Nestled among restaurants and takeaways, directly opposite the impressive Clifford’s Tower is the small According to McGee art gallery, but don’t mistake its size for displaying work lacking in talent as its walls are brimming with beautiful art. York based artist Richard Moulton was at the gallery yesterday showing some of his new works of art as he moves from life drawings into the abstract, and I went along to meet him.
We sat in the back room among the array of canvas on the walls, each with hot cup of black coffee in hand. Richard explained the inspiration behind his new paintings is he wanted to do something a little more commercial.
Richard started out his career as a graphic designer, and he pulled out an old sketch book from his student days, full of collages of cuttings from magazines. He said he believed it was important for an artist to keep sketch books to look back on their work to get new inspiration.
Richard has been illustrating nude forms for years and said he believes drawing is the basis of good art, but with the development of photography it is harder to produce life drawings that people would want to buy. He explained this is because we are programmed to see symmetry in faces, which can make us quite critical of life drawings.
One of his new paintings is mixture between his abstract work and his life drawings, a slightly plump nude woman with flecks of greens and blues brushed into her skin tone and painted on an abstract background (pictured to the right). Richard explained she started out life as an abstract but it didn’t turn out the way he wanted and rather than waste the canvas he decided to use the colours as a background and paint the women on top.
It was nice to see something reminiscent of Renaissance paintings where women are curvaceous with soft stomachs, like Botticelli’s Birth of Venus, rather than the flat tummies we see in photographs today. Richard said he enjoys painting more voluptuous women as he finds the curves and rolls of flesh are more interesting to illustrate than washboard abs.
Richard explained people will try to look for something recognisable in artwork, which is why some of his new artworks are semi-abstract. Including a landscape piece he finished last week (pictured above) which is still identifiable as a countryside hills and blades of grass, but the colours are more vibrant and striking.
He said: “It is nice to feel free with abstract or semi abstract paintings where the colours are exaggerated. There is something not quite as satisfying about traditional landscape pictures, and because of the many chocolate box pictures I don’t think anyone takes notice of landscape pictures.
“I think young people now do appreciate abstract more. I know my mother would prefer to see a traditional landscape painting.”
Richard said he had uploaded a picture of his abstract landscape onto Facebook and was contacted by the owner of According to McGee who said he wanted to see it in in the flesh.
Greg Mcgee, the man behind According to Mcgee, said: “It’s refreshing to see such an energetic palette and such carefully thought compositions. Moulton is the real deal, and we’re gratified to see him continually develop his style.”
One of his unfinished pieces that caught my eye was a board covered with strips of canvas with black and blue squares with inner squares of ruddy warm hues, reminding me of Polaroid photos.
Taking a square view finder and attaching it to his sketchbook Richard said he looks through nature such as broken down walls to find interesting snapshots, which he sketches and has developed into the painting which I instantly drawn to.
Richard said he would encourage artists to experiment. “Sometimes a happy accident can take you somewhere you never thought you could go.”