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Christmas Angels, a Benefit Auction

November 27, 2012

The NATIVITY, with artwork by J. Kirk Richards


Dear Friends,

Thank you so much for your support of my new Christmas book, The Nativity. It looks like we are well on our way to selling out the first printing before Christmas! If you haven’t had a chance to look at the book or to pick a copy up for your family, don’t wait! It may be too late. For more information about the book, click here, but don’t order from the website.
UPDATE! The warehouse has sold out of books. To order a book, call Linda at the downtown SLC Deseret Book. She has remaining copies in her inventory. tel:801-328-8191.

And since I love the Christmas season and Christmas imagery, C Jane and I are auctioning away twelve angel paintings. 100% of the proceeds from the single painting that sells for the highest amount will be donated to C Jane’s charity of choice, The Center for Women & Children in Crisis. All other paintings proceeds will benefit the J. Kirk Richards center for one woman and four children. :) Place a bid by emailing me your full name, contact info, and the bid amount. Bid increments must increase at least $25. I’ll notify you by email each time you’re outbid. The auction will end at 9pm MST on Wednesday, December 5th.

Watch a time lapse of one of the angel paintings being created here, or scroll down, pick a painting, and start bidding! I hope you enjoy the paintings.

-Kirk


 
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Angel with Trump (#1)

#1 Angel with Trump, (3.8 x 6.2 inches) 13.75 x 16 inches framed
High bid: $1000
And the painting goes to: TS

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#2 Angel with Gift

#2 Angel with Gift, (4.125 x 6.125 inches) 9.75 x 11.75 inches framed
High bid: $700
And the painting goes to: RH

 
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#3, Three Angels Kneeling

#3 Three Angels Kneeling

#3 Three Angels Kneeling, (4.25 x 6.25 inches) 8.75 x 10.75 inches framed
High bid: $875
And the painting goes to: EJ

 
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#4 Angel with Dove

#4 Angel with Dove, (4.25 x 6.25 inches) 8.125 x 10.125 inches framed
High bid: $700
Current bidder’s initials: KH
 
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#5 Angel of Empathy

#5 Angel of Empathy, (4.125 x 6.125 inches) 9 x 11 inches framed
High bid: $750
And the painting goes to: RW
 
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#6 Angel in Prayer



#6 Angel in Prayer, (4.125 x 6.125 inches) 7 x 9 inches framed
High bid: $700
And the painting goes to: JBS
 
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#7 Three Angels with Trumps

#7 Three Angels with Trumps, (4 x 4 inches) 9.375 x 9.375 inches framed
High bid: $625
And the painting goes to: EJ
 
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#8 Angel Praying

#8 Angel Praying, (4.25 x 6.25 inches) 9.75 x 11.75 inches framed
High bid: $700
And the painting goes to: EJ
 
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#9 Three Christmas Angels

#9 Three Christmas Angels, (4.25 x 6.25 inches) 9.75 x 11.75 inches framed
High bid: $700
And the painting goes to: MH
 
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#10 Christmas Angel

#10 Christmas Angel, (4.125 x 6.125 inches) 10 x 12 inches framed
Minimum or current bid: $700
Current bidder’s initials: (N/A)
CLICK HERE to bid $700 or higher on this painting via email (Remember to clearly type your full name, your contact information, and your bid amount.)
 
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#11 Two Angels with Trumps (two painting set)

#11 Two Angels with Trumps, (Each painting 2.75 x 7.5 inches) 4.75 x 9.5 inches framed
High bid: $1000
And the painting goes to: DO
 
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#12 Angel with Harp

#12 Angel with Harp, (painting 7 x 9 inches) 12.5 x 14.5 inches framed
High bid: $1300
And the painting goes to: GN
 
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Been Working On This Etching For Weeks…

September 28, 2012

By now you may have heard, that in addition to the regular hard cover Nativity book (that’s coming out this week,) there will also be a limited edition leather bound book, sold with a limited edition hand-pulled etching, or intaglio print. That edition will be limited to about 100 copies, and will be available toward the end of November. If you want to reserve one of these limited edition sets (price will be between $240 and $300,) call Esther at the flagship Deseret Book: 1-801-328-8191. If she’s not there, ask for Linda or Jeff.

The purpose of this post is to show you the process of creating the etching. It’s a fascinating process, and a lot of work.

Dallan up at Deseret Book put this video together to get the word out about the print edition.

And now let me show you the process:

We begin with a smooth copper plate.

I started with two plates in case of accidentally ruining one. Rounded arch, corner notches, surface prep for mezzotint. I worked the plate with this tool to create a textured surface.

Back to the HFAC twelve years later to use the university printing facilities. I haven’t done this since I was in college.

Steven Carter beveling the edge. Good thing I’ve got an expert to help walk me through this.

Burnished around to isolate mezzotint spaces. Paper cutout helped me place the drawing.

Trying to do some careful burnishing back into the mezzotint texture to get subtle transitions and modeling.

Before I started burnishing, the mother’s face was even and dark like the hands are now.

Burnishing finished? I hope so, but I have no idea how this is going to translate to values on paper.

Degreased the plate. Now Steven is putting it in a box full of rosin. The rosin will settle in tiny pieces of powder on the plate.

Once the rosin settles onto the plate, the plate is heated to melt the rosin specks.

Then, with hard ground, I paint out the areas I don’t want changed.

The plate is now sitting in this acid. The acid is eating away the surface of the plate unprotected by hard ground and tiny rosin drops.

