My approach to creating pictures can best be described as watercolour drawing, and the techniques I apply are continually evolving.

Richard Allen

I use a combination of watercolour paints, graphite and colour pencils. Erasing is an integral part of my drawing practice, and I use a variety of tools for this. The paper I’ve chosen is 425gsm in weight, made of 100% cotton. The surface is robust and “giving”, which allows for embossed layering to add additional depth and texture to my work.


I send comprehensive written and visual briefs to my model prior to our twice-yearly four-hour sessions.

During each session I make preparatory drawings and take digital “sketchbook” photographs of each 20-minute pose. From these I make my selections for artwork production. I group them into sets, usually of four. This is a key component of my method of working, as I produce my pictures on a rotation basis.

Richard Allen

Richard Allen

My weekly target is 35-40 hours “at the board”, and I view my approach as very much a full-time job.

Instinct has a role in what I do, and there are occasions when I simply go where it wishes to take me.

Music from my CD player is a constant companion, and helps put me “in the zone” for extended periods of time. On occasions, the experience can be quite meditative.


My work is often described as obsessive, and I am comfortable with the description. It is certainly organised, which is a fair reflection of my approach and character.

I am wholly absorbed (obsessed!) with the construction of grids and “tilings”, and the building of multiple transparent layers of marks, washes of colour, controlled shapes and patterns. 

Richard Allen

Richard Allen

There are also quite gestural and intuitive - perhaps even random - elements to my work.

These probably have their origins in my days at art school in the early 1970s, when American Abstract Expressionism was at the height of its popularity.


Above all, I am secure in the knowledge that this is what I should be doing.

To say that a thing is beautiful is simply an act of faith, not a measurement on some sort of scale.
— Edouard Vuillard