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'Dr. Doodle' gives new life to walls with his painting

Ron Hutchinson has made a viable practice out of creating murals and faux finishes in homes and businesses.

By JANET ZINK
© St. Petersburg Times
published October 4, 2002


When Dr. Doodle operates, he uses a paintbrush.

It's not as sharp as a scalpel, but it gets the job done.

Dr. Doodle, also known as Ron Hutchinson, is a self-described "muralogist." He specializes in painting murals and faux finishes, which imitate textures such as leather, bronze or wood.

He can give a wall the look of marble or fill it with a Paris street scene.

He works in scrubs and requires his crew to do the same.

"If you don't wear the scrubs, you don't get paid. Sometimes there will be five us walking into a deli in the scrubs. We look like the guys in The Right Stuff," he says.

It attracts attention as well as business.

Since he launched, Dr. Doodle four years ago, Hutchinson has added his artistic flourishes to the walls of homes throughout the Tampa Bay area, a dentist's office, a golf driving range and restaurants, including Mise En Place and Maggiano's.

Last year, he painted a mural on a 24-foot-wide canvas that was turned into a dress for super model Carolina Korkova to wear in advertisements for VH1. Now, his team of "wall doctors" is working on a mural at the Air Canada terminal at Tampa International Airport.

Homeowners, he says, sometimes know just what kind of mural or faux finish they want. But just as often, Hutchinson says, he helps them work out a look.

"I ask them to give me adjectives to let me know what kind of feeling they want with the room," he says.

Then he goes back to his studio and creates a small version of the final product. Once he has come up with an image or finish the client likes, he puts the paint on the wall.

The cost of the job depends on its complexity. He has done simple faux finishes for a couple of hundred dollars and highly detailed murals for tens of thousands of dollars.

He's painted everything from landscapes to jungles to sport scenes.

Hutchinson says his success is built on his business sense, combined with a "God given talent."

"I won my first prize when I was in kindergarten. I won second place in a contest, and I drew Casper the Friendly Ghost," he says.

"Everyone has a talent. We just have different ways of expressing ourselves. And mine happens to be art. For some unreal, divine reason, I can put a pencil on a wall and draw. I can just look at a room and see it finished.

"It's a feeling I have when I walk in a room. I love what I do."

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