Dad, discovery, drawing and Disney. #drawntogether #artheals

Roar, 1956

My father, Roar Thorsen, on starting to draw:

I have drawn all my life.  

As a small boy in Kindergarten, in Sarpsborg, Norway, many stories were read to me.  As far as I remember, I entered Kindergarten at age 6.  Quite often the teacher was reading from typical kids’ books.  

I started with pencil and paper from instruction and ideas by the teacher.  I remember her optimism and creativity.  She taught in a simple, natural way, often by reading from books.  As I slowly graduated from… as a six year old, often using animal books- the more I read and looked at the pictures, I tried to draw like that myself.  

By flicking through picture books, I got a better understanding of creating art.  The books inspired me.  I remember that first year after Kindergarten, at age 7, that one day, mom and dad told me that we were going to the cinema to see a typical children’s movie- Disney’s Three Little Pigs.  This was after I had flicked through the pages of childrens’ books, which had already given me inspiration. 

So one day, my Mom and Dad told me that we were going to a movie theatre.  In the beginning, I was scared.  What the hell is this moving on the big screen?  As I was sitting with Mom and Dad in the theatre, I was starting to ask Dad, “Where do the pigs come from?”  Since I was sitting in the aisle seat, and I was told that the film would show moving pigs, I asked if the pigs were going to come running in the aisles.  I kept asking until they shut the light off and we saw all the pigs running around on the screen.  

All these impressions got me to think. “How do you do this?”  At that time, I did not understand how.  Dad bought a book about the three pigs, which Mom and Dad read to me and showed me the pages.  Sitting in the theatre, looking at the screen, I was curious to see the pigs running on the screen.  I remember when mom and dad took me to the theatre, and I saw the pigs appear on the screen, I was frightened and asked if the pigs were loose. 

After the movie when we came home, I was asking, “Where else can we see these pigs?”  I remember the first time we came to my uncle’s farm and since I had never been to a farm, I wanted to look at all the animals- and suddenly in the middle of these animals there were three piglets- so I asked, “Are these the same pigs we saw in the movie theatre?” 

I asked Mom and Dad to buy me books with drawings. 

These became my first personal library.  Little did I understand that by looking at these pigs, on the movie screen and in reality, I was inspired to draw. I started spending more and more time at my uncle’s farm.  

In the school class, I remember that one of the teachers always made chalk drawings on the blackboard.  Later when I got more books from Mom and Dad, I started studying the drawings of Walt Disney.  Little did I know that this guy created a desire in me to do the same.  After reading these books, and flicking through the pages of the Disney books, one page showed me these three pigs.  That becomes my favorite book, which I constantly looked at.  

Although I was only 8 years old, I started with a pencil and paper to see if I could draw something like that.  In the beginning I did not like what I did, so I threw everything away, until I saw another book made by Walt Disney with Mickey Mouse.  I could see that he had made many books with different animals.  Disney became my first idol.  That is my start in art.  

Roar on writing to Walt Disney:

Snow White and Seven Dwarfs was a big influence on me.  I got really interested in the Disney style and I would copy the noses etc.

I think I went to all the Disney movies… 

By copying, suddenly I got into the Disney style of making characters, with their noses etc.  In fact, in school, I always made Disney style drawings.  I do not remember exactly, but I recall being the only one interested.  During my stage of copying Disney’s style, I had the courage to send a letter to Walt Disney Corp telling him about my interest in his movies and books.  

I wrote a letter when I was 12 and wrote something like:

      To Walt Disney Corp

      With greatest interest, I have seen many movies made by your company…

To my astonishment a couple of weeks afters I got an envelope in the mail from Disney headquarters in Los Angeles.  It contained a letter and two original drawings by Walt Disney’s artists.  They have unfortunately been lost over the years.  

The walls in my room were covered with magazine cutouts and drawings.  In the middle of these were the two Disney drawings.

Roar’s bedroom, 1956, Sarpsborg, Norway (the 2 Disney drawings bottom left).  All the other drawings are Roar’s.

Roar on the making of Drawn Together:

 It’s too goddamn fun.  If I may say so, doing the work gave me a kick in the ass.  The art is my hobby and my life.  As it has been since I started copying Disney.

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