(1903 - 1979)
Merlin Glen Enabnit was active/lived in Illinois, Washington, California, Arizona, Iowa / England. Merlin Enabnit is known for illustrator-pin-up girls, portrait painting.
Biography from the Archives of askART
The following was submitted by Family Ties Antiques & Fine Art:
Biography from the Archives of askART
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
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.
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".
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.
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
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
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.
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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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