Eyvind Earle, a former Solvang resident and internationally acclaimed artist who helped revolutionize film animation with his work on Disney classics, is being honored with an exhibition at the Elverhoj Museum of History & Art.

In fact, the holidays arrive early at the Solvang museum with the debut of “Eyvind Earle|Winter.” The works of this master painter and designer will be celebrated with an opening reception Saturday from 4 to 6 p.m. The public is invited and refreshments will be served, with no charge for admission.

Earle was an acclaimed California artist, author and illustrator noted for his landscape paintings and contributions to the background illustration and styling of classic Disney animated films like “Sleeping Beauty” and “Lady and the Tramp.” He is also famous for his Christmas and holiday greeting cards, creating more than 800 designs over a 57-year period between 1938 and 1995.

Earle resided in Solvang between 1968 and 1978.

“The imagery derived from themes of the Santa Ynez Valley are unmistakable in many of Earle’s paintings and serigraphs,” said Esther Jacobsen Bates, executive director of the Elverhoj Museum. “He found inspiration in the natural beauty of the California Central Coast.”

The Elverhoj gallery will showcase serigraphs and paintings that are the basis of Earle’s famous Christmas cards. This is a special opportunity for collectors because limited-edition serigraphs will be available for purchase.

To further share Earle’s work, books and some of those famous cards will be offered in the Elverhoj Museum store.

Earle of Disney

Eyvind Earle (1916-2000) was born in New York but raised in Hollywood. An accomplished artist from an early age, he landed a job as an assistant sketch artist for United Artists while still in his teens. From the time of his solo show in France at the young age of 14, Earle’s fame grew steadily.

“I never planned to be involved with Christmas card designing,” Earle once said. “It simply happened as a means of survival. To me, every day is Christmas. Every creation is divine. Cover the ugliest rundown shack with snow, and it becomes a magic vision of purity.”

Earle’s career has encompassed many fields. By the early 1950s, he was working as a background painter for Walt Disney Studios, where he contributed to classic animated feature films. He also painted the dioramas for Sleeping Beauty’s castle at Disneyland in Anaheim.

In 2015 Earle, was awarded the status of being a “Disney Legend.” Today, the iconic Earle shares that title with modern talents such as actor Johnny Depp and director-producer George Lucas.

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Returning to painting full time in 1966, Earle created extensive watercolors, oil paintings, sculptures and drawings. In 1974, he began making limited-edition serigraphs.

“I do not try to copy an oil painting,” Earle once explained, “but rather I create a new work of art using the silk screening process.”

Christmas stories

Exhibition programming includes a screening of the animated short “The Story of Christmas,” with animation by Earle and a musical score by Roger Wagner. The screening takes place Dec. 8 at 7 p.m. A discussion will follow. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for the free event.

In addition, a panel discussion with special guests is scheduled for Jan. 27. “Eyvind’s Influence in Animation and Film” will be the topic. A social hour will follow. The Eyvind Earle exhibition remains on display through Jan. 28.

The Elverhoj Museum of History & Art is located at 1624 Elverhoy Way in Solvang. Hours are Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. There is no charge for admission, but a $5 donation is suggested. For more information, call 805-686-1211, email esther@elverhoj.org or visit www.elverhoj.org.