Rob Adams a Painter's Blog painter's progress

September 23, 2010

A Day by the Thames at Richmond

Filed under: London,Painting — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — Rob Adams @ 12:45 pm

Another day out painting with the Wapping Group who kindly invited me along as a guest. As the forecast was predicting a lovely day I set out early arriving at about 8.30AM. I was glad I had made the effort as the light was beautiful. I set too immediately painting into the light, plenty of passers by, all nice and polite today asking if they may look, which isn’t always the case. Members of the group rolled up as I worked and exchanged pleasantries then set off to find their own spots.

I was in need  of sustenance and most of all coffee, so I combined getting breakfast with a stroll out one side of the river and returning via the other bank. Lots  of lovely subjects, spoilt for choice indeed, I could see the day would be a good one, the river and the many bridges all looked delightful. Next I painted Richmond lock, a lacy confection of iron work spanning the river. There is scarcely anything more pleasant than painting a scene like this in a lovely spot on a grand warm day!

After finishing this I felt I needed something with a slightly lower “bridge” content, so I walked down stream and spent a relaxing hour or so painting some house boats and barges. I thought I was all done with painting as it was half five, so I walked towards the pub with a vision of ice cream before me. There were painters dotting the banks en route busy working away. After pleasant chat and food in the pub I set off home but my eye was caught by how lovely the river looked in the twilight with the lamps shining out on the bridge. So off to the car and back with my pochade to spend 15 min dashing off a quick sketch. Once home I did a slightly larger one as I had the paints still wet on the palette and used an earlier photo to get the drawing. After that lot I was completely knackered and slept like a log!

Some of the images can be clicked for a larger view.

Richmond, thames, painting, oil, plein air, river, bridge

Here is my first of the day, I had to daub quite quickly as the brightening light was changing for the worse as I painted. There was a forground fisherman but I removed him as he blocked the flow into the frame. I don’t often make changes to plein airs but sometimes I will remove things that are distracting or simplify passages that are too busy.


Richmond, Thames, River, Painting, Plein Air, Wapping Group

This is Richmond lock a wonderfully extravagant construction. I tried very hard to not get too fussy, but when your subject is like a doily made out of painted wrought iron, there is a good excuse for a bit of gratuitous detail.


Thames, Richmond, Painting, oils, plein air

These barges were light relief after all that complication so I had fun doing this. I would like to have got a wider view but the tide was right up so I was restricted to painting from the path. I might go back and do this again as I haven’t really done it justice here.


Thames. Richmond, River, plein air, painting

Here’s my final on the spot sketch this is tiny, only 5in across, but I was tired and tried to just dash the essentials down. I retained the colours on the palette so I could do a more a better drawn version easily once home. My work light was a rather orangey street light so I attempted to correct for the bias which makes mixing colours a bit hit or miss. Once home though they looked mostly right.


Nocturne, Thames, Richmond, River, plein air

Here’s the larger version, now I see them in the morning I don’t know which I prefer. Possibly the smaller as it is a bit fresher in feel. This is so often the case that the character of on the spot work is hard to carry over into a studio painting.


Wapping group

Here’s some members of the Wapping Group risking their lives for art in the lock itself.


London, Thames, River, Richmond, Plein air, Painting

I took a photo I rather liked on Richmond Bridge, as I knew I was going back a few days later I drew out and blocked in on a board the basic forms tones and drawing, but with no detail really at all, just simple blocked out areas. As luck would have it Friday morning was lovely first thing so once set up I could paint away and had it finished in 40 min. I indicated figures just to get relative heights and then tidied up the nearer ones from references later. I’ll do this again as it is a very good way to tackle a fairly complex subject when the light might be changing fast.


  1. Some confusion of place names here: the town is just ‘Richmond: ’R on Thames’ is the made up name of the borough, which is mainly Twickenham, a much larger town. The first picture is of Twickenham [road] Bridge seen from St Margaret’s, a suburb of Twickenham.

    Each November Richmond [half] Lock is raised for 2 weeks for maintenance, allowing the river to become fully tidal, so that one can walk out onto the river bed at low tide to get some unusual views of the riverscape. It will be low tide on the morning of Saturday November 6 when you will find volunteers clearing up the rubbish that has accumulated:

    Comment by Chris Squire — September 23, 2010 @ 5:03 pm

  2. So that’s the day to paint then… I might manage a trip. The title was meant just to describe which Richmond it was I wasn’t aware that there was a borough name… I was worried people would think I was painting in America!

    Comment by admin — September 23, 2010 @ 7:39 pm

  3. Aaah I recognize Michael immediately!!

    Comment by René PleinAir — October 29, 2010 @ 5:24 pm

  4. I have to say this is an absolutely phenonemal site Rob, it gives me the inspiration I badly need, and motivates me to no end. I spend half my life offshore and the other half waiting to go offshore, so I have a lot of free time, but to get out there, day in day out and paint ‘for myself’ takes dedication. I’m now yearning to get back to my life away from work to pursue even more what I love about painting. Cheers, you’ve been an eye-opener…

    Comment by Ian Black — September 22, 2011 @ 4:00 am

  5. Are any of these paintings for sale?

    Comment by Beverly — March 9, 2014 @ 11:33 pm

  6. Hi Beverly, yes many are for sale, I need to flag that up more prominently but galleries dislike artists showing prices on their personal sites. So I have a dilemma!

    Comment by Rob Adams — March 13, 2014 @ 8:30 am

  7. Rob,

    If I am interested in purchasing one of the paintings, how do I find our the price?

    Thank you!!

    Comment by Beverly — March 19, 2014 @ 7:38 pm

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