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 Merlin Glen Enabnit  (1903 - 1979)

About: Merlin Glen Enabnit


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Lived/Active: Illinois/Washington/California/Arizona/Iowa / England      Known for: illustrator-pin-up girls, portrait painting

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BIOGRAPHY for Merlin Enabnit
1903 (Meservey, Iowa)
1979 (Phoenix, Arizona)

Illinois/Washington/California/Arizona/Iowa / England

Photo submitted by Family Ties Antiques and Fine Art

Often Known For
illustrator-pin-up girls, portrait painting

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following was submitted by Family Ties Antiques & Fine Art:

Merlin Enabnit (1903-1979) was a painter, teacher, author, lecturer, and his painting subjects included portraits, landscapes, pin-ups, and the Southwest.  Born in a small town just outside Des Moines, Iowa he developed an interest in art at an early age and began sketching on wrapping paper in his father's grocery store.  At the age of 15 he graduated from high school and entered Des Moines University.  His father was against his son pursuing art as a career, so Merlin entered college as a liberal arts major but switched to fine arts.  He also studied at Cumming School of Art in Des Moines.  Just out of college, he received requests to do portrait paintings, which he continued to produce throughout his career.

In 1929, he resided in Seattle, Washington, and as a young man he met and was
inspired by both Sydney Laurence and Eustace Ziegler.  He also socialized with numerous other artists including Nicolai Fechin, Grant Wood, Will Foster, Andrew Loomis, Dale Nichols, and Ben Stahl.

During WWII, Enabnit produced Calendar Pin-up girls that were favorites of British soldiers.  The Pin-ups known as "Merlin Girls" appeared in publications including "Sketch" magazine, and on calendars, playing cards, and postcards. Many of these paintings were produced using an airbrush technique and many are signed simply "Merlin".

A Life magazine writer described Enabnit as "England's answer to George Petty" and "One of the World's finest artists for drawing beautiful women." While in the
United Kingdom, Enabnit was awarded a Fellowship to the prestigious Royal Art
Society of London.

The artist also lived in Los Angeles for a time where he painted many portraits of Hollywood stars before returning to Seattle. He retired to Arizona where he lived until his death in 1979 at the age of 76. His professional career had taken him to various locations throughout the US including Seattle, Chicago, New York, and Hollywood.

Enabnit wrote four instructional books published by Walter T. Foster, Painting for Pleasure, Color Simplified Steps to Painting in Color, Color with Palette Knife & Brush, and How to Use Color in Portraits.  Known for his expertise in the fundamental uses of color, he did experimentation that was developed into his theory of the Basic Color Concept.

Working as a spokesperson for Grumbacher artist materials, he and his wife devoted four months a year conducting one and two week workshops throughout the United States.

He was a member of the Iowa Artists Club, Royal Art Society in London and the Puget Sound Art Group as well as some fifty-art societies throughout the US.

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
In 1940, Merlin Enabnit was hailed by Life magazine as England's answer to George Petty. The Merlin Girl by Enabnit was a big favorite of British "Tommys" (G.l.s) via regular appearances in Sketch magazine. Enabnit's sleek, airbrushed damsels certainly do evoke Petty, although they have a bounce and personality of their own.  Postcards, magazine covers and a campaign for White Owl cigars attempted to make Enabnit a hit in the States, but his fame never approached Petty's level.

Ironically, Enabnit (a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts of England) was not British;  he was born near Des Moines, lowa, in 1903, and worked out of Chicago.  His fame in America centered upon his portraits of United Nations luminaries, among others.

The artist was well-known enough for a "Merlin Enabnit's No. 1 Palette Knife" to be marketed nationally, and he authored how-to books for Walter Foster on painting with a palette knife, portraiture, and use of color.


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