mel shaw

29 08 2012

MEL SHAW, born december 19, 1914, in brooklyn moved to L.A. in 1928. after an art education at the otis art institute he joined the HARMAN-ISING studios as an animator, character designer, story man and director. during that time he had a chance to work with ORSON WELLES storyboarding a live action/animation version of THE LITTLE PRINCE. WALT DISNEY hired mel personally after he saw him play in a polo match. before WWII interrupted mel’s career he worked on FANTASIA, BAMBI and WIND IN THE WILLOWS. after the war he started the ALLEN-SHAW productions together with former MGM animator BOB ALLEN, where he created toys and architectural masterplans like century city in california, as well as the illustrations for the first BAMBI children book for disney. mel told me the story where he was involved in the ( stone by stone ) move of the 1831 built LONDON BRIDGE from london to LAKE HAVASU CITY, ARIZONA, in 1968. the bridge was dismantled, every stone numbered and then shipped and trucked via long beach to arizona. what a project! in 1974 mel shaw returned to the disney studios where he helped the new artists on productions like RESCUERS, FOX AND THE HOUND, GREAT MOUSE DETECTIVE, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST and THE LION KING. I met mel during our pre-production work for BEAUTY AND THE BEAST in london in the fall of 1989 and had a chance to witness ( and videotape ) his incredible charcoal technique and the birth of dozens of beautiful paintings.

© disney enterprises, inc / mel shaw




11 responses

29 08 2012
Nikhita P.

These are absolutely beautiful… I love how they capture the mood of the scene. It’s really hard for me to paint dim night light. Amazing work.

29 08 2012

Beautiful work! Thanks for posting Hans.

29 08 2012

They are pastels, right Hans?
Wow, they have such a wonderful sense of light in them. He certainly was a master. I love the bath scene. Is there any way for us to see the video you taped? Do you have more of his work to show? Thanks 🙂

from hans –
the reproduced bad quality color-xeroxes ( 1989 standard! ) don’t show the beauty of his work, but it is the only thing that I have. the originals were vibrant, and MEL knew all the secrets to get the best results using his special technique, applying the pastels onto a darker colored cardboard.
I will find a way to post the videos I have on this blog. there is so much video footage in my archives…

30 08 2012

Thanks for the reply Hans! I realize the poor quality of the reproductions but the mastery is evident! I’ll keep my eye for that video in future 🙂 Thanks!

30 08 2012

Love you blog! So inspiring… Keep it up!

31 08 2012

Thank you so much for posting these! Magical images – if the video tape should ever be available I’d be very very interested… If you’re ever in Switzerland, please, stop by in Lucerne at our Animation school to give a talk to severely under-educated (in terms of traditional artwork, skill and technique) and hungry-to-learn students! The old-part-city is beautiful and amidst swiss landmarks, even worth a trip without a lecture 😉

from hans –
too bad, I was in the area ( lago maggiore ) in may. would love to go back, what a beautiful part of the world. maybe your school can invite me…

19 09 2012

I can seriously inquire about that, if you mean it! What lectures would you be interested in giving? Our theory department also organizes lectures for multiple courses, say for example animation+fine art+illustration+graphic design. I think a lecture on (for example) artwork made for films could interest all of the above.

from hans –
let’s discuss that per e-mail
thank you

1 10 2012

Wow Really love this!! Thanks for posting 😀


28 11 2012

Although I never personally met Mel, I was honored this past year to be involved with creating his new website to preserve his artwork and life story. I encourage all to visit it at

21 08 2016
Stephanie avila

I met him Mel Sharp,
At the natural history Museum in Los Angeles I think I was he drew a picture for me a penny from the rescue with Charco I was amazed how he could draw in five minutes. I have nothing but respect for him but he lived a very Full life this was probably 1981 or 1982 it was a screening for sleeping beauty.

10 03 2018

Did you ever upload the videos of Mel painting? Hope this finds you and thank you for all the wonderful work

from hans –
yes, they are uploaded

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