Richard on... Inspirational Artists
Shara Hughes born 1983
Hughes magnificent colour and unexpected forms exude freshness pattern, extraordinary colour and enormous excitement.
David Hockney born 1937
Hockney’s extraordinary art has evolved into something truly wonderful. At his 2014 exhibition at the Royal Academy, I remember walking into the room which contained the landscapes he painted on his return to Yorkshire in 1994. I was behind an 8 year old boy who was with his father. His expression “Wowwww!” as he walked in said it all to me. If I could evoke that reaction from children, then I would be very happy.
Howard Hodgkin 1932-1017
As a master of colour, flowing paint, textural excitement and portraits of memory, Howard Hodgkin’s language of abstraction and poetic brushstrokes remain a great inspiration. My favourite framer framed a great many of Howard Hodgkin’s paintings and I pleaded with him to take me with him to his studio in North London. But to no avail. I was sad never to have met him.
Rex Whistler 1905-1944
Whistler’s joyous and theatrical illustrations and Tromp L’oeil. His prodigious talent for creating immaculate decoration to his images like flowers leaves, scrolls and cartouches. His style is quite unique. I am inspired by the precision of his swift strokes of colour and ink. He died tragically young serving with the Welsh Guards in Normandy in 1944.
Ivon Hitchens 1893-1979
Hitchen’s relentless pursuit of exceptional colour harmony in my view, makes him one of the most underrated great masters of the past 100 years. His magnificent, harmonious and rhythmic landscapes are a major influence on my work
Stanley Spencer 1891-1959
I lived for 2 years in Cookham and developed a love for Stanley Spencer’s locality and his paintings. I am inspired by his stylisation and his beautiful portraits which show how much effort he put into really understanding his subject before even picking up his brush.
Paul Nash 1889-1946
Nash embodies trees with a weight and character that I find truly inspirational. His landscapes are a powerful portrait of our country. His work reminds me that everything I paint must have it’s own defined personality.
Albert Marquet 1875-1947
Albert Marquet’s paintings are so full of joy in every detail. Preferring a high vantage point, his powerful diagonals and carefully composed structure provided the framework for his electrifying colour harmonies, his beautiful soft light and his energetic brushstrokes. His details such as boats people and vehicles always executed with a joyful effortless that belies the mastery he possessed.
Henri Matisse 1869-1964
Matisse was one of the finest draughtsman ever to have attended the school of Gustav Moreau. He developed into the greatest colourist of all time. But when confined to his bed unable to paint as a result of a botched cancer operation he started drawing with scissors into coloured paper and created an extraordinary and inspiring world of colour without which it is hard to imagine that graphic designers and logos (including mine) could exist. His masterpiece was the chapel at Vence which he designed for the Nun that nursed him back to health. Matisse was asked why he was designing a church when he was not a religious man. “I always believe in god when I am painting” was his reply.
Pierre Bonnard 1867-1947
Famous for his paintings of his wife, Marthe, bathing, Bonnard’s incredible colour harmonies shimmer against each other making him a true master of colour. You can see in his paintings that he never gave up until an amazing harmony was produced and he only cut and stretched his canvases after he completed his paintings
Vincent Van Gogh 1853-1890
The moving and personal story of Vincent’s life brought his work notoriety, but when you look at his drawings and see how he uses his mark making to express the forces and harmonies within his imagery, you can see that his unique and new language of personal expression was quite incredible. Inspired by nature, his drive to substitute colour for tone added tremendous power to his expressive painting. He was many years ahead of his time. Amongst many things, I marvelled at how Vincent’s mark making accentuated the emotional power of his drawings which contained crucial planning cues for each of his paintings. There is no more important skill for an artist (or any visually creative thinker) than to be able to draw to express and articulate ideas.
Claude Monet 1840-1926
Forget all the badly printed the chocolate boxes and calendars. Go to the Orangerie in the Garden of the Tuilleries in Paris and stand in front of a great Monet. You are seeing one of the greatest colourists of all time. His colour sings from one brushstroke to the next. His muse was his garden at Givernay where his incredible draughtsmanship created; depth, reflection and surface, apparently effortlessly, on a flat canvas.
Paul Cezanne 1839-1906
Picasso called him “The father of modern art” and he ushered in a new world of; carefully constructed order, considered thought and precision to his paintings. The structure and stereoscopic iridescence of Cezanne’s painting made him the greatest master of his age. His muse was the mountain at Monte Sainte-Victoire. At the end of his life Cezanne said, “I have found the key, I have opened the door and yet I cannot go in.”
Eugene Delacroix 1798-1863
Delacroix was one of the very great early masters of colour. His paintings and pastels are a musical score of colour harmony and masterful draughtsmanship. His paintings are alive with depth, lucid colour and joyously energetic flowing brushstrokes.
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851
There is no greater painter of atmostphere than Turner. He was one of the fathers of Impressionism and was a great inspiration for Monet. He was an expressive colourist and a tremendous experimenter and the variation in techniques that he used to create depth and light in his paintings is legendary. He was a master draughtsman, watercolourist and one of the very first abstract painters.
Rembrandt van Rijn 1606-1669
The confidence and dexterity of Rembrandt’s brushstrokes seems effortless in it’s mastery. His landscapes were admired for their extraordinary light.
Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio 1571-1610
Amongst many things, I marvelled at how Caravaggio united inconsistent light sources in his paintings. One of my favourite paintings in The National Gallery is Supper at Emmaus.
Hans Holbein the Younger 1497-1543
It seems extraordinary that an artist can define a Monarch, yet it is difficult to imagine the reign of Henry V111 without thinking of the work of Holbein. His supreme portraits appear to show not only the lavish detail of their adornment but also real faces, character and souls of the subjects. So well observed is Holbein’s work that the short step to imagine his subjects as living breathing subjects is an easy one to make. Holbein was to me the supreme portrait painter of art history.
Albrecht Durer 1471-1578
The drawings of people and animals by Durer are extraordinary in their detail and character. I have an old print of his drawing of a hare in an old oak frame on my bedroom wall. It is still just as magical as it always has been and I will never tire of it’s beauty.
Leonardo da Vinci 1452-1519
Master of anatomy, chiaroscuro and inventor of sfumato. There are few artists who are not inspired by the greatest artist that has ever lived. The layered softness, composition and bold colour in the Virgin of the rocks is mesmerising. My Favourite painting is The lady with the ermine which visited the National Gallery from Krakow a few years ago for the incredible Leonardo exhibition.