Saturday, August 1, 2015

DISNEYLAND Diamond Jubilee Celebrates 60 Years of Dreams!

I'm delighted to have the opportunity to present 3 new designs to honor Disneyland's 60 Anniversary!
The "crown jewel" of all amusement parks is celebrating its 60th Diamond Anniversary on July 17, 2015 and I was  asked to join a select group of amazing artists to design something to help usher in the sparkling celebration. My three original gems are entitled, "Retro Retlaw", "Road to Dreams" and "60 yEARS!" are of course designed and painted in traditional methods instead of using a computer. The final paintings are all gouache, the very same medium we all used at Disney Studios in the 1930s on Pinocchio up into the 1970s, and the pieces measure around 18" x 24".

You would be hard pressed to find a child or adult who, if they haven't visited the park, has at least  dreamed of doing so. Well I'm one of the millions of lucky kids (of all ages) who dreamed of going to Disneyland and subsequently realized that magical dream coming true, well it came true frequently in fact. And I have to admit, I never get tired of visiting the magic kingdom, especially with folks who are first time or infrequent visitors whereas I can enjoy it again through their eyes. I also just plain enjoy watching people as they enjoy themselves at the "happiest place on Earth!"

Opening Day
Blocking in "Retro Retlaw"
Disneyland is the ONLY theme park designed and built under the direct supervision of Walt Disney. Maybe that's why it always seemed to have an edge over all the other later parks in some kind of special feeling within its gates. As Walt once recollected during an interview, being the head of a thriving studio kept him very busy and he looked forward to weekends, especially Sundays at Griffith Park Carousel watching his daughters Diane and Sharon reach for the brass ring. Walt wistfully dreamed about a place where parents, children and friends could all enjoy a family experience together as opposed to sitting there waiting for a ride or two to finish.

One of my riotous "retro ads" for the event
Walt Disney, as he usually did, surrounded himself with people that would help enable his dream to become a reality. Originally it was going to be built in Burbank across the street from the studio but Walt's plans quickly outgrew that tiny corner of real estate. His unbridled imagination eventually stretched to take root across 160 acres of orange groves that was owned owned by no less than 17 different families in the middle of a place no one had ever heard of called Anaheim. (Ana-who? no Anaheim!).

First ticket sold!
Week after week on Sunday evenings we would see the progress on Walt's TV show entitled what else? "Disneyland" and marvel as the park took shape. As the weeks went on American families grew more excited about this magical kingdom that Walt Disney was creating. The wait was finally over on July 17th 1955, when Disneyland lowered it's drawbridge and opened its doors to the world on live television, spreading happiness and magic for millions ever since. Shown here on the left is the first Disneyland admission ticket and it was purchased by Walt's older brother and important partner of the Disney empire from its beginning, Roy O. Disney,  for $1. Gee, prices have gone up a bit wouldn't you say?

Another playful parody ad for the celebration
For my tribute pieces I decided to pay homage to the "retro style"I seem to have become associated with that harkens back to mid century design aesthetics, so I guess I'm a retro kinda guy these days. Although I can and have worked in a multitude of styles, media and techniques, I felt that to properly pay respect to an event from the 1950s it would be nice to use a style keenly embraced by graphic designers and Madison Avenue firms during that time period. I also created a series of parody ads to humorously help herald the event using, what else? a 1950s magazine ad feel. A couple of them are included here.

With Walt in charge, the Walt Disney Company was always on the cutting edge with regard to design, and the commercial art side of things from the earliest days of Disneyland's conception was certainly no exception. That contemporary style carried through into maps, tickets, signage, and print advertisement during the first decade of the park. I am a big fan of that now vintage look and in fact used it back in the early 1970s when I was a commercial artist working for an advertising firm not unlike a smaller version of that on the series MAD MEN. We operated out of a tiny two story building so the falling man title sequence from Mad Men opening just wouldn't have had the same impact. These new retro pieces honoring Disneyland's 60th will be unveiled as prints along with the originals at the Anaheim Convention Center during this years D23 EXPO.

