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How Tyrus Wong got the job to animate Bambi


When he began working for Disney, Wong’s role was minor and technical. Then, when a supervisor noticed his work, he was asked to create the atmosphere for the film “Bambi.” Wong would go on to paint hundreds of pastels that would define the impressionistic, colorful forests throughout the film.

Additional support for Tyrus is provided in part by The Louie Family Foundation, The Walt Disney Company Foundation, Buck Gee & Mary Hackenbracht, the National Endowment for the Arts, County of Los Angeles Board of Supervisors, Bill Yee, David Ahmanson, East West Bank, and Women in Film.


This is opaque watercolor and then that's strictly watercolor, and I did a lot of pastel too. Like this, the studio has a lot of my pastels. I did hundreds and hundred of these. At home I did a lot of sketches like that and showed them to Tom Cottery, you know, and he said, 'Gee, you're in the in-between department?'

And I said, 'yeah.'

'I think we put you in the wrong place. How would you like to develop an atmosphere - create an atmosphere for Bambi?'

I was mainly a landscape painter so I thought that was great, you know? The Chinese, you know, as far as painting's concerned, a painting is a poem. A poem is a painting. In Chinese painting, we're always thinking about distance. Everything is distant, you know, way, way back. But Occidental painting, everything is three-dimensional - just pull it out away from the cameras - that's an entirely different thing. And you know the Chinese landscape is all very poetic in feeling. Like a fisherman - the lonely fisherman, you know, sitting in a boat. Or else there's a philosopher sitting by a pine tree, you know, writing poetry - so very poetic.


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