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Join us on Wednesday November 18th at 2 p.m. for a fun filled session of Art Exploration Teen Edition where we will learn even more about the art of Mary Blair!

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Have you ever dreamed of animating for Disney films and seeing your art work all over the world? Well that is just what Mary Blair did. Her passion for art took her to new heights making her artwork recognized by many.

Early Life
Mary Browne Robinson was born on October 21, 1911 in McAlester, Oklahoma.

Her family was relatively poor but encouraged her love of art.

She moved around the country several times during her childhood before graduating from San Jose State University in 1931. She received a scholarship to attend Chouinard Art institute in Los Angeles and graduated in 1933. 

 Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles

In 1934 she married fellow artist Lee Everett Blair whom she had met back in college and would go on to have 2 sons.  

Lee and Mary Blair and their 2 children

Watercolors
Mary Blair first started out with watercolors and would go on in many interviews to mention it as her favorite medium.  She and her husband were a part of the California School of Watercolor. 

She quickly  became known for being an imaginative colorist and designer.

This is one of Mary Blair’s early watercolor paintings completed in the 1930s.

The Animation Industry
Her first job in the animation field was with a company called Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, better known as MGM studios. She then moved on to UB Iwerks studios.

Disney
In the 1940’s Blair reluctantly went to work for Walt Disney Animations where her work was well received.

She worked on Dumbo, an early version of Lady and the Tramp, and a second version of Fantasia titled “Baby Ballet” which would not be released until the late 1990’s. 

Her work on the original Dumbo.

South America with Walt
In the 1940’s Blair traveled with Walt Disney to many different countries in South America as part of a research tour. This tour was made possible by President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Good Neighbor Policy.  

While traveling, Walt was impressed with her art work and appointed her art supervisor for the films Saludos Amigos and The Three Cabaileros.

Mary Blair getting inspiration in South America.

Start of a Career
Her South American tour with Walt Disney launched a lifetime career with Disney. 

She would go on to work on Fun and Fancy Free, So Dear to My Heart, and the more recognized of the Disney movies such as Alice in Wonderland, Cinderella, and Peter Pan.  

Mary Blair’s Peter Pan’s concept art.

Artwork from Cinderella 

Artwork from Alice in Wonderland

Freelance Art
Mary Blair took a break from working on Disney projects and made a name for herself working on projects for Nabisco, Maxwell House and many more companies. She also illustrated several popular Little Golden Books for the company Simon & Schuster. She also designed sets for Radio City Music Hall.

This is one of the golden books that Mary Blair illustrated that is still in print today.

She also did the art for It’s a Small World which still is present in the Park.

Mary Blair passed away on July 26, 1978, in Soquel, California.

Resources

If you enjoyed this glimpse into Mary Blair and her art and would like to learn more join us for Art Exporation on November 18th at 2pm and get to follow along with a fun Mary Blair inspired art project. 

If you want to know more explore these fun titles: