Norman Rockwell, Mickey Mouse, Disney And The WoodChips

WoodChips parody of Norman Rockwell and Walt Disney / Mickey Mouse triple self protrait

I ran into the classic self portrait of Mickey Mouse and Walt Disney a couple of years ago at, of all places, Disneyworld, here in Orlando.

I quickly sketched (and I mean sketched) the gist of the portrait since I was in a rather long line at the time to go on some fun ride.

And I knew at that moment I would have to do a WoodChips triple self portrait as soon as I could.  I think it’s a law that all artists or artists’ wannabes do a self portrait.  I’m pretty sure it’s in the United States Constitution or Magna Carta or something.

The Mickey Mouse portrait had an eerie familiarity to it, and eventually I began to think I had seen a similar Norman Rockwell triple self portrait.  Sure enough, some quick research showed that he indeed had done the very same thing.

Norman Rockwell and Walt Disney / Mickey Mouse triple self protrait paintings side by side

This got me thinking and I began to wonder, who did this first, Norman Rockwell or Disney?

I found out that Norman Rockwell’s portrait had been published on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post in 1960.

And Rockwell and Disney even knew each other.  In fact, while on holiday with his family in New England, Disney noticed many Norman Rockwell paintings on the walls of the restaurant they were eating in, and asked if he lived nearby.  He was told yes, just three miles down the road.

So they all went to Norman’s house, unannounced, and tried to see him.  Norman’s staff didn’t recognize Disney so they started to leave.  Just then, Norman, who was out mowing his lawn, saw them and came over.  They went inside and visited for an hour or so.

Editorial note:  This was back in the day before 911 when life was simpler.  Had this happened today, the Disney family would have needed to go through a security scanner, the women would have had to throw away all their jells over three ounces, and everyone would have taken their shoes off and visited barefoot.

So which came first, the chicken or the egg?  Did Norman Rockwell imitate Disney’s triple self portrait or was it the other way around – kind of an art imitating art thing?

The answer will surprise you.

Walt Disney never created the triple self portrait.  It was done by one of his illustrators named Charles Boyer, who did it as a parody on Norman Rockwell’s painting.

So that’s the answer.  Norman Rockwell did it first.

And the WoodChips one came later, kind of a triple parody, triple self portrait (chuckle – bet you guessed that one already).

Back to the requirement/law that all artists do self portraits, one of the more fascinating and informative articles I ran into while researching this subject came from Tom Shawcross, formerly of St. Louis and currently in Delray Beach.

He has a great blog on this subject, illustrated, with many insightful comments.  You can also see the self portraits of Rembrandt Van Rijn, Vincent Van Gogh (strange, there’s a bandage over his ear), Leonardo Da Vinci and other luminaries.  You will want to go check it out here at

Now all you budding artists out there, get to work on your self portraits.

It’s the LAW!

Have a great day – J. Daniel

By the way, you can purchase the Disney and Rockwell classics shown above at a very reasonable price at these two web sites below – both under $20 I believe (and no – I don’t get a commission, just giving credit where it is due).

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