Anyone who has been a child at any point in the past four decades has, knowingly or not, appreciated the work of Michael Humphries. From small-screen stalwarts like “The Jetsons,” “SuperFriends,” “Scooby-Doo” and “Smurfs” to big-screen beauties like “The Lion King” and “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?,” the handiwork of Humphries has always been in the background — literally.
“I'm basically a landscape painter,” he says. “That's what I’ve done since I was a kid of probably 11 years old.” This weekend, he'll be showing off his skills in a more traditional fashion in “Heart and Soul,” an exhibition of paintings at his La Cañada gallery — where his work hangs alongside those of local artist Trish Kertes. (“She's more of an impressionist,” he says.)
It doesn't come as a surprise that many of his originals look like backdrops just waiting for characters to walk through, be they trees in winter or wooden houses bathed in early sunshine. Though they're considerably more realistic than, say, the Smurf village, the artist likes to use his imagination to enhance the imagery: “[Joseph Mallord William] Turner, the great landscape painter in the 19th century, somebody said to him, 'I've never seen a sky like that,' and his response was, 'But don't you wish you could?' So a lot of it is what you can make up, and people can imagine themselves in.”