On a damp April afternoon, in a room filled with original paintings alongside family photos in Wantage, my host Robert Rose sits down as we have a cup tea and chat.
Robert has been drawing and painting since a young age and is also a keen walker.
Before Covid, the 90 years young Robert, has walked various trails, including having completed just over 400 miles of the 630 miles South West Coast Path, walking sections at a time, from Minehead to Plymouth, leaving the Plymouth to Poole stretch to do. However, Lockdown put a stop to his epic adventures, and he found himself closed off. With only being allowed out for exercise, as per the Government’s guidelines, Robert started taking more interest in the Wilts and Berk Canal, that is about 200 yards from his front door.
“The daily walks were my inspiration and my reasoning to picking up the paint brushes.”

With paintings of Faringdon Folly, Cobblers Lock on the Kennet & Avon Canal near Hungerford and Views from the Ridgeway, there
were six paintings that caught my eye… Grove Common Lock, Grove Top Lock, two of the Canal Path between Challow and Wantage and two of Grove Woods.
I asked Robert, when he painted these wonderful pieces of art, if he could envisage narrowboats cruising the section of the Wilts and Berks Canal?
“Yes, actually a few years back, someone made the effort of clearing the Canal and had a little rowing boat on the water and went up and down the little stretch.”

thumb Grove Top Lock by Robert RoseRobert, with the help of his Granddaughter Jo, is also a TikTok star, with one of the videos, showing Robert on the tow path of the Wilts and Berks Canal, with a pencil and paper in hand, sketching the tree lined path and canal in front of him. I asked Robert, how long does it take him to making that “quick sketch” to a wonderful painting?
“I do a quick sketch to remind me of where everything goes, the dimensions and the correct proportions. I then take a photo of the same place, this allows me to go home to my studio, and bring the detailing out onto my sketch, for example the ivy on the tree trunks, and the algae on the canal.”

Although Robert takes commissions, he prefers paintings that he wants to do. I asked if anyone had suggested to him parts of the canal for him visit to paint?
“I am tempted to go to Jubilee Junction in Abingdon and paint that area, as well as visiting Swindon for a trip on Dragonfly and paint her on the Wilts and Berks Canal.”
I then showed Robert a photograph I took of the lock gate that is still standing at Ardington Marsh Lock, “I would be interested in finding that lock, and giving that a go, I like the shadows and the lighting in your photograph, I would definitely like to paint that!”

I look forward to seeing more fantastic art from Robert Rose, especially if he paints Dragonfly!

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thumb Canal bridge in Woods by Robert Rose

thumb Canal at Sunset nr Grove Top Lock by Robert Rose