Santa Fe, NM, July 12-26
This story was featured in the July 2013 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Order the Southwest Art July 2013 print issue, or get the Southwest Art July 2013 digital download now…Or better yet, just subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss a story!
In Jean Richardson’s paintings, the horse is much more than a magnificent and powerful animal. It represents the human spirit. “Jean Richardson is a master painter who favors equine subjects as metaphors for movement, grace, speed, and strength,” says Wolfgang Mabry, sales manager at Ventana Fine Art. “In more than five decades of painting, she has developed awesome technical prowess and an arsenal of design skills that imbue her work with perfection in composition, color, and spontaneity.”
Richardson’s latest work is featured in a solo show at Ventana Fine Art, opening with an artist’s reception from 5 to 7 p.m. on July 12. While the horse appears to be the main subject in the show’s 14 acrylic paintings, the artist says texture and brushwork are what her work is really all about. “Horses are, and remain, the perfect vehicle for me,” she says. “In my most recent paintings, I’m letting the brushwork show more. The new paintings feel a little busier to me, primarily because the brushwork seems to have more motion in it. I’m also using a palette knife, which helps me get a lot of texture.”
Richardson grew up around horses in Oklahoma. She became interested in painting them 50 years ago while she was putting together her senior art show in college. “At first, I painted images of mounted horsemen,” she explains. “My paintings were about solitude and loneliness. As time went on, I became interested in motion and energy. I started painting what I called ‘sky herds,’ which were masses of cool-colored horses surrounded by lots of mist. In my latest work, I have paintings with large areas of yellow in them. I just haven’t used yellow in so many years. I decided to try it, and I like it.”
In BOUNDING INTO LIGHT, seven horses move in front of a band of yellow light. “I wanted to paint a glowing horizon and felt I could do it better by having multiple images in the work,” she explains. “I’ve enjoyed putting wild things above and below the horses and a glow around the animals. By having a vibrant yellow area in the painting, a hot spot, the focus is not so much on the horses but on what’s happening around them. What’s interesting is what’s around and behind the image and around the hot spot.”
Richardson has found it challenging to incorporate this new color scheme into her work. While she thought painting at the age of 73 might become rote, she’s finding that there’s a lot more to learn. “It’s been technically difficult for me to paint with yellow,” she says. “I thought painting ought to be getting easier at this point in my life, but it’s not!” —Emily Van Cleve
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