Eyvind Earle

“Starting from nothing to where we are Is farther than the farthest star And farther than the farthest star Is where we are going from where we are.” ~ Eyvind Earle

“Starting from nothing to where we are
Is farther than the farthest star
And farther than the farthest star
Is where we are going from where we are.”
~ Eyvind Earle

Artist, author, illustrator. Someone with a marvelously alliterative name.

Born April 26, 1916 in New York City to wealth and privilege.

His father, Ferdinand Earle, a movie producer, moved the family to Hollywood in 1918. Eyvind’s mom, Charlotte Herman—concert pianist, and fourth wife to Ferdinand.

Eyvind’s older brother, Ferdi (named for his father), contracted polio at the age of ten and passed away. The day after the burial, Eyvind, age eight, contracted polio, which left his face partially paralyzed.

He spent the rest of his life avoiding smiling and laughing. He compensated for his crooked smile by painting every day.

Two years later his mother divorced his father and received custody of Eyvind.

Ferdinand got permission from Charlotte to take young Eyvind on a weekend trip to Palm Springs.

Eyvind was abducted.

They ended up in Mexico City. Ferdinand gave young Eyvind some choices: Read 50 pages a day or paint a painting every day or both. Eyvind chose both.

He was never allowed to play with other children except during school.

They traveled Europe. At 14, he gave his first art exhibit in Ascain, France.

That summer, with the help of his older half-brother, Harold, he escaped from his father. He returned to California to live with his mother at the beginning of the Depression.

His mother lost everything. Eyvind stuck with her.

When he turned 21, he bicycled from his home in California to New York in 42 days. He painted 42 water colors before ending his trip at his paternal grandmother’s home, broke.

His grandmother, on the verge of losing her home, made him work for her without pay. A month later an old friend of the family heard about it and rescued him. Setting him up with a one-man show in New York City to display his water colors. He eventually earned enough money to return home.

A life now defined by poverty. In 1939, he started a Christmas card company with a friend, which ended a year later. He started a second company, which met with the same success. The third time he joined American Artists Group, which published over 600 of Earle’s designs.

He could finally feed his family.

His path with poverty ended when he went to work for Walt Disney Studios. Where he painted the backgrounds for Sleeping Beauty. He worked for Disney for six years before moving on to another motion picture company earning more money.

Where ever he moved, he brought his mother.

His first wife died from cancer. He moved to Canada to be near one of his daughters, where he met his second wife, a former piano student of his mother’s. They married in the early 70’s and moved back to California.

He continued to paint and exhibit until three months before his death in 2000 at the age of 84. He painted every day for more than seventy years.

If you want to experience his artwork beyond the Disney classics, here’s his website.

If Fate destines you to see his work displayed in a gallery or museum, experience the magic. The magic occurs when they adjust the lighting and his paintings transition from morning to evening.

He may not have smiled, but you will.

Tracy — Fannie Cranium’s Guide to Irreverent Wisdom


About Fannie Cranium

Writing since she could first hold a pen, Tracy Perkins formed her alter ego, "Fannie Cranium" at the suggestion of her husband. Tracy understands smiling makes people wonder what she’s been up to.
This entry was posted in funny names in art and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Eyvind Earle

  1. ksbeth says:

    wow, i love his story so much. talk about overcoming adversity and thriving in spite of it. i’m glad he finally found his magic.

  2. Reblogged this on Fannie Cranium's and commented:

    This month’s contribution to the Blog of Funny Names.

  3. kerbey says:

    I agree with the above wow. That’s a great post, so dysfunctional and sad, and yet he went on to greatness. A terrible father, a mean grandmother. Who RIDES HIS BIKE ACROSS THE COUNTRY?? The pics on his site did not show a horribly disfigured man, but I guess he did prefer being shot on his left side. Boy, you think your life has been hard and you’ve known tragedy, and then you read this. I wonder how it was pronounced: Ay-Vind? Eye-Vind?

  4. Arto says:

    Great tale of artist overcoming adversity there! Wow, this had everything. Even a double-42, the answer to everything, which seems to have worked for him as well. Way to go Eyvind!

  5. Liz says:

    tragic. But how lovely that he shared his art with the world just the same. Hate it when folks mess up their kids lives. Am guilty of just that, too, but in much smaller (and more acceptable, haha) ways. Am so sorry he couldn’t smile on the outside. All the more reason he is amazing. Good call on the name, Fannie. This one adds depth to a normally goofy blog 🙂

    • Liz–I believe your girls will appreciate your version of “messing them up” when they are grown. And will look back on it with fond memories.

      Eyvind lead an amazing life, which was reflected in his art.

  6. I loved his serigraphs

  7. Dave says:

    Every time you post, I want to say Fan-tastic! Great job finding someone to profile that I’ve never encountered before. Great stuff! This has been an insane week (more than usual) so I can’t say much, but very interesting stuff, and it’s great to see a guy overcome a disability like polio to do something totally awesome!

  8. Pingback: A Special Edition: The Eyes | Fannie Cranium's

  9. markbialczak says:

    Excellent energy exhibited every elemental execution of Evind’s evolutionary escapades, Fannie!

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