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5 Minutes with artist Richard Whadcock

5 Minutes with artist Richard Whadcock

ARTCH Can you tell us a bit about you and your work?

RW I graduated from Bristol Polytechnic in 1989 with a Fine Art Degree and went onto do a Masters in Printmaking at the Royal College of Art, graduating from there in 1991. I stayed in London for a few years but eventually moved to the South East Coast, with my present studio being established in Lancing over the last 4 or 5 years. The work draws heavily on all aspects of the landscape across the South Downs. In 2014 I was awarded a residency at Cill Rialaig in Kerry which has had a major influence on the work since.    

Artist Richard Whadcock in his studio

ARTH What does a typical look like for you? 

RW A typical day starts around 5 or 6 am. I have always been a morning person. That part of the day when no one else is around. I will usually get to the studio before 9, although something may catch my attention as I drive across the Downs, which delays things. Physically going to a workspace and Keeping a rigid working day/week has always been an important part of the process. The day starts with assessing yesterday's painting and seeing which are working or not. There are usually quite a few pieces underway, all at different stages. They tend to rotate and one of them will eventually be the focus point over the next few weeks until finished. 

Artist Richard Whadcock's paintings in progress

ARTCH Can you talk us through your creative process and how it might have changed over the course of your career so far?

RW What makes the landscape draw me back? To me, it is the way it can morph into a different state within minutes. As it follows the coast so closely, it can be clear one minute and then succumb to a weather front that sweeps in from the sea and rapidly changes the look and feel of the landscape. Details lost to a coastal mist, smudged away by a downpour or bleached out by intense low morning or evening sun. It is these transitions from one state to another that the paintings are dealing with, small periods of time, not really a singular moment as such. They are also not meant to be of a particular place, hence the rarity with which they are titled with a named place. This is in some way to stop the name already defining a picture in the viewer's mind. I aim for them to evoke a place, perhaps in their memories of somewhere you have been to. To describe a feeling and atmosphere during a passage of time. The viewer is bringing something to the painting as well. The painting draws it out of you only to deliver you back through the layers of light and depth.

The majority of the works start with sketches, photographs, or memories of a walk. All are just reference points to initially put something down on canvas, panel or paper. The prep for each surface is important too. While some paintings start off from a traditional white surface, many are now coloured, perhaps an orange or a raw umber wash. Layers are built up within a usually limited palette. The primed base colours are then allowed to influence the top glazes or are completely obliterated, only to be revealed again as layers are then sanded back or drawn through whilst still wet. At some point, the painting process inevitably takes over and starts to generate the painting's subsequent direction. Original elements can then be re-introduced to the work to give a piece the solid foundation it needs to hold together. Each time a painting is worked on, the whole surface is involved, with some areas getting more significant changes and others simply refined.

The main change, or rather addition to working habits, has come about via social media, I suppose. This has become a daily routine now, but I’m not sure it should be. It has its place.

Painting by Richard Whadcock

ARTCH Best bit of advice you’ve ever been given?

Make your own luck, don't wait.


ARTCH And the worst bit of advice?

Don't look at Twombly…    


ARTCH Work of art you’d love to own?

RW The piece of work I would love to own would be Cy Twombly's 'Treatise on The Veil' or 'School of Athens'


ARTCH Any advice you’d like to share to help new/young artists?

RW My advice would be to remember to make plans that are ultimately long-term. Don't get sidetracked by a trend and take time to develop 'your' work. Go and see as many exhibitions as you possibly can.

Richard Whadcock


ARTCH Exhibition you wish you’d seen?

RW I would love to have been at the opening to any of Philip Guston's shows but particularly the Marlborough show in New York in 1970 where he first exhibited the radical change in his work.


ARTCH And finally, your dream dinner party guests?

RW Invitations go to Cy Twombly and John Coltrane 

Prints by Richard Whadcock

Huge thanks to Richard for taking the time to answer our questions! You can shop his three beautiful prints, 'Morning Song', 'Chased Path' and 'Daybreak Beckons' here.


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