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Eyvind Earle

Dawn’s Light by Eyvind Earle

Eyvind Earle

1916 – 2000

Eyvind Earle

Eyvind Earle was born in New York City in 1916 and enjoyed a prolific career spanning 60 years and encompassing many different fields. At the age of ten, his father challenged him with a choice—paint a picture daily or read 50 pages of a book. Earle chose to do both.  

In 1930, at the age of fourteen, he held his first one-man show in France. His fame grew steadily from then. When he was twenty-one, he bicycled from Hollywood to New York and painted forty-two watercolors along the way. He then opened at Charles Morgan Galleries, his first of many one-person shows in New York. The response was positive, and the exhibition sold out. The Metropolitan Museum of Art purchased one of the paintings from this exhibit for their permanent collection. 

When he was in his mid-thirties, in 1951, Earle joined Walt Disney Studios as an assistant background painter. His unique style and look intrigued Disney, and in 1953 he created the animated short Toot, Whistle, Plunk, and Boom, which won a Cannes Film Festival Award and an Academy Award. 

For the rest of the 1950s, Disney kept the artist busy painting the settings for such stories as Lady and the Tramp, Peter Pan, Pigs is Pigs, Paul Bunyan, For Whom the Bulls Toil, and Working for Peanuts.

 Earle was responsible for the colors, styling, and background for the well-respected movie Sleeping Beauty. His artistry gave the film its medieval and magical look. He also painted the dioramas for Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. 

After fifteen years of creating animated art, Earle returned to painting full time and continued working until the end of his life. In addition to his drawing, oils, watercolors, sculptures, and scratchboards, he began making limited edition serigraphs in 1974. 

Eyvind Earle portrayed a unique perception of landscape, successfully synthesizing seemingly incongruent elements into a singularly distinctive style—a style that interweaves mystery, nostalgia, discipline, and moodiness. 

In addition to the above art forms, he illustrated books, designed several covers for magazine publications, and created and produced several animated commercials and specials for television.

Though Earle received many awards, the following are two of the most prestigious. In 1998, the International Animated Film Society gave Earle its Windsor McCay Award for lifetime achievement. In 2015, Eyvind Earle received the Disney Legend Award, which was accepted on behalf of the late artist by his daughter, Kristin Thompson.

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