Richard Johnson


Born in Newcastle in 1972 my passion for birds and drawing them started when I was around nine years old. At first it was birds of prey which most fascinated me, but growing up by the coast in the north-east of England provided the inspiration for my interests to broaden, I was soon into all species of birds and out watching them regularly.

At the age of 13 I found my first ever rare bird, a male Ring-necked Duck from North America. This began an interest in rarities which took me the length and breadth of the British Isles. I soon began to dream of birding further afield, and travelled to many parts of Europe, North Africa, India, Nepal, China, North America and South America. It was an expedition to Paraguay in 1995 which lead to my first commission working on plates for a field guide to the Birds of Argentina, a book which unfortunately is still yet to be published.

A course in graphic design at Newcastle College was followed by a degree in Visual Communication, specialising in illustration, at the Kent Institute of Art and Design, Maidstone. I graduated in 1997.

Since finishing my degree I’ve spent much of my time in wildlife rich East Anglia. I’ve had spells living in North Norfolk, but I’m now based in Cambridge. I get out into the surrounding countryside and further afield as much as I can to paint and sketch direct from life, using a telescope to bring my subject in close without disturbance. These sketches are the inspiration for more finished paintings in the studio where I also currently spend a lot of time working on book illustrations. I mainly paint in watercolours because I like its immediacy, especially when painting in the field.

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