During the late 1970's the artist was significantly influenced by a 'constructive art practice' and its theoretical-historical basis. As a student, Richard Bell was inspired by the exacting combination of surface quality, colour and spatial organisation. This led, in particular, to an interest in the Swiss 'art-concrete' artists, the French Supports/Surfaces group, the more minimal work of American abstraction, the British artists who were then working within the 'systems group.'

On leaving College in 1977, the artist secured a Southern Arts Council bursary to complete the construction of a series of wood reliefs, which explored the dimension of changing forms over a sequential system. He was also beginning to enquire into the complexity of colour relations generated by a defined set of rules and questions of a more formal visual language -often through 'tracing' and 'mapping' colour forms across a series or set of paintings.

In 1981 he participated in 'the House Construction Show' at the House Gallery, in London, which grouped together a number of younger artists who were beginning to look at a more collaborative approach to the philosophical and theoretical thinking behind this art practice, and who later formed the 'group proceedings' forum. The art critic, Stephen Bann commented on Bell’s paintings in this show that 'they succeed in marrying conceptual rigour with a high degree of aesthetic 'rightness'.

The period during 1980-1990 was, for the artist, a period of intensive 'visual-plastic' enquiry into a new colour-language and the surface qualities in painting. In 1986 he co-initiated the touring exhibition called 'colour presentations' together with the artists Nicole Charlett and David Saunders; which was supported by the Welsh Arts Council and toured 6 venues. The catalogue contains an essay by the philosopher Bernard Harrison who had originated the term 'colour presentations'. This exhibition brought together the work of a number of artists, including Jeffrey Steele, David Saunders, Jean Spencer (who collaborated in the systems group in the 1970’s) and Trevor Clarke – the exhibition was to stimulate a dialogue into the complexity of colour relationships, language, interpretation and questions of indeterminacy in painting. A transcript of the public seminar held at the Gardener Centre Gallery, University of Sussex, was published in the Art Monthly in September 1986. The composers, Michael Parsons and Howard Skempton (who have a long association with constructive and systematic art), accompanied the exhibition with performances of experimental music at each of the opening events to develop the discourse about both the complimentary and difference between 'systematic music' and relational colour painting.

Bell, Charlett and Saunders went on to collaborate on a further project called 'Complexions', which was exhibited in Dean Clough, Halifax and Holland in 1989. Bell and Saunders have maintained a close dialogue on colour and abstraction in their art practice.

From the 1990 onwards, the artist has developed a more painterly approach to colour organisation in painting; which often involves the layering and traces of colour within a less formal pictorial space, and the introduction of the 'poetics' of chance in the revelation of under-painted areas.

In 1998, the artist was represented in the exhibition 'British Collection of Concrete and Constructivist Art' in Erfurt, Germany. The art critic and historian Eugen Gromringer commented that 'for Richard Bell colour represents a dominant medium. An overview of his pictorial world impresses one by the consistence with which he stays close to the theme of the meeting of colour fields. On the other hand, he sensitizes this meeting even further in the earlier work through the overlapping or the superimposing of colour fields whereby the formal grid is constituted out of the geometrical fields, which brings into play the colours on the canvases'. Following a period of some 20 years when Bell has worked full time within education public-policy, and his art practice restricted to a slow pace, he has now completed a new project of work to be seen at the Mercus Barn in Ariege (France) in June 2016. This solo exhibition further develops the concern for the interruption of colour-space through the process of revealing the performance of the painting as an event in time, and this brings into thought the writings on 'eye and mind' by M.Merleau-Ponty.