This is my "2013 Remembrance" video to honor people in animation that have passed on during the last year. This tribute was put together between Christmas and New Year late at night so that I could spend most of the precious moments of the holidays with family and friends, so please forgive me for anyone that was omitted. They are all in our hearts. -MP
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
On December 18, 1933, Walt and Lillian Disney were blessed with the birth of Diane, the first of two lovely daughters who like many children would give plenty of inspiration to their parents. In this case, the inspiration eventually included not only giving honest feedback from a child to her famous father as whether she liked the latest Disney animated feature but also introducing Walt to stories she and her sister Sharon enjoyed such as "Mary Poppins" and begging him to make them into films. Thank goodness for the rest of us!
|Ron and Diane|
|Lillian, Walt, Diane and Sharon|
|Diane and the girls|
Today that bright light she had lit has dimmed if for only a moment as Diane Disney Miller passed away at the age of 79. I thank you Diane for not only sharing so much of the wonderful history of your family with all of us but for keeping alive the vast legacy of your dad. From the Concert Hall through to the Museum, Diane was composing a musical memorial of sorts to honor her remarkable parents. The song may be ended Diane, but your melody will linger forever. -MP
Friday, November 8, 2013
November is a very special month for most of us with the holiday season just peeking around the corner but for me it holds even more significance. My beautiful and talented wife Patty was born on November 10.
|I snapped this pic during one of our |
visits to UCLA
I met Patty while in line at the CalArts bookstore purchasing some supplies for the first day of Character Animation classes back in the 1970s. She was a sweet thoughtful but determined young lady whose talent had already achieved a full scholarship at the school. She was the FIRST female to be hired by the Walt Disney Studios out of the new Disney Animation Program. Patty was hired in the Effects Department and never complained as she was often given the "worst" scenes to animate. By "worst " I mean scenes with lots of pencil milage and detail that other animators would purposely avoid to keep their footage looking good. Patty made up for it by taking those scenes home at night and over weekends in order to instill the quality she was demanding. Her effects creations can be found in Fox and Hound, Mickey's Christmas Carol, The Black Cauldron, Basil of Baker Street (Great Mouse), Beauty and the Beast, and numerous films for EPCOT, Disneyland, Walt Disney World, Tokyo Disneyland, and even TV shows such as Duck Tales.
|Patty in her office with a view of the |
Ink and Paint building from her windows.
|Patty's pastel and charcoal story sketches for "Black Cauldron"|
were featured in "American Cinematographer Magazine"
After the interview Ron Miller and Ed Hansen (who was head of Animation Management) spoke to Patty and requested names of other females she thought deserved the promotion to further demonstrate the studio's goals. So less than 2 weeks after her promotion, 2 other ladies also were made full animators (one was a name she had even submitted). Of course Disney hasn't stopped there and continues this day to give responsibility to anyone willing to work hard and earn the right which is evident in the latest Disney film soon to be released this month, "FROZEN", with a talented young lady named Jennifer Lee as a Director.
The honor of being the first female animator at Disney Studios of course belongs to Retta Scott who opened the door, albeit all too briefly, for women in animation at Disney and through her talent was credited as animator on films such as the Disney classic "Bambi" when Walt saw her amazing story sketches and assigned her to animating the ferocious dogs chasing Faline. Until Retta came on the scene, women in those days were employed only in the nunnery... er... Ink and Paint Department whereas the Animation Department was the sole domain of men. Hey don't send me any letters, I'm just the messenger here ladies.
|"Black Cauldron" producer Joe Hale |
and Patty at the wrap party
Patty went on to be hired as "Project Lead" for a new animated film titled, "Beauty and the Beast" directed by Dick Purdum and I was now working for my wife doing a little early concept work on that picture. By the way, the studio planned it as non-musical at that point! Of course that was before "Little Mermaid" was released and became a hit thus providing a "blue print" or" formula" as to constructions of many of the future animated features.