The Monsanto House of the Future
I was "bi-desk-al" meaning I worked back and forth on these three pieces at two different desks so while one painting was drying I could scoot over the the other one and keep going. Those of you familiar with my posts know I am the happy owner of the original Walt Disney Studio architect Kem Weber's prototype animation desk and his concept/story desk model that was actually used by a legendary imagineer at WED by the name of Herb Ryman.

Using Herb's desk, hoping some of his magic will channel through
Remember the Sky Buckets?
My wife, Disney animator Patty Peraza was the first to notice the delightful irony that here I was happily nestled up in my studio, designing poster artwork to celebrate Disneyland's 60th Anniversary... on Disney Legend Herb Ryman's desk!  

For those of you who may not know who Herbie is, well he was a long time artist in the company, and a stunning talent valued by Walt Disney himself. In 1952, Walt had set up an independent company that would concentrate on bringing his dreams of a new kind of amusement park to life. To get a full head of steam with visuals, Walt Disney spoke to Herb Ryman on Spetember 23, 1953 a Wednesday morning and implored him to come to the studio right away for something important.

Herb Ryman's iconic original concept design for Disneyland
For the next few days Walt and Herbie were inseparable as Walt "described" and Herb "inscribed". Monday morning found a worn out Walt and Herb along with a huge ink drawing on thick vellum paper. That drawing was rolled up and taken to New York by Walt's brother Roy to line up some early but important financing for the new Disneyland park.

Patty and Whatshisname
So here I was decades later using the master's magical desk to compose posters of that wonderful new idea of Walt's, DISNEYLAND! I'm very proud and humbled to have been able to contribute my designs in a small way to help celebrate Disneyland's 60th Diamond Anniversary. I sincerely hope you like them and will stop by and say howdy at D23 and at the Disneyanna Gallery! I won't be alone by any means and in fact I am in good company with a fantastic and talented group of artists and I encourage you to check out their fabulous creations. So Happy Birthday DISNEYLAND and thank you Walt and all those original Imagineers for 60 years of magic at the Happiest Place on Earth!

One of the signings at the Disney Dream Store
UPDATE: We really enjoyed our time at D23 Expo meeting so many wonderful Disney fans from around the world. All of my original paintings sold out within the first five minutes of D23 opening its doors on Friday! On Saturday the Giclees followed with the smaller prints going before they closed the magical doors on Sunday! Patty and I were happily surprised! By the way, we made our own outfits to celebrate the Diamond Anniversary and as such we made sure they were "dazzling"! The local arts & crafts stores enjoyed our repeated visits to by more and more sparkling sequins, glass beads and foam sheets. D23 EXPO, my favorite part was spending time chatting with and meeting Disney fans. After all, I'm a Disney fan myself!
The results were enjoyed as my somewhat over the top outfit brought a smile to everyone we met. In fact though there were many wonderful exhibits throughout the

Sunday, March 1, 2015


Ward Kimball holding court at his
"Grizzly Flats" next to Chloe
March 4, 1914 gave us one of the most talented, one of the biggest cutups and one of the most beloved artists in the Walt Disney Studio stable- Ward Kimball. Ward was so many things it’s hard to put a label on him- jazz trombonist, fine artist, toy collector, imagineer, train buff, animator… well let’s just use the moniker that Walt Disney himself bestowed on Ward- GENIUS! 

One of Ward's endless model sheet spoofs
As with many of the Disney “old timers” (Now that my dark hair has for some reason gone gray, I'm not sure I like that phrase). I first met Ward at Cal Arts back when I was enrolled in the Disney Animation program back in the mid 1970s.  He made quite an impression on me and others in the brief time he was there but what I noticed was that he really stood out from the other fellows, not just because of his owlish oversized spectacles but his big grin and voice to match it. Ken O'Connor, who was our Basic Drawing and Perspective teacher was a close friend of Ward's and had worked in the Kimball Unit on many of his popular projects at Walt Disney Studio and was able to help set up the visits.

