mirko hanak 4

3 05 2011

MIRKO HANAK created these beautiful watercolors in the late sixties for a calendar.

© mirko hanak


the orientalists

17 01 2011

after NAPOLEON had invaded egypt with his army in 1798 and was driven out by the british after one year, a lot of artists followed, writers and painters – to become well known as the ORIENTALISTS. the movement lasted about a century and many of them were pretty famous. some of the painters specialized in landscapes, archeology or in people, others in biblical or historical themes. but one thing they all had in common – the experience changed their lives, the journey affected these artists deeply.
I was introduced to the ORIENTALIST-painters when I worked on disney’s ALADDIN and was searching for reference of the middle east. following is a small selection of watercolors from four wellknown painters – CHARLES ROBERTSON, 1844-1891, cairo – WILLIAM WYLD, 1806-1889, algier harbour – AUGUSTUS OSBORNE LAMPLOUGH, 1877-1930, nile – CARL HAAG, 1820-1915, cairo.
the next post will be about the tales from this area.


mirko hanak 3

30 12 2010

some more of MIRKO HANAK’S beautiful watercolors

© mirko hanak


wildlife art

28 12 2010

in the early nineties I saw on english-tv a documentary about a german wildlife artist, WOLFGANG WEBER. a camera team followed him around the globe, through jungle, desert and even under water – and everywhere this artist created the most stunning sketches of all the animals around him, frozen in one instant moment. I could not believe my eyes, – the shortest movements captured like in a photograph, but so much better in these rough but precise drawings. later, the film documented at WEBER’S home in germany in a few steps the creation of the most beautiful watercolors, using the hundreds of sketches he had done during his trips.

a few years later german-tv had part 2 of that documentary, WEBER sketching wildlife around the world. incredible! only much later through research on the internet I learned that WOLFGANG WEBER is one of the greatest living masters of wildlife art, his work exhibited around the world. he was born in 1936 in koblenz, germany, and studied art under OSCAR KOKOSCHKA in mainz. another influence was well-known wildlife artist WILHELM KUHNERT. WEBER’S success as an artist is the outcome of a great love for the animal kingdom which has inspired him to travel to many of the most remote corners of the earth in search of rare species. with his rare ability to concentrate on the depiction of a split-second movement he is able to observe, capture and record.

the pictures in this post are screen captures from one of the tv-documentaries and otherwise collected on the internet. all artwork © wolfgang weber


mirko hanak 2

13 12 2010

some more of MIRKO HANAK’S beautiful watercolors…

© mirko hanak


mirko hanak 1

12 12 2010

MIRKO HANAK, another master-illustrator from the czech republik, was born in 1921 in prague. his amazing watercolors are a cross between chinese traditional watercolors, the minimalist japanese painting-style and the czech rich culture in illustration. hanak was famous for his distinctive illustrations with natural themes, portraying life of plants and animals with broad watercolor strokes mixed with beautifully balanced finer brushwork on rice paper, all that in stunning compositions and colors full of life. his work includes children books like BAMBI as well as exquisite stamp-designs. he died at the height of his career in 1971 from leukemia.

© mirko hanak


horst haitzinger

20 11 2010

HORST HAITZINGER, born 1939 in austria, is one of the best known political caricature artists in germany. already as a student he published his first drawings in the satirical magazine SIMPLIZISSIMUS, from the mid-sixties on he works for numerous publications. for daily newspapers he creates one or more drawings a day, about 15.000 so far. his unique robust brushstroke-style as well as his sarcastic irony are very well known in the german speaking parts of europe. his beautiful watercolors, oil-paintings and black/white drawings are in exhibitions and published regularly. following is a small selection of my favorite watercolors.

the illustrations are from the book HAITZINGER HIGHLIGHTS, 1998 bruckmann verlag, ISBN 3-7654-3355-1
© haitzinger / bruckmann verlag


farmyard symphony 1

27 10 2010

the following recreated longer pans are from disney’s 1938 released SILLY SYMPHONY – FARMYARD SYMPHONY. I am sure you will understand why this beautiful little film is one of my favorites, when you study the backgrounds. they are simple, clear designed, no overloaded detail and like most films at that time beautifully painted in faded watercolors. like, what I thought MULAN should look like – POETIC.

