I recently was reintroduced to Mary Blair and her work and have become so inspired!
She was an American artist and animator most known for her work for Disney! She was born in 1911 in Oklahoma and studied illustration in LA. She created concept art for multiple Disney movies including Dumbo, Peter Pan, Cinderella, and Alice in Wonderland. She also illustrated multiple children’s books and designed concept art for Walt Disney for the 1964 World’s Fair, these designs would later be used for the It’s a Small World ride.
I remember when I was a kid, Disney did a series of Mary Blair inspired stuffed animals inspired by the animals on It’s a Small World and the imagery of the pink hippo with purple flowers has stayed with me all these years, though I just discovered that was the work of Mary Blair!
So I felt inspired to do a project inspired by her animals. And in exploring her art I came across a mural she designed that I also really loved. I noticed the layered strips of colors that seem to make up a mountain landscape and that sparked an idea, so that is where we started.
- large piece of white paper (we used mixed media paper)
- squeegee or scraper (spatula or plastic card works too)
- colored pencils
- printed Mary Blair animals (or colored paper to make your own)
First, we made our backgrounds with a squeegee technique. If you don’t have a squeegee or scraper a stiff plastic card or spatula would work perfectly!
So to start, pick a couple colors of paint and place a small dab of each color next to each other towards the top of your paper. Then using your scraper, slide that over the paint and scrape it down your page. Then repeat this process at different places on your page to create the look of it having different levels, like ledges on a cliff side.
While that dries, work on creating your animals to collage on top. Depending on your child’s age they may choose to draw and create their own, or if you have younger kids you can print out the Mary Blair inspired animals we got started for you. Your child could then design and color them, cut them out and glue them on top of the colorful background they made.