When our daughter Kim was born, Patty decided she wanted to spend more time being a mother and after a lot of thought, sadly turned down the request from Disney Studios to move to London for pre-production on Beauty opting for work that was closer to home. Today she concentrates on volunteering her services to a variety of community projects, speaking on film and animation panels and attending Disney fan events. She is currently a Disney Master Artist designing art pieces that are shown and sold in Disney Galleries located in Disneyland and around the world. She is also a proud Legacy member of Women in Animation where she is a mentor to the younger generation of up and coming ladies. Happy Birthday to my favorite Disney gal, Patty!
Monday, September 16, 2013
I like to sharing trivia about various mediums we used at the Walt Disney Studios before the digital age came upon us so here are a few you might be interested in.
First, here's an interesting ad from the Saturday Evening Post published around the release of BAMBI, showcasing Walt Disney and a vintage Everlast pen and pencil set. As fine a quality as these were, they were only used for writing and not drawing at the old studio. The fellows in animation production who sometimes used pens like Ken Anderson definitely favored the Montblanc brand with sketching nibs.
With the "ONE-TWO " punch of a strike and war, Walt had to embrace even these little opportunities when they came along to put something back in the dwindling studio reserves. The set pictured was most likely used by Walt for a short time any way and I'm assuming as is the custom of many companies trying to sell their items, some free sets were probably given to the studio to be used as publicly as possible. More likely by writers though than by artists.
Just a note to anyone still using the old KOH-I-NOOR pencil holders like the ones we used to use for story sketches and roughs at Disney Studios. The various quality leads are becoming hard to find and lately I've picked up some very inferior ones at local art stores loaded with filler and binding material that fracture and break off in tiny specs while drawing.
However, I just received a pack from GIOCONDA 6 that are actually made for KOH-I-NOOR/HARTMUTH from the Czech Republic in SEPIA that exhibits no filler problem, goes onto paper in smooth soft strokes and the leads really hold up to hard use. I hoarded a couple of boxes from the old studio that date back to the 30s and these really match them for handling and appearance.
I should add that a number of manufacturers make various versions of these pencil holders that work pretty well if you can't find a KOH-I-,OOR the lead is the most important element of the two.
The holder pictured here is a vintage 5649 that dates to 1937 and was given to me by Ken O'Connor.
Sunday, August 4, 2013
I'm commemorating that experience of working with such a talented group with this piece. It's gouache over a wash of watercolor done in the traditional steps Disney Studio background artists used in the 1930s and 1940s. A year or two ago I was asked to design the mural for the "Little Mermaid" attraction down at Walt Disney World. That mural was HUGE, probably why they call 'em murals... anyway, I wanted to get back to an earlier concept I had been tinkering with that revealed low rays of the setting sun peeking through the clouds to find a lovely but lonely Ariel on her rocky perch looking longingly towards Eric's ship anchored in the royal harbor. You can see this painting as well as most of my paintings done step by step with explanations as to the medium, how I am applying it, even what specific brush I'm using online in my Facebook pages. Also feel free to comment and ask any questions about the process, I'm always happy to share my techniques and methods. Enchanted Paintings. Disney Fine Art. Disney Art.
This store offers the guest an immersion of sorts into the retail wonder of Disney animation. Rumor is I might be called in to do a signing which would be fun. It's always a honor to meet and personally thank the Disney fans out there who collect these pieces.
board. Disneyland artwork. Disney Fine Art.
|Disney Fine Art|
Illustrating these pieces for the Disney Parks is always an honor I could never tire of. There is a long list of Disney Imagineers who have had their work exhibited and sold at the park including Mary Blair, Marc Davis, Collin Campbell, Herbie Ryman, Sam McKim and many other extremely talented folks. Knowing these originals and prints will go into someone's home or office to be enjoyed is something truly magical to me. I hope you will enjoy my latest paintings but will also take the time to see the fantastic work of so many other amazing artists.
