Toby Bluth Biography
1940 - 2013
Walt Disney's greatest gift may have been the ability to inspire other people to incomparable creative achievements. Disney artist Toby Bluth happens to be one of those shining talents who, to this day, draws his inspiration from the life and work of the inimitable Walt Disney and his kingdom of creations. Starting with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, continuing with Pinocchio, Fantasia, Dumbo, and Bambi, those first trailblazing feature-length films created and produced by Disney Studios are the five gems in the royal crown of animation history. Just as those films marked Disney's grand entrance into feature length storytelling, they also set the stage for the first five limited edition giclées in Bluth's Disney Fine Art portfolio. Infused with all the depth, texture and richness of Bluth's original watercolors, his fine prints will be cherished for generations, very much in step with the spirit of the timeless classics that inspired them.
Creating those prints was a one-in-a-lifetime endeavor that Bluth did not take lightly - "If you pick up a classic like Snow White, Pinocchio, Dumbo, Fantasia, or Bambi, these are the Disney gold films for me. They are the films the whole studio was built on. And to adjust or tamper with it at all, it needs to be done with great respect because it's a little intimidating. These were brilliant films and you don't want to distract from it."
Born in Texas and raised on a farm in Payson, Utah, Bluth remembers going to movies with his older brother—renowned animator, film director, producer, writer, and former Disney artist Don Bluth — and instantly falling in love with the movies, none more so than Disney films. "(Don) and I would ride our horses into town and go to the Star Theater because there were no DVDs, no home videos. If a Disney film came through, we would stay and watch it through maybe three, maybe four times... when something like Pinocchio or Snow White came through, they were really quite magical. And that's where the romance started originally." It was a romance that continued for many years and brought unimagined success and an enduring legacy for the artist who, growing up, only dreamt of working for Disney. In fact, Bluth worked on many Disney films and others projects as animator, background artist and production designer. He even served as art director for The Walt Disney Studios production of The Three Musketeers, having already served in that position for the animated feature film The Tigger Movie. His artwork is prominently displayed at most of the Disney theme parks around the world.
Citing inspiration from the work of legendary illustrator Gustaf Tengrenn, whom Walt Disney commissioned to work on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Bluth found a kindred outlet for his prodigious creative talents. His passionate embrace of animation is evident in his words, as well as his art - "One of my great loves in life is the art form of animation. It has lifted me, moved me, transported me and claimed much of my working life. So when anyone or any studio undertakes the creation of an animated film, my very best wishes go out to them...for if they succeed, it is a success for all of us in the world of animation and if they fail, it, likewise, is a failure for all of us."
A multifaceted artist, however, his creative endeavors did not end at the tip of his paint brush. He also enjoyed a prolific career writing and illustrating children's books and was an accomplished writer, director, designer and a veteran of the American musical stage, having performed and or directed in nearly one hundred musicals, both on and off-Broadway, including collaborations with his older brother in theater. Bluth even traveled the Disney Cruise Line and showed off his talent for crowds of all ages.
When asked how he approached his masterful watercolor paintings, Bluth described his process as, "Creating the moment that you think you saw…How one remembers a film is often different from the actual film itself." As a result, Bluth painted what he referred to as the collective memory of a film experience, tapping into the emotional essence of the story rather than get bogged down by petty details. This nuanced understanding of memory and audience actually helped fuel Bluth's painting style - Fumado—a Spanish word which roughly translates as "smoking" — is a term Bluth uses to describe the notion that as things move away from you in distance or time, they get hazy and out of focus — much like our memory of events in our lives. He uses this principal as inspiration in how he composes his paintings, to draw focus (or lack of) to certain elements in his work. Chiaroscuro—an Italian term defined as the use of deep variations or strong contrasts in light and shade, specifically to enhance the delineation of character and for dramatic effect and affecting a whole composition — is also a key component of Bluth's work. The blue shaded undercoat or chiaroscuro effect adds depth, life and warm and cool shadows to each scene Bluth invites us into, what he constantly referred to as, "painting the light and the air."
In total, Bluth spent more than forty years in animation, initially toiling as a layout artist for Hanna Barbera in the 1970s and 80s (on such shows as Godzilla, Challenge of The Superfriends and The Smurfs), before beginning an association with Disney as background stylist on The Tigger Movie. "My history with Disney has been a very long one," Bluth explained. "I've worked in different departments. I worked in development. I've done a lot of books and illustrations for Disney publishing and then I was the art director (for several movies)... primarily setting the look of the movie." Eventually, he became a Disney "Fine Artist" doing limited edition art in the style of the classics for sale in galleries and at the theme parks. This brought him public recognition and earned him a fan base all of his own, while also reinforcing his commitment to, and passion for, animation. "I believe that the animated film is still in its infancy. The possibilities for this magical medium are limitless. It seems obvious that animation can and has rocked cradles and entertained young audiences very well, but there are many (myself among them) who feel very strongly that this genre of entertainment is in no way limited to children."
World Wide Art
World Wide Art is known for its wide selection of limited edition prints by renowned artists, including the luminescent works of Toby Bluth. Their expert staff also specializes in custom conservation framing. In business since 1996, World Wide Art is located in the San Francisco Bay Area and is a well-known art shop for both serious collectors and casual decorators. The staff at World-Wide-Art.com not only deals art, but are collectors and artists themselves who consider their work a labor of love and lifestyle of art appreciation.