Lifestyle

Chit Chat: Sixty years of art

St. Charles artist publishes book, talks about passion for art

By NICOLE WESKERNA - nweskerna@shawmedia.com

St. Charles artist Bert Hoddinott Jr. has been practicing art for 60 years and has many of his pieces adorning his home. Aside from paintings, he also carves birds and makes shadow boxes. (Sandy Bressner – sbressner@shawmedia.com)

ST. CHARLES – Barbara Hoddinott is not shy about being her husband’s No. 1 fan.

She has been collecting dozens of Bert Hoddinott Jr.’s paintings for more than 50 years, and she’s gotten quite attached to many of them. Each room of their St. Charles home features at least one of his paintings, and about 40 others are stashed away in a closet in their basement.

Though he painted her a second one, Barbara Hoddinott still reminds him that he sold his original painting, “The Matador.”

“I was distressed over that,” she said. “There aren’t many [paintings] I don’t love.”

Bert Hoddinott, 80, is less attached.

“One thing that happened while I was still in school ... I had a painting stolen and I thought that was the neatest thing,” he said, noting that someone had to really like it in order to steal it.

Bert Hoddinott has been painting for about 60 years, squeezing his hobby in around the edges while running a resort in Canada and working for an advertising agency. The Hoddinotts, earlier this year, published a book, “Reflections,” which is filled with Bert Hoddinott’s paintings, which are mainly landscapes, boats, bridges and barns. It is simply dedicated “To Barb.”

“I thought it could be something I leave my great-great-great-great-grandchildren,” he said. “There are a lot of stories behind each [painting].”

He mainly uses watercolor, pen, ink and oil for his work, he said.

In addition to painting, he also carves lifelike birds out of wood and builds some small-scale models. He said he does most of his work from memory. Few of his paintings have slipped into public venues, as the Hoddinotts usually hang onto the paintings or give them away to friends and family as gifts.

Because he usually only had time to paint on the weekends, Barbara Hoddinott pointed out that her husband often took his time on his paintings, and many are still unfinished.

He slowly painted a portrait that he started in 1978 of his son called “Bert III,” in which his son is sitting in a chair wearing a turtleneck sweater.

“It took him so long ... he had to buy another sweater,” Barbara Hoddinott said.

The first drawing in Bert Hoddinott’s book is his self-portrait, in which he depicts himself as a hand holding a pencil.

“In retrospect, long hours at the agency prevented Bert from devoting more time to his avocation of painting,” states the book’s introduction. “In fact, the impressive array of pictures on the following pages makes one wonder where the real genius of Bert Hoddinott might really have been residing all these years.”

Bert Hoddinott said he spent 40 years in advertising and said it was a fun career that he enjoyed. After serving for two years in Japan with the U.S. Army, he spent four years studying at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in the late 1950s, where he majored in fine arts and advertising.

He said he pursued an art education because “it’s the one thing I could do,” he said. “I’m terrible at math and spelling.”

But Bert Hoddinott said he has had a passion for art since he was a child.

“I had a speech impediment when I was a kid,” he said. “I guess drawing was a way to express myself without words.”

On the Web
To view paintings by St. Charles artist Bert Hoddinott or to purchase his book, “Reflections,” visit www.berthoddinottjr.com.


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