Local artist Scott Richardson's path to success is a study in dedication, bringing depth to the pastoral landscapes of northern Utah. The veils of light and shadow that cross his luminous oil paintings, often depicting great stretches of farmland framed by distant mountain ranges, evoke a somber, reflective, and weighty impression that may cause the viewer to hesitate, as if the painting has asked a question for which there is no immediate answer.
A self-described "tonalist," Richardson uses color and brushstroke to create depth and harmony in his works, employing warm and cool colors in a soft, dream-like focus that instills an underlying impression of heaviness. Whether the dramatic line of dark trees Richardson captures in the bright expanse of autumn meadow in "Sundown in Oakley" is reverent, lonely, superior, or reflective, the juxtaposition of lights and darks is well achieved. The contrast is successful in creating a mood that gives the painting a life of its own.
"When I first started painting, I was very detailed and more focused on realism," Richardson explains. "Now I am much more into creating a mood. Now it's more about creating a painting that someone can look into and find something familiar. They may not have been there before, but they see something that strikes them."
Richardson creates quick sketches or smaller oil studies to capture the true quality of light, often photographing a setting for later reference. "These smaller studies really help with color, because true color can only be captured in the moment. To create a mood, you really need to be out there early morning or evening to portray the quality of light and the shadows."
While family support and natural talent allow for a strong starting point, Richardson's career as a painter reveals that success often comes down to determination, passion, and a lot of hard work. Although this third-generation Parkite studied with a local oil artist while in high school, a potential career in competitive skiing in his early 20s provided enough distraction to keep him from pursuing a formal degree in art. "Although I ignored it for a while trying to do the ski thing, when I actually did go in the art direction, all myfriends told me they always knew that was where I'd end up."
Nearly six years ago, Richardson made a decision to return to painting. He found a full-time position at a local gallery to learn more about art marketing and sales."I would work a full day at the gallery and then go home and paint until 2 a.m. Then I'd go to bed and dream about painting until I woke up, and it would be in the back of my mind all day while I worked." In the meantime, Richardson sought out other artists. "I would paint with them and ask them questions. I surrounded myself with people who were doing what I wanted to do. It really helped me a lot."
Richardson began to amass a small body of work and entered a few paintings in a juried exhibition at the Kimball Art Center. He was more than pleased when his work was accepted. He sold some of the paintings that had been exhibited, and soon after, was contacted by a client to do a large commission. He began to sell more work by word of mouth. Soon after, the Mountain Trails Gallery, which currently shows his paintings, began to pay him a salary to paint regularly. For Richardson, this was a major turning point. "This was really the inspiration I needed. I began selling paintings and had such a good response that I was able to focus on painting full time."
Currently, Richardson is living a dream, painting close to five days a week and beginning to entertain offers from galleries in Wyoming and Arizona. A typical day includes a little office work, a round of golf or a mountain bike ride, and four of five hours of painting. "It's definitely total dedication, but you can't expect that hard work alone will get you where you want to be. You have to have passion, and you have to surround yourself with people who are doing what you want to be doing so you can learn from them."