For those who might be unfamiliar with Ward's work he brought to life with his magic pencil many famous delightful Disney characters including Jimminy Cricket, Tweedledee and Tweedledum, Mad Hatter and Cheshire Cat and oodles more. He was an inspiring director and was responsible for the Academy Award winning short, "Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom" and a series of shows about outer space working with other Dsiney legends like Ken O'Connor that helped Americans understand our "race into space."

I was quite the practical joker at Disney and probably spent too much time planning out gags to play on my co-workers (The soap bubbles incident, re-arranging rest room labels, setting a For Lease sign in front of the studio, etc.) when I suddenly found myself loaned out  to WED. (they did that frequently, I should have developed an inferiority complex). On one of those “loan outs” I was assigned to work on EPCOT with Ward on “World of Motion” with GM as the sponsor. If they thought it would quiet me down management was mistaken because it was more akin to pouring gasoline on a fire. 
Walt and Ward

Ward was patient as I was trying to get my head around the job and he made the time fly by giving some of the “suits” the business, one fellow in particular was an ongoing target for Ward’s humor. The ride was a send up of the history of transportation and with Ward in charge it was a funny one to be sure. I did a few gag sketches on Leonardo Da Vinci attempting flight and quite a few doodles and a pastel for the turn of the century traffic jam. Ward was turning out stunning train sketches that were not only amazing, but the guy wasn't using any reference!

We had a song, "It's Fun to Be Free" written by X Atencio with music by Buddy Baker. Ward would half hum and half sing, "It's Fun to be Me..." while doodling madly at his desk. Unfortunately I can't print his memorable version of the lyrics here. Within our sketches and even the models, Mickey would wind up pounded by a caveman, flattened as a traffic jam victim or tied to a train track with a steam loco on its way. Moments before a presentation there would be a hilarious sign or two added amidst the "official" traffic signs and let me tell ya they wasn’t there to clear up any traffic jam sister!  While adding his hijinks to the process, we still turned out a ton of work, maybe even because of it. Ward just made it a joy rather than a job.

Ward at his desk in the animation
building long before we met
They would usually limit my time on these WED excursions to two to three weeks per project and sure enough one day when I came in Ward told me I had been reassigned to the American Adventure pavilion. I was a bit upset about it but Ward tried to cheer me up and presented me with a cut out cardboard folder rendered like a traveling suitcase covered with his ridiculous made up stickers he had applied including with names including World of Notion, World of Potion, World of Lotion, well you get the idea. 

After a while you realized there
was no one on the other end
I opened that case to find a cel of a funky looking red bird from one of Ward’s Academy Award winning projects,”It’s Tough to Be a Bird”. He dedicated it,” From one bird brain to another! best wishes Mike, Ward Kimball”. I treasure that creepy little "boyd".

I really wish I could have worked with Ward at the animation studio on a feature but at this stage in his career he had moved on and spent most of his time for the company hanging out at at WED although he had just recently produced a show called “The Mouse Factory” in the early 1970s. Sadly that although I would run into Ward a couple of times later on (when they would get the Disney veterans together for photo shoots or publicity interviews at Grizzly Flats ) that brief team up at WED was to be the only time I would have the chance to work with that lovable legendary loonytoon. On a sour note I was ticked off that because of the animation strike I wasn't able to attend the wrap party for the ride. Ward, Dave Michener, Ed Hansen and Dick Lucas did sent me materials like booklets, pins and other souvenirs but it's not the same as being there. Then again I really didn't contribute much to the WOM ride when all is said and done outside of a few charcoal gag drawings and some pastels. It was Ward's baby from start to finish, and what he came up with was entertaining even if the mechanical side of the attraction had a nasty habit of breaking down.

