The Art of Disney Animation: Mary Blair
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Mary Brown Robinson was born in McAlester, in Oklahoma, on the 21stof October 1911. Bright young artist, she won in 1931 a scholarship for the Chouinard Art Institute of Los Angeles. She got her diploma two years later, but, didn't find work, so she came back to live for a while at her parents in San Jose. She dreamed about a painter's career, however the economic situation linked to the great depression is difficult. On the 3rd of March 1934 she married Lee Blair, met in the Chouinard Art Institute. Talented artist, Lee Blair is appointed, at the age of 23, President of the California Watercolor Society. The couple Blair both exposed their watercolors in numerous private galleries. In 1938, when Lee Blair is hired to Disney studios as director of the color for Pinocchio, Mary takes her place in the animation department of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios.
In April 1940, on the advice of Lee, she joins the team of creation of Disney studios. She makes her debuts on the sequence Babby Ballet of the second version abandoned of Fantasia, then creates numerous watercolors for the first project of Lady and the Tramp, written by Joe Grant. In June 1941, Mary Blair goes with Walt Disney and so me members of his team to a study journey of three months in South America. Admiring the work made by Mary Blair during this journey, Walt Disney appoints her artistic director of Saludos Amigos (1943), then The Three Caballeros (1945). During the next decade, she assumes the post of artistic director for the main projects of animated films. She abandons her favorite technique, the watercolor, for the gouache. It is on Alice in Wonderland (1951) that her influence is most significant. She realizes hundreds of preliminary studies, which are of use as base for the decorators. After the conception of Peter Pan (1953), she leaves Disney studios to dedicate herself to painting. In 1963, Walt Disney asks her to come back to assure the artistic creation of the attraction It's a Small World, intended for the international fair of New York (1964-65). This famous attraction is finally brought back to Disneyland in 1966. Marie Blair continues her creation work for the Californian Park and realizes mural frescoes for the Inner Space Building and the Circle-Vision Building of Tomorrowland.
In 1970, for her last collaboration with Disney, she signs the decoration of the Contemporary Resort Hotel of Walt Disney World in Florida. In the last years of her life, Mary meets with some personal and family problems, increased by alcohol... All this contributed to the deterioration of her physical and mental health and her art... Mary died in 1978, in Soquel in California, at the age of 67 (only)... Mary remains this day one of the artists of Disney the most appreciated (although at her time, many artists did not like her work and were jealous of its privileged relations with Walt Disney), although none of its drawings was used as such in a Disney animated film.
Babby Ballet (abandonned) (1941)
Lady and the Tramp (1943 concept arts)
Don Quichotte (abandonned)
Saludos Amigos (1943)
The Three Caballeros (1945)
Song of the South (1946)
Melody Time (1948)
So Dear to my Heart (1949)
Ichabod and Mr Toad (1949)
Alice in Wonderland (1951)
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