“I loved the work he had done using the iPad and it just clicked with me. I started experimenting with the app and really enjoyed it,” he said as we chatted over a coffee in Ashbourne.
It was to The Big Picture Gallery in the town that Mike took his first few digital paintings to be printed, so he could hang them at home.
The owner photographer Nick Lukey liked the vibrant semi-abstract floral pictures so much he asked to exhibit them and gave 62-year-old Mike his first show since he was a graduate art student.
In the intervening years the now flourishing part-time artist had been a high-powered businessman working in marketing and the newspaper industry.
He is currently a director of a marketing and design business but takes more of a backseat role to give himself more time to paint.
Our paths had in fact crossed before as Mike, who lives at Brassington, was once my managing director when I was a newspaper editor and I have to confess that back then I would never have guessed he was also an artist.
“I studied Fine Art Painting at Brighton in the early 70s and I’ve painted my whole life but, to be honest, work does tend to get in the way,” he said.
“With a full time job you lose the time and emotional energy to work as much as you want.
‘I used to work mainly in acrylic paint but since I started doing this I have not touched my paints.
“What I really love about digital painting is that it is essentially drawing in colour and drawing has always been my thing.
“As a student I did a lot of work in charcoal and always wished I could find a way of doing it in colour.
“The ability to reach a wide range of colours really quickly is just fantastic. I can lay them down on the screen in wonderfully fluid Expressionist fashion. They are colours I would struggle to find in my paintbox.
I can also lay down the colours in a huge variety of marks from a single pixel as a solid line to a broad opaque sweep of colour like a watercolour wash.”
Almost all the paintings he has completed on the iPad are flowers, but he says that in lots of ways that is irrelevant to him as what it is all about is simply colour and light.
“The fact they are flowers is not really important, they are the motif, the thing that starts it all off and helps to bring about the image.
“Working digitally like this is a wonderful way of bringing the paintings to life.”
Putting the Ashbourne exhibition together was an exciting and invigorating experience for Mike who says he is indebted to Nick Lukey for printing the images straight to canvas and then stretching and varnishing them. He will be having another exhibition there during July.
He also exhibits a range of his work at the Fitzwilliam Hughes coffee shop in Rotherham and you can by them online at http://www.mikehutchby.com