–Tiera Tanner, WDW Radio Team
Pack your paints, sharpen your pencils, and prepare for painting “en plein air” – it’s time to spark your imagination at the annual Epcot International Festival of the Arts!
Among masterful performances and unique treats, artists showcase their original artworks and renditions of beloved Disney characters in gallery tents throughout Epcot.
Michelle St.Laurent, a veteran Disney artist, debuted numerous new watercolor paintings for this year’s festival.
“I have been painting for Disney for 26 years,” shared St.Laurent. “The first 10 while working for Disney Design Group in Florida and the past 16 with Disney Fine Art. After experimenting with different mediums I found my strength and style with watercolors.”
St.Laurent has exhibited works for the festival since its beginnings as Festival of the Masters at Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney).
“I learned about the art festival way back when it was the Festival of the Masters at Downtown Disney when I was working for the company at Disney Design Group,” she explained. “We always had a few pieces on display in the ‘Art of Disney’ gallery. Since the event has moved to Epcot, I have been a featured artist with Disney Fine Art every year.”
For this festival, St.Laurent’s paintings included more than forty new watercolor renderings of classic Disney characters and an original, non-Disney piece titled Made with Love – a vibrant pink portrait filled with colorful and dynamic butterflies traveling among daisies toward a peaceful, winged figure at the top of the long vertical composition.
St.Laurent explained that her inspiration for her works arises from numerous aspects of life.
“My family, my fellow artists, memories, and my collectors inspire me,” St.Laurent said. “My paintings have evolved over the years. I take more chances and try to push myself to be better with each new piece.”
St.Laurent’s watercolor works titled Just a Little Pixie Dust and Orange Bird House were among her favorite paintings she exhibited at the festival this year.
Just a Little Pixie Dust explores the magic of Walt Disney’s Peter Pan (1953) with a scene from the Darling nursery. The Darling children, Wendy, John, and Michael, are sprinkled with pixie dust by Peter Pan from a disgruntled Tinker Bell. The pixie dust rains over children – Wendy with a face of marvel and delight, John examining the sparkles with an inquisitive eye, and Michael shielding his face from the pixie powder. The children’s varying heights and poses lead the viewer’s eye around the work, from the oval lines of the rug the children stand on circling around to the toy blocks in the lower left hand corner of the painting (cleverly monogrammed for each character), then to the window seat Peter Pan stands on to disperse Tinker Bell’s magic. The showering of pixie dust is created by perfectly placed pointillism – a collection of golden watercolor dots and shining white sparkles.
“I try to create art that sparks a special moment or memory, or a scene that just brings someone so much joy when they look at it every day,” said St.Laurent. “It means so much to me when I hear that from collectors.”
Orange Bird House represents such a joyous scene for collectors. Perched on a porch outside a white wooden bird house, the little Orange Bird sweeps away leaves in this Autumnal scene. Patchwork fields of green and orange fill the background as lush Fall trees form below and around Orange Bird’s petite cottage. A hidden Mickey is framed in the awning above the birdhouse door. The detailed windows and features of the birdhouse are reminiscent of Orange Bird’s beloved Adventureland in the Magic Kingdom of the Walt Disney World Resort.
Each of St.Laurent’s watercolor works demonstrated impeccable detail and skill mixed with a true love of Disney characters. She encourages young, aspiring artists to practice every day – “never give up on your dream no matter what anyone says.”
St.Laurent’s paintings can be found at the Disney Fine Art by Collectors Editions tent in the Mexico Pavilion throughout the festival. Her appearance times are from 12pm to 4pm during select festival dates as outlined below.
The 2024 Epcot International Festival of the Arts begins January 12 and runs until February 16, 2024.