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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Profile: Eyvind Earle

This is general background information on Eyvind Earle (1916-2000)

Image: "Sleeping Beauty" (1959) watercolor concept painted and signed by Eyvind Earle ([18"Wx12"H]; from The Cowan Collection; acquired 2004; SeqID-0962). For other Earle holdings in the collection, select Label>Name-Earle Eyvind.

When we first started collecting animation art, our daughter was less than a year old and the art that we bought tended to reflect that moment in time -- the "cute" character stuff (Mickey, Bambi, Dumbo, Winnie the Pooh). And the art fit the Disney Motif in our daughter's room. It wasn't until we were offered some background art that we really started to pay attention to what was behind those cute characters. After we had purchased a few backgrounds, I can still remember pushing to watch our VHS copy of "Sleeping Beauty" and my jaw hitting the floor. Everything looked so different, so angular, so flat, so dramatic -- so NEAT! [I had a similar reaction when I watched "Samurai Jack" (2001-2004) for the first time.] Now, we have over ten of Earle's concepts and backgrounds.

Here is a little background on Earle:

Eyvind Earle's (b. 1916, New York, NY; d. 2000, Carmel, CA) first exhibitions were in 1937 in New York and his style was essentially "realistic." However, one source (IMDB: Eyvind Earle) noted that Earle's first exhibition was in France when he was 13. His career during the 1940's was fairly uneventful, but most source note that he worked with the American Artist Group to design over 800 Christmas cards. Earle joined Disney in 1951 and worked as an assistant background painter. In "Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom" (1953), he was responsible for the overall look of the film
, which won an Academy Award. Earle also worked on "Peter Pan" (1942) and "Lady And The Tramp" (1955). It appears that Walt Disney was impressed by Earle's approach to "Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom" and Disney put Earle in charge of styling, background and color for "Sleeping Beauty" (1959). Some sources indicate that Disney's decision created friction between Earle and some of the senior animators, which may have led to Earle leaving Disney after the film's completion.

To read a great article on Eyvind Earle, and his time at Disney, go to Michael Sporn's animation blog.

Earle returned to his painting in 1966 and his style continued to have a similar feel to images from "Sleeping Beauty" (1959). In 1998, Earle received the Windsor McCay Award for lifetime achievement by the International Animated Film Society.

[Other sources for the above information: Wikipedia: Eyvind Earle and Medieval Cottage]

Not too long ago, I did a Google Image search on Eyvind Earle and loved what I saw. In large measure, his paintings are a continuation of his landmark images in "Sleeping Beauty" and his elevated "point-of-view" gives you the impression that Earle looks at the world from an elevated "cherry picker." For me, his more recent paintings have a darker, reflective "feel" that I find very interesting. Hopefully, I'll be able to add some of his later work to the collection. For this article, I did another image search on Earle this morning and picked out these two examples of his post-Disney work:

Eyvind Earle "Deer" (Source: Excellent VIRTU)

Eyvind Earle "The Lonely Hills" (Source: Saper Galleries)

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