Mary Blair is the focus of my girl crush this time around.
Like most in and around my generation, Disney played a major role in my life as a little girl. My ideas of love and loss were shaped by these stories early on. I watched Dumbo for the first time at age 2 (over and over again) and because of the genius of Walt Disney and the Nine Old Men he chose to bring these old stories to life, my tiny heart was introduced to brand new feelings. Cinderella showed me bullying for the first time and how the nice girl who stays true to herself and is good to everyone around her, comes out on top. Snow White taught me about friendship. Lady and the Tramp about love and Sword and the Stone about strength.
It’s no secret why these movies had such an impact. No matter what new technology is introduced to the animation industry, nothing beats the classic Disney 2d animation. Here we are in the age of 3d glasses, CG characters and surround sound – yet when reaching for an animated movie to throw on it’s Peter Pan I choose. When walking around the two animation studios I’ve worked at, it’s concept work from Dumbo and Sleeping Beauty I see pinned on everyone’s walls for inspiration.
So who was Mary Blair in all of this. Mary Blair was the woman who gave color and style to our favorites. She was the only woman who worked next to Walt Disney in an extremely male dominated industry back in the 1940’s. She is a legend in the animation, story telling industry. Her confident, bold paint strokes gave Cinderella her sweetness and the Ugly Step Sister’s their nasty demeanor. It’s Mary Blair who made the moonlit night before the clock struck Midnight come to life.
In a world where men ran it all, Mary Blair stayed focused and just did what she did best and what she loved most. Lucky for us Walt Disney was smart enough to recognize how special she was.