Walt’s legendary passion finds its way into every painting, background, design, and illustration. He approaches his work with an undeniable zest that grabs the viewer’s attention and holds it in total fascination. Bold, curious, energetic, Walt is the consummate fine artist who understands the nature of visual images and commits to telling story that creates drama tension, mystery, or humor in the work. Walt will tell you that there is no line between his art and illustration because it is all fine art. My guess is that Michelangelo, fifteenth century Italian Renaissance painter, sculptor, poet, architect, engineer and perhaps the original Imagineer would have made the same assertion about his illustrations on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. And, Walt has said that he believes that Michelangelo would have given his “eye teeth” to have been a part of the greatest 20 Century art form, animation, and had the opportunity to animate the art on ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. He will also tell you that the blank piece of paper is the greatest opportunity an artist has and this is evident in all of Walt’s work.
Walt made an enormous color styling contribution to Disney animation films including 101 Dalmatians plus his exceptional work on Paul Bunyan and Chanticleer. Every background that he did for 101 Dalmatians is an abstract fine art painting and each one deserves to be in a frame on a museum wall. These abstract paintings rank with the very best in the fine arts world and yet they are used in a realistic way. What makes this work an abstract is that the shapes are distinctive but not realistic images and Walt allows our imagination to fill in the details. The painting of the trees in the park are not realistic. They are shapes suggesting trees and you know from looking at them that they are deciduous trees that will loose their leaves even though you don’t see the limbs or twigs. From their shapes, you can even tell that the time of year is fall and even though these are abstract shapes, they carry story information and have a personality of their own. The same is true of the film’s cityscapes. The buildings are simple shapes but by varying their sizes and using light and dark areas you know that you are in a dense city and you even get a feeling that it is old English architecture even though no details are used. Walt’s mural work for the Land Pavilion also exemplifies his use of abstraction. The mural is one long painting consisting of many smaller ones with each section standing on its own as a painting and yet they link beautifully as a mural. Walt is quick to point out that there is no line between his fine art and illustration, and ironically Walt’s work is all about artistic line. His line drawings are the foundation of all of his work, once in place all the artistic elements surround the line bringing the image to life. His use of line is similar to the armature that the sculptor builds of wood and wire to support the sculpture or you might think of it as the storyteller who takes a line or theme of a story and builds the details around it.