Profile of Richard Rowan
One of my earliest memories of being an artist is when I was 6 years old painting with poster paints at the kitchen table while the family were fixed in front of the TV. Using stolen architectural (just finished) drawings of my Dads I would be filling in all the rooms in colour and drawing people stood next to the buildings. I’ve never seen my Dad so upset and angry, but he is now my biggest fan.
From a design and fine art background in Northampton I went on to win the Daily Mail’s ‘Artist of the Year’ award in 1992. After finishing my training I found an artist life very difficult to establish and a designer’s one very frustrating. So after this I found myself in the motor sport business ranging from world rally to formula one – travelling worldwide for the next 5 years. Having seen so much of the world whilst doing this it changed my whole outlook on life, but I never put down my drawing pad constantly sketching cars and scenery at any spare moment. Never feeling quite at home constantly living out of a suitcase, I would produce art pieces when back at home and sell at local galleries which then brought in commissions from various people.
Leaving the race track and ‘go go’ lifestyle behind has changed everything for me.
For the last 3 years I have devoted all of my time to art on glass which is my preferred medium, using a unique style of oil painting as opposed to the more traditional canvas or board.
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Ideas & Inspirations.
From early in my teenage years a quote has never left my mind…. “Life’s too short. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you may miss it.” I’m looking all the time. I get annoyed when I see a spectacular sky and all the people around me are doing there day to day routines, missing what is happening above there heads. This life is too short so I’m trying to remember as much of it as I can. Landscapes and skies are constantly changing, giving a constant flow of inspiration which I enjoy exploring. I love being able to capture a moment in time.
Many sketches are taken of the countryside which I record in a book as well as digital images. I store these alongside my sketches of anything from the Lake District to Hanoi. When back in the studio I can use these images to transport myself back to my thoughts and plan out a design of the picture to develop on glass.
I do like to challenge myself with difficult work. Painting oil on glass can make you want to tear your hair out, but is also satisfying at the same time. When I sit down to paint I want to paint better than the last time; pushing the boundaries of what I can do.
Once I finish a painting I want people to look at the piece and be drawn in and find themselves lost in my work.
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From Palette to Picture.
After many years of being taught by my tutors about canvas painting and techniques, all has had to be changed to teach myself to paint on glass.
My work uses a mix of everything I’ve learnt from drawing, design and screen printing to photography. The initial ideas for a painting will begin with the design taken from drawings and photos. The whole process is done back to front; the complete opposite of any normal painting on canvas. The foreground is painted first and in most cases this section of paint is left drying for up to a week before the next layer is applied.
Many pieces of work are produced at one time, so it can be quite difficult to remember at which stage each painting is at. I apply different coats of paint with brushes, homemade tools, craft knives and my fingers to move the paint before and after the oil sets, creating all the types of effects I can before it’s fully dry. This makes for a different, but effective and unique view of oils and their vibrant colours.
A day in the Life of...
My day starts at 7am – up and out taking my fiancée Emma to the local station for her London design job. After waving her goodbye I’m back home to start my day with a coffee and some music. In my studio today is a new piece to start which I’m rather eager about because I’ve been planning it for a few days now. I clean up some new glass and working from my sketched designs I mask out the size of the picture, making a few marks to sort my composition of the landscape. The first part of this water scene is the foreground. All the reeds and some touches of reflections in the water are first as I’m painting all this back to front with my hands under the glass painting upwards which sounds strange, and looks even stranger. This part is taking some time and is very detailed and takes up most of the morning.
A quick lunch then back to finish it. It’s all dark brown in colour which only takes a week to dry – some take a lot longer. It’s painstaking but satisfying and as this can be rather fiddly it takes up most of the day. At 3.30 I’m off out to draw a landscape I saw the other week when out seeing family. Sitting out with my drawing pad is great and I love doing this, but oils and glass don’t work well outside. After 4 drawings and a couple of photos I’m back to my favourite spot to catch the sunset burning the clouds which will look great for my next piece. I then pack up and time it well to pick up Emma from the station on my return at around 7.30pm. We discuss our day over dinner and relax in front of a movie; transporting us to another place.