A whole new (animated) world

(Foreground, from left): Sam Griffith, Valerie Bortoleotti and Cat Flores work on sketch animations at the Imagination Space in the Citadel Mall, while Scott and Chrysti Burroughs (background) watch. [Express photo/Cory Peterson]

Springs native, former Disney employee teaches art of animation

Scott Burroughs is as animated as the characters he creates.

While teaching an intimate-but-eager class about animation, this artist, who spent 10 years working for The Walt Disney Studios, bounced on the balls of his feet. He moved eagerly among his pupils, answering questions, sketching quick examples and performing exaggerated movements so the participants had a real-time model of movement.

He played Disney tunes and reminisced about his experiences working on films including “Pocahontas,” “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” and “Mulan.”

He even had his students stand and balance on one foot while holding the other behind them. His pupils inevitably were forced to thrust their weight slightly forward and counter-balance with their arms. It was all intended to make them think about how their bodies move when running, and it was a lot of work for a series of eight quick sketches.

But Burroughs wouldn’t have it any other way.

Scott Burroughs demonstrates how to draw a jogging character during an animation workshop. [Express photo/Cory Peterson]

“I love teaching; it’s super fun,” Burroughs said. “I love encouraging people. I don’t really care about the age, especially when it comes to art.

“Whenever somebody tells me they can’t do something, I’m just like ‘OK, we are trying that.’”

Burroughs, a Colorado Springs native and graduate of Air Academy High School, encourages artists of all ages twice a month at Imagination Celebration’s Imagination Space (iSpace) in the Citadel Mall. Starting in April, one session will be dedicated to animation and portrait sketches, while the second will focus on painting.

Classes cost $35 each, but Burroughs has hosted contests for free sessions, and worked with Imagination Celebration Executive Director Deb Thornton to identify worthy candidates for scholarship help. For a complete schedule or to register for the classes, visit artisrad.com/sign-up.

Burroughs invited the Express to sit in on a March animation class in which five pupils, ages 10 to 23, raptly worked at making their versions of a chubby cartoon figure named Bob go for a realistic jog. After wrapping their animation, they turned to drawing portraits of Vanellope, a character from the Disney film “Wreck-It Ralph.”

Student Valerie Bortoleotti, 19, flips through the eight cards comprising her animation sequence. [Express photo/Cory Peterson]

Allison Bowen, a 17-year-old senior at The Vanguard School, drew Bob as a Pan-esque trickster that darted along with tail flopping behind him. She has always liked art, but was self-taught in animation until taking Burroughs’ class

The March session was her fourth under his tutelage, and now is she is considering animation as a career.

“I’ve always liked drawing characters and stories,” she said. “This is the best way to tell stories.

“If you can draw something, you can show emotion you can’t get from writing or music.”

Burroughs is a graduate of the Academy of Art University outside of San Francisco. His wife of 32 years and marketing director, Chrysti Burroughs, said Scott Burroughs was originally a sculpting major, but he fell in love with animation after Disney held a meet and greet and presentation at the school.

In addition to his decade at the mouse’s house, he has experience as a video game animator and conceptual artist for Sega, and has illustrated children’s books, curriculum and murals.

But teaching has always been at the forefront of his interests. So much so that he and his wife even taught painting classes at a California winery. Chrysti Burroughs is, herself, an amateur abstract painter.

Sam Griffith, 14, scans her animation sketches. Students in Scott Burroughs’ animation class learned how to make a cartoon character jog. [Express photo/Cory Peterson]

When they moved back to Colorado Springs to be closer to family, there was no question that the couple would find a way to share the love for creation. A mutual friend introduced them to Imagination Celebration’s Thornton, who was immediately on board.

“We just felt like this was a really good, creative space,” Chrysti Burroughs said. “It’s a privilege to be part of the arts community, and the arts are so important.”

Just ask 10-year-old Cat Flores. March marked her second trip through Burroughs’ animation class.

“You get to express your feelings and show yourself in that mood,” she said.


Who: Former Disney artist and art teacher Scott Burroughs

What: Animation and painting classes for artists of all ages and skill levels

When: 2-4 p.m. April 6 (animation); 4 p.m. April 27 (painting)

Where: Imagination Space (iSpace) at the Citadel Mall, 750 Citadel Drive East

Tickets: $35

Info: artisrad.com

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