artist crush: Mary Blair


If you’ve never heard of Mary Blair, you’re missing out.  And you have been missing out for a long time.  Let me tell you a little bit about one of my favorite artists of all time…

Mary Blair practiced art seriously from the 1930s through the 1970s, working on personal illustrations and commercial images, most notably for Walt Disney.  In fact, her iconic vibrant yet thoughtful color combinations (which I love so much) were brought about through her work with Disney and can be seen beginning in Disney’s goodwill tour to South America in the ’40s.

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from the South American goodwill tour

I find all of her work for Disney very wonderful.  All the the images have so much depth in detailed texture, while they use solid crisp colors to bring them to life.  And what I love the most about her images is that the people in them all seem so happy and innocent, and capture in their paces and surroundings a nostalgia that only ’50s style cartooning can.

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Johnny Appleseed

Here’s an image of Johnny Appleseed sewing apple seeds with his angel.  The folktale tells that Johnny’s tree’s blossoms are what makes the clouds you can see in the heavens.

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And here’s an iconic scene of Cinderella dancing with Prince Charming at the ball. But even in the not-so-innocent world outside of Disney, Mary Blair still keeps her adorable and cheeky aesthetic.

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Pall Mall

That’s right, even in cigarette ads for Pall Mall.

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Mary Blair’s Take on an Artistic Nude

And in her artistic nudes.  Mary Blair’s work has had a huge influence on the way I paint through sharing an informative source of work for an artist who used child-like inspiration to create charming illustrative works.  While my subject matter is different, I can only hope that someday I too will be able to convey the same amount of wit and beauty in my illustrations as she does. (To find out more, and see more of Mary’s work visit her website at Magic of Mary Blair.)

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