26th October 2020

An Interview with Motor Racing Artist Richard Wheatland

A largely self-taught artist, Richard Wheatland has been a petrol head since childhood. A love of motor racing was soon formed and this, combined with his clear artistic flare and subsequent background in engineering meant that automotive artistry was almost inevitable. Covering more than just cars, Richard paints most things with an engine, from tractors, to planes, trains and even boats.

We caught up with Richard to find out more about his works and passions.

Q: Your works are known for their detail and high degree of accuracy, which came first, the engineering, or the art?

Richard: “My love of cars came first, I think. As the story goes, I was first smitten by cars and racing when I picked up a copy of Motorsport Magazine in 1965. Our own Jimmy Clark was pictured winning the Indy 500 and I was captivated by sports cars and motorsport from then on. I was always artistic, and constantly drawing and painting but my parents were keen that I had a profession, or a “real job” if you will. My years as an engineer certainly helped me to hone my eye for detail, but throughout my time in the profession, I never stopped painting in my spare time.”

Q: You focus a lot on historic track events, are these special to you?

Richard: “In the mid 60’s, motorsport wasn’t on television in same way that it is now, so to enjoy it, you had to see it live. From the first race I saw, the MotorShow 200 at Brands Hatch in 1967, I was captivated, and never stopped attending races from then on. My first exhibition was held at the site of the old Brooklands circuit in 1983, so it has always been a key part of my life and my art. Even now, I regularly show my works at circuits such as Silverstone and Goodwood, although I have also sold paintings to places like Monte Carlo, and galleries in London and the USA.”

Q: You are well known for your love of planes and aviation, which love came first for you, flying, or racing?

Richard: “My love of planes and aviation was with me from my earliest years. As a child I used to watch the planes fly over our house and my school from the nearby Vickers factory and test facility. My father made tools for Vickers, so as a family we would go to air shows and airports to see the planes. For me, cars and planes go very well together, both on canvas and off it. I probably divide my attentions equally between automotive and aviation subject matters, but I’ve had commissions in the UK from the Royal Airforce, and having joined the American Society of Aviation Artists as a foreign affiliate artist in 2013, I have gone on to receive six awards from them for my work.  I’m a full member of The Guild of Aviation Artists. To have been awarded full member status is something I’m very proud of and I’m quite involved in the organisation as its SE Region organiser. 

Q: Are you a classic car owner yourself?

Richard: “Absolutely, and classic cars have been a big part of my life for a long time. I owned a 1935 Singer LeMans for 35 years, which shows how much I enjoyed it. These days I have a 1965 Triumph TR4, which my wife Jane and I use a lot. I really enjoy car clubs and all that come with them, over the years I’ve joined many of them, and I’m still an active member of eight, including the VSCC, the HSCC, The Singer Owners Car Club and the TR Register Club.

Richard is based in West Sussex, but as he is now retired from engineering, we hope to be able to welcome him to a Coffee and Chrome event soon. www.richardwheatland.com