Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Walt Disney and The Art Spirit

In this vintage 1958 video, Walt Disney reads from Robert Henri's The Art Spirit as he introduces some of the artists who worked on the Sleeping Beauty production.

(Video link) Disney explains the importance of an artist's individual style, but also how each member of the team must set aside his personal vision to match the style of the studio production.

Later in the video, Marc Davis, Eyvind Earle, Walter Peregoy, and Joshua Meador, go outdoors to paint a live oak, each one in a different style, each one explaining his intentions. Some paint squatting on the ground with their canvases propped awkwardly on rocks. At 9:29, Eyvind Earle shows how he mixes his caseins in cups. Meador uses highly flammable lighter fluid with his oil paint. Glad he's not smoking!

Book: The Art Spirit
The Art Disney's Snow White
Sleeping Beauty background art online gallery
Thanks, Andrew Sides 


Sidharth Chaturvedi said...

Thanks so much for sharing this, James. It's amazing to see the wildly different pieces that they all come up with, and so informative to hear the thought process behind their decisions. Such an incredible amount of knowledge packed into a relatively short video! And of course, all four paintings were breathtaking.

Robert J. Simone said...

Ultimately, we all do teach ourselves....the role of an instructor is to inform, encourage and inspire. But the student of painting bears the responsibility of incorporating principles into their own manner of working. Those visual principles become the foundation for expression. That's what makes painting so fascinating, at least for me.

Jaime Howard said...

Thanks so much for posting this video. It's so wonderful to see the animators as a team and then working in their own styles. I'm showing this to all my painting students.

Jaime Howard

Rich said...

Most interesting!
Greatest picnic I've witnessed.

Tom Hart said...

Very, very cool! Thanks to Andrew and you for bringing this to our attention.

I see that this was originally broadcast in '58 in (I assume) one of the incarnations of the "World of Disney" series. It makes me wonder, considering how media savvy Disney was, if there isn't a treasure trove of other film records like this. I wouldn't be too surprised if some might have been made for in-house use. How great it would be to come across those! In any case, it's wonderful that this is as long and informative as it is. To think it was (I assume) made for general audiences and that it's about 15 minutes long. How attention spans (and the networks' estimatation of the intelligence of the viewing public) have changed.

Nathan Fowkes said...


Andrew said...

James, I'm glad you enjoyed it as much as I did! I've watched it a few times now.

Something I noticed in the video after a second viewing, what are they using for the background paintings for Sleeping Beauty? I almost want to say that it may be casein, but I suppose I could also see it being cel vinyl paint.

I also wonder if some good photos of the paintings exist anywhere on the internet, as I'd love to scrutinize Eyvind Earle's tree portrait. It looks like he didn't do much in the way of softening edges or blending, and instead just layered the paint on as is, letting closely mixed values and colors optically soften the edges instead of doing it himself.

Unknown said...

okay....I just had to stop and collect myself a little after watching this.There are so many connections in it for me,personal and emotional, that span years.Thank you, Drew and James.
And James I'm not much of a computer guy but I've been following your blog for a year and a half.It's fun,funny,educational,challenging and possessed of such a gentle, brave and generous spirit.Wow!

Shogunru said...

Thanks for the share. It was really interesting to be able to see the original backgrounds in their stages of creation for sleeping beauty. I wonder if there is anywhere that you can buy the background paper with the acme punches premade. Maybe the studio was just taking the paper and punching it on their own at the desired lengths for use on the animation disk and rule mechanism for panning during shots. I was also quite impressed by the tree "portraiture" with the casein paint. This medium is definitely intriguing me since you began to share your own exploration with these paints. Once again your post are helpful, insightful, and entertaining Thanks James!!!

James Gurney said...

Thanks, everybody.

Drew, yes, a guy named Rob Richards has an awesome website of animation backgrounds, some reconstructed from film shots where they digitally removed the animation. Here's the link for the Sleeping Beauty backgrounds:


Diana Moses Botkin said...

What a flashback! I remember seeing the tree segment (or something like it) as a kid. I don't know if I missed the first part of the film about the animation, or it didn't make an impression at the time.

I do remember thinking about how differently the artists painted that same tree. I've remembered it more than once. As a child I didn't really like (or "get") the more abstract design but now find it interesting.

Walt Disney's face and voice are so familiar, he almost seems like a member of the family.

Thank you for sharing this very entertaining and inspiring video.

jytte said...

I aso saw this when I was 9 years old in Copenhagen. I remember Disney himself and the painters, but as a child the interest was mostly in the sleeping beauty herself :o)

david said...

This was very beautiful.I loved it very much.Thanks for sharing it..

Iphone Applications Free

david said...

This was very beautiful and interesting.I loved it very much.Thanks for sharing it..

Free Iphone Apps

VickiRossArt said...

WOW! Even the music was perfectly synced to the video...and also said 50's.

Unknown said...

Free Facebook Likes, Free Targeted Facebook Likes, Make Unlimited Likes on your Facebook Fan Page, Facebook Share, Facebook Followers, Facebook Post Like and Share, Twitter Followers, Twitter Tweets, Twitter Favorites, Google Follow, LinkedIn share, Youtube Views Likes and Subscribes
Social Media Marketing is the easy way to increase your Folow Likes and Subsribes

Humza Khan said...

this was phenomenal! I loved watching these behind the scenes featurettes and wanting to be doing work like those guys! Now that I am, it's still great to watch! Thanks so much!