Thursday, October 21, 2010

October 21: The Most Amazing Colorist of All Time

"I knew Mary very well. She was an extraordinary artist, and Walt thought very highly of her. She was the most amazing colorist of all time." -Marc Davis (Disney Legend and one of Walt's Nine Old Men)

The "Mary" Marc Davis spoke of was Mary Blair and she was born Mary Browne Robinson in Oklahoma on this day in 1911.

Although born in McAlester, Oklahoma, her family first moved to Texas while she was still very young and by the age of 7 moved again to California. After studying at the San Jose State College she was awarded a scholarship to the prestigious Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles.
Soon marrying artist Lee Everett Blair, the couple began to work in the animation industry - actually first joining the Ub Iwerks Studio. Later Lee began to work for Walt Disney first with wife Mary joining him by 1940.

Working briefly on Dumbo (and an early version of Lady and the Tramp) Mary actually left Disney for a brief time in 1941. But she soon returned, just in time to take part in a trip to South America with Walt, his wife Lillian, and a group of Disney animators and writers. She worked on concept art for Saludos Amigos and The Three Caballeros.

By the 1950s, Mary Blair was an important member of Walt's staff - introducing modern art and vibrant colors to the studio while working on Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, and Peter Pan. After completing Peter Pan, Mary once again left Disney and began working as a freelance graphic artist and illustrator.
Highly regarded by Walt, he convinced her to work on the It's a Small World attraction for the 1964 New York World's Fair. In 1967 she created mural art for Disneyland's Tomorrowland Promenade and prior to 1971 a 90-foot high mural for Disney World's Contemporary Resort.

Honored a Disney Legend in 1991 (13 years after her death) Mary Blair was one of the first women to be given the honor.

Click HERE for more October 21 Disney history.

1 comment:

A Snow White Sanctum said...

Hadn't heard of her before. Nice post.