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.