Thursday, May 23, 2024

A Milt Kahl Sketch Explained


Recently I had the good fortune to purchase this beautiful sketch by Milt Kahl. It was part of the Marc Davis Auction at Heritage. So what the heck is going on here visually?

I remember seeing the drawing framed in Marc and Alice's home years ago. At that time Alice explained: The woman portrayed is Alice's mother Mildred. Marc and Milt Kahl had been colleagues as well as best friends for many years. Alice thought it was high time for her mother to meet Milt. But beforehand Alice warned her mom over the phone that this friend of the Davis' often used vulgar language in his conversations. During the actual visit everybody got along great. Then there was Mildred's poodle who exhibited "romantic feelings" toward one of Milt's legs. The next day Alice called her mom again, this time to apologize for some of Milt's profanities. She responded by saying that she thought he was perfectly charming... and if he couldn't use any bad language, he would not be able to speak at all. 

True story. So on her upcoming birthday Milt sent Mildred this sketch. After her passing Marc and Alice ended up with the drawing. 

Sunday, May 19, 2024

Indian Wildlife

A little while ago, while I was working on the Jungle Book exhibition for the WDFM, I had the idea to come up with sketches of the actual animals being portrayed in the film. The set is still not complete yet, but here are the first three.

Sunday, April 28, 2024

Aristocats Art

People don't talk much about the art direction for The Aristocats. I think it is beautiful. After the conventional, painterly backgrounds for The Jungle Book the Disney team decided to go back to a more graphic look with black line work. Earlier 101 Dalmatians and The Sword in the Stone had started this trend. When you have amazing background artists like Al Dempster, Bill Layne and Ralp Hulett you can be assured to have terrific art no matter what the style may be. 

A Ken Anderson development sketch.

The human characters still blow me away. Milt Kahl designed and animated them realistically, but their anatomy shows sophisticated, simplified graphic designs.

John Lounsbery helped Milt with the animation of Edgar, the butler. as well as the old lawyer George Hautecourt.

I believe this is a Frank Thomas scene.

Currently there is no good version of The Aristocats to watch anywhere. The film looks unrecognizable in its over-restored state. The old DVD still has a somewhat authentic look.

Backgrounds Disney ARL, cels Heritage Auctions.


Monday, April 22, 2024

Earth Day/Marc Davis

Happy Earth Day! Today I hope we can all reflect and contemplate the importance of the natural world and its wildlife. One of its biggest champions was Marc Davis. He and his wife Alice supported several environmental and wildlife protection organizations. Of course we all know about Marc's immense talent for depicting animals. He was an expert in anatomy and motion study. This is evident in his animation, theme park designs and his personal fine art. Here are a few masterful pieces that were recently part of a big Marc Davis art auction at Heritage.


Saturday, April 13, 2024

The Anatomy of Motion

This is the title for a book that Marc Davis had been working on for many years. Unfortunately it was never published, but all of Marc's research still exists. Motion range as well as comparative anatomy among a number of species are top subjects. Also many studies of bone and muscle structure. 

The book was intended for artists, animators and physicians. I will post Marc's initial sketches (he also produced final illustrations) from time to time, and I highly recommend studying them. Print them out and create your own Marc Davis Anatomy booklet!

I believe some of this material dates all the way back to the late 1950s.

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Another Ward Kimball Post

It always fascinates me to see an artist's style change over the years or decades. Ward Kimball drew these caricatures of colleague Harper Goff sometime during the 1950s. Goff was a Disney story man/art director for the film 20.000 Leagues Under The Sea. Alongside Kimball he also played the banjo in the Disney artists jazz band Firehouse Five Plus Two. I just found out that later he would art direct the iconic, original Willie Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.

Kimball's graphic style is very much - labeled as - mid century modern. Sort of non Disney,  experimental. But let's not forget that he co directed the 1953 short film Toot Whistle, Plunk & Boom at a time when a few Disney artists were trying to branch out into new visual horizons. 


Here is a reminder of Kimball's drawing style a decade or so earlier. Fred Moore was setting the Disney style at that time. The characters looked round, dimensional and as Art Babbitt would say "juicy".

Both styles of course absolutely brilliant!!!

Saturday, April 6, 2024

Otto Dill

Up until a few days ago I have never heard of Otto Dill. I don't know how that's even possible, since Dill is a German Painter who lived from 1884 until 1957. As soon as I googled him I fell in love with his work. He was known as the painter of lions, but his work includes a vast variety of animals as well as landscapes. I am still trying to analyze his impressionistic style, and who might have influenced him. I can see hints of Delacroix  and Daumier. 

Dill started drawing and observing animals in zoos, before traveling to North Africa, Italy, France and Spain for further study and painting. He was an extremely prolific artist, but unfortunately a large collection of his work was destroyed in 1943 during a bombing in WWII. Still, much of his art is still around and sought after by collectors and museums. In 2001 his home town Neustadt an der Weinstrasse opened a museum in his name. They only exhibit his work. 

I don't know about you guys, but I ask myself the question: Where have you been hiding all my life?

This painting of a tiger knocks me out...for obvious reasons.