Artist of the Month: Richard J. Luschek II

PB&J (oil, 18×15) by Richard J. Luschek II was an Still Life finalist in the 26th Annual Art Competition. Luschek is our January 2010 Artist of the Month.

Residence: Cincinnati, Ohio


His art career: I started college studying the sciences, thinking I was going to medical school, but what I really wanted to do was paint. I graduated with degrees in biology and fine art from the University of Cincinnati. After college, my love of the old masters had me looking for someone that could teach me the skills I needed to paint in a traditional manner. After searching for some time, I learned about the Boston School tradition and moved to New Hampshire to apprentice at the Ingbretson School of Drawing and Painting for three years. I’m pretty fortunate to work as a full time artist. Most of my time is spent painting and teaching in my studio. I’m also an illustrator and occasionally work as a scenic artist at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park.

His process: I spend a great deal of time on the set up and arrangement of my objects, making sure they work together as a group. Once I have a basic idea in mind, I gather the objects and fabrics that will become my still life. I have a large collection to choose from, so if, for example, I need something round and green in my design, I have a few things that fit that description.

Before I begin with the final arrangement, I step away from the setup to do small thumbnail sketches from memory to analyze the shapes, movements and arrangement in the square. I then set the objects to fit that sketched idea. On a large piece of brown paper I do a quick life size mass drawing in charcoal to examine the light and dark shapes. I crop this large drawing with strips of paper. Once I determine the size and shape, I stretch a canvas to fit those dimensions. Occasionally I’ll do a small color study to make sure I understand and like the color harmonies.

I start working on an oil-primed canvas; I loosely paint all of the basic shapes with minimal drawing. I attempt to get accurate color and value the first day. Once the painting is dry, I begin correcting and refining the picture, working wet into wet. I work the picture as a whole, slowly bringing it into focus. I do my best to keep details to a minimum.

About this painting: I’ve always loved the grand table settings in Dutch still lifes and wanted to emulate them in my own work. Rather than paint a subject that looks like it could have happened 100 years ago, I prefer to paint something of our time, like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

I usually have multiple paintings going at the same time, so this scene was actually set up for about three months. The heat of the studio turned the glass of milk to stinky cheese, but the bread seemed as if it would last forever, leaving me to wonder if it was actually bread.



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