Robert Hutson eased into his chair, and gently crossed his hands on top of his lap. "Now what is it we're doing?" Hutson asked, glancing at his wife, Helen, through his orange-rimmed glasses.
Robert Hutson is an artist and has been since early childhood. Now in his 90s, the days of picking up a brush or pastel may be in the past, however, Hutson's work continues to grace the walls of exhibits on campus and off. Currently he is featured in the university's "Faces" exhibit located on the second floor of The Bayou Building in front of the library.
Hutson's artwork in "Faces" is a pastel portrait of a female colleague from the university.
"She was real nice, but I can't remember her name right now; I'm sorry," Hutson said.
Hutson began at the University of Houston-Clear Lake in 1975. A retired Lt. Colonel of the Air Force, Hutson and his family settled down in the Clear Lake area after traveling the world. Hutson studied painting under Sandria Hu, professor of art, and studied sculpting with Nick De Vries, professor of art. Both professors have developed a strong friendship with Hutson over the years and still keep in contact with their former student.
"He was excellent and a strong worker," Hu said.
While at UHCL, Hutson earned recognition through more than one exhibit including a Master's Show and an Opening Reception of Paintings and Sculptures.
"It was very relaxing, and the environment was good at the university," Hutson said. "A lot of space and a lot of help."
Hutson hails from a family of artists. A native of Colorado, Hutson began taking art lessons as a young boy at the Michelle Art Institute of Denver.
"Somebody forced me to go to art school," Husson admitted with a nod.
He took art classes for years and became interested in portraits; mainly oil portraits.
"I didn't like to do anything where I had to hurry; water color is intense," Hutson said.
Hutson painted the three space-themed murals that reside on the wall of Texas Art Supply on Bay Area Boulevard, and he is the creator behind Alfred R. Neumann's portrait overlooking the universities library.
"He has a look, like he's telling everyone to remember to check out!" Hutson said pointing his finger then glancing up with a grin.
The couple have kept an album with photos of many of Hutson's pieces and news clippings from the past. Hutson thumbed through the pages, studying each photograph of work he once created. A few minutes passed and he stopped, and then looked at his wife and asked, "Now what is this for?"
Hutson would kindly apologize if he had trouble remembering some things and would often turn to his wife for confirmation of an answer. With a grin and a wink she would happily explain.
While art is a passion, it was also a hobby. Hutson gamely exhibited his artwork at shows, but never tried to sell anything.
"You didn't sell any of them," said Helen Hutson waving her hand at the direction of her husband. She giggled and with an affectionate smile continued, "You gave them away!"
Hutson points out that the essence of being an artist is different for everyone.
"The general thing, physically, it's wonderful - it gives you something to concentrate on; let your hair down," Hutson said.
Although painting is now in the past for Hutson, his undying love and passion for art will forever remain present.
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