Friday, July 5, 2013
|One of the underground lost temples of "DuckTales"|
Thanks to Capcom and Wayforward Studios, we will be able to join Uncle Scrooge during his worldwide adventures and even dive into a refreshing swim in his money bin without leaving the comfort of your home. Yes, coming to a PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Arcade, Wii and PC this summer will be the DuckTales family we've all enjoyed watching over the years as one of the top rated animated series ever to surf the television waves.
|Various versions of snow covered Himalayas|
|I'm completely surrounded by the|
amazing WayForward animators!
It was a DuckTales Deja vu! I was happily surprised how quickly I returned to the old series style after an absence of 25 years and the director and staff at Wayforward Studios were really a fun, professional and gifted bunch of "quackups" to work with. Austin Ivansmith was the Director along with Matt Bozon as Creative Director and between those two I was always given clear detailed descriptions of each setup they wanted me to draw and was even offered helpful suggestions on a couple of pieces I just wasn't sure about. I would do some quick rough thumbnails and send them via email to Austin who would then discuss them with Matt as to which version they wanted to see taken into final tight renders or sometime in full color. Oh the joys of working from home in my DuckTales Pajamas and slippers. Certainly couldn't do that back in the days of the original series, well maybe on "casual fridays.".
Tim Curry and other technical artists would slice my designs up into something resembling our old multiplane setups from Disney for a 3 dimensional look to the sideways scrolling action. Animators like Sasha Palacio would then work their magic using traditional and cutting edge CGI to bring the Duckburg cast back to life. The time flew by but I was just happy to have worked with this amazing amazing group called Wayforward and to have had a small part in resurrecting such a beloved property. Hey maybe with all this excitement we can bring back the series with fresh new episodes? There's lots more adventures we haven't even touched on and with the latest technology we could do this even better and without breaking the bank of Duckburg. There's obviously a big audience out there that would love it! Well who knows, maybe somebody from the studio will read this and give it a try.
|A few more location roughs and concepts|
Yes folks, "...life is a duck blur in Duckburg!"
Sunday, June 23, 2013
I shared some funny anecdotes about my 40 years of daily grind in the wacky world of animation from animated commercial breaks for the local television station WKRG Channel 5 in the early 1970s to working on some very beloved full length animated features and television series for all of the major studios from Disney to Warner Brothers (even a brief stint working with Chuck on a Bugs Bunny film) and a few stops in between. In other words in coffee-speak II was "spilling the beans" coffee beans that is!
|A nice big group showed up for the talk|
For these illustrations, I wanted a kind of whimsical retro throw back using a limited color scheme that one might see in the great WPA posters of the 1930s and 1940s. By the way, Coyote and Road Runner was actually painted with a little coffee mixed into the gouache and Taz had a spot of tea infused with gouache. The group really enjoyed the pieces and I found myself signing prints immediately after the talk was done.
It was a mighty delicious morning to spend with so many friends old and new, and I enjoyed every minute of it. Now it's time to head on back to the old desk and get back to drawing.
Well maybe just one last cup... oh waitress?
Labels: Chuck Jones Experience
Sunday, June 9, 2013
Donald Duck made his first appearance today back in June 9, 1934 in Walt Disney's, "The Wise Little Hen." That role may have been his beginning however it was his second film, "Orphan's Benefit" that showed his temperamental foil for Walt's star Mickey Mouse.
|Clarence "Ducky" Nash|
He would go on to appear in over 180 theatrical films, more than any other Disney character and is the fifth most published comic book character in the world. His distinctive voice was created by Clarence Nash who performed the role for 50 years and was a regular at the old Disney Studio when I started working there in the 1970s along with his custom made ventriloquist dummy of none other than Donald Duck.
When Clarence passed away he personally left the future of Donald's voice in the capable hands, or make that mouth, of Tony Anselmo who besides continuing Donald's squawks is also a fine animator.
