Roger Bishop – The Oceanic Artist

You can almost smell the fresh sea air and feel the spray from the waves as you stand in front of one of Roger Bishop’s seascapes. 

A west-country boy from the UK, Roger had various jobs but always painted in his spare time. He moved to Devon and entered the hotel and pub trade, but the landscapes made him want to paint full-time. 

He relocated to Looe in Cornwall with his wife and bought and renovated an old fisherman’s cottage on the riverside. Turning it into a studio and gallery, he started painting wildlife, particularly dolphins and whales. Painting in acrylic on canvas, he became known as ‘the whale man from Looe’ but, as he quips, “Not because of my size, by the way!”

After the success of his paintings, Roger decided to go into print with limited edition prints and a range of greeting cards. One night he was having a beer with a friend who was a supplier to Spar shops and asked his friend if he could arrange for him to sell his greeting cards in their shops. Roger’s friend agreed and told him he had to sign an agreement that he would supply all his shops. Roger continues with the story:

“After a few more beers, I asked him how many shops there were. He replied about 1,500, including some abroad. I thought that delivering them was going to take me a long time. So that was the end of that venture!”

His surname, Bishop, has created some funny moments for him, too. His wife was working in the gallery one day when a lovely lady came in enquiring about the paintings. Roger’s wife said all the ‘Bishop paintings’ were her husband’s work. “ My word,” the lady said, “How does he find time for his ecclesiastical work?”

After a very enjoyable time in Cornwall, Roger and his wife decided a move abroad to the sun would be a good idea. After holidaying in the beautiful Algarve since 1986, it seemed the perfect place to relocate to. They made the move here in 2003, buying and once again renovating an old farmhouse inland.

Roger started painting again in a small studio in their garden, although he decided his wildlife subjects might not be so popular here. “I thought that the beautiful beaches on the Algarve would be a perfect subject. The amazing Spanish artist Javier Torices inspired me and I decided painting seascapes would be a wonderful challenge. Although very time-consuming, it was very satisfying. It made me realise that budding artists should spend more time on their work and study the subject well. In order to sell my work, I knew I had to paint what the public liked and enjoyed. With the move towards conservation and cleaner seas, seascapes have become more popular.”

A friend from Lagoa who is a picture framer started selling his work. After having a sellout exhibition in Lisbon, Roger reached out to more galleries in Spain and along the Algarve and the amazing west coast. He met a lovely family in the Artina art shop in Tavira, and he started supplying them with his work. They also made him very good-quality frames for his paintings. Other galleries followed, selling his greeting cards of marine life and seascapes.

A new phase of his artwork began when Roger began using reclaimed shutters as frames. These proved to be very popular: “Compared to England, framing here can be expensive, so using reclaimed wood seemed a good idea. I now have a range of driftwood paintings, also paintings on marine ply and canvas. After several coats of gesso and sanding, marine ply gives a very pleasant surface for detailed work.”

Roger exhibits his work at Izzy’s amazing beachside restaurant at Praia do Garrão, Almancil. His work is also for sale at the Lusitânia Handmade Gift Shop and Gallery in Carvoeiro, which only sells Portuguese art and crafts. And you can also still find his art at the Artina art shop in Tavira and the Art&Deco Chic shop in São Brás de Alportel.

The relocation from the west country in the UK to the Algarve was an inspiring and successful move for Roger, whose veins pulse with the ebb and flow of the sea as he paints.

“Getting my inspiration from going to the coast and photographing the beaches and seas, I now have a vast collection of photos from my favourite beaches, including Galé, Amado and many on the west coast. I consider myself very lucky to paint and live here. Let’s hope the beautiful Algarve inspires many budding artists to paint and sell their work and be as happy living here as I am.”

Roger now lives in Algoz. You can visit his home studio at the bottom of his garden and view his work by appointment.

+351 967 070 960  |  935 993 498


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