Sussex painter Ron Dellar on how his career in art came about

Ron Dellar in his studio

Ron Dellar in his studio - Credit: Archant

Born in South London but now a Sussex man through and through, Ron Dellar knew from an early age that he wanted to be a painter

Arundel and the Downs - Arundel from the River Arun

Arundel and the Downs - Arundel from the River Arun - Credit: Archant

At 16, Ron Dellar completed his first oil painting. In order to get a real sense for his subject, some old lodge gates on a hill, he walked two miles from home to paint it at 5.30am every morning, only returning to catch the 8.30am bus to work.

Rye and Romney Marsh - Rye Waterfront

Rye and Romney Marsh - Rye Waterfront - Credit: Archant

Never having been to art college, Ron has taught himself techniques in oil and watercolour, which are his two favourite mediums. During his lifetime he has been an art teacher in adult education; a successful portrait painter in Germany; an antique dealer; and a guest house landlord in Rye alongside his wife. He now lives in Angmering, West Sussex.

When living in Rye, he presented one of his paintings to Mayor Sam Souster. The painting is a classic view of Rye from the banks of the River Rother in Ron’s distinctive style. It now hangs in Rye Town Hall. Ron’s paintings are highly sought-after by collectors, and he said at the time that it was an honour to present Mr Souster with the painting, as an expression of their longstanding friendship. Mr Souster says of the painting: “It signifies the ever-present link that exists now, as it has for many years, between Rye and the arts, and embodies the quality that makes Rye a very special place.” Ron also designed the Spirit of Rye Millennium Wall at the western entrance to Rye.

When asked why he does not list artist amongst his professions, he says simply, “I, like so many painters, knew never to depend on my talents to help put bread on the table.”

Despite his modesty, Ron’s work has been shown with the Royal Society of Portrait Painters and the Royal Watercolour Society. He has exhibited in a German gallery, in Leeds Castle, in a gallery in Rye, and in Worthing Museum and Art Gallery. He has many paintings in private collections, both in this country and abroad, and has in the past also been commissioned to provide large murals for London Transport, EMI and Taylor-Norton Associates, amongst others.

With reference to portrait painting, Ron says, “of all my activities I find that it is the most challenging, most absorbing, most dangerous and most personally satisfying.” In between commissions, he says that he turns his attention to “the two environments in which I have been fortunate enough to spend most of my life – East and West Sussex.”

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His latest exhibition is at the Arundel Museum Jubilee Room Gallery, and runs from 28 April to 10 May. “At the heart of it lies the contrast I feel between the two areas of Sussex I have lived in, a contrast that could hardly be greater,” he says. “The area stretching from Rye in the east to Arundel in the west is the source of my inspiration: the subtle and elusive differences between the two ends of the county.” He goes on to say: “It’s in my nature never to keep on painting the same picture in the same way, nor to repeat a group of paintings for ever and ever. The result is two sets of variation on one theme. The theme is Sussex.”

Ron Dellar’s exhibition at the Arundel Museum’s Jubilee Room Gallery runs from 28 April – 10 May. To contact Ron or to see more of his work, phone 01903 773382 or go to