GTMS Life > Blog May 15, 2023

It’s a Small World After All!

With the end of the year quickly approaching, I thought it would be a great time to revisit shapes, and learn about one of my all time favorite artists, Mary Blair! Mary Blair was born in Oklahoma in 1911. As a young child, Mary moved to Texas, then to California, which is where her love […]

With the end of the year quickly approaching, I thought it would be a great time to revisit shapes, and learn about one of my all time favorite artists, Mary Blair!

Mary Blair was born in Oklahoma in 1911. As a young child, Mary moved to Texas, then to California, which is where her love for art grew. She won a scholarship to the Choiunard Art Institute in Los Angeles and graduated in 1933. Mary became well known for her use of color, shapes and patterns. She first started working with Metro-Goldwyn Mayer as an animator. However, she left that job to join her husband Lee at his studio. Not very long after that, her work caught the eye of none other than Walt Disney himself. Walt loved her whimsical, imaginative style and eventually convinced her to come work for him. Mary worked on many famous Disney films such as Dumbo, Lady and the Tramp, Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, and Peter Pan. Mary resigned from Disney after finishing her work on Peter Pan. She briefly became a freelance artist and worked with Maxwell House, Nabisco, and Radio City Music Hall as a graphic designer. She would return to work with Walt to create a new attraction for Disneyland that premiered at the 1964 World Fair- It’s a Small World. Mary would go on to make several murals for Disney, then returned to her home studio in California, where she passed away in 1978. Even though Mary is not well-known, she has left a lasting legacy not only with Disney, but with illustrators and animators all over the world.

This month, all of the primary students had a review on shapes. We read a book called The Shape of Things by Dale Ann Dodds. This book is a great way for children to see shapes in everyday objects and buildings. Then they practiced making all the shapes named in the book with tempera sticks. After that, the students used those shapes to construct a castle. All of the students enjoyed using a new medium on the easels!

The next class we talked about who Mary was, and how art isn’t just painting or sculpting. Art can also include illustrations and animations. I showed them certain pages from the book Mary Blair’s Unique Flair by Amy Novesky. This book is a little long, so we focused on the parts that covered her time working for Walt Disney. We also took a look at her concept art for the ride It’s a Small World. This was the inspiration for the next project, which was making castles out of basic shapes. Each one was so colorful and unique!

The kindergarteners took this project to the next level by tracing shapes to design their own castle. They also used the same kind of paint that Mary used- gouache paint- to add bright colors. Once the paint was dry, they added the fine details with sharpies and paint pens. They had a blast creating their own castles and deciding whether a shape was a tower, the roof, or a drawbridge!

Check back in soon for more art updates!

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