Tripping paint: a conversation with an artist



After 20 years as a Visual Communications Technology (VCT) faculty member, Bob
Hutchinson, who has been involved in Seattle area art, animation and design since the early
1970s, will be displaying his artwork in the administration building gallery (1000).
His artwork features strong, directional strokes of bright acrylic paint, paper cut out and
psychedelic texture. These elements, combined with varying levels of abstraction, seek to elicit
an emotion from the viewer.
Some of the paintings feature more surreal subject matter, like “Sea Twister” in which a form
appears to spin in loose black swirls over an orange wave­like background. Others, like “Denali,”
which depicts a moody storm looming over a mountain range, were clearly inspired by real­life
landscapes.
Aubrey Nehring is involved in Hutchinson’s animation history class and also took his drawing
for animation class. Nehring is working on an animation degree with an emphasis on 3D
modeling but Hutchinson’s classes gave him a chance to play with traditional, pencil and paper
animation as well.
“There’s no other teacher like him around Seattle,” Nehring said. “I’m glad to work with
someone I admire.”
Who is Bob Hutchinson?
Hutchinson graduated with a BA in graphic design from Ohio State University in 1958, and 10
years later graduated with an MFA in studio art from the University of Washington.
While making a collage of airbrushed paper cutouts in his graduate program, Hutchinson used
his stepfather’s 8mm film camera to capture his thoughts on what goes on behind the design
process.
“I began to record what happened if I just moved a little bit and took a picture of it,” Hutchinson
said. “When I got that reel back I was an animator, it just happened, it was accidental, suddenly
these cutouts had personalities.”
In 1973, Hutchinson got a job working for the Seattle PBS station, where he stayed for 15 years
designing and producing chalkboard and paper cutout animation to showcase a variety of music
and educational programs.
“I love his cut paper animation – it’s humorous and abstract at the same time,” Nehring said.
“His art in the gallery definitely harkens back to his paper cutouts.”
Through the 70s and the early 80s, Hutchinson ran “Second Saturday Cinema,” a monthly
gathering where locals and independent filmmakers gathered in a supermarket­turned­art­studio
in Green Lake to watch short films and animation.
“Everybody in Seattle knew about Second Saturday, so that was pretty neat,” Hutchinson said.
Hutchinson Takes to Teaching
In 1995, the same friend that got him a job at PBS got him a job at Shoreline in the graphic
design program. Since then, Hutchinson has seen several changes to the art department, namely
the development of an animation program. “SCC only offered an isolated digital animation class when I started and it wasn’t meant to be a
program,” Hutchinson said. “But then some graduates wondered ‘Is that all there is? Is there just
that one class?’ so the head of the department realized that we needed to expand on it.”
In 2001, Hutchinson started teaching History of Animation and six years later the school decided
to add a dedicated drawing for animation class, where students would be able to learn traditional
animation techniques.
“People were demanding to learn how to (animate) and not everybody could afford to go to a
major animation school,” Hutchinson said. “We already had the history class and digital
animation classes, why not have this class as well for an associates degree?”
Hutchinson believes that learning how to do things the old­fashioned way still has applications in
the digital animation world. Believe it or not, modern industry animators still use the same
fundamental rules originally developed by Disney animators in the 1940s.
“For commercials and shorter things people are willing to experiment,” Hutchinson said. “but it
seems to me that the Hollywood standard is, after all these years, still the Disney standard.”
Alison Czech, another one of Hutchinson’s students, is an animation major who loves 2D
animation but is at Shoreline to explore her possibilities.
“I like the classes (Hutchinson) teaches,” Czech said. “I liked the loose structure of the class
because it gave me the time to experiment with whatever I wanted to do.”
This is the approach that Hutchinson hopes all his students will take.
“I enjoy seeing people take whatever skills they have to make things move just by drawing
them,” Hutchinson said.
More than a strong resume or portfolio, Hutchinson recommends that those who want to pursue
animation or art in the real world should network as much as possible.
“If you are kind of shy, like I am... you’ve got to get out of that,” Hutchinson said. “Mix it up.
You never know how you might link up with people who could help you out later.”
Future of Animation at Shoreline
Drawing for animation’s structure comes with its drawbacks of course. Since Czech took the
class twice, she wished there could have been some structure for the more advanced students
who wanted to take traditional concepts further.
“Lots of days I just stayed home,” Czech said.
Hutchinson would like to see the program grow to include a more advanced class, new
equipment and a few extra faculty members, he understands that Shoreline has its limitations.
“Everybody’s welcome, and that’s a good thing, but sometimes it slows things down for some
people,” Hutchinson said. “We don’t have enough money or staff... all we can hope for is that
our basic drawing classes help launch people into an art school which can develop them further.”
Despite these shortfalls, the class is in a constant state of gradual improvement.
“It’s pretty amazing how observational drawing can help your animation,” Hutchinson said. “In
the Drawing for Animation class, we just started to spend at least 3 sessions up in the life
drawing room with a model while the students make gesture drawings”
More than a strong resume or portfolio, Hutchinson recommends that those who want to pursue
animation or art in the real world should network as much as possible.
“If you are kind of shy, like I am... you’ve got to get out of that,” Hutchinson said. “Mix it up.
You never know how you might link up with people who could help you out later.”
Hutchinson’s show will be in the college’s art gallery until Jan. 1. “This is my first one­man show in a long time... being given a space to hang my stuff is to me a
real privilege and honor,” Hutchinson said.

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