Colin Hayes RA was born in London in 1919, he studied History at Oxford and served in the Western Desert during WW2. In 1949 he joined the painting staff at the Royal College of Art. He later taught at the City and Guilds of London Art School under the late Sir Roger de Grey, PRA. Elected RA in 1963 Colin was appointed President of the Royal Society of British Artists in 1993.
His fascination with colour and light probably stems from time spent in North Africa as well as later visits to India and the Mediterranean – Greece and Crete, Italy and France.
He owned a small house on one of the Greek islands. His early training in the “Euston Road” manner, the influence of such artists as Walter Sickert and Harold Gilman, the ability to judge and pitch the tonal range of his palette so valuable to the figurative painter, always provided the underpinning and structure to his work – but he was acutely aware of the new painting coming from France, the Fauves. Derain and Matisse had a striking influence on his work, encouraging him to make frequent excursions to paint abroad and to face these new challenges and developments.
Among his many students were Bridget Riley, Peter Blake, John Titchell, Ron Kitaj, David Hockney, Tony Whishaw, Jean Cook, John Bratby and Frank Auerbach, all of whom benefited from his quiet and wise guidance. Hayes was the last surviving member of the Royal College of Art fine-art staff painted by his friend Rodrigo Moynihan in Portrait Group (1951), now in the Tate Gallery collection. During the early 1950s, that group, under the guidance of Robin Darwin, was to make the RCA a leading force in English art education, and in changing the fortunes and image of the Royal Academy.
Colin Hayes played a key role in bringing about major changes of artistic attitude in both establishments. He retired in 1984, but remained an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Art.