Walt named him a genius so
who am I to argue?
Ward also founded the legendary Dixieland band, “Firehouse Five Plus Two” where he played one outspoken trombone. The reach he had with that elongated instrument among his fellow musicians like Disney animator Frank Thomas and Art Director/Imagineer Harper Goff was hilarious. Fire helmets would accidentally get knocked sideways at times as he would swing around. I want to be clear on something, as silly as he would act up there, he could really play that trombone as good as anyone and they performed a couple of lunchtime concerts for us at the old studio which were unforgettable. That band of his released no fewer than 13 LP records and toured clubs and jazz festivals with Walt's OK, as long as it didn't interfere with the animation production. Being a Naw'lins native and lover of Dixieland jazz, I have two of those records and scratch them up on my record player regularly.

One of Ward's "Art Afterpieces"
He also illustrated a famous series of paintings poking fun at famous masterpieces called “Art Afterpieces” which have been copied by some cheesy artists over recent years who pretended they came up with the idea (ironic ain’t it, copying a copy?). Those copies however never equaled Ward’s brilliance. 

In addition a lot of people don’t realize what a fine artist Ward was which evidenced in his life drawings, stills and paintings. He just rather enjoyed doing more comically inclined cartoon designs over realism. He married his best gal Betty and raised 3 talented kids, Kelly, Johnny and Chloe. I worked with John Kimball over in TVA while doing DuckTales and other series for the mouse. Betty by the way worked in Ink and  Paint in the 1930s and among her contributions to the Disney Studio was to develop the "dry brush" technique used on cels for a soft feathered rendered look used to great effect in "Fantasia". They married in 1936 and Betty left three years later to raise a family and manage the full size backyard train set of Ward's called "Grizzly Flats" which had to be seen to be believed and even then it was unbelievable!

One of the important lessons I learned from Ward was to be a chameleon and don't get pegged with one style. Another important thing he taught me was when I was working on a time machine design for a project. I was hitting a dead end creatively and happened by for a visit. He told me to collect every time machine photo and drawing I could find, pin them all up, ... then do something different! I did just that, and based mine on an Aztec Calendar of stone which when parts were rotated, stone segments rose to seat the time traveller. The other machines that had been designed for films were almost entirely of Victorian design and what we might call Steampunk these days so I opted for something much more ancient. The project was eventually shelved but the time machine design I came up with really impressed everyone at the meeting with its originality. I owe you for that one Ward, thank you!

Happy Birthday to a crazy and wonderful genius, Ward Kimball!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Haunted Mansion's 45th Anniversary!

"Welcome Foolish Mortals ... " to a celebration of Disneyland's horribly humorous hair-raising Haunted Mansion. As most of you know, there are multiple versions of this spooktacular attraction at Disney parks around the world with each one celebrating their unique differences from the architecture outside to many of the ride elements inside. The one located at Disneyland is of course the ominous original, opening it's creaky doors to the public on August 9,1969. This year celebrates its 45th year of happy haunting. I was asked to create some eerie original artwork to celebrate this tombstone... I mean milestone, and so I'm unveiling part of my ghostly gouache. Before I get to the painting however, a bit of history of the Haunted Mansion is in order, and for goodness sakes don't you dare pull back on the safety bar, we'll do it for you! Disneyland's Haunted Mansion 45th Anniversary artist Mike Peraza HAUNTED MANSION, 

Harper Goff's early rendition of the attraction
Walt Disney first considered a haunted house attraction in Disneyland two decades before the first shovel was turned to lay the attraction's groundwork. The original sketches by Harper Goff for the structure included drawings for a gothic mansion resembling (at least to me) the one that would be built years later in 1960 for Hitchcock’s Psycho with a graveyard and church sharing the plot.

