Thursday, December 27, 2012

Forest of No Return

Those who stumble in,
Those who fumble in,
Never can get out...

This is one of my favorite images ever.  It's by the insanely talented illustrator, Lowell Hess, for the 1961 Big Golden Book adaptation of Walt Disney's Babes In Toyland.  The pictures in the book are all very good, but this one is a real standout.  The nearly-black trees with their dark, glaring eyes and the upward view against the stark blue background is wonderfully spooky. Everything is skillfully rendered, and almost three-dimensional.  These guys would be super fun to sculpt.

The actual Babes in Toyland movie is, regrettably, not a favorite of mine, but luckily it has great art direction, with colorful storybook set pieces and some really fun costumes. But it's Hess's inky interpretations that excite me the most. 

 Every Christmas, time permitting,  Jody and I enjoy making one-of-a-kind toys and ornaments for our friends, and Jody made these stylized wooden ornaments of the grumpy Toyland trees.  Each is a few inches tall, handpainted, with miniature blown-glass decorations from Germany.  Terrific, huh?

This year, the one with the bird's nest on his head became part of a Christmas Card featured on Disney's "23 Days of Christmas" advent calendar.

Speaking of calendars, I'm really looking forward to the coming year. Hope 2013 will be good to you too!

Sunday, December 09, 2012

December Duck

Happy December, everybody.  
Here's another one of Jody's tiny acrylic paintings, and it's one of my favorites.  So cute!

The Canary Yellow Gypsy Cart

As veteran Disney merchandise designers, one of the things Jody and I enjoy doing each year is making one-of-a-kind toys for our friends. Often these feature favorite characters that rarely (if ever) appear on regular merchandise. And, naturally, that's part of the fun!

When Disney's D23 invited us to submit artwork for a special "23 Days of Disney Christmas"  advent calendar, we decided on creating "antique" holiday cards featuring wooden toys that we made from scratch.

My card shows a stylized, toy version of the Mr. Toad's "canary yellow gypsy cart" from the animated film "The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad"(1949). When the cart rolls across a flat surface, Toad's horse Cyril pivots back and forth as if he were galloping through the English countryside. It's like one of those classic Fisher-Price pull toys. I made both the cart and horse out of wood and painted everything by hand.

Jody's "toy card" will be revealed on December 15.