Friday, 8 January 2016

Godspeed Frank Armitage

Frank Armitage, who served as a background artist on several classic Disney films, died on January 4 2016 at the age of 91.

Frank Armitage was born in Melbourne, Australia in 1924. He began drawing while he was still very young. During World War II he served in the  Royal Australian Air Force. He attended an art institute in Melbourne. While there he picked up a book on Mexican mural painters at the National Gallery of Victoria. Afterwards he quit school and migrated to Montreal. He worked there for 18 months to earn enough money to move to Mexico City. Frank Armitage won an international mural contest sponsored by social realist painter David Alfaro Siqueiros. He afterwards became David Alfaro Siqueiros's assistant. In Mexico he worked on several different murals.

In 1952 Frank Armitage moved to Los Angeles and started working for Walt Disney Productions. At Disney he served as a background artist on Peter Pan (1952), Lady and the Tramp (1955), and Sleeping Beauty (1959), Mary Poppins (1964), and The Jungle Book (1967). as well as the Disneyland episode "Man and the Moon".  He also worked on the launch of the theme park Disneyland, particularly contributing to Storybook Land.

Frank Armitage did work outside of Walt Disney Productions. He worked as a background artist for UPA on the TV shows Mister Magoo and The Dick Tracy Show. He later served as a graphic designer on the feature film Fantastic Voyage (1966). In 1977 he returned to Disney where he did work for the Wonders of Life Pavilion at Epcot. He would later create concept art for Sleeping Beauty’s Castle at Disneyland Paris and a murals for a restaurant in Disney World's Animal Kingdom and Tokyo DisneySea. He also worked as an art consultant on the PBS series Cosmos.

Frank Armitage retired from Disney in 1989. He studied medicine and acupuncture and continued to paint medical artwork.

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