disney jewels 1.4

26 03 2020

© mary blair / disney enterprises, inc





style 6

19 07 2009

MARY BLAIR, born in 1911, was married to LEE BLAIR ( brother of PRESTON BLAIR, well known for his ‘how to animate’-booklet ). both became very well know watercolor artists, LEE even was at the age of 23 the president of the CALIFORNIA WATERCOLOR SOCIETY. lee blair joined disney in 1938 and became one of the art directors on PINOCCHIO. MARY BLAIR went to work for MGM – animation.

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but in 1940 she left MGM and started at the disney studio as well, in the CHARACTER MODEL DEPARTMENT, headed by JOE GRANT. for joe’s idea of LADY AND THE TRAMP she created numerous watercolor sketches. during the early war years, in 1941, disney and a group of designers and animators went on a good will tour through southern america. mary blair joined the group and got walt disney’s attention with some concept designs for the by this trip inspired features SALUDOS AMIGOS and THREE CABALLEROS.

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from the mid-forties on she designed most of the disney films, all the way through CINDERELLA, ALICE IN WONDERLAND and PETER PAN. in 1953 she left the studio to follow her own ideas in paintings, children books and other areas incl. some major advertising campaigns. disney asked her to come back in the sixties to design attractions for disneyland. she died in 1978.

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mary blair’s influences were very different. they came from contemporary commercial art like european advertising posters, VOGUE fashion designs, NEW YORKER covers as well as folk art and the colorful southern-american culture.

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© disney enterprises, inc





more influence

19 09 2008

in one of the last posts I talked about the art-influence of the disney artists. now I think I should show some of the artwork of the artists I mentioned. there is first LEE BLAIR, husband of MARY BLAIR. he painted the following watercolor piece in 1938.

then there is GUSTAF TENGGREN with a book illustration for KING ARTHUR AND THE KNIGHTS OF THE ROUND TABLE. and further down an illustration from the book THE ANIMAL FAIR by ALICE and MARTIN PROVENSEN.





influence

18 09 2008

compare the three recreated BG’s, they are all from disney productions. the first from the 1939 short PRACTICAL PIG, then 1942 BAMBI and the last 1953 PETER PAN. they all had different designers at their time, PRACTICAL PIG was heavily influenced by the children book style and their artists. like GUSTAVE TENGGREN who worked in the studio at that time designing characters and key-moments for SNOW WHITE and PINOCCHIO. but the influence came as well from earlier children book artists like ARTHUR RACKHAM, EDMUND DULAC and KAY NIELSEN, who worked shortly in the studio on FANTASIA. BAMBI finally was styled by a chinese/american artist TYRUS WONG, who worked in the studio as background painter. you can clearly see the chinese art influence, the simpicity and balance in his designs and in the final film. additional inspiration came from the german romantic painters, like LUDWIG RICHTER.
about a decade passed until PETER PAN was released, styled by legendary designer MARY BLAIR. she was married to LEE BLAIR ( brother of famous animator PRESTON BLAIR ) and both were well connected to the american painter scene, especially watercolor artists. LEE was a famous artist himself and you can see the influence of the art at that time in MARY BLAIR’S paintings. she herself influenced a lot of later artists, even today.
I know from JOE GRANT that a lot of the leading disney talent during those years had contacts to the art scene, JOE had friends in europe, especially germany. he showed me his collection of the first edition of the german political magazine SIMPLICISSIMUS from 1890 on. no wonder that one of the magazin’s famous artists HEINRICH KLEY became such a big influence for the character design at disney in those days. besides NIELSEN and TENGGREN there were the PROVENSENS, amazing children book illustrators and ALBERT HURTER, a swiss illustrator, who all worked under JOE GRANT’S guidance in a CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT DEPARTMENT at disney. it was more than that, it developed future feature film concepts and styles.

© disney enterprises, inc








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