We interview RP Roberts, the British landscape artist who creates incredibly detailed and colourful depictions of mountainscapes. He has produced work for Jones Snowboards and the Protect Our Winters charity campaign, as well as for private commissions. We speak to him about his style, how he chooses the colour palettes for his work and how these opportunities with outdoor brands came to be.
How did you first get into painting? Was it love at first brush stroke?
My father was an art teacher, so I was introduced to painting at a young age. Growing up I was always a doodler, and enjoyed drawing on all my books much to the annoyance of my teachers. In my late teens I was introduced to the graffiti world, so was pretty involved with that sub culture whilst in college and continued to express myself that way until a couple of years ago.
What inspired you to start painting mountains?
We used to go on walking holidays to Switzerland as kids, walking all around Wengen, Kleine Scheidegg and the surrounding valleys. My father was always sketching when we stopped for lunch, so I was a lover of landscapes from a young age. He was also good friends with a landscape artist from North Wales called Kyffin Williams. We used to visit him at his studio and seeing such a prolific artist at work was quite a memorable experience.
As far as painting them myself, I started to paint mountains with aerosol, as backgrounds to pieces to start with, but then started to bring them to the forefront of my own painting.
You have an incredible array of colours that evoke great emotions through your work. How do you decide on the colour palette you use for each piece?
My background in graffiti has a lot of influence on my use of colour, but those early trips to Switzerland also had a big impact. Seeing the Jungfrau range glowing bright pink at sunset was mind blowing at a young age, it introduced me to the idea that the landscape was ever changing and that the colours of everything changed so much with the passing of the seasons and the days.
You have done a lot of work for Jones snowboards. How did this commission come about? Have you enjoyed the process of creating graphics for boards?
I was contacted through Instagram by their brand manager Xavier, asking if I would like to submit an idea for a top sheet painting, I ended up painting three pieces for them the first season. This season is the third year I’ve got some graphic pieces in their line, as well as some shirt designs.
It’s been such a great opportunity, they are a great company to work with. Not only because the product is of such high quality, but everyone I’ve met from the company is so passionate about the product, the culture and the sport.
They’ve been kind enough to ask me to paint live at the ISPO trade show the last three years, which has been an amazing experience. Meeting their international distributors, stores and customers has been great.
Your work has also been featured in the Protect Our Winters campaign, we imagine this was an initiative close to your heart as the winter landscapes feature so heavily in your works? Did they approach you about this, or did you reach out to them?
It came about after speaking to Jeremy Jones about the charity whilst in ISPO. I offered to donate a painting for an auction initially, but it developed in to me creating a shirt design and some pieces for Christmas cards. The pieces I’ve painted at ISPO have also been auctioned off for POW. It’s been a great experience working with their team over in the States, they do such great work and to be able to help, even in the tiniest way is great.
What is your creative process? How do you attain the inspiration for a new piece and then take it from that idea to finished artwork?
It depends on the piece really. I paint a lot of private commissions, so they tend to start with a discussion about size, content and colour, then it develops from there. I will create some layout sketches, and do some research into the area that’s being painted, looking for different views of a mountain and also shots of the mountain at different times of the day. If it’s a personal project, I try to explore either a new subject, or a new colour scheme, to try and develop my style a little each time.
What is your favourite medium(s) to paint with and why?
I enjoy using acrylic, and the development of water based aerosol and acrylic inks has meant there are some amazing ways to explore the medium. I also still enjoy the odd jaunt out with spraypaint, It’s very satisfying to paint a really big piece on a wall outdoors.
What are you working on at the moment? Are there any new items coming to your online store?
I’m currently working on a few private commissions, so will look to finish these up before working on a new body of work. I’ve enjoyed creating my own products this year as well, so will be looking at doing more things like this. If you check out my store at the moment, I’ve just added a limited edition MIZU water bottle, a custom Moleskine notebook and a raft of new digital prints and lino-cut prints. I also tend to drop in original ink pieces as and when I complete them.