Artist: David Richards
David Richards is a prolific watercolour artist, who began drawing and painting at the age of 5. Born in Cincinnati, Ohio and growing up in the rual countryside of Northern Kentucky, the artist enjoyed an active out-door lifestyle of riding horses, climbing trees, rafting and swimming in streams and lakes, riding bicycles, skateboarding and building tree-houses. He observed and appreciated nature and was inspired and influenced by his uncle, who was a watercolour artist and was an accomplished commercial artist and won many awards as Commercial Artist of the Year. His uncle’s medium was primarily watercolour, and he focused on landscapes and seascapes. He was also a great caricature artist. David Richards was also influenced by his mother, who painted in oil and also executed life-like caricature drawings on a daily basis.
The artist pursued formal training in Fine Arts at Indiana University for 5 years and completed courses in drawing, painting, sculpture, ceramics, silversmithing and graphic design. He also completed many courses in art history, including Khmer, Egyptian and Japanese art history. Other courses included Renaissance and Baroque, as well as 19th century impressionists, post impressionists, Art Nouveau, Art Deco and La belle Epoque periods of art history. Some of his strongest influences come from a deep interest in 19th century European landscape painting, Japanese woodblock prints, Art Nouveau, Art Deco and La Belle Epoque. The artists which most influence David’s work are Gustav Klimt, Henri Rousseau, Georga Seurat, Aubrey Beardsley, Hokusai, Hiroshige, Gaugin, Matisse, Cezanne and Picasso.
The artist’s love of nature and the outdoors was carried forward when he lived in Florida, Jamaica, California and ultimately Maui, Hawaii. Artists tend to be greatly influenced and motivated by their surroundings, so with nature as his primary visual source, his creative work on Maui was a direct reflection of his time spent in the Hawaii rainforests, white and red sand beaches, as well as black sand beaches and the ever present marine environment. It was during this time in Hawaiian that David began to paint exotic and lush tropical landscapes, marine life and mermaids. He swam in the ocean everyday, pursued ocean kayaking, outrigger canoe paddling, sailing, body surfing, scuba diving, cycling, tennis, hiking in the rainforest and horsebacking riding.
After spending 20 incredibly exciting and rewarding years in Maui, Hawaii, the artist began exploring Costa Rica, New Zealand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and eventually Indochina, which included Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. The artist settled in Cambodia as an expat for about 8 years and staged 6 different solo art exhibits of his original watercolours at various venues during that period. Each exhibit focused on a variety of separate themes and subject matter, but the most significant of those was the solo exhibit in 2011 at the Chinese House in Phnom Penh, showcasing the French colonial architecture of Indochina, (Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia). The exhibit was a culmination of a year-long research project to collect sufficient visual references for a complete exhibit. The artist had a number of photographs to work from, which he had generated from his travels in the region. However, the architectural theme also compelled the artist to discover and obtain visual reference material of the region.
Most of the reference material the artist was seeking had been destroyed during the Khmer Rouge era. So, it was an arduous and daunting challenge to find accurate photos and documented information from the late 19th and early 20th century of these magnificent buildings, since so many books and public records had been burned and destroyed by the Khmer Rouge. However, the artist managed to assemble a large and significant body of original watercolours for this important project to call attention to the importance of these beautiful structures.
As a continuation of this research and fueled by the energy and success of the 2011 French Colonial exhibit, the artist was motivated to move to Burma to explore and celebrate the British Colonial architecture which is such an extensive and valuable part of the local landscape of Yangon. Because so many of these wonderful structures are such an essential and intregal part of the history and heritage of Yangon, the artist wants to raise the public awareness to their importance and value. His hope is to call attention to these heritage and historical buildings to help in the ongoing efforts of the Yangon Heritage Trust to restore, maintain and preserve these important and worthwhile landmarks for visitors and residents to appreciate and enjoy. The long term goal is to continue these efforts for the benefit of future generations as well.
The artist has been living in Yangon as an expat since 2012 and has staged 4 solo exhibits and one group exhibit of his original watercolours. The artist will continue to focus and to showcase the beauty and charm of the British Colonial architecture through his watercolours.
The artist paints a variety of themes, such as café scenes, landscapes, seascapes, still lifes, abstracts, figurative and caricatures. However, the architectural theme is the most prominent and important aspect of his body of work. It is a theme he never gets tired of because there are endless possibilities for how the subject can be portrayed.
The artist also accepts commissions and is open and flexible in accommodating such requests. These can be arranged through the River Gallery personal and staff.
The artist plans to remain in Burma for a number of years, as he feels that the colonial architecture needs to be continued to be showcased and celebrated, and he has an unending desire to continue this endeavor for the benefit of future generations of local residents and visitors to appreciate and enjoy its lasting beauty and magnificence.