Saturday, October 22, 2011

Review of Mary Blair's World of Color A Centennial Tribute

 As most of you know by now, I am a huge Disney fan and a huge animation fan in general. When it came to my attention that The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences held a Marc Davis Celebration of Animation Series I was more than intrigued to say the very least!

Mary Blair's World of Color: A Centennial Tribute was the fifth such Marc Davis Lecture Series that have been fortunate enough to attend.

The panel was led by Charles Solomon, a widely respected animation critic and historian. On the first panel was Alice Davis, wife of Marc Davis and legendary Disney costume designer, and Maggie Richardson, Mary's niece.

Alice discussed the first time she was introduced to Mary Blair. She knew from that first meeting that they would be good friends. Maggie discussed that when she was growing up that her aunt Mary would always make her paintings instead of giving her a toy or a doll. Little did she know how much her aunt's art would be valued as she got older.

We were then shown clips from Saludos Amigos and The Three Caballeros. The bright colors found in both of these feature films were very Mary Blair. The bright, bold colors and designs were all things that Mary was known for.

Then we saw Once Upon a Wintertime from Melody Time, the March of the Cards sequence from Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan with the Mermaids sequence from Peter Pan.

One Upon a Wintertime is one of my favorites. Mary's concept art for the backgrounds and for the characters were closely followed. My favorite part of this short is that there are bold color changes to express the different emotional turns in the story.

In the March of the Cards sequence of Alice in Wonderland, Mary's wit and love of whimsy come to play here. Wonderful character designs combined amazing backgrounds truly brought Alice's crazy dream to life!

The next clip from Peter Pan, Mary's use of color creates a believability in this entire place. She created this beautiful Mermaid Lagoon that looks like it fits anywhere in the real world.

Finally, we saw the shorts Susie The Little Blue Coupe and The Little House. For both of these shorts, Mary was the sole art director.

John Lasseter has said that Susie The Little Blue Coupe is one of his favorite shorts. I'm sure it helped influence him when it came to make the movie Cars.

Pete Docter has said that The Little House influenced him when it came to creating the house in UP. He wanted to create the cozy feel of the house.

The second panel consisted of Pete Doctor, director of Monsters Inc. and UP. Michael Giaimo visual development artist for Pocahontas. Eric Goldberg whose directing credits include Pocahontas and the segments Rhapsody in blue and Carnival of the Animals for Fantasia 2000. He also was the character designer for the Genie in Aladdin. Susan Goldberg, the art director on the Rhapsody in Blue and Carnival of the Animal sequences for Fantasia 2000. Dice Tsutsumi, the art director on Toy Story 3.

Pete discussed that Mary's artwork influenced the design of the globe tile work seen here in the lobby of Monsters Inc. factory.

Mary's work also influenced Ellie's paintings in UP. Take a look at the Paradise Falls painting and the painting that would have been the baby's room.

Michael was up next and showed Colors of The Wind from Pocahontas. The bold color choices and designs creates a wonderful realistic feel but yet creates a different feeling from the place we really know.

Eric Goldberg spoke about how his sequence for Rhapsody in Blue evokes the curved charactered designs of Mary's from One Upon a Wintertime.

Susan Goldberg was next and showed off some of the work she did for the Gran Fiesta attraction at EPCOT inside the Mexico pavilion. She got the rare chance to actually recreate characters in Mary's style.

Dice showed off hsi personal work and some of his work on the color script for Toy Story 3. He discussed that even though it appears to be a lot of colors, there really aren't. Dice discussed the impact of color and that to get the most impact you use very little of it until you need it for the impactful moment. He felt that Mary used a minimalistic approach to color at times as well.

It was truly a wonderful evening of hearing stories about a true Disney Legend! Also, it was great to hear from today's artists discussing that they are still influenced by her work. I love these events and really thank The Academy for putting them on!

We also found out at 9pm our time that evening, that we weren't the only ones paying tribute to Mary that night. Google also paid tribute to Mary Blair. The picture below is of their Google logo if Mary Blair had done it!

Check out the link below to watch excerpts from the event:
Mary Blair's World of Color

*disclaimer: All images copyright of Disney, Google, and The Academy

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