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Misty Monday by Richard Adams

The last lecture run by the Tuesday Painters Club was in February 2020, so this was an event to be celebrated on so many levels. It was necessary to restrict the number of members attending to ensure sufficient spacing and to keep the hall at the St Mary’s Centre well ventilated with the doors open throughout the afternoon. But it was a lovely autumn day and those privileged enough to be there were happy to meet up again and to start with Rye’s own Richard Adams telling us about his career and work.

Spanning four decades, starting with his polytechnic studies, continuing with a career in
London specialising in illustration, moving on to animation, winning a Benson & Hedges
publicity competition which also got him noticed and having his work accepted in a
prestigious London gallery, thus getting his name ‘out there’, before becoming a full-time artist and moving to Rye with a child on the way, he swiftly rushed through his CV.

Richard brought along plenty of large scale quality prints of his work, subjects
instantly recognisable – farmyard scenes; red tractors; Victorian kitchens; allotments; walled gardens; sea scenes with sailing ships and seagulls; Rye scenes full of lots of characters, fun and MERMAIDS. Unbelievably, he can churn out 80-100 pieces per year, but this is how he earns his living, so he wisely paints what the market wants. One wonders if he has time to paint anything totally different for the sheer hell of it!

His medium is chalk pastel, but he uses it in many different ways. It was revelatory
to witness him with a tiny box of pastels, a scalpel, a narrow pipette for water and watch as
he scraped pastel onto an old tin lid, mix it with water and apply the result like paint with a
small brush. He might use coloured pencil or even touches of acrylic for precision or
highlights. Not enough to describe the work as ‘mixed media’, though! So that was how he
was able to get such incredible detail into his work!

To paint like him all you need is: a sense of humour; dedication; unlimited talent
not to say genius; an inventive mind; the discipline to put in a full day’s work every day;
persistence; patience; confidence; research and reference information … and 40 years of
experience. Nothing to it, really!

One of our members, Felicity Pike, summed it up succinctly: “great to meet other
members”!

I hugely enjoyed Richard Adams’ talk and demonstration. He clearly enjoys doing what he does and does not seek to romanticise the concept of “The Artist”.

I think the main points for me were:

a) You don’t need expensive equipment, posh brushes and “designer”
mediums to create something amazing (though dedication and talent clearly
help);

b) It pays to experiment and break with tradition if the fancy takes
you – (I had no idea using diluted powdered chalk pastel was a “thing”);

c) Allow your passions to guide your subject matter – Richard said (words to the
effect that) he loved the traditional, somewhat eccentric Britishness that
inform many of his settings. This passion was clearly reflected in his work;

d) Use feedback to inform future work (e.g. the popularity of the farmer and his
wife in the tractor);

e) Using photos / printed images as reference isn’t “cheating”.

The gallery below gives an outline of the talk / demonstration.

Image Credits: Richard Adams .

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