Thoroughly observed: Q&A with J.D. Richey

JOE BUN KEO: Your work is fractured and fragmented, made of many smaller pieces. It’s like a puzzle. Do you paint in sections and then assemble the piece at the end? Or does the image grow organically as you work?

J.D. RICHEY: I do not work on many pieces separately; rather, they grow and diminish until something is satisfied. These works are in constant flux, I never begin with a conscience plan or certain intention regarding the size a piece may grow to. I discover the idea and size simultaneously. The only hard truth I bring into a painting is faith in perception. Any visual perception is worth painting, some are more difficult to perceive and realize. Often the most challenging aspect of making these paintings is dealing in the large scale outside.

JD Richey, Boston Ave., 2010, oil on paper, 6 x15 inches.

JBK: Google Earth and Google Maps enable the use of satellite images in navigation. You can zoom in from different angles at each location. Do these recent technological advances affect your personal perspective?

JDR: No, there is a convenience driving in unknown areas. I have always been interested in maps and a perception outside space and time, though I’m not sure how that directly relates to my paintings. Mostly I don’t marry technology and art, perhaps the opposite. I like the idea of really old and established materials relating to a modern world, competing with and balancing modern technology. The humanity of painting is essential to image making, a camera could record any street corner I paint, however, lacking the same kind of humanity, the personal experience, the passing of time. Looking back into art history, the demarcation of historical time periods are defined by artists’ ability to re-define existing materials in way that blew the minds of the established ideologies.  I also love the idea of new materials employing principles of art-making that apply to any medium, new old and yet unknown, the cleverness of man is unstoppable.

JD Richey, 91 Shelton, 2011, oil on paper, 91 x 98 inches. Images courtesy of the artist.

JBK: You talk about being true to your perception–that it’s your point-of-view, your first person experience. The images of street corners and highway intersections seem almost mundane and banal, and I’m wondering if you have a personal connection to these sites.

JDR: That relationship is developed throughout the making of the painting.  Recently I’ve depicted places conveniently around my home, it is most likely I picked my home knowing such potential… however; I believe that any place is available to paint if it is thoroughly observed.

JD Richey, Day Drawing, 2012, charcoal on paper, 80 x 81 inches.

JBK: The majority of the work is on paper, which can tear, wrinkle and get wet. Paper is a very delicate, hard-to-manage surface, especially when using paints that absorb. Why do you work on  paper instead of sturdier surfaces like canvas or panel?

JDR: I love paper, for many reasons.  Paper is malleable flexible and very diverse in its applications. It is financially viable.  A stretched and meticulously prepared canvas or linen is such a rigid and defined dimension, also implying a planned and calculated image. All surfaces require preparation before oil paint application; paper can be smoother and less absorbing than canvas with less effort and materials.  Paper allows me to add and remove at will, with little effort, its non-committal and immediate. The prospect of sewing 40 pieces of canvas or cutting and somehow attaching pieces of panel, would stifle my creative process. Truly paper allows me the most freedom in manipulating the picture plane and composition.

JD Richey, Night Drawing, 2012, charcoal on paper, 52 x 84 inches.

JBK:  Tell us what’s next for JD Richey? Any shows, curating gigs, or other projects going on?

JDR:  Finding a window to look out of over the winter months. I am in a two man show with Perry Obee at Gallery 195 opening January 15 and a solo show next June in Hartford in the Theater Works Gallery.

JD Richey, Williams St., 2012, oil on paper, 57 x 66 inches. 

Image at top: JD Richey, Olive St. Bridge, 2012, oil on paper, 43 x47 inches 


Subscribe to Two Coats of Paint by email.


  1. Looks like less thoroughly observed Stanley Lewis paintings

  2. Interesting work! I love reading the interviews by Joe Keo, he asks great questions!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *