By: Loren Roth
Growing up the son of artists, his father being a sculptor and his mother a poet, Cecil Rice had been exposed to art all his life. He was born in Nottingham in 1961, and his earliest inspiration came from his childhood summers spent in the Italian Riviera on camping holidays.
He first studied at Brighton College and Varndean before going on to study fine art at Brighton Art College from 1979-1983. In those early years, his works were mainly drawings, but following his formal education he began an apprenticeship painting in a studio provided by a friend. Although he was developing in skill and style, his relationship with his art was at times a rocky one: at one point he reported becoming so upset with his work that he kicked a canvas into the sea and stabbed another with his brush. However, it was through his time in this apprenticeship that he became inspired to work with watercolors. Describing why he began working with watercolors, Rice says, “It’s the primacy of watercolors. Their purity…Working with watercolor is challenging immediate and final.”
|Charcoal Sketch of Mountains (1980)|
Rice uses a method of wet on wet painting to create areas of rich color contrasted with areas of lighter wash. He notes the importance of first understanding what the underlying structure of the image will be before beginning to paint, so he first pays close attention to drawing the image. However, while the image often begins with a clear underlying structure, the wet on wet style helps create a more relaxed form. Painting with water color can be challenging, because the element can have a mind of its own, but that is what Rice enjoys about the medium. He notes, “I like to deliberately generate ‘out of control’ effects, such as one pool of color running dangerously near another.” Much of his early work in watercolor was inspired by Brighton, but he is most notable for his works inspired by the city of Venice.
|The Salute, evening|
I was first drawn to Rice’s work by the way his watercolor images conveyed the sparkling of the sunlight on the canals of Venice. Like Rice, I am drawn to Venice and the unique beauty the city holds, which is one of the reasons I first fell in love with his work. However, as I began to read about Cecil Rice, I became not only drawn to his work, but his mindset towards painting. For Rice, painting is not just an art, but an act of recording history.
|Ca d'Oro, afternoon|
“I paint because I want to find a reflection of an excitement and wonder that exists only in a transitory moment…to make tangible what is glimpsed only for a second and is gone.” –Cecil Rice
Cecil Rice: Venice, Sunlight and Water
By: Zoe Cooper (2006)
Halsgrove in association with Obsession Publishing