Drawn to be creative

Zoe KeenanSouth Western Times
Richard Patterson with one of his recent caricatures.
Camera IconRichard Patterson with one of his recent caricatures. Credit: Zoe Keenan

Richard Patterson’s unique talent is arguably hard to come by these days – because computers exist.

Once upon a time graphics, business signs, cartoons and the like were drawn and brought to life by hand.

These days graphic designers can do all of that with a mouse and keyboard but for Richard it is not the same.

For as long as he can remember he has been able to draw almost anything or anyone, in any format – and he does a fine job of it.

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Whether you know it or not, you would have seen his artworks in some form around Bunbury, be it the South Western Times’ weekly cartoon, in art galleries or a scene in a local theatre production.

The jack of all trades said he was fortunate to be born with the skills to be an artist, which always came naturally to him.

And although his work is fantastic, he said there was still one art form he struggled to draw.

“Women are harder to do if you do something on them they don’t like … you’ve got to be a little bit more careful,” he laughed.

The tongue-in-cheek artist said his cartoons have only got him into trouble “every now and then”.

One in particular, he said, involved doctors seeing patients for surgery but not having the time to get through the wait list.

He described the cartoon where two doctors were walking away from the patient at knock-off time as one asked, “Did we get everything out before we stitched him up?”

The hospital was not too happy, according to Richard.

“I think I just enjoy interpreting a situation I’m given,” he said.

“When an artist paints a picture, portrait, scenery, whatever, they take the character and background of whatever the scene is.

“You could take a photo but it’s ‘click’ and it’s gone. Artists like to spend time bringing out all of the character of it.”

Some of his favourite works include the scenes and backdrops he creates for local theatre groups in Bunbury.

“You just have a flat surface that might need to be turned into bricks or cracks. It’s like trick art because you paint things that to an audience seems real but it’s just a flat, plain wall,” he said.

The art form has not only helped bring performances to life, he said it also helped improve his home security.

His “trick art” as he calls it, has created the illusion that his outdoor fridge does not exist, it is simply a part of his brick wall.

Richard’s skills have taken him all over the world, from travelling to England as a 20-year-old to explore fine art, to working in a plastics factory creating toys and other items.

He also taught in schools in New Guinea for seven years, teaching the students and the New Guinean teachers art.

On his return from New Guinea Richard got a job working as a prison officer in Fremantle before he started at the then newly established Bunbury Regional Prison.

He spent 34 years at Bunbury Regional Prison, teaching prisoners art and brightening an otherwise tense environment for prison officers with hundreds of quirky cartoons about their day.

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