Can you say, awesome? Yeah, that's what we thought when first viewing this amazing color key by Disney artist, Eyvind Earle. And, where did we first view this beautiful background painting, you ask? Not at the Walt Disney Studio. We certainly didn't have access to that magic kingdom back then. No, it was another magic kingdom called, “Disneyland,” and the year was the summer of 1955.
It was week number one in the theme park's historic opening and Walt Disney needed additional attractions to entertain his guests. because of the rush to open the park on time, several attractions had yet to go online. What could be done to keep the ticket holder happy? At the last minute, Walt came up with a quickie art show entitled, “The Art of Animation.” The hurriedly put together exhibit would showcase the work of the amazing Disney artists and provide a sneak peek at upcoming projects. My friends and I were all eager to become Disney artists one day so this particular exhibit clearly caught our attention. We walked through the small venue looking at original drawings, paintings and layouts on display. No surprise, we were having the time of our lives. Suddenly, we turned a corner and our jaws practically hit the floor Tex Avery style. Here was some of the most amazing art work we had ever seen. I'm talking original art here. No reproductions, photographs or Xerox copies. Xerox was still a dream for the future. No, here was original Disney art in all its pristine glory. Man, we were in hog heaven.
This was one of the paintings on display. A large color key created by Disney background artist, Eyvind Earle. At the time we had no idea who Mr. Earle was, or how much his vision would impact the art of animation. We simply stared slack jawed at this amazing work. The Disney art had already dazzled us. Now, it appeared that Walt Disney had taken his fascinating storytelling and the art of animation to another level.
As we left Disneyland that afternoon you would have thought the talk would have been about the revolutionary theme park Walt Disney had created. Of course, Disneyland had been a stellar experience and we couldn't wait to return. Yet, what truly resonated with us was something most people would not have imagined. It was the Disney art that proved to be the most magical. The truly amazing hand drawn and painted animated art that will live forever.