We all know about his famous wife Mary, but it was Lee Blair who started first working for Disney in 1938. (Mary joined him in 1940). Lee was a master watercolor artist from a very young age. At Disney he produced pre-production art for films like Pinocchio, Fantasia and Saludos Amigos.
In 1941 Walt Disney went on a goodwill/research trip to South America, and both Blairs were chosen to be part of the small group of artists that observed and painted local folklore in preparation for films like Saludos Amigos and The Three Caballeros.
Here are a few of Lee Blair’s stunning watercolors from that trip. They show a sophisticated mix of color, composition and caricature.
A LIFE photographer took this beautiful shot of Mary and Lee at work. Great photo!
One of Mary’s many exquisite studies. As John Canemaker stated in the film “Walt & El Grupo”, “This trip changed Mary”.
Her sense of color became more abstract and unusual, but always aiming for the essence of a particular mood. Marc Davis said:” Mary created color combinations that were completely unique. She was as good, if not better than Matisse.”