Wednesday 15 July 2020
In conversation with Roger Hutchins
Roger tells us why he chose ‘Wedding at Twickenham Church 1948’ by Osmund Caine to base his submission on and how his father played an important part in his love of art, drawing and illustration.
During ‘lockdown’ Roger has been working on several illustration projects. He has also been teaching painting virtually. When he’s not painting or illustrating Roger has been enjoying a lot of time gardening with his fiancée Rachel.
Did you always aspire to be an artist?
I did look in-to civil engineering for the railway industry and scientific /ecological research. Unfortunately, my mathematics wasn’t strong enough for pursuing science further than A-levels. However, I have worked as a designer on science encyclopedias.
My first love was art, using pictures to tell stories. I probably first became aware that people could earn their living as a painter through my interest in railways. The Hornby Triang model railway catalogue used to feature a railway painting on the cover, usually by Terence Cuneo. He included a mouse in his pictures as a signature.
I still have the catalogue from 1971, that has a picture of ‘Evening Star’ on it, with the mouse masquerading as an insulator on a telegraph pole. I included a mouse in a similar position in a railway painting of mine a few years ago as a homage to a hero of mine.
Where did you study Art or are you self-taught?
I studied at Kingston Polytechnic. First a Foundation Course then a Degree in Graphic Design, specialising in illustration. I have worked as an illustrator for the last thirty years.
Was anyone a great influence in your art career?
I learnt much of my drawing and painting technique from my father and sometimes we would go to life drawing classes or sketch outside together. We visited galleries and he was a font of knowledge about the artists and their work, his memory for names was better than mine. You don’t tend to get taught how to paint at art college, we would talk more about the drawing or the idea. That is why I put an emphasis on technical demonstration in my teaching.
What inspired you to choose Osmund Caine’s Wedding at Twickenham Church to base your submission on – is there a personal link?
I know the painting well from my work with the gallery and I like his style (there are some similarities to Stanley Spencer) and I felt that I could produce a painting that would complement it well. I have only seen a couple more of Caine’s pictures. Rachel and I were planning to get married this year, so this picture was my first thought when she told me about the exhibition. We have delayed the wedding because of Coronavirus.
Caine added a grave-stone as his signature. In my representation of Wedding at St Mary’s Church, I turned it round in my one so that it is just legible. I try to sign my pictures, particularly the illustrations, in a subtle way. I have often used car number plates, railway wagons, traction engines and canal boats as a way of including a signature. The shop bike is one too and the boy on the bike could be a younger me. I do paint myself into my pictures quite often. I have included the people in Caine’s picture, although some of them have been moved around and added a few more like the representation of Caine painting his picture.
I can see many personal similarities that are shared by you and Caine, he was a private man, an art teacher and had a fondness of Twickenham, would you agree with that?
I am a fairly private person. However, in my role as Station Master at a miniature railway and in the historical re-enactment which Rachel and I participate in, there is an element of not being oneself. I am fond of Twickenham and of Orleans House Gallery, I first visited with my mother when I was seven.
I believe you also teach Life Drawing as did Caine?
I have taught life drawing and painting but at present I am teaching drawing and painting, classes in single media, water colour, oil or acrylic paint, with techniques like knife painting. At the moment I’m teaching on-line an “Art Class: The Lockdown Perspective” which will have a bit more history of art.
What has been the proudest moment in your art career to date?
The retrospective exhibition in the Stables Gallery in 2018 and in-particular my then girlfriend Rachel singing (to me) at the private closing ceremony. It made the show end looking forward rather than just looking back.
What would you like your legacy to be?
I would like to be remembered as a good man, husband and if it happens, a father. Anything else is secondary to that. I do have an ambition to illustrate Treasure Island one day.
You can follow Roger and see more of his work at the links below:
The entire Richmond Borough Art Collection is also available to view online at the link here or alternatively through our main navigation bar.