The Late Bill Peet was a sketch
artist specializing in whimsical yet precise renderings of animal
s. He had an enchanting childhood on a farm in Indiana
. This important time upon which he (and I suppose all artists) bases his creativity
can be more completely understood
if you take the time to read
his wonderfully illustrated self-titled
The failure of some zoo-animal photography to develop in his early adolescence inspired his first sketches. He enjoyed using animals as characters for his fictions as well as in other roles in his long work life.
His artistic devotions led him to secure a scholarship to the John Herron Art School. There he honed his skills as an draftsman and artisan. Afterwards he duffed about doing various things, including documentary filming of the Vietnam war and desperately seeking employment. During one unemployed period in New York a friend who recognized his talent showed him a brochure for the Disney Studios. He took the man up on his offer and made his way West.
Beginning as an illustrator filling in the storyboards, the apex of his long cinematic career found him working in a creative relationship with Walt that bordered on the equality between partners. The two took great pride in their work and so there was a bit of intellectual struggle throughout. Still, Walt had a natural genius for storytelling, and Bill Peet for art and cinematics, and the two made important films.
What is more remarkable is Bill Peet's second career after his involvement in the whirring artistic cogs of the Disney Marketing machine. Where most of his peers were happy with retirement after so many years working diligently behind pens and inks, Peet took to fleshing out his imagined characters into delightful illustrated paperbacks.
These books were write for children in a bright and delightful manor. Paragraphs and short pages of each story's text were overlayed with his colorful sketches. The most striking feature of these illustrations are the deceptively simple yet wholly powerful use of exaggerated facial expressions in each of the characters. These are part of the brilliant techniques that bring the situations of Peet's mind to life. Of course, Bill Peet's war for trains and the rural spaces also made its way into his books.
I think Peet's natural talent for perspective and effective character position were his most noticeable additions to the Disney features. His sketchily styled depictions were not, as is and has been the case with so many artists, supplanted by the Disney (The art is made to be just a piece of an imminently sellable product, and so wreaks of simplistic greed to my third eyes) ethic.
Before his imaginative Pinocchio story concept made his talent apparent to the enterprise, Peet served as just another underpayed, intellectually bullied and abused draftsman. Throughout the rest of his career, his natural gift for effective character placement and genius for perspective (angle and view from which the action plays out) were his main additions to the Disney Recipe. His personal style were the substance behind a hundred thousand storyboards. Bill's innovative art of 101 Dalmatians are probably his most loved piece Bill's innovative art of 101 Dalmatians are probably his most loved piece The Disney animators would then alter his scenes to fill the Disney mold.
This arrangement allowed Bill Peet's approach to survive his long bout in Walt's world. The series that Mr. Peet rendered in his later life is a testament to the strength of his creative stamina and character. The books are entitled:
How Droofus the Dragon Lost his Head
The Ant and the Elephant
Big Bad Bruce
Buford the Little Bighorn
The Caboose Who Got Loose
Chester the Worldly Pig
Cyrus the Unsinkable Sea Serpent
Farewell to Shady Glade
Fly, Homer, Fly
Hubert's Hair-Raising Adventure
Jennifer and Josephine
Kermit the Hermit
Randy's Dandy Lions
The Spooky tail of Prewitt Peacock
The Wump World