Painting with the knowledge of the Old Masters combined with the techniques of the Impressionists, Richard Rackus’ distinctive style, which is of the Eucalyptus School, captures the subtle colors, the effects of sunlight, and the mood of landscapes from the high Sierras to the desert. His landscapes are characterized by graceful yet strong compositions with glowing colors, giving the viewer the sense of being outdoors in broad daylight. Richard feels that he has to remind people that light and color are romantic. Like his favorite colorist, Claude Monet, Richard is concerned with “the relationship of one color to another, like developing a symphony”. With his sophisticated understanding of color, Richard achieves strong color harmony and balance by placing warm and cool tones side by side. His rich subdued color palette, his use of light, and his choice of subjects are unmistakably California.
Richard is probably the last living California Revivalist and is therefore considered by many to be one of the most important California plein-air(outdoor) painters working today. However, rather than bringing something back, as revivalist implies, Richard remarks, “I just do what is natural. It’s the way I’ve always painted.”
Born in Highland Park, Michigan in 1922, Richard moved to Los Angeles, California in 1936. He began his formal studies at Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles and continued his art studies in Paris, France and Florence, Italy. Having studied with many of the original early California plein-air painters, including Frank Tolles Chamberlain, Sam Hyde Harris, and Rico Lebrun, Richard bridges the gap between the early 20th century California painters and the re-surge of younger artists painting en plein-air. Richard also had the honor to study with Russian artist, Nicoli Fechin, during his later years in Southern California.
Throughout has career, Richard has used his art proficiency in a variety of interesting jobs. These include sketch artist in several major motion pictures studios, art director of Mars Publications in Hollywood, California, and senior illustrator for the NASA Space Program. Several of his illustrations
have won international awards.
After leaving the space program, he moved to Arizona, where he taught portrait painting for four years at Yavapai College in Prescott, Arizona. While there, he acquired a growing interest in the Southwest and Native American culture. This resulted in paintings rich in the tradition of the American Indian and in the spiritual beauty and sensuous color of the Arizona desert.
In 1988, Richard returned to settle in the mountainous region of central California; using it as a base to explore the Western landscape, while his charming paintings portray abroad range of California scenes. Living in a little village surrounded by mountains provides Richard with endless sources of inspiration. As his style is simplified and somewhat illustrative, his paintings are more than just a portrayal of the landscape. They are a semblance of his relationship with nature. Richard states, “There is a certain ethereal quality in fine landscape painting that returns a person to what is real in life, to what is meaningful.”