Artist Profile - Rico Oldfield
PUBLISHED: 00:00 09 July 2020
The Formby artist is using digital techniques to capture the coast
David Hockney gave his career a digital re-boot when he bought his first iPhone about a decade ago when he was in his early 70s. The results were a lively collection of colourful scenes of his native east Yorkshire which earned him rave reviews and reinforced his status as one of the most important British artists of recent decades.
Rico Oldfield hasn’t had quite the same reaction, but his story does have certain striking similarities. He too discovered the joy of digital art in his 70s and he too has had a positive response to the new work. Although in his case much of that has come from regulars at the Beer Station micropub in Freshfield, Formby.
Now 74, Rico has had a varied career that has included spells as a commercial artist with advertising agencies in Liverpool, a teacher, a musician and an underwater cameraman. He worked with the diving business in Central America and came back with the inspiration to re-launch his painting career.
‘Most of the diving company’s work is hunting for valuable shipwrecks,’ he said. ‘We’d been in Panama looking for Francis Drake’s fleet and we found the remains of two lost vessels. I then spent a year in Belize I noticed that although you could hear Bob Marley’s music everywhere, the local artists weren’t painting him so I decided when I returned to Formby, that I would. ‘I started doing it on the computer and was planning to print it on canvas and paint over it but I found that working digitally gave me infinite opportunities – different sized brushes, a huge range of colours, different techniques – and I got totally hooked on it.
‘I started with a range of portraits of artists who died before their time and then started doing local landscapes and wildlife. I love the landscape of the Formby coast – the exposed pines with their dramatic sculptural forms and the windswept sands – and I think we’re very lucky to have it on our doorstep.’
A keen environmentalist, he is particularly fascinated with the marine environment and is currently writing a book about animal and human behaviour and the complex social life of dolphins. When they re-open, his latest works will be on show at the Beer Station and at Rennies Gallery in Bold Street, Liverpool.