Sixteen seconds, Swamis Beach

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Retta Scott

Painting in the Arroyo
I bought a small but interesting cache of watercolors out of an estate in the Bay Area this week. The artist is named Retta Scott (1916-1990) and she had a long and illustrious career. She has somehow largely escaped notice in the booming California Watercolor / California regional style market. She is not listed in Gordon McLelland's book California Watercolors 1850-1970 but she had a wonderful career that I believe deserves both acclaim and recognition.

Problems at the dock
Scott was a Disney artist and has the distinction of being the first woman to crack the celluloid barrier and receive animation screen credit at Disney. She was hired by Disney in 1938. Only one of my watercolors is dated, the chinatown piece is from 1933 and I have no way of knowing when the other works were completed.

From Wiki:

Scott was born in Omak, Washington.[1] She graduated from Seattle's Roosevelt High School in 1934. She received an academic scholarship from the Chouinard Art Institute, so she moved to Los Angeles, California. She spent much of her free time sketching wildlife at the nearby Griffith Park zoo. Her ambition was to mold a career in Fine art.[2]

As she readied to complete her Institute training, the Institute's director encouraged Scott to apply at Disney Studios. She was hired in 1938 and assigned to the Story Department, where the ambitious Bambi project was being developed. Her stunning sketches caught the eye of Disney himself,[3] so when the film went into production she was assigned[4] to animate scenes of hunting dogs chasing Faline. This was a significant coup for the young woman, since at the 1930s-era Disney studio, women were considered only for routine tasks: "Ink and paint art was a laborious part of the animation process, and was solely the domain of women . ." [5] She worked under the film's supervising director, David D. Hand,[6] and was tutored by Disney animator Eric Larson.[7]
Scott worked on a host of Disney features besides Bambi, including Fantasia and Dumbo as well as some Donald Duck cartoons.


 I missed out on a wonderful beach scene but am very happy with the pieces I did manage to acquire.

Santa Anita Stop

I do have a question. Any Angelenos around that can tell me where this grand deco building is or was located?

Some of these pieces are double sided and a few lack signatures. Will be tough to decide what to frame. Hope that you enjoy her work as much as I do.


Olvera Street
Postscript: Boy, you guys are good. One day. Top honors go to Tom Meriwether with honorable mention to Barb Finwall who sent this letter:
Voila !  (maybe)
The Park Plaza Hotel
You would see this from Mac arthur Park, which is where the bridge is.

Barbara gets extra credit for the Chouinard patio but since she was a student there one would expect it…
she also sent this picture of said patio. 

Thanks to all you Blue Heron sleuths out there!


North County Film Club said...

Thanks a lot, Robert! Nancy and I have just spent most of the morning trying to locate
the buildings in the Retta Scott painting. I think we're getting close. We thought the red brick bldg. next to the white building
might be the Gaylord Hotel (now apts.) but it's across the street from the old Ambassador Hotel so there wouldn't be a park with a lake.
The park looks like it might be Lafayette park. We're still looking. Nancy and I both worked on Wilshire blvd. in 60s. So we
know the area well but I guess it was too long ago, although we lived and worked in the area for many years.

I'm pretty sure of the location of the painting with the people on the stairs and in the patio. It sure looks like the Chouinard patio.


Blue Heron said...

Thanks so much for the sleuthing, ladies! The Chouinard patio makes sense and one of the fellows is carrying a valise underarm. I know that we will nail the building eventually.

Unknown said...

Echo Park Lake looking towards Queen of the Angels Hospital (now known as the Dream Center)? Just a guess.

Sanoguy said...

Great paintings!! MacArthur Park???

Anonymous said...

Your watercolor of the grand Art Deco building may be what is now known as the Park Plaza Hotel, which I knew as the old Elks Building, near the corner of W. 6th St and S. Park View St., L.A. In the foreground is MacArthur Park. It might also be a building now gone on Wilshire Blvd. and S. Park View St. I am fairly certain the picture shows MacArthur Park's lake.

Tom Meriwether

Anonymous said...


North County Film Club said...

I'm pretty sure it's the Park Plaza Hotel as seen from McArthur Park. (After some more sleuthing)
Chouinard Art Inst. is right on the other side of the park. I used to eat lunch there while attending Chouinard. I met my ex-husband in that patio at Chouinard.