Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Eyvind Earle Video Bio


This short video (Link to YouTube) tells the story of Eyvind Earle, who overcame a troubled childhood to be one of the most productive and style-setting Disney background artists. 


His gouache method for the Sleeping Beauty backgrounds involved placing a blob for a bush or tree and elaborating it with smaller and smaller leaves.


(Link to YouTube) When Disney was still alive, the studio produced a video called "Four Artists Paint One Tree" about how each artist brings a unique approach to observational painting. 
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8 comments:

Daroo said...

Some of this footage is from "4 Artists paint 1 tree" which I recently re-watched-- and it shows Eyvind Earle painting with tube casein mixed in cups to a "milk-like" consistency. I find it an interesting way to work because when working on a flat mixing tin, I either work in a much thinner wash or a thicker (like warm butter?) mixture. I wonder if this way of working comes from scenery painting?

Later in his fine art career, Earle switched to acrylics (as an underpainting for oils) but kept the cup practice.

Timothy Bollenbaugh said...

Form over Function: EE created highly stylized backgrounds at Disney. While I would attempt to follow his style to learn, mine were only technique, style, hence "form".
EE's Function is stated in "Awaking Beauty". Stylized English Gothic decoration and design akin to cathedral architecture, tapestries, which drew from Persian influence, which shared many characteristics with Japanese art. And it lived.
For me this is an exemplary difference—a language vs a recitation.

James Gurney said...

Daroo, Yes, I'll link to that short "4 Artists Paint a Tree," which is a good one for thinking about style and observation. I wish the Disney studios did more behind the scenes art videos like that. I think you're right in suggesting that the strictly procedural approach to painting grew out of scenery painting and background painting.

Timothy, as you suggest, EE's style is a tricky one for us to use as inspiration, because it's so unique that the influence is obvious. Same is true with the influence of Maxfield Parrish, who is another original.

scottT said...

It's surprising how much black is involved in the lay in, given the finished backgrounds are so light in value and pastel in color. It also shows how all that detail was essentially filigree over big powerful abstract shapes ensuring a powerful design underpinning it all.

Susan Krzywicki said...

That tree - a California native! Quercus agrifolia. https://calscape.org/Quercus-agrifolia-(Coast-Live-Oak)?srchcr=sc5c5bb64fec4e9

I think these people may have been painting at Griffith Park - because it was practically right across the street from the animation studios. Griffith Park has huge old oaks and boulders and in those days still seemed pretty wild.

Daroo said...

Yeah scottT, I agree.
I think the procedural approach was in part to help the cohesion of multiple artists in achieving a singular look in the backgrounds-- BUT mainly, it was a way For Earle to create strong, graphic shape design. Even when painting en plein air in "4 Artists..." Earle's goal was to impose his design on what he was observing. He would establish a clear silhouette, then subdivide that big shape into smaller, almost calligraphic details. I think it would be more common for an artist to keep the details of the big shape close in value but varied in color, Earle uses a full value range but then groups the bigger shapes by hue and chroma ( -- at least on Sleeping Beauty).

James Gurney said...

Four reactions I had on watching this again:
1) I'll bet none of these artists are accustomed to painting out-of-doors. They're kneeling on the ground, their stuff isn't well organized, and none of them even has a French easel.
2) Their styles are influenced by abstract expressionism, which was so current in the time. Copies of American Artist from this time were the same way. Nobody is painting in the "realistic-impressionistic" style that contemporary plein air artists would use.
3) Their personal styles are so different from each other. What an amazing challenge for Walt Disney to keep these strong artistic personalities unified in their vision on a given movie.
4) The image of Walt Disney reading quotes from Henri's "The Art Spirit" is deliciously surreal. Walt is so good as an on-camera salesman.

Daroo said...

Ha! All standing in open sun!
Your points are true -- except for maybe Josh Meador who was an fx animator and would often observe natural phenomenon to create fire smoke and water fx. Hopefully he did paint outside because he uses lighter fluid as a solvent!

Walt Peregoy: was the main designer on 101 Dalmatians --the most abstract background treatment of the features. There are some funny videos of him on you tube in his later years giving his true opinion of Walt Disney and other artists.

Marc Davis: definitely considered this method of abstraction as an approach to distinguish "fine art" . I don't think he painted plein air, but he did keep a sketchbook and drew from life --travel and zoo sketching. I'm a big fan of his "line and wash" style he used as an imagineer at WED and his travels in Papua New Guinea. Check out the book " Marc Davis -- Walt Disney's Renaissance Man".