Richard Heys

Course Leader - Surface & Form

Richard is committed to colour and forgetting. He says “As I am now 52 and am under siege from all I have seen and all I know I attempt a self-forgetting, a side-stepping of rational processes to allow moments of creative innocence to arise. This side-stepping, deflecting quick answers and slick resolve, leads me on a passionate journey through the worlds of colour, both outer and inner. In the realisation of a finished work I aim to recover mystery and in this world of the known, I work standing before the unknown.”

As Richard gradually clarifies each artwork a sense of place, a feeling, or energy begins to assert itself. He is primarily a non-figurative artist, exploring colour and form, the substance of paint and ground and the tensions between the physical processes of making and the 'life' in the piece. He strives to create artwork with presence, pieces which have atmosphere and countenance. The finished painting is arrived at through the layering of opaque and transparent colours, the repeated application and removal of material, covering and revealing deeper layers, creating rich and complex passages in paint. What at first sight may appear slick, even simple, reveals on closer looking a subtle complexity. 


For the past few years Richard has been working in a light-filled studio in Sussex, an acorn’s throw from the Ashdown Forest. He explores and creates with print-making tools and bespoke equipment, employing techniques which disguise the hand of the artist. Richard has taken his lead from the current questions around the use of the brush and its perceived excesses. Through these limitations and the ensuing challenges he has achieved a freedom in his painting. Working with transparency and glazing to create vibrant surfaces, he explores light and darkness, and lyrical conversations in colour.

“ will really begin when we understand that colour has an existence of its own, that its infinite combinations have a poetry and a poetic idiom far more expressive than anything else that has ever existed.”                                                                          

                                                                                                                - Sonia Delaunay

Richard was born in West Yorkshire, growing up on a farm at the foot of the Pennines, just north of the Peak District and the Pennine Way. Although he graduated with a degree in Fine Art in 1986, life took him on a long looping journey until he came back to painting in 2007 when he was made redundant. And so, 21 years after graduating, he set out his stall as a self-employed artist.

He is a selected member of the Pure Arts Group 2014-17. Has exhibited with The Other Art Fair in Bristol and London, and has taken part in South East Open studios for the past 4 years. Richard has exhibited at the Brighton Art Fair for the past 3 year. In 2015 and 2016 his paintings were selected for the ING Discerning Eye Exhibition in London. His work is in collections in the UK, Canada, China, France, Germany & Switzerland.

He works as a freelance artist and teacher, teaching practical art courses and art history. He is a graduate of Emerson College sculpture training and has a B.A (Hons) Fine Art, from Sunderland University & a PGCE (DTTLS) from the University of Sussex.