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Bob Smith aka Robert Alan Smith © by KC Moore

June 8, 2011

Upon returning from WWII in September 1946 Bob Smith took advantage of the GI Bill and enrolled at Chouinard Art Institute, Los Angeles, California.

The agreement between Nelbert Chouinard and Walt Disney was to teach his animators to draw. This then is the connection in the successful dual art career of Bob Smith/Robert Alan Smith.  Bob eventually became an animator at the Disney Studios while continuing his fine art career under the name of Robert Alan Smith.

At Chouinard, Robert was enrolled in: design, composition, life drawing, head drawing, oil painting, functional drawing, animation, illustration, watercolor and landscape painting.  He compared it to playing the piano, you have to play the scales & practice every day – he drew for 12-14 hours every day. His hands were always busy drawing the images that he saw around him or what he saw in his heart and head.  Among his teachers were the renowned Donald Graham, Richard Haines and Dan Lutz.

12-6-46 Early Chouinard Work

“No Chouinard artist ever led his/her student to believe that the profession of art offered an easy path. For some it is the only path. It begins with a contradictory arrogance and humility: a conviction that whatever the cost, it is what they want and need to do, and the corresponding belief that they have the mysterious and unknowable ability to carry it through to success.” (Gerald Nordland, Chouinard Dean, 1960’s).

12-6-46 Early Chouinard Work

Robert had that belief and conviction; art was his life.  As we will discover, he had made the right choice. 

Reflecting upon his experience, he wrote in a note dated 10-23-02, “My early student days at Chouinard brought forth an understanding not only in teaching me to paint for the world to see, but to encourage all the unborn paintings still inside of me and share this with others.”

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