Theme/Style California Style, Regionalism, landscape, figurative art, animation art, graphic art
Media Watercolors, murals, etchings
Artistic Focus Elmer Plummer can rightly be called a true master of the California Style within the American Scene painting genre, typified by broad, confident brushstrokes, and strong colors. His paintings document the everyday life of 1930s America – men and women at their daily work, children going to school – with much feeling, as well as a sense of both the landscape and the social context of these activities. As such, his works emerge as honest observations of a time and place, both in California and the nation as a whole.
• Elmer Ginzel Plummer was born in Redlands, California, in 1910. His childhood friends included Phil Dike, Lee Blair, and Preston Blair.
• As a teenager Plummer attended a San Diego area military school, and studied watercolor painting during his high school years.
• During the late 1920s Plummer received a scholarship to continue his studies at the Chouinard Art Institute under, among others, Millard Sheets and Clarence Hinkle.
• In 1932, while still at Chouinard, Plummer was selected to be one of the assistants to David Alfaro Siqueiros on a mural for the school’s courtyard, working alongside Merrell Gage, Paul Sample, Millard Sheets, Phil Paradise, Barse Miller, and Lee Blair.
• In 1934 Plummer became a studio artist for Warner Bros., and later became a close friend of Walt Disney. Thus began Plummer’s long association with Walt Disney Studios, where he produced art and also developed content ideas for both short cartoons and feature films such as Fantasia and Dumbo.
• From the early 1930s to 1942, Plummer was active in the California Watercolor Society, creating watercolors both for the Works Progress Administration and also exhibiting extensively, with Painters and Sculptors of Los Angeles, the Art Institute of Chicago, and at the Golden Gate International Exposition in San Francisco. He also won awards in exhibitions at the Los Angeles Art Association, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and the Los Angeles County and California State Fairs.
• After World War II, Plummer continued to work with Walt Disney Studios and also taught at the Chouinard Art Institute and the California Institute of the Arts, but painted only occasionally and rarely exhibited his work after the mid-1940s.
• Elmer Plummer passed away in Junction City, Oregon, in 1986.
Additional biographical material and full bibliographic
references are available upon request.
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