NORTH BATTLEFORD — Chris Hodges says he thinks hands are the most challenging thing to draw, which is why his newest body of work features solely hands.
Although Hodge has been interested in art since high school, he’s pursued it only after retiring. A self-taught artist, Hodge was accepted into art school almost 50 years ago, but he decided to earn a living as a computer programmer in London, Ont., where he started his own software company.
“You just couldn’t earn a living at it unless you wanted to teach and do workshops, and I had no interest in that. Really, until I retired, I pretty well was right out of (making art) for 50 odd years.”
Hodges retired in 2004, moving to North Battleford to help out with his family. Sparing the odd workshop, he never really touched art despite his love for it.
“After retirement, I got into doing figure painting, and I thought, ‘you know Chris, you’re gonna have to learn how to do hands.’ Learning how to paint hands, how to draw them, that got me started on doing a series of hands,” Hodge said.
Leah Garven, curator/manager for the chapel gallery, said at Hodge’s artist exhibition reception on Nov. 4, “I like to say he’s fearless because he takes on challenges and works through them until he gets a good result. He’s fearless in what he undertakes, maybe stubborn could be a word.”
Agreeing with Garven, Hodge said, “It is about being stubborn, the only way you learn is by doing it.”
Hodge paints hands from photographs, pictures on modelling sites and sometimes even sketches of his own hands. He doesn’t try to duplicate them since he’s not a fan of photorealism, but he tries to add something extra.
“I try to get some emotion, work with the colours and the shapes to give the hands character.”
As he’s focused on hands over the last few years, Hodges has developed an appreciation for them. He’s fascinated by how hands connect people, and they help us communicate with the world.
“Everything you do, you do with your hands,” he said.
Hodges adds that people in the trades, doing repetitive tasks, often have hands that mirror their lives. He used his own hands, which have arthritis, as an example of the story hands can tell about a person.
Hodge will be showcasing some upcoming work in 2024 in Saskatoon and is anticipating a future show at the Chapel Gallery. Hands will be exhibited at the Chapel Gallery until Dec. 4.