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Joshua Meador Self Portrait at approximately age 43
Josh, a Self Portrait

(courtesy of the
Meador family)
Joshua Meador Biography
1911 - 1965
Meador_Josh_Photo_Retrospective_Exhibition_288.jpg

As Walt Disney Studio's Director of Special Animated Effects, Josh Meador participated in most of the famed Disney classics. Josh was grateful to Walt Disney for giving him an opportunity during the Great Depression. Josh found his "day job" at Disney artistically challenging and rewarding. But beyond the studio, Josh always throught of himself as a landscape painter, first and foremost.

In the late 1940's and early 1950's, he frequently visited Bodega Bay and created numerous canvases of Sonoma County scenes.


"First and Foremost
" provides a video sampling Joshua Meador's body of work.
Josh created over 2,000 canvases. He often explained to his admirers,
"First and foremost, I'm a painter, Disney is my day job."

In 1955, Josh maintained studios and galleries in Carmel Highlands and in 1960 built his dream home and studio in Caspar, CA, just north of Mendocino. READ MORE

Joshua Meador Hand and Palette Knife
Here, Josh demonstrates his palette knife technique in the Walt Disney short film
4 Artists Paint 1 Tree, first broadcast on Disney's TV show in 1958.
He explains, "I don't thoroughly mix the colors on the palette, but let them mingle as I spread the paint onto the canvas." You may view 4 Artists Paint one Tree on YOUTUBE.com

Joshua Meador doing Animated Effects with Jack Boyd and Walt Disney looking on
ABOVE ... Joshua Meador (atop ladder) creating animation effects
with Walt Disney and Disney animator Jack Boyd looking on.
Photo is courtesy of Andrea Atkinson, daughter of Jack Boyd.
Joshua Meador with his ever present sketch pad
Josh with his ever present sketch pad

In 1959, the prestigious California Art Club introduced Josh in their newsletter in anticipation of an art talk and demonstration ... "highly individualistic and his technique definitely his own. ... He is able to produce a feeling of boldness with restraint, and create in the beholder the mood which the artist is endeavoring to express! We are in for an artistic treat through the visit and demonstration of Joshua Meador."

His works were exhibited in museums and galleries throughout California and were included in collections of Walt Disney, Fred Macmurray, President Lyndon Johnson, and many others. Currently, a painting of Walt Disney's Smoke Tree Ranch in Palm Springs is on display at the Walt Disney Family Musuem in San Francisco.

During his time away from the Disney Studios, Josh would pack up the family station wagon, and together with his wife Libby and son Philip, pulled a teardrop trailer throughout California, painting as they went.

Joshua Meador Photo at Garrapata State Park near Carmel California
Josh painting at Garrapata State Beach
south of Carmel

Joshua's favorite painting tool was the palette knife. His son Philip smiled as he recalled that his father "kept some brushes around just to sign his work." Toward the end of his career, Josh remained under contract with Disney while he maintained studios and galleries in Carmel Highlands and later in Caspar just north of Mendocino.

Joshua can be seen explaining his painting technique on film. Josh participated in two short features created for Walt Disney's television show in 1954 and 1958. The first one entitled Tricks of our Trade features Josh animating lava bubbles for Fantasia. The second is entitled Four Artists Paint One Tree. Walt Disney introduces and narrates as four of the Disney Studio artists Eyvind Earle, Marc Davis, Walt Paragoy and Joshua Meador paint a California live oak tree using four different artistic styles. See the links above to view 4 Artists Paint 1 Tree.

Joshua Meador painting in the film Four Artists Paint One Tree
Josh beginning his painting in the
film Four Artists Paint One Tree
Joshua was a native of Columbus, Mississippi. He was honored recently in Columbus as one of the town's favorite sons, along with fellow Columbus native, famed playwright Tennessee Williams.
Four Artists Paint One Tree Joshua Meador, Marc Davis, Eyvind Earle, and Walt Paragoy
The artists and their paintings for "Four Artists Paint One Tree,"
from left, Joshua Meador, Marc Davis, Eyvind Earle, and Wa
lt Paragoy

Josh is but one of the many skilled and talented painters attracted to California by the film industry. Fortunately for California, theses artists have left an artistic legacy well beyond their work in film. Beginning in 1936, he participated in a long list of Disney productions. He was most proud of the water effects in Cinderella, Bambi, and the fire and bubbling mud scenes in the "Rite of Spring" in Fantasia.

