love me some richard adams

With Richard Adams’s work, it was love at first sight.

I’m such a sucker for British charm and quirkiness.

How I’d love to step right into his paintings and explore the bucolic villages, sample the food at the open markets, stroll along country lanes, peek into thatched cottages, and best of all, chat with some of the fascinating characters who dwell in his halcyon world.

Adams was born in Hampshire (1960) and grew up in Wiltshire amidst the south Cotswold countryside, a landscape that would have a lasting influence on his work. He received a BA Hons in Graphic Design from Leicester Polytechnic, then worked as a freelance illustrator in London for clients such as BP, the Radio Times, and Penguin Books, before moving to Rye in Sussex, where he lives now. He has exhibited widely in the UK and internationally in Madrid, Washington, Sydney and Bremen.

At first glance, one is taken with the enchanting beauty, brilliant composition, and wealth of detail. On second glance, one catches on to Adams’s puckish sense of humor (he characterizes his work as having “a subtle light-heartedness”). While studying the chock-a-block cross-section of his Dolls House, for example, one might be distracted by the man doing a headstand on the front lawn and miss the naked woman casually sitting on the sofa making polite conversation.

With Adams, a liberated, freewheeling loose boob or two seems par for the course. Why not frolic in the field, mix the playful with the pretty, and surprise the viewer in the best possible way? 🙂

Of course I especially love his food scenes — crowded markets and kitchen shelves stocked to the brim, what looks like an entire village gathered around one huge dining table, tidy vegetable gardens abundant with cabbages and cauliflower.

I love that the people in his pictures look like they’re having such fun, whether they’re cavorting with other festival attendees, jumping into a pool, or sitting quietly on a bank reading a book. You instinctively yearn to know the stories going on in every scene. Adams’s gift is his ability to find humor in everyday activities, in some ways making us yearn for those simpler times when good fun was there for the taking and making.

He works primarily in chalk pastels and coloured pencil, finishing up with a varnish sealant. He’s inspired by stories his grandparents told him about rural life in Hampshire after WWI, as well as “books and films and music.”

An avid child reader, sometimes memorable book snippets or passages from novels inspire the incidents in his paintings. I love how he includes and juxtaposes various and sundry historical references in refreshing ways — ancient churches, manor houses, old steam engines, a bright red tractor, worn carpetbag, picturesque schooners, a metal bathtub, four poster bed, cool antique crockery.

You won’t find anything post-1960 in his pictures, but you will delight in his offbeat vision of an idyllic past. Doesn’t everyone matter-of-factly run into a lounging mermaid now and again? His keen eye for costumes (the vintage fabrics, patterns, retro styles!) and the menagerie of domestic animals complete the delightful illusion.

No era is specific in my pictures; the stories are all open-ended, unresearched, gleefully thrown together but hopefully making entertaining images with an enchanting variety of details.

You can purchase Adams’s prints at several online galleries (such as this one), and art cards can be found here.

Enjoy this short video of the artist at work:

Hooray for artists who create pure joy!

Copyright © 2018 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

14 thoughts on “love me some richard adams

  1. Wow, and in pastel & pencil! Love every detail, Jama, the villages, the happy people, and “Mermaid St.”! I want to live there! Thanks very much for sharing this artist I would never know otherwise.

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  2. Oh, he’s wonderful! He’s sort of like Richard Scarry for grown-ups. I would love to see his work full-size and just lose myself in all those colors and details. Thanks for the introduction!


    1. Yes, I know what you mean by him being a Richard Scarry for grown-ups :). You keep looking and looking but still can’t see it all . . .


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