With a wonderful name like Rupert Peploe, one would expect to meet either a designer, author, musician or artist. In fact it quickly became clear that Rupert falls into at least three of these categories and I wouldn’t be surprised if he has a sneaky novel up his sleeve that he didn’t tell me about.
I entered Rupert’s magnificent period home in Bristol to the sound of a wonderful Classical melody playing in the background. I glanced into his workroom and spied various timeworn pieces awaiting his attention. We were meeting in his glorious drawing room (painted the most amazing shade of jewel green) where his collection of paintings were waiting.
Whilst many of us spend a lifetime searching for a career or job that is completely satisfying I quickly understood that Rupert is a person who seems to be following a mantra set out by Confucius, ‘Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.’ This passion for the colour of life is clear in the vibrancy of Rupert’s paintings and we are completely addicted. We chatted to him about his background, inspirations and what’s coming next.
What is your background and when did you become an artist?
I originally took a degree in Forestry because I had always been interested in wood and this progressed into antique restoration which is something that I still do. I had always painted from a very young age and I began painting from a commercial perspective about twelve years ago. I have been lucky enough to build a following in the Bristol area and the West Country and can now mainly market my paintings locally.
Do you come from an artistic background?
My grandmother was engaged to John Nash and many of my mother’s family trained at the Slade Art College including my mother. On my father’s side I am related to Samuel John Peploe one of the Scottish Colourists, sadly I don’t own any of his work as they now have considerable value!
What was your main inspiration to decide to paint?
I have always been interested in the natural world, I am particularly drawn to landscapes and trees and love to experiment with colour. The genre that I use is oil on board and this suits my life as its makes me easily mobile.We have a place in Pembrokeshire and when we visit I am able to perch myself anywhere and paint without fear of a canvas blowing away.
Do you still restore antiques?
The restoration side of things is my main source of income and I am now very well established in the Bristol area. I am commissioned by museums, private clients, traders and many local institutions. For example I have recently completed a project for Buckland Abbey which is a National Trust House. I rarely advertise as everything is through word of mouth and recommendation.
So when do you find the time to paint?
I like to take one day off a week and paint, although I would like this to be more.
What inspires you?
Anything from the natural world. I am particularly drawn to the sea at the moment, it probably has something to do with the fact that we have just returned from Pembrokeshire. It tends to depend on what I am experiencing in my own life. The picture of the little pigs over there was painted when I was staying recently at a friend’s farm near Bath.
What would you like our readers to know about your work and the way you paint?
Its definitely about my love of colour and the experimenting with colour. The individuals who appreciate and collect my work are also fans of colour.
How do you sell and market your work?
This is mainly through exhibitions in the local area, pop-up exhibitions are very much of the moment and something I am often part of, they seem to suit my work.
At one of my recent ones the curator for a new space at the South Mead Hospital offered me a space in the New Year to exhibit 35 paintings which is very exciting.The space is perfect with wonderful light.
I now have a following in the Bristol area who appreciate and buy from me regularly, I am always happy for people to come to my home and view my work here.
What do you love most about being an artist?
I am always excited to be able to capture a moment. It may be a certain light on a landscape and this can be thrilling if you manage to get it right. That said, I am not always successful and sometimes have to discard my efforts because I am not completely happy.
Is there a negative side to being an artist?
Well yes, I suppose the most frustrating thing is when you feel like you have created a terrible mess and have to throw it away although I do think it is important for an artist to throw his art away. For example Francis Bacon threw a huge amount of his efforts away, can you imagine the value of those discarded pieces today?
Can you tell me what a typical painting day is like for you?
I may have done a preliminary sketch and I would work on completing that or I may have set up a still life in the studio. I am often interrupted as I have regular visitors regarding the restoration projects so my painting fits around this also. I practice the fiddle every lunchtime and this breaks the day up nicely.
What do you do when you are not painting or working?
I have a ten year old son so I am an active dad to him. I also play the Irish fiddle in local Bristol pubs two to three times per week. This gives me a chance to meet many local people as Bristol is a very small close-knit community of people.
What plans do you have for the future as an artist?
I would love to be able to spend more time painting so my aim is to try and carry out less restoration and develop my painting.