Joshua Meador at work at Disney Studios
Josh at Disney observing mud bubbles
as he creates animated lava effects for Fantasia

At Disney, he also was part of a team winning a special effects Oscar for Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. Josh's wife Libby Meador reports that Josh loved working for Disney.


Joshua Meador and an effects team feeding leaves to wind, photo courtesy of Andrea Atchinson,
daughter of Disney artist, Jack Boyd

Once, the Disney Studios loaned Josh and his talents to MGM Studios to do special animation effects for what would later become the highly regarded sci-fi classic, Forbidden Planet.

But for Josh, Disney was his day job, painting was his passion. Today he is known primarily for his striking landscapes. When the work week at Disney was done, weekends were often spent with the family station wagon pulling a teardrop trailer. Josh's son Philip reports that he and Libby would take long walks while Josh and the family dog would find an interesting locale and paint. Besides providing companionship, the dog protected Josh from being startled by passers by.

Joshua Meador Brochure Photo
Josh relaxing at his northern California
coastal home in Caspar.

His favored painting tool was the palette knife. He first sketched in his subject in the broadest sense with a large brush with black paint mixed with lighter fluid on a stretched linen canvas. Then would switch to the palette knife to complete the painting.

Later, in his La Crescenta studio, he would finalize and sign his work. Josh and Libby lived in La Crescenta and were good friends of other nearby artists, Conrad and Mary Buff and Stephen Seymour Thomas.

Later in Josh's career, he did some notable commision pieces, a group of paintings for Walt Disney's Smoke Tree Ranch near Palm Springs, one for Vandenburg Air Force Base at the beginning of the space race, a painting for President Lyndon Johnson now on exhibit at the LBJ Presidential Library in Austin, TX. A few months before Josh died, he received a high honor. He was commissioned by NASA to go aboard an aircraft carrier and paint returning Apollo astronauts, an honor he did not live to fulfill.

Joshua Meador I Dreamt I Was Painting
... an excerpted self-caricature of Josh from his
"I Dreamt I Was Painting." -- private collection


Josh and Libby were high school sweethearts in Columbus, Mississippi. Both were quite bright. Josh received a nomination to attend the Naval Academy at Annapolis, but turned it down. He wanted to follow his passion and paint.

In 1931, Josh and his father took a train trip, first visiting New York and Pittsburg before choosing the Art Institute of Chicago. That same year, Josh and Libby were marrried. He studied illustration, painting, portraits, and etching. After graduation in 1935, Josh and Libby came to California where Josh applied and went to work for Walt Disney. Four years later, Philip was born, Josh continued working for Disney until 1960, making an agreement with Walt Disney that Josh would return from his studio for special projects. Back to top of the page.

Source: Conversation with Libby, Philip and Hildur Meador on the occasion of their visit to Bodega Bay Heritage Gallery, July 6, 2006 and subsequent visits. Other sources include AskArt, Edan Hughes, Artists in California 1786 - 1940, 3d ed.; www.laughingplace.com/News-ID10019010.asp

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Joshua Meador Inner Harbor
Coastal & Harbor
Joshua Meador Captain Vallejo's Casa
Coastal Farms
& Towns
Joshua Meador Smoke Trees
Palm Springs &
California Desert
Joshua Meador Road to Mt Whitney
Eastern Sierra
Joshua Meador Aria da Capo
Related to
Disney Studios
Joshua Meador Strolling in the Park
Southern Callifornia and Centra America
Joshua Meador Caspar Point
Disney Collection and the Meador Family Collection