The Walt Disney Family Museum and the World of Mary Blair Exhibit Trip Report

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This past weekend I got to experience the Walt Disney Family Museum—finally!

We made a trip up to San Francisco, just to make it in time to experience the Mary Blair exhibit at the museum. With only 2 hours in total to spend there, we started with Mary Blair as the thought was, the Walt Disney Family Museum will always be there and we can always come back.

So that’s how I ended up spending a whole hour in Mary Blair world and had to rush through the Walt Disney Family Museum at lightning speed. Yes, rush, as there are 11 galleries to experience and each one is pretty big and unique! I really didn’t get to read much but just get the overall impression of each gallery and move on… but I still walked away feeling inspired by both Walt and Mary and charged up to get to work and to follow my own dreams that I am so passionate about.

Between the two, my big take away was a continued encouragement to tackle your passion, your work, your dreams with your whole heart and give it all you got. Whether your passion is design and art or not, both Mary Blair and Walt Disney did not do anything halfway. Everything they did and everything they touched, was done 100%. If they ran into a problem, they researched, they dug deeper, they clung to it harder. They tried again and again and got it done. Beautifully and epically done.

Sidenote—Before I go on, you may even be wondering who Mary Blair even is…. she was a conceptual artist for Disney. So she created a lot of the ideas and overall feelings for the animators to base their final drawings on for movies like Peter Pan (my fave!), Alice in Wonderland, and Cinderella. She then left Disney for a time, but then came back to work on the attraction its a small world for the World’s Fair. That ride then came back to make its home at Disneyland—and is one of the few rides that are actually in every single Disney park.—end very long sidenote.

Recognize this scene from its a small world from Mary Blair's sketchbook—her rough sketches are as bad as mine!

Recognize this scene from its a small world from Mary Blair’s sketchbook—her rough sketches are as bad as mine!

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From Mary Blair, I loved seeing how her style so drastically changed from her trip to South America. There, she learned about color and reinvented the way she drew children. This getaway with her husband and the Disney crew—including Walt Disney himself—opened her eyes to the way color is used and gave her an entirely new perspective on her work. Her work drastically changed from that trip. So from that I take 2 things:

1. Take a vacation when you can. Even if its a working trip. Get out of your box and experience life.

2. It’s okay to totally reinvent yourself no matter your age. It’s okay to gain new interests, new perspectives, and a new style. (Sometimes I feel so behind in starting this Etsy shop of mine, it’s totally different than anything I’ve ever done and I’m getting “older”)

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Similarly, I had encouraging take-aways from Walt Disney as well but on a much grander and different scale.

I love how Walt would come up with some crazy new idea, and without having a means to get the idea done, he would then create the tool to get it done. One example of that would be the multi plane camera that enables their animations to have that layered quality… from the foreground to the background. Okay, I’m getting rather technical now… so back to the feelings part…. Walt had a vision, he had a dream… he actually had a lot of visions and a lot of dreams… so he made these teams of like-minded people and together they accomplished world changing creative endeavors. I think its amazing to see where he started… he taught himself how to draw, how to animate… and from that planted seed he grew a company and a brand that was then able to grow to such a giant scale of an amusement park. That road from A to B…. was marked with so many failures but then so many wins…. so many struggles and problems but then so many victories and solutions.

A bench from the park where Disney was first inspired to create his own amusement park: Disneyland.

A bench from the park where Disney was first inspired to create his own amusement park: Disneyland.

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Of course, while I love the animation and film side of Disney, my heart truly is captured by Disneyland. The museum kinda lacked in this area. However, it did have a “massive” minitature model of Disneyland. Not Disneyland of any certain year, but the Disneyland that Walt knew and loved. It showed all the rides that he had a hand in, whether or not they had opened before his death (like Haunted Mansion). To view this model, from above, was remarkable. To see the imagination it took to create this larger than life amusement park that was done in the quality it was down to the smallest detail. He left no stone unturned, seriously, even the ground slowly changes theme as you walk from land to land. Walt knew quality, and expected nothing less.

The earliest known drawing of Mickey Mouse.

The earliest known drawing of Mickey Mouse.

So to sum up… from Walt Disney I continued to learn:

1. You have to start somewhere, no matter how small. He started with a sketch of a mouse. “If you can dream it, you can do it” “I only hope that we don’t lose sight of one thing – that it was all started by a mouse.”

2. Once you get started, don’t let anything get in your way. “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible”

3. When you’re going after your dreams, go all the way—giving it your all. “When you believe in a thing, believe in it all the way, implicitly and unquestionable.”

sam and walt disney family museumThank you Walt, for being such an inspiration to me… ever since I was a little girl, but more so since I grew up to be a big kid. A kid that wants to explore her creative boundaries and push the limits. To be inspired and to inspire. To have dreams and follow them through. A kid that wants to spark that light in others while continuing to burn my own creative juices. And to do everything I put my mind to with every ounce of strength I have.

All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.

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