By the time Rolf left Australia and moved to London at the
age of 22, on what he thought would be a years study leave,
he had already held four exhibitions of his art and these,
by and large, financed the trip.
Enrolling in the City and Guilds Art School in London, Rolf
was a bit nonplussed to find that he was doing all sorts of
things that he wasn't interested in, like etching, whereas
all he wanted to do was follow in his Grandfather's footsteps
and become a portrait painter. Years after he realised he
must have been doing a Foundation course, but at the time
he didn't understand this and just drifted out of art school,
a very disillusioned young man.
A chance meeting at Earl's court tube station with Australian
Impressionist painter `Bill' Hayward Veal changed his life.
As a teenager in Perth, Western Australia, Veal's work in
Perth's Art Gallery had impressed him so much that on a trip
to Sydney with the West Australian swimming team he had tried
unsuccessfully to meet Bill with a view to being taught by
him. Small world!. Bill took Rolf under his wing in London
and taught his willing pupil the rudiments of his own approach
to painting. To this day Rolf still works by `defocusing'
his eyes, painting the blur that he sees and gradually refining
As his embryo television career started to take off, Rolf
moved on from doing the simple line drawings for children
to painting at lighting speed huge 12 ft by 9 ft pictures,
all based on a simplified version of Bill Veal's approach.
While he is perhaps best known by the younger generation for
drawing cartoons on television, Rolf has received great acclaim
for his more `serious' paintings. He has exhibited at the
Royal Academy in London and this year received an honorary
membership from the Royal Society of British Artists, joining
a distinguished list that includes James McNeil, Whistler
and Sir Winston Churchill.
Please click the small image to see a larger picture.