Mary Blair was one of history's most well respected artist, animator and designer, and she served as the lead concept artist for the animated films “Cinderella,” “Alice in Wonderland” and “Peter Pan,” among others. She also contributed art to the 1941 animated movie “Dumbo.”
She really blossomed as a result of the South America Good Neighbor travels they experienced,” said Mindy Johnson, author of “Ink & Paint: The Women of Walt Disney’s Animation,” published by Disney Editions in 2017. “She was the only woman [artist] on that particular trek. It transformed her artistry; it was pivotal for her.”
“It really is through the artistry of Mary that formed the essence of ‘Cinderella,’ ” Johnson said. “‘Cinderella’ is a tried and true fairy tale, but it was her interpretation, her sense of color and style, that really brings that story into its own.”
Blair was a favorite of Disney, which apparently caused some jealousy among her predominantly male colleagues at the studio. Disney appreciated her futuristic, conceptual approaches, as well as her color choices.
She once said, “Walt said that I knew about colors he had never heard of before.”
Many of Blair’s original concepts and designs were not used in films she worked on. Other artists and animators said her work and characters were too flat and abstract, and they reverted back to the rounded characters and stylized backgrounds that had proven successful before.
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