However when Disneyland lowered its drawbridge and opened its magical castle to the public on July 17, 1955, it did so without the benefit of a spine tingling creepy crypt. In 3 short years however, Walt's never ending park expansion created a new land named “New Orleans Square” (being a native of the "big easy" I certainly like the sound of that) which would provide literally lay the foundation for the spook house in 1962. HAUNTED MANSION 45TH ANNIVERSARY COLLECTOR ART

Ken Anderson's original design
Sam McKim's color interpretation
Although early concepts by Ken Anderson portrayed the mansion as an old dilapidated haunted house, Walt Disney thought that might be a grave mistake and wanted it to have a pristine look to match the rest of the park. As numero uno imagineer Walt himself put it, "We'll take care of the outside and let the ghosts take care of the inside."

It then stood empty for years while the Disney company concentrated on its responsibilities for the 1964 World's Fair. When Walt Disney passed away in 1966, the imagineers were in the midst of planning the new attraction. They were suddenly at a loss of whether to make the attraction scary like Claude Coats had wanted or funny like Marc Davis had planned. Actually "loss" is not accurate when recounting those times.

One of many Marc Davis concepts
The imagineers I talked to, including Marc and Claude themselves (and they o'uta know, ya know ) described the situation a bit like going into battle without a commanding general to coordinate the troops. In the end of course they combined both directions into an eerie entertaining experience that people line up for to this day.

Haunted Mansion 45th Event
Mike Peraza
As many of you may know who have read my blog over the years, two of my mentors: Disney Legends Ward Kimball and Ken O’Connor used to advise me in essence to be a chameleon. In other words, don’t just create in one style or medium but be open to many approaches but try to do each well. In this respect I created my newest piece to celebrate the Haunted Mansion’s 45th in a style I like to refer to as “retro ” and  let me tell you, it was a hoot to work on. I wanted to avoid doing the "stretches" or just limit myself to the "hitch hikers" and hoped to include as much of the ride in the image as possible without getting too complicated. I solved the problem by using a whimsical approach and starting with a simple base composition to build upon. The end result is almost a companion piece to my "Seasons of Magic" painting that was very well received by Disney fans and was subsequently showcased in the Disney Gallery vault for many months.

As my wife Patty put it, It’s an advertising style that was being used when the original attraction opened, so it’s fitting to return to that stylized look to celebrate it 45 years later!" She has so many good ideas and of course if you want a happy life- you keep a happy wife, so I used her suggestionAnd once again I'm also using the medium of choice from the old Disney Studio of the 1930s through the 1960s which is gouache with the original illustration measuring 18 x 24 inches. You can see it within the ad poster to the left. The look was decidedly different from my previous pieces for the Disney Gallery Steampunk Show . Once I had finalized my thumbnails, it was frighteningly fun adding little hidden treasures among the Haunted Mansion many points of interests. Mike Peraza Haunted Mansion 45th Anniversary collector poster. HANTED MANSION

Yale Gracey and "Hat box"
Yale Gracey with chip off the old block
I even included cryptic characters from the ride that were removed from the attraction  like the legendary “Hat box Ghost" although he is making a "spirited" return . Here's a photo of Yale Gracey working on that original problem child that never seemed to come off the way they had hoped. Before he transferred to WED, Yale was a brilliant layout guy for Jack Hannah back in the day doing Donald Duck shorts among many other projects at the old studio. When Jack introduced him to me I had no idea he was an imagineer at that time because the discussion was mainly centered on animation and layout from his work at the old Disney Studio. When he eventually got around to sharing Disneyland stories I was even more blown away by Yale's accomplishments.

The original design of the Hatbox
Ghost by Collin Campbell
He was a nice guy and is missed to this day by everyone who was fortunate to know him. If you ever wondered if there was a real "Master Gracey", well this is the amazing gentleman who was honored with that title.

 Mike Peraza whimsical take on Hat Box Ghost
By the way, the original design for the "Hat Box Ghost" was by another old friend, Collin Campbell and is included here. Speaking of "Hatty", here is my retro rendition of that ghastly ghost. I have also planted multiple “hidden Mickeys” and other treasures throughout the graphic graveyard so have fun unearthing them. Before you pull down on the safety bar even though we told you not to, come on down to the Disney Gallery and join our spirited celebration of the Haunted Mansion's 45th!

