Voices of Experience - Richard Thorn

Voices of Experience

Richard Thorn


May in the Meadows, 22 x 11", Acrylic, © Richard Thorn 
May in the Meadows          11 x 22"          Acrylic

   Renowned watermedia artist, Richard Thorn shares with us the sparks that ignited his artistic temperament at an early age and the inspirations that have stayed with him throughout a lifetime of art and music. Thorn works primarily in watercolor, acrylic, gouache and inks. He has twice won Best Watercolor at the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolour in London, and after many years of having his work selected for the open exhibitions there, has recently been selected to become a Member. He was also invited to participate in the Quingdao International Watercolour Exhibition in 2019 in which he won an Excellent Work award. Thorn currently exhibits in England, America, Tai Wan and South Korea.

Hazy River Bend, 19 x 14", WC, © Richard Thorn
Hazy River Bend          14 x 19"          Watercolor

   It’s always a mystery question as to how one first becomes inspired to draw and paint, but I think for me it was primarily due to my wishing to divert my attentions away from my mum and dad who were having a bit of a turbulent marriage. I disappeared into drawing.

   I owe (in part) this fact to my Mum who, when I was in hospital having had my tonsils removed, brought me in a sketchbook and a pencil. I was 5 years old at the time and all I could draw was the ward and the nurses. But what I drew seemed to be in proportion and in perspective. I then received compliments from everyone which gave me a boon to carry on.

   Day trips to the seaside and Dartmoor were always good for sketching. I would colour these in when I got home. This early experience would, over time, afford me a wider view of nature which would eventually inform my later painting.

   At secondary school, there were, dotted around the corridors, prints of artists like Turner, Cottman and Constable. I was particularly drawn to the watercolours of Turner. These ‘drawings’ as they were called in the 19th century, seemed to excite me as I could still see the pencil lines. Watercolour was the medium that really inspired me, probably due to these early images and because it seemed to be a natural progression of drawing.

   Art college was a bit of a flop for me—they didn’t seem to nurture my ’natural’ skills and leanings. I left and embarked on a bigger flop into rock music. I returned to painting in earnest in my early 30s when I enjoyed success with local galleries and beyond.

No Hurry, 14 x 13", WC, © Richard Thorn
No Hurry          13 x 14"           Watercolor

Snow Shadows, 19 x 14", WC, © Richard Thorn

Snow Shadows          14 x 19"          Watercolor

   Watercolour, as everyone agrees, is a difficult medium. Controlling the wash is, for me, the most important technical aspect of the medium. The term, 'wet-in-wet' is probably one of the most misleading terms when applying washes. I prefer to use the term ‘damp-in-damp’. This allows me to control the washes and create more local areas of paint as opposed to it bleeding too much.

   Secondly, the intensity of colour is important in the initial washes. This provides a good strong ground for later texture and detail.

View from the Clapper Bridge -  Dartmoor, 18 x 14", WC Inks, © Richard Thorn
View from the Clapper Bridge - Dartmoor   14 x 18"     Watercolor Inks 

   Over the years I’ve worked with gouache, watercolour inks, and acrylic. Sometimes I use charcoal or graphite stick to create a textural ground. I use various brushes—some I cut to make stipple and spatter-brushes. I also use a dip-pen for details. Watercolour pencils are also good for this.

Heatwave, 22 x 13", Acrylic, © Richard Thorn
Heatwave          13 x 22"          Acrylic

May on Trevone, 17 x 21", Acrylic, © Richard Thorn
May on Trevone          17 x 21"           Acrylic

   I’ve also used various papers—Saunders, Khadi, Bockingford, but my all time favourite is Arches. My paints are a mix of manufacturerers such as, Old Holland, Senellier, Schminke and Daler Rowney. Often I add body colour (or opaque colour) especially for detail and texture in the latter part of the painting.

River Light, 26 x 23", WC, © Richard Thorn
River Light          23 x 26"          Watercolor

   One of my favourite sketching techniques is 'pencil and wash’. My own style is to add tone and shading in the initial drawing, adding washes later. The shading often repels the paint in the initial wash but subsequent washes adhere. The final ‘drawing’ possesses a lively appearance with the pencil-work still visible which adds movement.


To see more of Richard Thorn's paintings, go to:  Richard Thorn Art

All artwork copyright Richard Thorn


Copyright Hulsey Trusty Designs, L.L.C. (except where noted). All rights reserved.
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