Painter, muralist, ceramicist, lithographer, designer and kite maker Tyrus Wong was born in China in 1910 and emigrated to the United States with his father at the age of 9. As a child his teachers noticed he possessed exceptional artistic skills which would land him a scholarship at the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles. By 1930 he was working in Hollywood for Warner Bros. and from 1938 to 1941 he became a “Disney inspirational sketch artist” where his lush pastel drawings of forests and deer would serve as inspiration for the movie Bambi where he served as lead artist on the film. Wong retired in 1968 and began a second career of making kites which he would fly on the Santa Monica Pier. He is now 103 years old.
Wong’s work was most recently featured in “Round the Clock: Chinese American Artists Working in Los Angeles” at the Vincent Price Art Museum in 2012. You can see more of his pastel illustrations over on Magic Forces. (via Magic Forces)
Update: It’s also been brought to my attention that the Walt Disney Family Foundation in San Francisco actually just held a retrospective exhibition for Wong called Water to Paper, Paint to Sky: The Art of Tyrus Wong. If you’re interested, the catalog for that exhibition is available here. (thnx, Kelly!)