Part of the crowd waiting outside to get in,
while there was just as many inside waiting to get out.
If you're looking to pick up fine art prints signed for you by their apparitional artists celebrating the Haunted Mansion's 45th but worried your walls are too full, let me paraphrase the last line you hear when leaving the Haunted Mansion, "...there's always room for one more." So come on out August Saturday 16, 9:00 AM to the Disneyland Gallery located on Main Street, on the right when you enter the park. I'll be there along with a ghoulish group of extremely talented and terrifying artists just dying to meet you.

UPDATE: The signing event was huge success and sold out of all of my paper prints, canvas prints and the original painting before it was even half over. I had the pleasure of meeting so many incredible folks who came by to pick up a print and then stuck around to talk and share some great times while I signed. Of course that is wonderful news but what is also exciting is that prints are again available at the Disney Gallery for my "Happy Haunts" in both formats and will continue to be offerred for all of the Haunted Mansion fans out there.

#hauntedmansion45th #mikeperaza #disneyfineart #YaleGracey #Disneyland #Disneygallery #Disneyfineart

Monday, July 21, 2014

Amazing Al Dempster

There have been many amazing talents that have worked in the Disney background department and created stunning concept pieces over the years. Of course names like Mary Blair, Eyvind Earle, Claude Coats, Walt Peregoy and others spring to mind but there are others equally deserving of credit due their talented offerings. One that comes to my mind is Al Dempster

He was born July 23, 1911 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. After relocating to Los Angeles he got a job with the Disney Studio in 1939 and when Walt saw his painting skills first hand, he was quickly transferred to the background department. Those skills benefitted the studio on classic like Fantasia, Dumbo, Saludos Amigos, Victory Through Air Power, The Three Caballeros, Make Mine Music and Song of the South

Bill Justice-pencils, Al Dempster-paint
L-R  Don Griffith, Al Dempster
He left the studio in 1945 but came back in 1952 to create more lovely backgrounds for Walt’s Peter Pan. He stayed on to contribute to Lady and The Tramp, Sleeping Beauty, One Hundred and One Dalmations, Sword in the Stone, Jungle Book and more. He left a lasting mark when he teamed up with close friend Don Griffith to create the look for all of the Winnie the Pooh featurettes.

Al's take on Johnny Appleseed
At Walt’s personal request, Al translated many of the studio’s films into lavishly illustrated children’s books, usually with pal Bill Justice providing the pencils. He retired from the studio for various reasons but agreed to return to help with The Rescuers in 1973 which is how I met him albeit briefly.

I wasn’t working on that film but was attending the CalArts Art School (the Character Animation Program had not yet been created). Don Duckwall introduced me to Al and the rest of the small background department. His time on Rescuers was not an enjoyable one as there were a few bumps in the road during production and soon the same reasons he had left the studio before reared up again. Since Al had only committed to 6 months or so on that production, when the time was up, he skeedaddled back into retirement and did his own paintings, this time in oil. 
Al creates more magic with Alice

Walt choose Al's version of Jungle Book
Years later I did have a chance to spend more time with Al during our regular Thursday lunches at Sloppos with Don Griffith. I was a huge fan of his work and had a few of his spectacularly illustrated books for Disney. Al eventually signed my books and gave Patty and I a couple of his original oil paintings as a wedding present which we have hanging to this day over the stairway to the upstairs studio. 

So check your old Disney story books. If the illustrations have an extra special feeling of Disney magic like the images here, you may just own an Al Dempster collection. Happy Birthday Al!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Pinochhio loses his voice

Very sorry to report that Dickie Jones passed away today. To those of us in the Disney family he will be fondly remembered as the voice of the puppet who wished to be a real boy, Pinocchio. 

