Saturday, December 6, 2014

Retta and Mary

A wonderful photo showing story artist/animator Retta Scott with visual development artist Mary Blair. They are studying a baby alligator at the Griffith Park Zoo in 1940 or 1941,  I assume in preparation for Fantasia's dinosaur sequence.
Both ladies were enormously talented and had several things in common:
They worked in the animation department for several years, leaving and returning to the studio several times.
When not working at the Burbank Studio, they freelanced by illustrating Disney story books.
Retta is mostly known for her extraordinary animation of on the vicious hunting dogs in the film Bambi. Everybody at the studio was surprised when they found out that a female artist produced these powerful drawings of these villainous canines. Animator Eric Larson helped a little with the timing of the action, but he later gave all credit to Retta for creating the dynamic sequence, in which Faline is threatened by these dogs.
Mary Blair needs no introduction, her work at Disney has been the subject of books and exhibitions.
Both of these ueber-talented artists paved the way for future female Disney artists like Silvia Roemer (layout), Ann Guenther (background) and Ruthie Thompson (scene planning) among many others.

Look at the raw power in this sketch by Retta Scott.

A Mary Blair's sketch for The Three Caballeros. Unbelievable, appetizing color choices!


  1. Thank you for introducing Retta Scott's artwork to me!

  2. It's interesting in regards to the comment about everyone being surprised a female did that scene... It's clear to see that women in animation have come such a long way. Yet there's still a stigma with female artists in this industry.

    Correct me if I'm wrong but Jennifer Lee is the first women to even have a directors credit at Disney, and Pixar just recently got it's first female animation supervisor.
    The Pixar women spoke at their CTN panel about how few women there are in departments such as story, and how their opinions would get dismissed because the men couldn't relate or understand the reference. Also at a "Lovely" book event for CTN, Lisa Keene had mentioned a comment she got once: "It looks like a man painted that.".

    Even though it's come a long way, it's still so slow going, and it surprises me for it to still be an issue in 2015.

    I would be interested to know how this has or hasn't affected your experience in the industry.

  3. Thank you Andreas...I have never understood why people are surprised about women artists. People are people and when they have the talent, they all can shine. Great information.