This week Brighton Journal spoke to local painter, Cecil Rice. Cecil primarily works in watercolour and oils, and explores botanical and architectural themes. He was the winner of the Best Artist Open House in 2018, and is currently preparing for another Artist Open House later this month. Titled Botanical, the exhibition will focus on “the power of plants to console, heal and renew.” A selection of paintings of Brighton and Venice will also be on display. Keep reading to find out more about Cecil’s atmospheric work and his upcoming exhibition.
What are you doing today?
Getting ready for my Open House exhibition which starts on May 29th and is open on weekend afternoons throughout June 2021. Getting ready involves so many things, clearing the main exhibition room, checking lighting, hanging arrangements, getting paintings and prints framed and mounted, labelled, titled and catalogued. Creating and sending out invitation cards, emails, updating my website, and regularly posting to social media. Of course, I haven’t even mentioned the detail of actually doing the paintings!
Describe where you do most of your creative work.
With bigger paintings these have to be done in my Hove studio at the top of my house. Fortunately it’s a quiet place without distractions. Smaller works, depending on the subject, are either done in my studio or outside, or in my garden (for botanical paintings) or on location, in Venice or along the coast at Hove or out towards Chichester.
What’s the most exciting thing you’ve worked on?
In the last year I’ve painted an orange rose several times from different angles and in different lights. One of these was an oil painting, one metre square. This was completely unique for me, a breakthrough in terms of subject-matter and energy, and an exciting initiation into the botanical theme that developed during 2021.
What made you decide to become an artist?
I shared my interest in art with my father, the sculptor Sean Rice. Together we really loved looking at paintings and comparing different artists. He introduced me to Turner’s paintings and it was probably Turner’s painting that inspired me to become an artist.
What are you currently working on?
Right now, several small, vivid watercolour paintings of roses.
What are the key themes in your work?
Studies of light and shade, particularly sunlight and shadows on water and architecture or playing through the petals of flowers. Venice has been a major inspiration, the sea at Brighton and more recently, flowers, nature and a botanical theme, which is reflected in my upcoming show in Brighton.
What would you like people to notice about your work?
The excitement that has gone into creating it, however that manifests.
What attracts you to the medium you work in?
Watercolour and oils are both potentially very translucent or transparent paints that allow great depth of shadows to be built up. I find both types of paint are very versatile and dynamic and it is possible to create a vast range of dramatic and subtle effects.
What equipment could you not do without?
The very best artists grade paints. Very good brushes. Very high-quality watercolour paper or linen canvas, a large tilted desk or a large and stable easel, or a lighter easel for painting outside.
Who or what inspires you?
A wide range of artists and subjects. Turner of course. Nature, especially nature that carries no marks of having been messed up, or sanitised, by humans beings. The huge, wild beauty of the sea. The incredible galaxy-like structure of roses, with their infinitely beautiful petals. The warmth of continental sunlight on old architecture. Glass-like reflections on still water. The sparkle of sunlight on water. The power of mountains.
How is your work affected by living in this area?
Living by the sea has provided huge inspiration over the years. Painting the sea is extraordinary because it is illusive and not at all fixed. There’s also the fun of the piers, set against the sea.
What’s your favourite thing to do locally?
Visiting the sea is number one. Actually, painting flowers in my garden has also become a favourite.
What’s your favourite gallery (or place to see/experience art)?
If you could collaborate with one artist, from any time, who would it be and why?
It would have to be one of the greats such as Turner, Leonardo da Vinci, Vincent van Gogh or Hokusai. Probably Turner, though it would be a tough learning experience for me.
What’s your favourite colour?
Impossible. They are a family. I could say ‘Cadmium Scarlet’, as I could say ‘A minor’ in music. But in practise, colours tend to all relate to each other. On a guitar there are at least three notes that combine to form any chord. Colour is the same in my view. On a particular day I could say ‘Ultramarine blue’, but on another day, or in a different context, it might be ‘cadmium yellow deep’. The answer varies.
Cecil Rice’s 2021 Artist Open House will be open from 12 noon until 5pm on the following dates:
May: 29th – 30th
June: 5th – 6th, 12th – 13th, 19th – 20th, 26th – 27th
The exhibition will take place at 14 Granville Road, Hove, BN3 1TG.