Today is Mel Shaw’s birthday, and I am paying tribute to this wonderful artist who passed just last month at the age of 97.
As I said in my review of The Rescuers Mel Shaw’s pastel drawings make-up the opening sequence of Penny’s bottle traveling to New York. He worked in various movie studios over the course of his career, but his time with Disney was the most prominent and well-known. He started at the studio in the late 30’s before leaving during World War II to join the armed forces and, like another member of the Disney team Joe Grant, he returned to Disney in the 70’s and remained there well into the Disney Renaissance in the early 90’s. In fact during that time not only did he do a lot of concept and design artwork for movies that went into to production, but he also did a lot of beautiful artwork, both pastel and pain and ink, for a squeal to Fantasia that was never made called Musicana.
He also did concept art for a version of ‘The Little Prince’ with Orson Welles that was also never made.
Another neat connection that Mel had with Disney was with his second wife Florence Lounsbery-Shaw the widow of John Lounsbery, another one of Disney’s Nine Old Men. Mel’s second marriage is also now a rather bittersweet topic as he died on what would have been his 27th wedding anniversary, though Florence died in 2004.
Even though Mel is gone now his work remains, in what he did for the film industry and his personal work too which can be found on his website http://melshawstudios.com He also finished an autobiography entitled ‘Animators on Horseback’ that apparently will be published posthumously.
So for achieving a lifetime of wonderful, beautiful, artwork that is sure to inspire others for a long time to come I salute you Mel Shaw!