RDS Recommends with Oliver Macdonald Oulds

May 9, 2024

Oliver Macdonald Oulds, artist, RDS tutor and Drawing Year alumnus, shares where he gets his inspiration, and recommends what to see, watch, listen and read about:

Oliver Macdonald Oulds

Finding inspiration:

I like going on runs around the city streets rather than parks. They throw up more exciting visuals for me.

The rhythm of a run makes me notice things, like blue plaques, that I wouldn't usually be aware of in my daily commute.

Finding out the 'hidden history' of London, lurking behind every street corner, shifts my experience of the city. It makes it come alive.

Queenhithe Mosaic

Trying to implement some of this historical knowledge into my drawings, was how I came up with the starting point for my holiday course for Young Artists Drawing London.

To see:


  • Tiwani Contemporary to see the work of Gareth Nyandoro. A real head scratcher that makes you wonder how it's done. But it ain't just a technique without substance. The compositional decisions and use of tone and line, show his background as a printmaker. Banging! Must see.
  • Michael Hoppen Gallery, Okashi. The items/artworks on show have been grouped by their ability to intrigue.


To watch:

Running Man
  • I just recently watched The Running Man (1963). Not to be confused with the film of the same name starring Arnie. This film was on last weekend and I was meant to be heading out for a run but couldn't take my eyes off it nor stop taking photos of the screen.
  • Billy Elliot (2000) is my forever inspiration. Shout out to Stand By Me (1986) too and Close (2022). I have a real soft spot for these coming-of-age type films.

To listen:

  • Just recently saw/heard Adrianne Lenker at the Barbican and was blown away by her ability to make a whopper of a venue feel small and intimate.
  • I almost always have my headphones in, listening to a podcast. I recommend ‘Mr. Apology’, the most recent episode by, Criminal. Not salacious in tone, Phoebe Judge, the host gets the energy spot on. It tells the story of an artist setting up a phone answering machine for people to confess their crimes, the honesty of the outcomes will floor you.
    Tissues at the ready.

To read:

  • Recently I finished Spring Cannot be Cancelled, conversations with Martin Gayford and David Hockney. It's such a joy and Hockney's endless curiosity with the visual aspect of the world just leaves me in awe.
  • Small in the City by Sydney Smith. The reveal at the end of this story makes you immediately reread it all.

And if out in the City…

Artwork by Oliver Macdonald Oulds

  • Draw: Bit of a cop out but I think this could be anywhere, so long as you sit for a while to take in your surroundings. I favour somewhere with a bit of action, people coming and going. Like artist Yann Kebbi.
  • Eat: Lanzhou Lamian - A no frills noodle bar near one of the exits to Leicester Sq tube. The star of the show here is the wide hand-cut noodles, Dao Xiao Mian.
  • Visit: I think a special shout out has to go to any Oxfam Books, or any second-hand bookshop really but the Oxfam's seem to do it better. Most of my art library comes from these places. They're the quickest access I have to a form of gallery. Book dust jackets, record covers and old magazines.

Oliver Macdonald Oulds is an artist, RDS tutor and Drawing Year alumnus. He teaches on courses Friday Evening Portrait and Young Artists Summer Holiday // Drawing London (15 - 18 years).


  1. Oliver Macdonald Oulds in the studio
  2. Photo of Queenhithe Mosaic, London by Oliver Macdonald Oulds
  3. Photo of Gareth Nyandoro artwork by Oliver Macdonald Oulds
  4. Aberdeen studio (my blue period) (2023), Andrew Cranston. Photo: John McKenzie; courtesy the artist and Ingleby, Edinburgh
  5. The Running Man, movie poster, 1963
  6. Artwork by Oliver Macdonald Oulds, 2024