Here’s a favorite photograph of mine taken back in the late fifties at the Walt Disney Studio. The picture is special not so much because it’s an inspired image. Rather, I feel it captures something special about this time. I kind of like the lighting, yet a close examination reveals the focus is rather soft. No, this imperfect photograph is special because it captures a rare pensive moment with my pal and colleague, Rick Gonzales at a time when most of us young artists are pondering the future.

It’s late in 1958, and after nearly two years on “Sleeping Beauty,” the Disney animated motion picture is finally winding down. I wonder what’s on Rick’s mind? His next assignment, probably. Will he be moving on to the next animated feature production or maybe returning to a television team or shorts unit? There’s been scuttlebutt among the artists about a possible layoff and that’s a real concern.

For many of us, Walt Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty” was our first animated feature film. After two years plus at the drawing board, maybe a break is exactly what’s needed. Animation assistant, Bob Reese is considering a trip to Europe. It’s a place he’s always wanted to visit. Bob was encouraged to do so by fellow artist, Jim Fletcher who always says it’s best to travel when you’re young. It appears Jim Fletcher will also be planning a trip abroad as well. However Fletcher has managed to score a plum assignment and has a job with Ward Kimball’s prestige unit waiting for him when he returns.

As for myself, I’ve found a stack of old magazines with several photographs of Dalmatians. I don’t know a good deal about dog anatomy and now seems a good time to learn. After snooping around upstairs I’ve noticed that veteran character designer Tom Oreb has an impressive collection of these spotted critters on his drawing table as well. Art Director, Ken Anderson has been studying the work of British artist, Ronald Searle and has produced several storyboards full of inspired paintings. I could be wrong but I can’t help feeling our next animated feature film might very well have something to do with dogs. And, Dalmatians, in particular.

Then again…I could be wrong.

Animation artist, Rick Gonzales is deep in thought at his drawing board. The year is 1958 at the Walt Disney Studio in Burbank.

Animation artist, Rick Gonzales is deep in thought at his drawing board. The year is 1958 at the Walt Disney Studio in Burbank.


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AuthorFloyd Norman