Jeff Rowland

Born: North Tyneside, (1964 - 2018)
Education: Newcastle College
“I've spent all of my life in paint. I didn't want to do what everyone else had done before.”

Known for his rain-soaked oil paintings during a career than spanned over 30 years, Jeff combined a romantic 1950s feel with his signature rain motif. The anonymous kissing couple in his artworks represents a feeling of togetherness.


His inspirations included the 1995 Clint Eastwood film, The Bridges of Madison County, which features many rainy scenes. For Jeff, rain symbolised washing away history and starting afresh, marking the start of a new journey. His figures are deliberately unidentifiable so viewers can relate to them.

To create his pieces, Jeff took photographs for reference before sketching the characters in a book. He painted the scene without rain and then added the couple in, before painting on the rain with a dry DIY emulsion brush.

Jeff said: “I’m never happier than when I’ve got a paintbrush in my hand. Over the years, I have started to choose more intense colours to create a focal point – a refuge if you will – from the rain.”

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Inside the world of Jeff Rowland

Before his sad and untimely passing in 2018, Jeff loved to absorb the café culture of Newcastle, watching the anonymous crowds walk past and wondering about their stories. This curiosity shone through in his work, and harked back to his time on a market stall, where he'd meet interesting characters and uncover more about their past.

His varied career also included stints as an accident investigator and at an oil rig, where he was known as the ‘toilet artist’ due to his penchant for sketching caricatures of workmates on the toilet walls! 

Jeff often enlisted the help of two of his close friends to create realistic scenes. After posing the pair in the signature 50s clothing in his studio or a local park, Jeff used to take several photographs of them before using these for reference when sketching. He said at the time: "I use my instinct when selecting colours. The couple represent togetherness and the beginning of a story."

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