Sunday, August 26, 2007

Blair's Flair

During a time when a woman's career choices were (a) secretary, (b) teacher, or (c) unpaid diaper-changer, Mary Blair was cranking out some of the most gorgeously-colored animation ever created.

Born in Oklahoma, Mary wound up at the Chouinard Art Institute in LA, and eventually worked fort Walt Disney (who apparently was a huge fan of her work). She worked on Cinderella, Peter Pan, Song of the South, and many others.

Blair's color sense was preternatural. Her gouache work harnessed an amazingly sophisticated palette, a point not lost on one of her contemporaries, who remembered her this way:

"Mary was very friendly and very artistic. She had a lot of glasses. She used to have a lot of different colored contact lenses as well. She used to wear green or blue or any color to go with the outfit she was wearing that day. I’d watch her put them in and I thought, “I wouldn’t want to wear those.” Maybe that affected her colors. Her colors were always bright. She used theatrical gels and cut them up and put them on top of her artwork."

Check out her Bettie Page 'do -- this gal was clearly a humdinger!

A retrospective book of her life and work is available at Amazon.

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