Tuesday, February 06, 2024

RIP Robert Wade (1930 - 2024)

I've always really liked the Australian watercolour artist Robert Wade and I'm very sad to hear he has died. 

My first acquaintance with him was via one of his art instruction books. I found his book "Painting More Than The Eye Can See" (North Light Books 1990) to be an absolute revelation when I first encountered it in an art shop and needless to say it came home with me and now sits on a bookshelf just to the right of where I'm sitting. 

The books I used to find worked the best for me were written by people who were practising artists and teachers who emphasised the many different aspects of making art rather than the '5 easy steps' (I'm thinking of people like Charles Reid and Robert Wade). Art Instruction Books #1: different ways of learning | Making A Mark (January 2009)

He's also one of the people I used to follow on Facebook (this is his Facebook Page). He could always be relied on to post his work from time to time - even if latterly he was sharing posts he'd made in previous years.

Robert Wade in 2019

Below is the tribute by the Australian Watercolour Institute posted yesterday on its Faceboook Page following his recent death aged 94. Followed by my summary of his achievements based on his artist's page on the AWI website.

Vale Robert Vale OAM, our esteemed AWI member and acclaimed watercolourist. He will be profoundly missed.

In Robert’s words....
‘Watercolour captures each and every one who takes up the challenge to paint with this glorious and capricious medium. In painting the type of subjects that I do, my main concern is to create an expression of my emotion through light, form and movement. To be able to translate these feelings of excitement from my mix of imagination and reality, and then put them down on paper, takes much intense observation and interpretation. I call my process ‘Perceptive Observation,’ which I define as ‘seeing with your BRAIN, feeling with your EYES, interpreting with your HEART.’ Hopefully, this mix will eventually lead to a sensation that will flow through to the viewers of my work’.
Educated at Scott’s College, Robert A. Wade was introduced to watercolour at the age of six by his artist father but is otherwise self-taught, having undertaken no formal art training. He worked for forty years in the fields of advertising, screenprinting and graphic arts.

In 1986, he received the Advance Australia Medal for his contribution to Australian art and, in 2003, was awarded the Medal of The Order of Australia for his service to Watercolour as an artist, educator and promoter of Australian artists. He is the author of three instructional books, over 100 articles for art magazines and produced five films.

Art Prizes and Awards 

His profile page indicates that Wade exhibited with most of the world’s major Watercolour Societies, winning 

  • 13 major awards in England, France and the United States, 
  • as well as 120 awards in Australia. 
Among these are 
  • the Cornelissen Award, Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours, London, 1983; 
  • the Talens Award and Public Choice, Grand Prix International, Tregastel, France 1994; 
  • Clay Kent Medal, International Society of Marine Painters, Washington, D.C., 1985; 
  • eight major awards of the Salmagundi Club, New York; t
  • he Emanuel Krueger Memorial Award,1988; 
  • three Gold Medals for Watercolour at Camberwell Rotary Exhibition, 1981, 1985, 1987 and 
  • the 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award, International Watercolour Society, Istanbul.


His artwork is represented worldwide in numerous public, corporate, and private collections, including 
  • the Brooklyn Museum, New York; 
  • the Royal Watercolour Society, London; 
  • the Salmagundi Club, New York; 
  • the Bank of Tokyo; 
  • the National Museum of Watercolour, Mexico City and 
  • the regional Galleries of Hamilton, Mornington Peninsula and Castlemaine, Victoria, and Grafton, New South Wales.


Wade was elected a member of the Australian Watercolour Institute in 1983 and a Life Member in 2010. 

Other memberships included:
I always had the impression he inspired people all over the world. Indeed the last time I wrote about him was in connection with his friendship with Tony Bennett

Maybe the two friends will now be talking about painting in heaven!

A post on my Facebook Page

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