Lancashire Times
A Voice of the Free Press
Caroline Spalding
Features Correspondent
12:41 PM 30th November 2020

Artistry Of Lancashire: Dermod Ruddock

Dermod Ruddock describes himself as a colourist whose work is dominated by colour and light. He takes a ‘draftsman’ approach to his drawing, perhaps an influence from his previous experience working in graphic design. His painted pieces are predominately of landscapes, but when drawing he explores a wide range of subjects to study.

Ripples of Light and Shade
Ripples of Light and Shade
Graphite and black ink pen are his media of choice when sketching outdoors, a particular favourite are Sharpies. For colour, he relies upon his trusty Windsor & Newton travel watercolour set – water soluble pencils, perfect for applying colour in sketch format.

In the studio, his default medium is oils: oilbars, or pigment sticks, that are oil paint in stick format which suit his style. He describes his work as contemporary realism: he recreates landscapes of places he has visited, photographed or sketched for source material. He adds bold colour to draw in and immerse viewers into his scenes, creating a sense of realism in their experience.

Mist Rises over Pendle
Mist Rises over Pendle
Dermod experiments with content and colour in the landscapes, compositionally including unconventional elements placed in a dominant position – much the same as cropping a photograph to focus upon a specific element. Working in graphic design, cropping images was integral to his work, so now he applies the technique to find innovative ways to see an object or a view. He says that unusual use of colour and tone can give a piece ‘impact’ – reflecting how changing light and weather can influence which colours are prominent in a landscape, how elements of a scene are sometimes more noticeable at different times of the day.

In 2013, Dermod took a trip to the Highlands after the death of his wife Gaynor from cancer. Her passing had caused him to question his priorities, and during his break, spent drawing and painting, he decided it was time to follow his passion and make fine art painting his main profession. He had began drawing as a child, inspired by his mother and an influential high school teacher who taught him the value of observational drawing, the application of colour, and the techniques of colour mixing. He studied Art & Design at Cheltenham College before opting for Graphic Design at Bristol Polytechnic, deciding it wiser to apply his skills to a ‘trade’. In 1990 he took an evening class in art, reuniting himself with the love of drawing.

End of the Day Porth Dinllaen
End of the Day Porth Dinllaen
Working at first with oil pastels, he discovered oilbars in the late 90s, by which time he had also began working from photographs – something his high school teacher, Miss Schofield, may very well have disapproved of! He worked with holiday snaps – images from the Mediterranean gave a richness and intensity of colour that he applied to his work – and he began a twenty year period of intermittent exhibitions and sales, that lasted until he decided to work as an artist full time in 2013.

Dermod has not trained in fine art and tells me therefore he has never had the opportunity to study particular painting techniques in detail. Recently, however, he decided to do a series of paintings that are specifically based on the work of artists he admires: Post-Impressionists such as Cezanne and the work of the colourists who were active 1905-40: Kandinsky, de Vlaminck and Derain to name a few. Dermod says every painting is an adventure, and by studying in detail these artists’ use of colour, mark making and composition, he is finding his own work changing in response.

Dermod echoes the words of writers and nature-lovers alike when he enthuses the joy which the Lancastrian landscape brings to his life, not just his painting. His studio is based at Atelier Arts, in Clitheroe where, in usual times, the eight resident artists meet to share ideas and discuss the various media they all use on their own creative journeys. He tells me the Haworth Artists’ Network, based out of the Haworth Gallery in Accrington, really helped him when he was establishing himself as a full-time artist. The Haworth, and the Platform Gallery in Clitheroe both support local artists and craft workers in many ways and groups such as the Northern Artists are a good way to network with other artists.

Local galleries work hard to bring art to the local populace and support projects in the towns, which in turn, Dermod believes, brings a degree of happiness to local residents through creative projects and initiatives. His own gallery space, Atelier Arts, is usually a busy place with visitors coming to view the artwork or attending the many classes that are normally held and the Clitheroe Artwalks have highlighted the fact there is quite a busy ‘gallery scene’ in the town.

He thinks that original art has the ability to stimulate debate and provide enjoyment to people. Dermod hopes that his own work brings a smile to peoples’ faces; he relishes the experience of creating art, feeling a thrill from starting with a blank canvas. Like many artists, his work as yet does not bring him enough income to live off, but this is improving. He chose not to go into teaching art, but he does voluntarily teach art to disadvantaged and disabled adults in the Clitheroe community through his wife’s charity, Art4All.

Dermod is currently working on a pre-Christmas email only ‘exhibition’ entitled ‘49 Paintings in 49 Days’ in which he releases a new oil study every day for seven weeks. These small studies, only 30x30cm, will prove useful, he believes, to forthcoming larger pieces and ideally, in the future, he would like to exhibit them in the Platform Gallery’s ‘The Mix.’ For now, you can sign up to receive the images by email at

During the lockdowns, Dermod has worked to develop his online presence, to experiment with various aspects of his work, with a focus on depicting light and shade, and has improved his website, allowing him to strengthen his relationship with existing collectors and discover new ones. In 2021 he hopes to hold pop-up shows at the Platform Gallery, potentially also at the Haworth Gallery and, hopefully, at Art in the Pen in Skipton, an annual event that was cancelled this year.
Dermod’s work is available to view online at

His work is also exhibited at the Oriel Plas Glyn-y-Weddw Gallery, Llanbedrog, North Wales, which is closed until the end of January 2021