Adrian Hill Fine Art Presents:

Robert E Wells RBA NEAC


Robert E. Wells is a Yorkshire-born artist, known for his cityscape paintings as well as rural landscapes and figurative works. He is a member of the New English Art Club and the Royal Society of British Artists, he also regularly exhibits his work in solo shows and the RA Summer Exhibition.

From an early age, Robert instinctively knew that he wanted to be an artist. His school careers advisors, however, were quick to pour scorn on this idea, insisting that his lack of academic prowess meant that an apprenticeship as an electrician, plumber or builder would be a better fit. Thankfully, he did not heed this advice. Robert enrolled at the local art college where one of his lecturers encouraged him to learn 3D drawing techniques in case they would be useful at some point in his career.

After college, he worked long hours as a junior designer at an architectural practice, whilst playing in a band at night. This exhausting schedule soon made him realise that he needed to decide between design and music. A job offer to work as an interior designer in Kuwait helped to make the decision.
Upon his return to the UK, Robert found work with a succession of design-based employers, which eventually led to him setting up as a specialist freelance architectural illustrator. As he became more established, he started getting more and more work in London, with clients including HOK and RTKL. At first, he commuted on a weekly basis from Leeds, treating every visit as a sketching exercise – walking for miles around the capital recording anything and everything of interest. “It all seemed so vibrant and totally compelling,” he recalls.

Robert finally moved to London in 1998, settling in Barnes, after being offered the position of Senior Associate at Joseph and Partners – one of London’s oldest architectural practices. To keep him out of mischief, they funded a part-time MA in The Illustration and Rendering of Architectural Spaces which he completed in little over a year. Further employment came as Senior Visualiser at Harrods in Knightsbridge, and it was around this time that he began working on small oils, as well as his usual sketchbooks. He had already enjoyed some success at the RA Summer Exhibition, but it was in 2002 that he really started to find his feet as a full-time artist.

The New Grafton Gallery in Barnes contacted Robert about exhibiting in their Christmas show. He supplied around six paintings, all of views around London, and sat back for an agonising wait . . .
“The surprise and relief at seeing a red dot appear next to one painting after another was so exciting and is still a highlight of my working life as an artist.”
By 2006, there were sufficient paintings and enough client interest for a solo show at the Fairfax Gallery in Chelsea. This was a great success, with over thirty works sold in the opening week. Robert found being an artist, no longer trapped by the tight restraints of illustration, quite liberating. After that success came more calls for solo work, but along with demand came a worry that something was not right:
As demand for some of his more popular paintings grew, so the demands of some galleries increased, resulting in less and less room for creative development and exploration. In the space of six years as an artist, Robert felt almost as constrained as when he was working from a designer’s brief.

There followed an economic crash and the art market contracted. This allowed Robert time to step back and look at work retrospectively. He realised that to meet deadlines and supply increasing demand, his painting style had lost subtlety, feeling it looked rushed and clumsy. This was a turning point for Robert who now felt that the downturn in the market could not have come at a better time. Free from the pressure of deadlines, client briefs and gallery demands, he was able – once again – to paint and sketch for the sheer pleasure of it all.

By now, Robert was a family man, with a wife and two young children, and he had traded-in the hustle and bustle of London for a quieter life by the sea in East Sussex. The buildings and busy cityscapes that once filled his sketchbooks were pushed aside by scenes of family life: trips to the shops, playing in the snow, beach holidays in Italy, along with moments of solitude painting rural landscapes in the South Downs. And yet the artwork is still clearly identifiable as Robert’s thanks to the freedom of brush strokes, use of tone and colour, and his individual approach to composition – always seeking out unusual views, encouraging us all to look at life from a different angle.