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Painting is silent poetry, and poetry is painting that speaks. Simonides

Richard Laurent

Technically, I strive for a luminous surface which translates form to content through a combination of visible brush strokes and layered color. This layering is accomplished in the manner of the Classical painters. Thin transparent glazes of color are applied with brushed-on pigment in order to achieve a rich textural quality. In this way, the chemically stable colors of the under painting are glazed into a surface having more vibrant color underneath.My goal is not technical, really, although I'm aware that each time I make a painting my ability to express form and content are an essential part of the creative process.

 The oil painting process dates back over five centuries, and this rich history of painting provides the technical grounding for my work. My painting is informed by the work of many artists, including Van Eyck, Courbet, Chardin, Sir Anthony van Dyke, Sargent, and even Balthus. The idea of direct painting, characterized by a visible brush stroke (a tactile surface shaped by the artist's hand), is as relevant for me as it is for many abstract painters. However, I strive for a balance between draftsmanship and expression. 

 Sometimes, I charge my painting with symbolic content:

 "In the painting, Lazyboy by the Creek while the Foothills burn brightly, the armchair from our television-viewing room becomes a metaphor for our disjointed relationship with the environment. From this deceptively secure viewpoint, we contemplate the wilderness mostly through the medium of television. In this context, nature can only be seen as an abstract concept. We experience the wilderness vicariously, through the filter of media. Yet we cling to the idea that Nature represents freedom, the 'frontier' (Frederick Jackson Turner), or even evidence of a divine provenance. In the tradition of 19th century art connoisseurship, the wilderness defined 'beauty' in all it's permutations of form, color, and complexity. Nature was also synonymous with the evidence of the Divine." 

 The metaphorical animal continues to intrigue me as subject. As a result of this exploration into metaphorical forms, I have come to understand the natural world from a different perspective and, hopefully, with more clarity. There is always some narrative content that my non-human subjects bring to the work.

Richard Laurent

Growing up in the West – Denver, Colorado – Richard arrived in Chicago to study printmaking at the Institute of Design–IIT. After receiving his BS in Visual Design, he began a career in graphics, working with several design consulting firms in Chicago. In the 1970s, Richard moved into multimedia design at Encyclopaedia Britannica Educational Corporation and in 1980,was appointed Creative Director. Besides animation, he concentrated on drawing and printmaking. While directing over 200 film and animation projects for Britannica, he received his MS in Marketing Communications. He also worked as an editorial illustrator for national publications including Fortune Magazine, the Washington Post, the Chicago Reader and Chicago Magazine. Later, he served as a political cartoonist for the Chicago Sun-Times prior to the Obama campaign. Nevertheless, his passion for painting led him to seek more study in the fine arts. In 1991, Richard left Britannica to pursue the life of a fine artist. Richard has exhibited at the International Museum of Contemporary Masters of Fine Art and has shown his paintings at the Oil Painters of America (OPA) National Exhibition where in 2006, he was awarded the Dick Blick Prize. In 1999, he received a commission from USG Corporation to paint a life-size fiberglass cow for Chicago's public art program, "Cows On Parade." In 2004, he mounted a solo show entitled Heavy Petting–The Painted Animal at the Fine Arts Building Gallery. That same year, an oil painting from this show was awarded Best of Show/Oil Media by juror Ed Paschke at the Anti-Cruelty Society's Annual Exhibition. In 2006, he mounted a show at the Fine Arts Building Gallery entitled "Beauty & Beast," a painter's look at classical definitions of beauty in our culture. In 2008, he was invited to participate in the Door County Plein Air Fesitval. As a result of this endeavor, Richard has been a judge at various plein air painting events in the Midwest, He is currently an adjunct instructor at Columbia College–Chicago in the Art + Design Department, and has taught classes at the Oak Park Art League. His drawings and paintings are included in two monographs: Contemporary American Drawing and Contemporary American Painting, published by Jilin Fine Art and his artwork has been shown in various gallery shows around the country, including George Billis Gallery, NYC. He was one of the curatorial members of the Fine Arts Building Gallery and is represented by Gallery H in Three Oaks Michigan and Zia Gallery in Winnetka. He was one of the featured artists in Artist and Poets Magazine–the 2012 Edition. Currently, Richard works out of Studio 922 in the historic Fine Arts Building, Chicago.

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