He was Texas born in 1927 to a newspaper editor. Being a Texan, he naturally learned to ride a horse and at the age of 4 was billed as the "World's Youngest Trick Rider & Roper". Around this time his family moved out to Hollywood where friend Hoot Gibson was able to land the young lad parts in low budget westerns. 

From there as he matured, he graduated to many roles through his long and distinguished film and TV career and was rightly named a Disney Legend in 2000. We would run into each other over the years at various Disney events and it was always a treat to listen to his stories. 

This picture was taken of the two of us a few months ago after I had just pulled a gag at our table when we attended an event together. Dickie had a great sense of humor. We're really going to miss you dearly my friend.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The "E" Ticket at Disneyland

Vintage Disneyland tickets with free map you could color.

I was asked recently just what is an "E" ticket? What makes it so special? And since so many Disneyland guests today only know about the single pass to enter into the Disneyland park and enjoy all the attractions, I thought it might be fun to share a bit about the old ticket books we used to use and enjoy.

When Disneyland first opened, it was cash on the barrelhead. In other words you paid at the main gate to gain admission, then paid anywhere from 10¢ to 35¢ for each ride after that. Some guests complained about being "nickled and dimed to death" so Walt came up with the idea of using ticket books which entered the park starting around October 1955, just 3 months or so after the original opening of Disneyland.

Originally they had "A" through "C" labeled tickets which were identified as "A" being the simplest to the "C" designating a fancier attraction but soon a "D" designation was added as the attractions grew. In June 1959 the park introduced the Monorail, Matterhorn and the Submarine attractions.which were at that time considered the elite offerings and so the "E" ticket was born which meant, "These rides/attractions are the best and most exciting ones we have in the park!" 

Of course it's still ip to the guest whether they agree with that point of view but nevertheless the "E" ticket meant you had the opportunity to experience what was the best Disneyland had to offer and those tickets got used up quickly, then the "D's", onto "C's" and so forth. By the time I would leave after the fireworks had faded into silent embers, I usually had an "A" and maybe a "B" ticket left in my book which I would keep as a souvenir of another magical day at Disneyland. -MP

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


I am very honored to have a few pieces in the upcoming "Steampunk Celebration" at Disneyland. I'll be appearing at the Disneyana Gallery and Shop on Main Street U.S.A, Disneyland-  Saturday  February 22, exhibiting three new original paintings in a show I hope you will all enjoy. Half of my work these days is produced digitally on the computer but when I'm asked to conceive something for Disney collectors, I only  use traditional hand tools, techniques and methods the way we used to at the old Disney Studio. Disney collectors deserve it!  Some of those same fine folks have written me requesting more photos of the painting process and since I sometimes forget to do so, my lovely wife Patty kept sneaking upstairs into the studio and scaring the beejeebers out of me to get these shots. I just wish she would let me get out of the shot before she takes the picture.
Rivets, rivets and more RIVETS! 

The first painting I did was "20,000 LEAKS UNDER THE SEA", a humorous send up or maybe I should say sinking of the Walt Disney classic, "20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA". Once I came up with the funny title twist, everything else fell into place. With Captain Mickey Mouse in command you would think things would be ship shape, that is until you add crewmen Donald Duck and Goofy Dawg. Mickey is trying to keep my whimsical version of the Nautilus afloat while Goofy checks for leaks with his trusty hammer and Donald is ready to abandon ship,... er... uh... sub.

Doing doodles during dinner

The color scheme of "20,000 LEAKS UNDER THE SEA" is loosely based somewhat on the unique range of hues frequently used by one of the most popular poster artists of the 1890's and a leader in the Art Nouveau movement coming out of France, Alphonse Mucha. The media is gouache on board over pencil and let me tell you if you haven't guessed already, those rivets were a nightmare, but worth the effort.

