Can you tell me about your practice? How do you get started on a piece of work?
I think the starting point for a painting is often an existing image. Something about the image will hold my attention, usually without me knowing why. I collect and have folders full of such images. Over time I piece together elements from these images with a memory of something seen or experienced or a particular psychological mood I may want to feel. Previous works will also feed the newer works; accidents that happen leading to new ideas.
Who or what are your biggest influences?
Too many names to mention but the following come to mind, Otto Dix, Francis Bacon, Ferdinand Hodler, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Kara Walker, Alex Katz, Philip Guston, David Byrd, Fra Angelico, Lucas Cranach (elder and the younger) Alice Neel, Elizabeth Peyton, Theodore Gericault, Mamma Andersson, Lucian Freud, Kerry James Marshall, Picasso, James Ensor..........
There is an emotional fragility that you capture so acutely in your portraiture, it can appear deeply meditative or equally fleeting. Can you talk further to me about this?
I want the paintings to convey a sense of uncertainty. The age and gender of the portrayed are often unclear. I like the figures to have a fragile quality; lost in contemplation, possibly considering the incommunicable sensations of being alive.
How important is the choice of material in relation to realizing the concept of your work?
Over the last 2 years I have been making watercolours alongside the oil works and really enjoy the differences of each medium. Watercolour is great for studies and working out colour quickly. Oil paint is so versatile and the material I feel most at ease with.
What is your most important tool? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?
I think, at the moment, I would have to say my heater!
Can you give us a book recommendation that has been important in your practice? And tell us why it’s important.
Finally, is there anything new coming up that you would like to tell us about?
I am currently showing some watercolours in a group show in NYC. I have a largepainting in a group show in LA opening on the 17th Feb. I also have a watercolour solo show in NY in March/April. Later in the year I will have a solo show in NY and group shows in London and Florida.
Richard Wathen 'Silent Stories', oil on linen over wood panel, 2020, 44x40½cm
Richard Wathen_Reflection_watercolour on 640gsm Hahnemühle paper, 2022_40x30cm.tif
Richard Wathen_Smear_watercolour on 640gsm Hahnemühle paper, 2022_40x30cm.tif
Richard Wathen_Platform_oil on linen_50x45cm.tif
Richard Wathen_Sleeping after PG_oil on linen, 2019_90x56cm.tif
Richard Wathen_Green Eyes_watercolour on 640gsm Hahnemühle paper, 2022_40x30cm.tif
RichRichard Wathen_Eavesdropper_oil on linen over aluminium panel, 2020_61x50cm.tif