Paul Riley

Paul Riley’s paintings combine Japanese influences with those of his immediate environment on the Dart River, and his love of the sea and the Devon landscape. There is a liberated, playful nature to these recent paintings with, a wonderful freedom of brushstroke, areas of the paper are left empty, at times the marks take on the character of calligraphy. Some of the shapes are symbolic rather than representational incorporating tidal and seasonal influences sun, moon, wind, rain, and water.


Paul Riley is the son of two artists and grew up surrounded by art and music. At the age of 16, his work was accepted at the RA and the following year he held his first solo show. He studied Fine Art at Kingston school of art but declares he learnt far more from his parents than art school.

After several years working as an architectural draughtsman, Paul moved to Devon in 1979, setting up his teaching and painting practice at Coombe Farm Studios by the river Dart. He established his reputation as a leading watercolourist running courses, experimenting with new papers and techniques even making his own brushes. He has written four books on watercolour painting and writes regularly for ‘The Artist Magazine’.

In 2019, Paul finally visited Japan, experiencing first-hand his lifelong love of Japanese art – its unique brushwork and depth of culture. It was a defining moment in his art leading to greater abstraction in this group of works now known as the ‘late paintings’.

Japanese influences combine with those of his immediate environment on the Dart River, and his love of the sea and the Devon landscape. Observation, poetry the philosophy of Zen Buddhism all combine to create new interpretations and patterns distilled from colour and texture.

Paul has exhibited in Germany, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Kuwait, and London, where he had a sell-out show at the Chris Beetles Gallery.
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