Artwork by Jean Richards,  Mysterious Landscape
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Jean Richards
Mysterious Landscape

collage on board
signed lower right; titled on a gallery label on the reverse
11.5 x 13.5 ins ( 29.2 x 34.3 cms ) ( sight )

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The Collectors’ Gallery of Art, Calgary
Private Collection, Calgary

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Jean Richards
(1924 - 2015)

There is a certain way that the light hits the land in Alberta. Many artists have been fascinated by it; Illingworth Kerr, A.Y. Jackson, and A.C. Leighton sought to recreate it in rolling fields, country roads, and among the Rockies. John Snow called our province "this hard, cold, northern land", and grappling with its forms, textures, and disappearing horizon lines has long been a rite of passage for painters.

So it was for Jean Richards (1924-2015), artist, teacher, critic, and indefatigable witness to our own natural world. She wrote: "Whether I paint an abstract of a canola field or paint it in a traditional manner, the idea is the same; a need to find the living essence of things." Richards worked with many different kinds of materials, as did many of her contemporaries. She declared: "I often use rayons, pastels, inks, acrylics, even ground up rock!"

The surfaces of her work are often surprising. What initially appears as an a oil or acrylic work will, on closer inspection reveal a fine scattering of rock crystals, fragments of newsprint, or stenciled crepe papers. Her work is inventive, wide-ranging, and bold. The colour harmonies of her still life subjects reveal the influence of one of her most important and formative influences: her mother, the artist Ella Richards who studied under Walter Philips at the Banff School of Fine Arts. Jean studied under H.G. Glyde, Jack Taylor, Harry Savage and Harry Wolfarth at The University of Alberta.Jean also did workshops with Jacques de Tonnancour, Jack Shadbolt, and various artists from the Banff School of Fine Arts and the Lorne Greene Academy .

Richards' art career spans six decades, and her style reflects the ambient influences of modernism in Canada. Gestural brushwork, abstracted forms assembled across the picture plane, and expressive bright colour place her oeuvre squarely in the later twentieth century. She was acutely aware of her cultural environment. Her work was exhibited in Canada, France, Japan and Britain. She was a life member of the Alberta Society of Artists, and won a prestigious prize for calligraphy at the Tokyo Museum in 1984.Also in recognition for her calligraphic work, she received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2013. As art critic for the Edmonton Journal from 1960 to 1981, she expressed an affinity for the work of a large variety of local and international artists. Richards thought of her work as visual poetry. Her work can found in important collections such as The Alberta Foundation for the Arts, The Art Gallery of Alberta, The Alberta Government House Foundation, The Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation, The Provincial archives of Alberta, The City of Edmonton Archives, Gulf Oil Resources, Canadian Utilities, City Hall, Cardiff Wales,and the Mayor’s Office, Quebec.

Source: The Collector’s Gallery, Calgary