Lee Blair Biography

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Lee Blair (1911-1993) Born: Los Angeles, CA; Studied: Chouinard Art Institute (Los Angeles); Member: New York Water Color Club, American Watercolor Society, California Water Color Society. Lee Blair was born and raised in Southern California. He attended art school in Los Angeles and studied with Pruett Carter, Millard Sheets, Lawrence Murphy and briefly with Mexican artist David Alfaro Siqueiros. While attending art school he won several major awards for his watercolor painting, including a gold medal in the art division of the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics. He became president of the California Water Color Society in 1935, and it was largely through his efforts that the Society shows began traveling nationally and internationally.

Throughout his life, Blair produced California Style watercolors. In the 1930s, he was one of the key artists who helped develop this approach to watercolor painting and was a prominent award winner in many art exhibitions. He had a unique sense of wit and humor which often came through in his art works and usually determined the subjects he chose to paint.

Blair is also known for his innovative work in animated films. He began working at the famed U.B. Iwerk Studio, producing art for Flip the Frog cartoons in the early 1930s. He then went on to the Harman-Ising Studios where he worked on Bosco and other innovative cartoon shorts. In 1938, he switched to the Walt Disney Studios, where, over the next few years, he worked on Pinocchio, Fantasia and Saludos Amigos.

During World War II, Blair served in the United States Navy and for a time produced animated training film for the government. While in the navy, he continued to paint watercolors of wartime activity. After the war, he and his wife Mary, who was also an artist, moved to New York where they started Film Graphics, Inc. and T.V. Graphics, Inc. Both companies produced animated films; some for training and education, others for television commercials. Their clients included General Motors, American Iron and Steel, the United States Navy, Army Signal Corps, Walt Disney Educational Films, Lockheed Missiles and Space Co. and many others. The latter years of his career were spent near Santa Cruz where he sailed, painted watercolors and worked on animated films.

Biographical information:

Interview with Lee Blair, 1983.

Biography courtesy of California Watercolors 1850-1970,

©2002 Hillcrest Press, Inc.

California Watercolor

Lee & Mary Blair-1936