© disney enterprises, inc


sir william russell flint

16 07 2010

SIR WILLIAM RUSSELL FLINT, 1880 – 1969, is probably one of the best known english watercolor artists. in the early 1900s he illustrated for the ILLUSTRATED LONDON NEWS, following were book-illustrations like SOLOMON’S SONG OF SONGS and a four volume edition LE MORTE D’ARTHUR. in his later work he concentrated on oriental themes. besides his beautiful watercolors he was a passionate drawing artist and published several books with studies and sketches that reveal his love for art and stunning models. he was member of the royal academy, president of the royal watercolor society and was knighted in 1947. below is a small selection of some of his watercolors.

© sir william russell flint


style 8.1

23 06 2010

EYVIND EARLE was born 1916 in new york city, but moved already after two years with his parents to hollywood. his father, ferdinand, was a professional painter who had studied with ADOLPHE WILLIAM BOUGUEREAU and ABBOTT McNEILL WHISTLER. he soon became a busy art director and scenic artist in hollywood. from early on eyvind was educated by his father in the arts. when he was ten the parents divorced and eyvind followed his father on longer trips to mexico and europe. already after a few years, age 14, he was good enough to have his own art show in southern france. later at the age of 21 he crossed the northern american continent on his bike, painting a watercolor on each of the 42 days it took him. already three years later the metropolitan museum of art bought one of his watercolors for its permanent collection. the same year eyvind started his own christmas card company, printing them as serigraphs. 1951 he joined disney as a background painter, working on FOR WHOM THE BULLS TOIL, MELODY and TOOT,WHISTLE, PLUNK AND BOOM. finally he was offered the position as production designer, color stylist and background painter for SLEEPING BEAUTY. paralell during that time he designed for the shorts PIGS IS PIGS, GRAND CANYONSCOPE, PAUL BUNYAN and LONDON BRIDGE. he colorstyled the night/park sequence in LADY AND THE TRAMP and designed 5 murals for disneyland. in 1958 he left disney and started his own company, producing commercials and title graphics, as well as the logo trademark trailer for universal pictures. later in his life he dedicated all his time to painting, becoming very successful with exhibitions in museums and galleries around the world. in 2000 he passed away, 84 years old.

I want to concentrate in this post and the next ones on EYVIND EARLE’S unparalelled stylistic design for SLEEPING BEAUTY. from what I have heard from artists they worked with him, he must have been a very difficult character to deal with, very demanding. well – look at all the designs and BG-paintings he created for SLEEPING BEAUTY! masterpieces! usually I am not a big fan of extremely detailed backgrounds, but in this case it is different. all the detail in his artwork works as a texture like in the medieval gobelins. he was very careful with the design of these textured elements, like the plants and trees in the forest, the interior of the cottage or the stone walls in the kings castle and the different more mossy walls in maleficent’s ruins, that the paintings never feel overworked. on the contrary, they are the perfect stage for the very designed and less detailed characters. the color-combinations throughout the whole film are some of the most beautiful and tasteful in animation.

© disney enterprises, inc



24 10 2009

these screencaps are from a chinese animation masterpiece – MUDI, or – ‘the boy with the bamboo flute’. animated in 1963 by TE WEI and QIAN JAJUN, produced by studio shanghai. when I was teaching in china two years ago I had a chance to meet several of the animators of studio shanghai’s past. most of them are now teaching animation to the new generation of artists. the animation technique of the above film is very interesting. when I was visiting studio shanghai I saw a few originals. some of the animation was done in the traditional chinese watercolor technique on special watercolor paper. the backgrounds were painted with cel paint and ink on cels and then photographed on top of the animation. the other way around. beautiful watercolors!


© studio shanghai