This week I'm featuring Alvin Richard. I found Alvin's work through surfing blogland and it was love at first site. I find Alvin's work so inspirational. I love how each composition very thoughtfully tells a story. I think the first painting I ever saw of Alvin's was 'Sheriff Woody & Crayolas'. His blog post had me in tears by the end of reading it. When I found out that Alvin's work was going to be at a gallery in Atlanta I made the 3 hour trek and saw his work in person, it is amazing! I think this man's work is genius and he inspires me to be a better artist on a daily basis.
To see more of his work check out his blog.
|'Sheriff Woody & Crayolas' by Alvin Richard 10 x 12|
How did you get your start?
I started out like most artists, drawing from an early age. In school, I only had art classes in grade 2 and 3. I rarely drew just for fun. There was always some kind of class project that required illustrations, birthday cards to do for students of our next door neighbor who was an elementary school teacher. I entered many contests, most of which I won or received a prize. I however stopped drawing after completing High School. I went on to nursing school and became a registered nurse at age 20. Soon after graduating, I purchase my first single-lens reflex (SLR) camera and started doing amateur photography.
At age 24, I took a 30 hour perspective drawing class. My first Christmas as a married man, my wife Suzanne surprised me with a set of watercolors. The only paint I had ever used until then was gouache (tempura) and oils from ‘’Paint by number’’ kits. I quickly found out that I had an immediate rapport and understanding of transparencies and soon after started painting with acrylic paint. I am completely self-taught as a painter. I’ve always viewed my artwork as an extension from doing photography. This is probably why I gravitated towards realism and hyperrealism. I was never exposed to fine art as a child. I discovered art in my early twenties. When I started to travel, I took every opportunity I had to visit art museums and galleries. I’ve had the good fortune to go to Europe six times and travel extensively across Canada and the United States. In the process, I’ve viewed some of the most celebrated paintings and artists in the world.
My talent was probably passed on by my father. He was a brilliant craftsman, could practically build anything and had a very creative outlook. I had an uncle to who did Folk Art and a great uncle, Leonard Richards who painted frescos in churches in Massachusetts.
|'Pops on Pop Art' acrylic by Alvin Richard 12 x 16|
What’s your artist journey so far?
From the get go, I did not really wanted to become a Sunday painter. I had loftier goals. I knew that if one day I was going to have anything the resembled an artistic career, that I would have to invest a lot of time and effort. In the process, I found my way and own voice in order to say what I wanted to say with my art. It’s been a long journey, one of self discovery, 24 years in the making. I sometimes have to pinch myself, to do a reality check by how far I’ve actually evolved technically and with opportunities that are currently being offered to me. This leads me to believe that I’m on the right path.
Where were you born?
I was born is a small rural community hospital in Rexton, New Brunswick Canada. It is now a historical museum. I grew up in Cap-Lumière, NB, a small fishing community along the Northumberland Strait.
If you could live anywhere where would you live?
Probably a large city like Vancouver, Manhattan/ Brooklyn, Chicago, Paris or London, in a nice downtown loft apartment with great views, a large studio, with nearby parks and green spaces….a guy can dream right!
|'A Cat and a Fish Tale' acrylic by Alvin Richard 8 x 10|
What’s your favorite thing to paint and why?
Still life that explores popular and mass culture. It’s quite evident that I like to paint glass, metals, reflective surfaces because they have a WOW factor. But that becomes secondary. I’m more interested in the conceptual aspect of creating the imagery. You can paint a pretty picture and have nothing there. It all has to gel together somehow for me; I need to feel an inner connection with the subject matter.
Which of your paintings was the most enjoyable to paint?
A painting entitled Buoy-O-Buoy, 2004. These buoys used in this painting are to locate lobster traps. They had been painted with glossy marine paint. Some had peeling paint, paint running, lots of texture, and lots of colors…. It was dedicated to my father who was a lobster fisherman for a great part of his life.
Which was the most difficult?
I would have to say an early painting entitled At the clothesline, done in 1990. It was during this painting that I stopped mixing white with colors and started to paint in transparencies. It took me nine months to complete, and the starting point of what was to follow. A more recent painting would be Sparkling Treasures which was a commission work. With a piece like this, you really have to learn to see it properly, break down the imagery and rebuilt it in your head. My hand is only holding the brush; it’s the brain that actually does all the work.
Do you have a favorite artist? /
When I started to paint, it was Alex Colville, later Mary Pratt. These are the two artists that had the most impact on my work. They are both celebrated Canadian artists. They have a link together as teacher/student at the Fine Art program of Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick. Who has been your biggest inspiration? Lloyd Fitzgerald, another New Brunswick artist from whom I learn to paint in transparencies from an 11 page letter he sent me. He would become a mentor to me for a decade (1989-2000). We corresponded through letters. I actually only met he once. There are a lot of artists around the world which I admire greatly, but with these three, I share a closer sensibility of regional ideals.
|'Empty Coke Bottles' acrylic by Alvin Richard 11 x 14|
What are some of your favorite things or things that are essential to your well being/success as an artist?
To remain curious. To always seek out for answers. To investigate what I am painting and to establish a deeper connection with the subject matter. What I find most fulfilling is the conceptual aspect and what I learn during the journey getting there.
Do you have go-to paints/colors, what are your favorites?
I have a weakness for the primary colors; I’ve been painting with Liquitex Acrylic paint since Day 1.
|'Sally Blowing Bubbles' acrylic by Alvin Richard 10 x 12|
Do you ever get artist’s block?
I do, especially if I am away from the brushes for too long. And what do you do to overcome it? I consult my therapist……JUST KIDDING! ……I just follow the advice of the Nike ad……JUST DO IT!
What are five things you would like to happen in your life in the next five years? Dream big here:)
1- Retire from my full-time job in 2017 and paint full-time.
2- Revisit parts of Europe again, especially Belgium, the Netherlands and France.
3- After a 10 year hiatus, to run my 23rd marathon.
4- To move into a loft studio that has beautiful windows with great natural lighting, two drawing tables, lots of shelf space for props, art books.
5- To have my artwork included in a major Hyperrealism touring exhibition and acquired by a major art museum……sorry but you did say ‘’ DREAM BIG’’.
What is your advice for other artists who are just getting started in their career?
Make short and long term goals. When opportunity knocks on your door, make sure you’re someone’s at home...….so practice, practice, practice. Submit your artwork in juried shows. Don’t get discourage when a submission is rejected (I have a large pile in a box under my desk).
What is the best advice that you have received as an artist?
If you stick with it, it will all come to you in time – Lloyd Fitzgerald
Chocolate or vanilla? Chocolate, hands down!
Sunny beach or rustic mountain retreat? Sunny beach, since our house growing up faced the sea. I love the sound of crashing waves.
Book or movie? I love to read but I don’t have enough time . The weeks prior to the Oscars, I become a movie buff and try to see all of the major nominees….especially best film, actors, actress and screenplays.
Favorite author? Living – J.K. Rowling, Dan Brown, Margaret Atwood / Dead- Carol Shields
Favorite movie? Field of Dreams
Favorite ice cream flavor? President Choice- Candy Cane Chocolate Fudge Crackle Ice Cream, only available during the Holidays…….pity!
Night owl or morning person? Night Owl
Cakes of cupcakes? Cakes
Alvin, thank you so much for your interview. Congratulations on your recent accomplishment of painting your 200th original work. Can't wait to see the next 200:)