Richard Goldstein

Self-taught Tunbridge Wells artist Richard Goldstein has just had his work accepted by one of the country’s most revered art institutes, The Mall Galleries in London. Here, he tells Eileen Leahy what inspires his paintings, which range from iconic exotic buildings to beloved childhood toys…

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I’ve had a few interesting jobs in my life. I have been employed in both London and Los Angeles as a pipe organ builder. Some organs I’ve worked on include those in The Chapel Royal in St James’s Palace, Canterbury Cathedral and the Royal Albert Hall.

I’ve been a London black cab driver, and I’ve also designed Flight Simulator software for Microsoft. My wife wasn’t too keen on that job as I grew a pony tail!

I currently teach special needs, and in my spare time I enjoy going to the Rusthall Community Cinema.

How long have you been painting?

When I was nine, I won several regional and national competitions for military modelling and miniature figurine painting. I often gave demonstrations of techniques to adults at conventions – they didn’t seem to mind learning from a child!

I started doing more traditional painting in oil on canvas at around the age of 15. I found myself drawn to ancient monuments, especially those of Rome and Spain. One of my favourite places is the Alhambra Palace in Granada, and I’ve been painting that for years.

What do you like most about being an artist?

The thing that I enjoy most, if it turns out well, is the finished result and the enjoyment other people get from my paintings.

It can be very exciting to realise a particular effect of light or colour and then convey it to the viewer in the simplest possible way. Each painting is a challenge and you learn new skills along the way.

Who are your artistic influences, and why?

Mainly Japanese paintings, calligraphy and ceramics because of their spontaneity and reliance on suggestion.

I am also an admirer of the American realist painter John Singer Sargent. His deft brushwork and exceptional colour and tonal precision are a reference for many that aspire to work in the style of realism.

How easy is it to find inspiration?

I sometimes paint commissions, which forces me to accept a challenge and I like that.

Usually, these are soft toys, which I am rather fond of painting. It’s rewarding to see children, and their parents, thrilled by the sight of their beloved toys brought to life in a painting. As I paint from life, a friend had to explain to her children that their beloved toys had disappeared and gone on a short break. Her son said: “Mum, teddies don’t go on holiday to Tunbridge Wells.” When the children saw the finished painting on their wall, they were incredibly excited!

Are there any other areas from which you gain artistic inspiration?

I am also inspired by ethnic metalwork and fabrics. I’m very interested in light, both its refraction and reflection. I always paint still-life paintings from life, and attempt to portray the subtle ways in which light interacts and bounces between different textures and surfaces – it is very compelling.

I have recently done some painting in Tunbridge Wells, but this is largely dependent on weather and lighting conditions. I would like to do more, maybe in the summer.

The main body of my landscape painting has been historical monuments and buildings in Spain and Italy, though recently I have concentrated on still life.

Do you have any specific rituals when you paint?

The process of painting for me consists of a long time setting up a still life. This may take many hours and goes through numerous incarnations.

For soft toy paintings this is particularly important, as the owners will have an attachment to the figure and will project certain feelings and thoughts on to it. It can take time to see what those potential qualities might be.

Frequent refreshment breaks are an important ritual, and an espresso always helps! I find that working for too long can affect my judgement with respect to form, tone and colour. A short break, and the opportunity to view progress from a distance, helps re-establish the original vision and
rest your eyes.

How often do you exhibit, and where does it tend to be?

Recently, I was fortunate to have a picture selected for the Annual Exhibition of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters in London. I was rather pleased as it was my first submission to a fine art exhibition.

The painting was inspired by a visit to the Scuola Grande di San Marco in Venice.

Whilst originally intended as a limited value study of contrasting and transparent colours, the finished picture was surprising in its fortuitous portrayal of the presence and ambience of the subject.

People said that it shone and glowed, and that luminosity must have communicated to those who curated the exhibition.

What are your plans for 2018?

I’d like to have more commissions of soft toy paintings, simply because everyone loves looking at them.

I also want to develop my skills outside within the local area – so you may see me in The Pantiles or on the Common with my palette and paints!

To find out more about Richard’s work and commissions, you can email him at: georender@aol.com