William Wilkins was born in Kersey, Suffolk in 1938, moved to Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire in 1940 and completed his studies at the Swansea College of Art and the Royal College of Art from 1955 until 1960. After completing his formal training, Wilkins taught and painted for seven years before taking a radical change of direction in the late 60s. He abandoned the abstract work on which he had been engaged and embarked on a rigorous regime of figure, still life and landscape drawing, which lasted for five years. All the work done during this period used an exclusively cross-hatch technique.
Wilkins started painting again in 1974, developing a pointillist technique that is not dependent on Post-Impressionist colour theories, and concentrating entirely on work of a personal scale. His early work tends to be concerned with tone and colour and frequently employs many layers of paint. Subsequently, his later work developed much more of an interest in luminosity and opacity and there is seldom more than one layer of paint on the canvas. No preliminary drawing is done on the canvas and there is no underpainting.
Among other subjects, Wilkins has made still life painting a focus throughout his career, particularly on ceramics. He has painted the work of Lucie Rie, George Ohr and, most recently, Yasuhisa Kohyama.
Paintings have taken anything up to thirteen years to complete, depending on the light, seasons and interruptions. All are worked on from the subject, in the correct light and, in the case of landscapes, at the same season and the same time of day. Wilkins lives and works in Wales, but for the past thirty years he has also worked in Venice where, apart from the intrinsic appeal, the challenge of working between the Scylla (the great models of Turner and Monet) and Charybdis (the millions of banal representations) has been stimulating.
His other interests include most forms of contemporary art together with architecture and landscape, both contemporary and historic.