Illustrator puts her attention to detail to good use

  • Tue Jul 20th, 2010 8:44pm
  • News

By Julie Muhlstein, Herald Columnist

As manager of the Everett Farmers Market, Inger Hutton is on the waterfront every summer Sunday.

With her market co-manager husband Tone Hutton, she oversees vendors’ sales of fruit and flowers, crafts and candles, pastries and green beans. The colorful scene that sprouts up under white tents is a weekly testament to work, organization and the talents of many people.

Away from the market, 62-year-old Hutton has her own singular talent. She’s an artist who pays painstaking attention to detail.

In June, Hutton completed a Natural Science Illustration certificate program at the University of Washington. Her work and illustrations by 13 other students in the program make up a new display at the Burke Museum on the UW’s Seattle campus.

“A Celebration of the Natural World,” the exhibit in the museum’s Burke Room, opens with an artists reception from 6 to 8:30 tonight. The show runs through Oct. 31.

“I needed to be with people who are like me. I love exact detail,” said Hutton, who also has an associate’s degree in graphic arts from Everett Community College. Studying or working with more abstract visual artists, Hutton said, “I felt like a fish out of water.”

The blend of art and science appealed to Hutton’s devotion to accuracy. One of dozens of certificates available through the UW’s Professional and Continuing Education program, Natural Science Illustration classes met two evenings a week for 10 months.

Classes were taught in several locations on campus, including Hitchcock Hall, the biology building.

“I did a hornet, a really nasty guy,” said Hutton, who used a microscope in Hitchcock Hall to study the body of an Asian giant hornet — safely encased in a plastic cube. “It was something like an inch and a half long,” she said.

Her hornet painting took far longer than the time allowed in the science room. At home in Everett, she rigged up a jeweler’s loupe so she could see the hornet under magnification. “I spent two weeks looking at that,” she said.

She not only painted her subjects, but researched them. “With the hornet, if you’re small enough and get stung they can kill you. Twenty of them can kill a beehive of 60,000 bees in less than an hour. They’re horrible,” she said.

An image of a cuddlier critter, a rabbit’s head, was chosen from Hutton’s work for the art exhibit postcard, along with art from other students. Hutton also made three images of a squirrel, the animal’s skeleton, musculature and fur.

Instructors Elizabeth Halfacre, Patricia Weyer and Bart Rulon covered tools of the trade — graphite pencils to carbon dust — and the tough business of making a living as an artist.

Like so many workers who’ve faced career changes, Hutton lost a job several years ago when Safeco Insurance became part of the Liberty Mutual Group.

Now, she has an artistic goal. She hopes to illustrate children’s books. “I would like to leave something for my grandchildren,” Hutton said.

Although she admitted to hating school as a child, Hutton loved going to classes to hone her drawing and painting skills.

“You have to keep learning and growing,” she said.

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460;

UW’s Burke Museum art show

Works by artists who recently completed the University of Washington’s 2010 Natural Science Illustration certificate program are on view at the Burke Museum today through Oct. 31.

The museum is on the corner of 17th Avenue NE and NE 45th Street on the UW’s Seattle campus. An opening reception for the show in the museum’s Burke Room, “A Celebration of the Natural World,” will be held from 6 to 8:30 tonight.

For more information, go to BurkeShow. To learn about UW certificate programs, go to