Walking into one Sat. night, I was thrilled to see the colorful space packed with La Cañada residents sipping wine and admiring paintings by Humphries and local La Canada artist, Trish Kertes.
Kertes is a member of the California Art Club and has been a featured artist at . Humphries has been drawing and painting professionally since he was sixteen-years-old.
I chatted with Humphries for a few minutes to learn that he was 12 years old when he realized his talent for art. At 16, his mother drove him to Knotts Berry Farm to work as a portrait artist. Later he drew portraits of guests at Disneyland.
Since drawing was his passion, he studied at the prestigious Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. Upon graduation, he was offered a job as a background painter at Disney Studios in 1976.
Since others were waiting to speak to Humphries, I told him I would come back during the week to learn more about this intriguing artist and man.
When I arrived a few days later, his wife Heidi and adorable four-year-old daughter, Lily, greeted me. She excitedly shared with me, “My dad is teaching art now and will be here soon.” Michael is a full time teacher at his alma mater, Art Center College of Design in Pasadena.
Heidi shared with me that Michael has worked with Disney Studios for over 35 years. He brought the details and textures alive on many of Disney’s Features including: Who Framed Roger Rabbit; The Lion King and Hunchback of Notre Dame. Just like her husband, Heidi got her start at Disneyland.
“We worked at different times at the amusement park. It was one of the best jobs ever,” shared Heidi. “I worked in Fantasyland sewing names on hats for people.”
The two met at Disney Studios in Burbank in the 90s. They worked together on the animation of Hercules, Fantasia 2000 and Tarzan. When Heidi became pregnant and had their daughter, Lily, she stopped work and became a full time wife and mother.
Michael works on special projects for Disney Studios and teaches design classes in television and Feature film animation, digital landscaping and style development for television. “Many of my students are employed in the entertainment industry after graduation,” revealed Michael. “Our faculty is extremely talented and connected.”
When asked how they chose the La Cañada location for his gallery, Michael shared that they used to live in Studio City.
“When Lily was three-years old, we starting realizing Studio City was too congested,” disclosed Michael. “The final straw was when my car was burglarized in front of my house.”
Since he teaches in Pasadena, they put their house in Studio City on the market and starting looking in the Pasadena and La Cañada neighborhoods. “We were lucky to sell our home in one day. We found a home we liked in Pasadena near the La Cañada border,” stated Heidi and Michael.
Once moved in, they noticed a "For Lease'' sign on Foothill Boulevard, where there once was the children’s clothing store, Baby Cakes. The Humphries realized that their life long dream to open a gallery could come true. “It just felt right to do,” shared Michael, “Heidi and I just dove in and bit the bullet.”
They enjoy the small town feeling in La Cañada. “It’s laid back and a good town for Lily,” beamed Michael as his little girl came over to him for a snuggle.
Now open for almost six months, the Humphries have had three shows and are preparing for their April 7- Salute to Sargent show with six contemporary masters showing their artwork. Singer Sargent was a master painter who painted with watercolors and gouache. It’s a similar background to Michael Humphries.
The artists will show their work at Humphries gallery from April 7 to May 5. They all worked with Humphries as art directors at Disney Studios in the animation industry.
As Lily’s tummy rumbled she said to me, “My dad and I need to go to lunch now. We go together everyday.” When I asked where they like to frequent, she beamed “We go to Chipolte for cheese quesadillas.” It’s within walking distance from the gallery.
Come meet Michael, Heidi and little Lily Humphries at their gallery located at 829 Foothill Blvd. (818)790-7671. Keep your eye out for Heidi’s upcoming blog on the LCF Patch.