James Rushton NEAC RWS


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Artist Statement

For most of his working life James Rushton has been concerned with ceramics as a way of earning a living, both as a lecturer and practising potter. Gradually, he returned to his first love which was and always has been painting. He works in oil, watercolour, gouache and pastel, whichever suits the mood of the moment. Painting a portrait in watercolour is always for him an exciting challenge but perhaps best achieved through the medium of oil. Indeed, portraiture is his preferred activity although landscape has been a constant source of fascination and has more to do with mood and atmosphere than topographical constraints. When outdoors, sketching and the camera have been useful tools, but the serious work is confined to the studio. Wordsworth’s phrase ‘Emotion recollected in tranquility’ comes to mind. He has a few role models or heroes and allegiance changes with the weather, but if he were to name three contemporary painters who have influenced him, they would be Paul Nash, Peter Greenham and Giorgio Morandi, all for different reasons.

Method of Working

The artist uses both watercolour and oil, with occasional sorties into pastel and printmaking. Watercolour is an ideal medium for registering momentary or figurative sensations and I think spontaneity is of the essence. Painting a portrait in watercolour is always an exciting challenge, but perhaps best achieved through the medium of oil, which is more versatile and less confining. A tutor of mine, a notable watercolourist, regarded any mixed media with scorn. Such a purist attitude is not fashionable nowadays, and in truth, artists have always experimented with various media and used, not only the brush, but fingers, sponges, rags, blotting paper – anything which comes to hand and helps to achieve the desired effect. Although I paint landscapes and sometimes still life, portraiture is my preferred activity, mainly because of the challenge and the difficulty and, of course, the ultimate satisfaction if things go right.


Biographical Details

1960-82 Lecturer and finally Principal Lecturer in Ceramics at North Staffs Polytechnic; Assessor for the NCDAD; Designer for the ceramics industry
​1943-52 Edward Orme School, Newcastle-under-Lyme; Burslem Art School, Stoke-on-Trent; Royal College of Art, London

Other Society Memberships

Royal Watercolour Society (RWS)

Past Exhibitions

Stoke-on-Trent City Art Gallery
Ashgate Gallery
Pelican Gallery, Cambridge
Hobbergate Gallery
Mitsubishi, Tokyo
Burlington Fine Art
Keele University
International Watercolour Exhibition, Barcelona
The Sunday Times Watercolour Competition
RA Summer Exhibition (Regular Exhibitor)


The New English (represented in, 2006) by Kenneth McConkey, ISBN 1903973988
The Watercolour Expert ISBN 1844031497 
Watercolour Masters – Then and Now ISBN 9781844034475