Artist profile - Chris Rigby

Chris Rigby's oil panting, 'Trampoiline No 1'

Chris Rigby's oil panting, 'Trampoiline No 1' - Credit: Archant

Lancaster’s Chris Rigby, who was last year’s Lancashire Life Landscape Artist of the Year, talks to Barbara Waite Entries are now open for the 2019 competition

Chris Rigby painting in a wild spot

Chris Rigby painting in a wild spot - Credit: Archant

For centuries artists have tussled with how to deal with getting light into their paintings. For Chris Rigby, last year’s Lancashire Life Landscape Artist of the Year, dramatic artificial lighting is one of the main themes of his work.

His winning picture of an atmospheric street reminiscent of American artist Edward Hopper was a hit both with the judges at the Hepplestone Fine Art Gallery in Heskin and visitors to the Mall Galleries in London where it was also shown.

Chris, born in Lancaster and how living nearby in Burton-in-Lonsdale, studied locally before attending Falmouth School of Art, and was privately mentored by ex-Royal Academy student Chris Robinson.

As well as painting urban scenes, Chris continues his interest in dramatic lighting with his studies of the human figure seen in his theatre performance works which he showed at the Brewery Arts Centre in Kendal. ‘This kind of lighting allows me the opportunity to play with lots of exciting colours. It gets my mind ticking over on themes of darkness and light, chiaroscuro and thinking about the paintings of the old Dutch masters,’ said Chris.

Dance contest 'Couple 34' in watercolour, gouache and acrylic

Dance contest 'Couple 34' in watercolour, gouache and acrylic - Credit: Archant

‘In producing these paintings I felt I was able to draw on the life and energy of the performances themselves and together with the techniques I developed for making them got me working in a free and fluid way. Included in this exhibition was work produced during my three years as Artist in Residence at Solfest (a music festival held in Cumbria) which saw me painting in a variety of scenarios.

‘I was squeezed in a tight space at the side of the stage getting leg cramps; chilled out on a sunny Sunday afternoon juggling paints, brushes and palette; and in the middle of a crowd of Saturday night revellers.’

Another of his themes is nature-in-the-raw land and seascapes. ‘I’ve always been drawn to the wild fringes of the British Isles. These travels eventually led me to Shetland where I have been a regular visitor since 2011. They have resulted in two major solo exhibitions there.

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‘I used to paint more in the nearby Cumbrian fells working in all weathers but there came a time when the constant pressure to find a good painting was spoiling a good walk.

Chris Rigby's haunting image 'Holloway' in mixed media

Chris Rigby's haunting image 'Holloway' in mixed media - Credit: Archant

‘My response was to make a very conscious effort to NOT look for subject matter enabling me to return to my old habit of sketching for the pure joy of it as and when the mood took me and conditions allowed.

‘This is how I approach my adventures in the Scottish mountains where the technical demands are greater. I’m sure there are paintings being hatched in my head and someday they will splurge forth, but I’m not going to push it.’

A section for the journals Chris keeps on these trips are on his website plus much more information about his latest works. Most of his paintings are shown and sold in London and Cornwall, but his work can be seen locally in Castlegate House Gallery, in Cockermouth.