I went back to the "golden age"  look of Mickey, Donald and Goofy as we used to refer to it at the old Disney Studio. That era is roughly the late 1930s through the 1940s and I really prefer those proportions and model designs as the studio was at its height of artistic creation under Walt's guidance and it really showed in the features as well as shorts of that time. Of course my "toon take" of the Nautilus was based on the magnificent original sub from the classic film designed by an old friend from WED (Walt Elias Disney ) days, Disney Legend Harper Goff. I hope the Vulcania Volunteers out there will forgive me for the liberties I took with Harper's beautiful creation.

Adding tight concentric circles with 
my small compass for a paint guide
Another entry for the Steampunk Show is "MAD HATTER to the QUEEN", using the wonderfully eccentric Ward Kimball creation from Walt Disney's classic animated feature, "ALICE IN WONDERLAND".  Besides trains, Ward was a huge fan of Victorian Advertising art and typography. He in fact did a couple of doodles in that vein for me when we briefly worked together at WED. He'd have gotten a kick out of this but would have definitely suggested I "spice it up" with something off beat and funny. Ward's sense of design coupled with his sense of humor was out of this world.

The Hatter himself is nestled inside a clockwork setting holding his needle and thread with milliner tools on one side and his freshly constructed hats on the other. I outfitted him in a full steampunk cloak, boots and hat complete with goggles and lens attachment for close up sewing work. You must remember that the Queen of Hearts is very particular as to her head wear. Let's face it, no one wants to lose their head by upsetting her majesty.

Closer view of the lines
For this look I was inspired by the beautiful ink engraved illustrations drawn by John Tenniel for the original editions of, "Alice in Wonderland". I cleaned up my rough drawing into a single line and transferred it to board. After tightening that drawing further I then used center points with a compass to accurately setup the gears and their teeth. A lot of the drawing tools I used were actually objects used by cartographers back in the day to ink lines on detailed maps when they used to do them by hand. I thought I would never get this one done but it was an exciting exercise in old techniques. Then on to the paint!

The painting is 100% gouache over pencil on board. I layed in a light wash to setup the base colors and values then applied lines. The intricate lines are each painted by hand using a limited 16 color palette to achieve a Victorian advertisement style. We have been informed since the painting was completed that if all of those fine lines that make up this piece were stretched out into a single line it would stretch over TWO FOOTBALL FIELDS!  Well no wonder I ran low on paint! This engraved look was achieved completely with 2 tiny brushes, a 35 plus year old vintage Disney Feature Animation Studio "ARTSIGN# 0" and a "PRINCETON #2" along with a sponge to apply the outside texture. It took a steady hand and lots of encouragement from cookies, candy and eggnog.

Layering  gouache on the board

My last piece for this exhibition showcases my favorite Disney star, the little fellow that everything else in the wonderful world of Disney was built upon, Mickey Mouse! I wanted to make him the hero of the piece by taking the original "Mouseketeer" and turning him into the "Rocketeer".

This illustration actually leans towards "Dieselpunk" within an "art deco" construction while emulating a bit of the WPA poster era. My Mickey again was inspired by the "golden age" model designs of Mickey from the late 1930s and early 1940s. I painted this with acrylics over pencil on board.

So please keep this date in mind,  Saturday  February 22, at Disneyana Gallery and Shop on Main Street U.S.A, Disneyland  for "STEAM DAY" and I'll be there from 9AM to 11AM   By the way, for anyone not familiar with the term Steampunk, it's a fun and fashionable send up of the very popular trend inspired by a sort of British Victorian age meets the American old west within a glue of steam powered gadgetry with a bit of 1950s retro sometimes sneaking into the background.

Come out to the Disneyland Gallery and say hello. The Disney Gallery staff is always helpful and very friendly. Not only will these originals be for sale but they will have  prints on hand for purchase and signing. There will also be lots of other stunning pieces of art on display by some very talented friends of mine that I am fortunate to share the "stage" with. I hope to see you all there at the happiest place on earth, "DISNEYLAND!"