Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Following the Leader

I discovered an artist I am ashamed of not knowing of until now. Mary Blair.  Disney movies like Cinderella, The Three Caballeros, Alice and Wonderland, and especially Peter Pan have influenced my imagination and sensibilities and shower singing since childhood. She is the color stylist and concept artist behind all these films. Considering the release date of Peter Pan (1953), this is rather impressive.....obviously the art world for women wasn't exactly an open playing field at the time. She's said to be "Disney's Modernist" and now I'm obseeesssed. 

“Mary was the first artist I knew of to have different shades of red next to each other. You just didn’t do that! But Mary made it work,” said Animator Frank Thomas.

Apparently she wore glasses with different tinted lenses because she liked seeing all the different colors. Who knows how much of an impact artists like Mary Blair had over such a vast age-group of children,  How they interpreted the world...color.....characters.  
She made Captain Hook's coat red. She made Alice's dress that bright blue. She made the Cheshire Cat purple and pink

There is so much more to her than what is in this measly post. I highly recommend web researching her RIGHT NOW while you're surfing the web at work. 

 This is one of her early water colors before she worked for Disney. The heavy use of like-colors in the majority of the painting makes the fire so vibrant, I love the reflection of light in the underbelly of the umbrella! It reminds me of the Peter Pan and Tiger Lily scene in Peter Pan.

I'm sure you can piece together which movies these concept pieces influenced. 

She was also the designer behind "It's a Small World" at Disney land. Her use of shape and color is so reminiscent of that time. Such cluttered geometric loveliness. Where do you think she derived her inspiration from?

Aaaaaaaaaaaand she was beautiful and rocked the peasant blouse hard. 


  1. Wonderful post. I have heard of her. She was actually mentioned in the introduction on the Cinderella DVD. What an amazing woman! Those images are iconic and outstanding.

  2. Found this post via Mandy B's blog - great information - I'd not heard of her but, you're right, the influence she's had over so many lives is incredible.


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