Thursday, April 12, 2012

Bill Peet (1915-2002), Master Story Teller:

Part of my Art Manifesto is to “11. Lend whatever support you can to those creators whose work you do appreciate and enjoy, even if it's only to tell other people about the quality of work they're doing. ” As such I will occasionally be highlighting artists and art work that I appreciate.

It is always for me to find an artist that I loved as a child and realize now how much they influenced me and are still influencing me today.

I first came to know about Bill Peet from his children’s books like “Cowardly Clyde,” “Hubert’s Hair-Raising Adventure,” and “The Wingdinfdilly.” His characters seemed to be outcasts and oddities. I connected with those characters and loved the whimsical nature of the illustrations. They looked quick and sketchy but were well thought out. They captured my imagination.

Later in life I discovered he had a hand in some of the best Disney movies. He started as an in-betweener and eventually worked his way into storyboarding and character design. He significantly influenced “Dumbo,” “101 Dalmatians,” and “The Sword in the Stone. ” It was fun to discover that he based Merlin from Sword in the Stone upon his view of Walt Disney. This movie also had one of my all time favorite scenes, the wizards duel, it is just brilliant.  He worked on animated shorts as well and similar to his children’s books focused on the different and the outcast with shorts like “Lambert, the Sheepish Lion,” “Goliath II,” and a few of the many brilliant Goofy shorts like “Knight for a Day.” He left Disney during the making of “The Jungle Book” due to creative differences with Walt Disney. Disney didn’t like what Bill had done and Bill refused to change it. It is interesting to note that this was the last film both men would be involved in.

He was a master drawer and drew everything he could. It is evident from his work that he particularly enjoyed drawing animals. He had an innate ability to tell a story visually and hit the right visual notes at the right time. He created simple but memorable characters and could draw wonderfully. I am grateful for Bill Peet’s work and his influence on my life and art.

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