Donald has been an important part of my life with the television series, "DuckTales" for which I had an opportunity to reunite with comic book legend Carl Barks during the concept stage of the show. The man who headed up the original Disney program at Cal Arts in the 1970s was Jack Hannah, another incredible "Duckman" and a good friend to both Patty and I. I'm also proud to say that all four of my fellow "Duckmen" are also Disney Legends and deserved ones they all are! Well toots, it seems that the irascible Donald has affected me in addition to many of us out there for which I am grateful. Happy Birthday Donald!
Friday, June 7, 2013
There were plenty of colorful postcards of the new park illustrated with the same wonderful gang. You could also pick up vintage Disney cels for 75 cents to five dollars with a strangely mismatched BG print suitable for hanging. I was fortunate to pick up a bunch during our trips! As most of you now realize these cels are highly sought by both collectors and fans of the art of animation Disney style although they have risen dramatically in price over the years. Cels that went for 75 cents can now be found from time to time on ebay being offered (and sold) for hundreds and sometimes even thousands of dollars in a few cases. Besides the animation cels, they also offered unique items such as this Animation Kit.
The description is as follows:
This kit is the result of considerable research and experimentation by the artists at the Walt Disney studio and is designed for anyone who likes to draw and has an aptitude for cartooning. It is complete in every detail and contains the following:
One Animation Board complete with sides, glass, standard pages, and instructions for assembly and installation of light, two 16-page character model guide books using Walt Disney characters, one "Tips on Animation" book, one glossary of animated terms, one hundred sheets of high grade punched animation paper, two pencils, one eraser, six standard exposure sheets, and seven page treatise on animation methods at the Walt Disney Studio.
Great way for the budding animators out there to get a head start. Sadly "The Art Corner" closed in 1966 but for those of us lucky enough to have been able to shop there it has provided memories (and souvenirs from the classic days of Walt Disney animation.
Labels: Magic Kingdom
Friday, April 26, 2013
|Walter Lance with his animated alter-ego Woody|
April 27, is the birthday of another famous animation giant by the name of Walt. If you can recollect the laughing bird call of his most most famous cartoon creation Woody Woodpecker you would probably also recognize his poppa- Walter Benjamin Lantz. He was born of Italian immigrants who like many at the time arrived in New York to start a new life in America.
|A couple of Universal "birdbrains"|
Labels: Birthday Greetings
Monday, April 8, 2013
Annette Joanne Funicello passed away today, April 8, 2013 at the age of 70 due to complications from Multiple Sclerosis. Although she began her career at early age of 12, it was Walt Disney's "Mickey Mouse Club" that catapulted her to prominence. Walt had discovered her while attending a performance of "Swan Lake" at the Starlight Bowl in Burbank, California. She was known as a "triple threat" while appearing on the original (and best) version of the Mickey Mouse Club in the 50s. She could dance, sing, and act. The latter was showcased in part with her later feature length films including 60's classics like "Beach Party" and "Beach Blanket Bingo" with long time friend and co-star Frankie Avalon.
I met Annette a couple of times in the late 1970s through her brother Mike who worked at the Disney Studios Library that I used to haunt on a weekly basis. She was in doing a taping for the 1970's version of the Mickey Mouse Club and then again when she did a spot for the reunion that was aired on "Disney's Wonderful World" around 1980. She was very busy and on her way to the taping but stopped to chat with me outside the soundstage. I'll never forget that. In 2011 her Encino, California home was engulfed in fire from which she managed to escape without any serious injury however many priceless mementoes were lost. To add to the pain, some of her neighbors sued Funicello claiming the fire had caused some damage to their nearby homes as well.
Annette announced in 1992 that she was indeed suffering from Multiple Sclerosis. She had kept her condition private known only to close friends and family. She had to curtail dancing as the condition worsened but when she lost the ability to walk she felt it necessary to go public about the disease. Her efforts resulted in the Annette Funicello Fund for Neurological Disorders at the California Community Foundation. For me, Annette will always best be remembered for her wonderful role as the "queen" of the Mickey Mouse Club and her sweet and kind way with everyone she came across. As the old Mickey Mouse Club show used to share in song, now it is indeed, " ... time to say goodbye..." and thank you for the wonderful memories Annette.