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The Innovative Artist: Drawing Dramatic Landscapes is Robert Dutton's first book with Search Press. Robert's career spans over 30 years as a professional Graphic Designer and Illustrator. He is an award-winning self-employed fine artist and tutor who is known for his distinctive and expressive style of work. We caught up with him to find out a bit more about his new book, his inspiration, and his Search Press journey!

Discover more about the book from the man himself!

How are you Robert?

I feel positive about the future right now, there is a lot happening – it’s almost like a new horizon in effect. Never has there been a better time to focus on the creative arts. Pre-lockdown, I inspired others with my teaching and art holidays for adults all over the country. Now I do that online, with positive outcomes for all involved, but nothing beats having a book as a kind of manual, if you like. It gives you a period of personal space with it, of contemplation to have something physical in your hand like the art equipment – I inspire people to try and give it a go. With the launch of this new book, Drawing Dramatic Landscapes the very first in The Innovative Artist series, I’m pretty thrilled and upbeat about that right now.

What first got you interested in art?

There were a number of factors that got me interested in art and it wasn’t long before I thought ‘yes, I want to do this too!’. My father (a very gifted artist and all round intellectual), encouraged my progress and interest in the arts from a very early age. Arty people my parents knew were always coming and going and they too were encouraging to nurture my natural gift. At comprehensive school I had a great art tutor too, and I took extra lessons after school to learn as much as I could. As far back as I can remember, I was always drawing.

Drawing Dramatic Landscapes is your first book, how did Search Press discover you?

Success in the art world is very much about who you know and not so much what you know, although what you know IS important too! As a regular contributing artist to The Artist magazine, I expressed an interest in creating a book and I was put in touch with Search Press and the concept and creation of this great book was created from that initial contact.

Tell us more about your new book.

The book is a culmination of over 2 and 1/2 years work. To make this book unique I worked with a professional photographer who I know, who accompanied me from place to place taking photographs of my work on location as it developed. As busy professionals, dates in our calendars had to align and so did the weather! The location shoots included mountain terrain in The Lake District, moorland vistas, coastal mixed media drawings, villages, popular tourist hot spots and so on. It took a great deal of planning, but the superbly designed book has proved all that effort was so worth it!


There were photo shoots and studio work; the same photographer worked with me in my studio for several of the step-by-step paintings featured throughout the book. I also created many exciting studio paintings which were photographed in stages of development, with final pieces shot in the Search Press studio in Tunbridge Wells. Over several days we all worked together as a close-knit team to create great content for the book including the wonderful still life photographs of the contemporary art materials I use, which are all explained in the fabulous layouts in the book.

The book is also a sort of journal if you like. My work is constantly evolving as I push the boundaries of what’s possible with art materials. All my exciting new discoveries during that period of the book's creation, together with my creative skills (which help me achieve nationally-recognized awards for my expressive drawings and paintings) are included in the book.

It really is an exciting publication!


Where do you get your inspiration from?

Inspiration comes from the landscape itself; I’ve always been an outdoors guy! For me, it’s important both mentally and physically to immerse myself in nature and be surrounded by it, allowing it to envelop me. As I paint, I connect on another level – I jest not when I say ‘spiritually’.  I live in the moment and allow the very essence of the place to be the guide to what I expressively create. The results speak for themselves and so many connect with what I do, which is fantastic.

From all the locations you have visited, where is your favourite place to sketch?

It’s very hard to pick a particular favourite place – there are so many. Creating drawings and paintings the way I do makes the viewer really ‘see’ what has been bypassed, overlooked, and more often taken for granted. This occurs in our towns and cityscapes where our industrial heritage is there waiting to be discovered but it's not seen as we rush from place to place. In the final chapter of the book Next Steps, the coloured painting takes a simple moorland ruin and elevates it to something special through all the mixed-media layering, expressive marks mixed with eye catching detail – no longer is the empty shell of a building taken at face value. It’s now a focus of beauty – something to be cherished and admired in a sense, part of our legacy.

So, I guess my favourite places are those you would call ‘wild’ – the open spaces that allow the mind to be free.

Do you have any tips for beginners?

When starting off I wouldn’t expect too much from yourself too soon, otherwise in your eagerness to fast track you will trip up. I’ve never been a fan of injuring myself! Take it slow, learn your craft and get the basics – especially drawing. This book is one for all artists. Beginners are encouraged to push their own creative boundaries with traditional drawing media such as charcoal and graphite through exciting exercises and examples. These inspirational ideas and explanations encourage creative exploration. This book most certainly proves that drawing is far from boring!

Do you have any exciting plans for 2021?

Presently I’m taking Next Steps in the book to a whole knew level. I’m exploring mixed media (a great creative drive of mine) to new and exciting places. Using lots of different creative media textures, layering and photo montage and physical ‘sampling’ are combined to create deeply personal and expressive interwoven pieces of art. Each one is unique with its own narrative. Mixing past (historically archived) and present modern digitally captured images with paint and drawing media are compelling to create. The results are intriguing as they are unique.

I’m also working large scale. The studio again is useful for such pieces although rolled up sheets are taken outside and held down with stones and worked with poured paint and big brushes onsite. It’s not uncommon for me to stand above the work as I create them – paint pots and big brushes in hand! At the end of the day the work is rolled up and taken home – fabulous ‘next steps’.


The Innovative Artist: Drawing Dramatic Landscapes is available from Search Press, RRP £17.99.

Behind the Scenes with Robert Dutton!

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