor Ampitheater. Kendra was created by Lynn Tomlinson and Colette Searls. Performers are Alex Vernon (Darrell the M.C.) and Sarah Olmsted Thomas (Kendra's puppeteer). Video documentation by Sharon Crissinger.

Breath & Air

  • Breath & Air excerpts

    Execerpts from an aerial dance performance by Jayne Bernasconi and her students with digital art projections by Lynn Tomlinson and her students, at Baltimore's Theater Project, Spring 2016.

Madalines' Stilts

Madalines' Stilts is a fairy tale: an overly optimistic fantasy about human adaptation in the face of sea-level rise. A grandmother, mother, and daughter live in a hut by the sea. How can they change to survive in their increasingly watery world?

The piece was created by a three-generation collaboration of grandmother-mother-daughter artists, who all share the name "Madaline." This was a bi-coastal collaboration, using both tactile and digital media, and reflects the concerns of both coasts in a time of storms, tsunamis, and sea change. The team first shot video of their silhouettes against a white background, and then edited and composited this video with paint and clay-on-glass animation. The artists shared inspiration and communicated online via Skype, email, Pinterest, and Dropbox. They discussed each scene and how it should look, sharing reference images, and Lynn taught Madaline via Skype to use stop-motion animation software and a DSLR camera to capture her moving paintings. Madaline painted and animated the background in Santa Cruz, CA and sent it online to Lynn in Catonsville, MD, where she made the finished product. Lynn collaged the silhouettes; the waves; the words; and also manipulated the animation to make a cohesive whole. Lucy acted in the film and helped her mother with the editing. They enjoyed working together as a three-generation artistic team.

Lucy Madaline Saper is a seventh-grade student at the Jemicy School in Baltimore, Maryland. She is a visual artist, actress, and stilt-walker. Lynn (Madaline Carol) Tomlinson is an interdisciplinary artist working in animation, sculpture, and mixed media arts. . Her award-winning animated and documentary films have been screened at numerous festivals, and her clay-on-glass animated shorts have aired on children’s public television, MTV, and Sesame Street. Madaline Borrebach Tomlinson (Vassar, ’64) is an interdisciplinary artist known for her face-painting and acrylics. She is also an attorney, and a founding member of a ukelele group in Santa Cruz, CA.

  • Madalines' Stilts

    This is a fairy tale: an overly optimistic fantasy about human adaptation in the face of sea-level rise. "Madalines' Stilts" was created by a three-generation collaboration of grandmother-mother-daughter artists. They all share the name "Madaline." Chroma-keyed stilt walkers, digitally composited animation, and hand-painted animation.

Memory Tricks!

How did you learn your times tables? Hard words to spell? MEMORY TRICKS is a collaborative animation project made by fifth-grade girls & young women animation students at the Maryland Institute College of Art. The fifth grade girls are classmates at the Jemicy School, which uses innovative methods to teach kids with dyslexia. This project is an experiential learning project designed to help them share their favorite mnemonic devices with other kids. Led by art educator and independent animator Lynn Tomlinson, the MICA students served as mentors for the fifth-grade girls, helping them bring their ideas to life through animation. The project was funded by MICA's Office of Community Engagement, and a successful Kickstarter campaign: kck.st/GWsjtc

"The Making of Memory Tricks" can be seen here: vimeo.com/41205492 (password: Tricky)

Connect with Lynn

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Lynn's Curated Collection

This artist has not yet created a curated collection.