My main problem as an artist is that for over thirty years I practiced as an architectural illustrator. I thus have a greatly practiced facility in drawing which can be a hindrance in producing a pastel painting that is a work of art rather than an illustration. When I started seriously in oil pastels in 2014, I had to deliberately invent a style where I could introduce a level of abstraction into the work to prevent it becoming too illustrative.
I achieved this by selecting cityscapes as a subject and simplifying and abstracting the shapes as I developed them. I also used templates and straight edges to create a strongly geometric feel to the work. I love the intensity of colour in oil pastels, especially used over a coloured ground. Therefore, exaggeration of colour also became an expressive tool for more of a painter’s than an illustrator’s approach.
I hope in the next phase of my work to develop my style further – it is constantly evolving anyway – into a freer approach to oil pastels. However, recent work has become more detailed as I investigate more complex building subjects. In future work, my subject matter will still be largely focused on architecture but with some deviations into pure landscape and possibly portraiture.
‘On my cityscape pastels, I work a lot from photos but have usually done an initial sketch to establish the parameters of the view. I spend a lot of time on cropping and adjusting photographic sources to ensure that I get a strong composition. I cheat by working over paper photo prints to test colours and forms. These loose A4 sketches are sometimes preferred by my buyers as they are done very quickly.
However, once my colour palette is set by the sketch, I seldom deviate much from it. I scale up and prepare a coloured pencil outline on coloured paper – the pencil often a darker tone of the background colour. I use rulers to set this up if it is primarily an architectural subject.
Since the beginning of this year, I have started doing a detailed acrylic ink underpainting in three tones – a dark ink, mid toned paper, and white ink highlights. Acrylic ink does not warp the paper in the way that watercolour would. This allows me to get an intensity to the overall picture after I have applied the oil pastel overlay that is stronger than if I had just used the drawing as an underlay. It also means that some sharp and characteristic detail of the architecture can be suggested and left showing through the rather less controllable oil pastel overlay. I use a mixture of Sennelier and Caran D’Ache Neopastel colours of around 200 colours’.
Richard has been painting and drawing for over 50 years in a variety of media including watercolour, oil paints, pen and ink, oil pastel and pencil. He is self-taught as an artist but as an architect drew and illustrated his own design work since his university days. In 1984 he became a professional illustrator and Fellow of the Society of Architectural Illustrators (SAI). In April 2015 he became Chairman of the SAI.
His architectural illustration work was shown at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition and internationally in the mid-90’s. He built a successful Illustration career in Hong Kong in the 1980’s for a few years before returning to the UK in 1990 to take up full time architecture again. He continued to paint and draw for pleasure occasionally, whilst specialising in large scale masterplan design.
As an Urban Design director of Building Design Partnership (BDP) in London, he was responsible for the masterplan for the All-England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon (including Henman Hill) in 1997 and the City Centre Masterplan for Liverpool One, which was shortlisted for the Stirling Prize in 2012.
Since retiring from architecture in 2012, Richard concentrated on developing further as a fine artist. He went back to media that he felt he could develop most successfully - oil paints and oil pastels, working from his small, custom-built studio in Stockwell. Starting from his exhaustive library of photographs of cities, he developed a series of rooftop views which enabled him to bring together his love and understanding of city forms with his skills as an oil pastel artist – a medium which he employed extensively in his teens. This proved to be a very popular subject and he sold two thirds of his works at his June 2015 first solo exhibition at Abbott and Holder in Bloomsbury. Commissions then arose in the UK and the Middle East for specific city subjects.
He applied for membership of the Pastel Society in 2017 and was accepted. Since then, he has been working primarily in oil pastels. He joined the Pastel Society Council in 2019 and was made President of the Pastel Society in October 2021. He is also now a trustee of the FBA.
In addition to now having produced a strong body of work in oil pastels, Richard still does plein air painting in oil paints. In June 2017 with an oil painting, he won the ‘Wildcard’ category against 50 other artists at a heat of the ‘Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year’ competition in Rhossili in Wales.
Fellow of the Society of Architectural Illustration – Chairman
Member of the Society of Artists in Architecture – Secretary
Qualified architect and RIBA member
Royal Academy Summer Exhibition - 2010
Royal Academy Summer Exhibition - 2011
Anise Gallery, London - Society of Architectural Illustration – May 2013
Pullen’s, Herne Hill – mixed show of three Artists - January 2013
Curwen Gallery, London – Annual Mixed Show – November 2013 (Invited)
Scottish Society of Architect Artists, West Kilbride – January 2014 and April 2014 (Invited)
NEAC - November 2014
Scottish Society of Architect Artists– January 2015 (Invited)
Pastel Society – February 2015 (two works)
NEAC - 17 June 2015
Solo show at Abbott and Holder - 18 -27 June 2015
Pastel Society – February 2016
Ligne et Couleur, Paris – April 2016 (Invited)
NEAC – 15 June 2016
Society of Artists in Architecture – November 2016
Pastel Society – February 2017 – Elected as a member
Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the year Wildcard winner – June 2017
Ligne et Couleur, Paris – September 2017 (Invited)
Society of Artist in Architecture – November 2017
Pastel Society – February 2018
Society of Artists in Architecture – November 2018
Royal Society of Marine Artists 2018
Pastel Society – February 2019
Society of Artists in Architecture – November 2019
Pastel Society – February 2020
Society of Artists in Architecture virtual exhibition – November 2020
Pastel Society – Virtual Exhibition and Exhibition July 2021
Holt Gallery – July 2021 – Pastel Exhibition
RAC, Pall Mall – solo show – October 2021
Society of Artists in Architecture – November 2021
‘The Artist’ – June 2020 Award article
‘Paint and Draw in Pastels’ - 2019
‘The Artist’ – June 2020 Award article