Another layer of hard ground. Masking off what I don’t want to get darker.

Third masking and back in the acid for an even darker value.

Here’s what the plate looks like post-aquatint.

Inking up the plate for our first proof. Got to see how these values translate on printed paper.

Running it through the press.

First proof. Holy cow, I didn’t burnish enough on those flesh tones. Long way to go, but it feels good to have made it this far.

Next, we try a photo transfer. We prepared these textures by printing their inverse with laser toner.

Acetone and a quick run though the press, and the toner transfers to the plate.

Here’s the plate with toner textures. Now we’ll do an aquatint again with fine rosin powder, masking with hard ground, and eating with acid.

Here’s what the plate looks like after the photo transfer and another round of aquatint.

Plate inked up.

Proof number two. Darker than I expected, but exciting.

More burnishing. Here’s what the inked up plate looks like for our third proof.

Third proof printed with a warmer ink.

Since the last photo, we open-bit the halo for a deep embossing, did a white ground on the halo for texture, and did some organic washy type stuff on the clothing with hard ground. I’m anxious to see the next proof.

Proof.

So here’s the print with a touch of blue. The question is, is it finished? I think it may need a few dark accents.

Another textured aquatint, some direct scraping into the plate with an etching needle, some gold leaf and blue gouache for accents, and we have our finished product. We’ll print a hundred of these, sign, and number them.

Kershisnik Richards Show

September 17, 2012

I’m excited and honored to be showing with Brian Kershisnik at the St. George Art Museum. I hope you get a chance to see this show. Here’s a little preview:

Also, I thought it would be fun to show you two of the pieces in progress. The first is called Lighting Candles:

Progress photos of Lighting Candles, by J. Kirk Richards

The second is called Shared Light:

Progress photos of Shared Light, by J. Kirk Richards

By the way, all of my pieces in the show are available for purchase through Authentique Gallery, which is kitty-corner to the museum. Museum hours are 10-5, Mon-Sat, and 10-9 every third Thursday.

WHY ARE YOU PAINTING THOSE NAKED LADIES? Or, What makes me think I can go to a nude drawing session on Saturday and then go to church on Sunday?

September 2, 2012

Michelango’s Creation of Adam, modest-ified.

I received this message this morning:

“Brother Richards, 
I just love most all of your marvelous work.
 But if I might ask, why in blazes do you paint nude women? Are you perhaps trying to get attention from the secular world? Where is your head at?”

Here’s another similar message from a few months back, after I posted a photo of what I felt was an innocuous figure painting:

“Hey, I don’t like this post. Please remove it. I guess I can be a little over the top, but I really don’t like to see nudity in any way, shape, or form. We try so hard to fight porn and stuff and we, as women in the church are always being told to keep our bodies covered. We aren’t even supposed to wear “tight or revealing clothing.” But, apparently, it’s alright for an LDS man to post a painting of a nude woman on his wall. What if that was your wife or daughter’s body? I’ve heard nude art called “soft porn.” As far as I’m concerned, porn is porn.”

So here it goes. I will try to explain my point of view here once and for all. I’m not interested in discussion. In fact, I’m not going to allow comments on this particular blog post. My sense is that most people have made up their minds when it comes to nudity, and “a man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.”

Let me tell you quickly about events that have formed my opinion, and then I’ll venture deeper into the opinion itself.

I’ve always loved to create artwork–artwork that depicts people. One of the hardest things to draw is people, and as a result, so much artwork that tries to depict people is poorly done. And for the same reason, one of the principles studies of the serious artist is the study of the human figure.

I drew my first “nude” in the ninth grade. Fascinated by the gesture and anatomy of the ancient Greek sculpture, The Discobolus, I copied it from an art book. Proud of my drawing, with its proportion and accuracy, I showed it to one of my best friends. I was surprised by his response of disgust and embarrassment at the display of nudity. ‘Where does that response come from?’ I asked myself.

Later in high school, my art teacher set up a special figure sculpting workshop and brought in a professional sculptor. We sculpted in clay, looking at a model who was wearing a leotard. I thought my sculpture looked pretty good. The visiting professional critiqued my work: the breasts looked wrong. Rather than being parallel, they should sit at almost a 90 degree angle, he said. And these angled relationships are repeated throughout the body. Isn’t that fascinating? But because I couldn’t see what was going on beneath the leotard, I couldn’t understand what was happening with the human figure, its inner and outer workings. As I tried to make more accurate figurative artwork, this limitation became more frustrating.

When I went to BYU, I took figure drawing classes. I loved those classes. They were challenging. My skills were being refined. I even took anatomy in the Zoology department with all the pre-med majors, so I could more thoroughly understand the human figure. My only complaint about the art department’s figure drawing classes is that the models wore bikinis (and male models wore speedos.) What’s the problem with that? Here’s the problem: the careful concealing of the human figure produces a sexual response. Thus, lingerie. Most sexually active men will tell you that once a woman’s body is fully unclothed and still, the sexual response is significantly decreased. A common practice among doctors is to have their patients undress before the doctor comes in, thus avoiding the sexualized viewing experience of undressing. In other words, I soon found out that the university art classes with their bikinis was much more sexual than the nude figure sessions I would later attend as a professional artist.

Rodin’s The Kiss, modest-ified.

My first nude session was led by an LDS artist/instructor, who was visiting from the east coast. He had been through as much schooling as most doctors—but in various art schools. And what do you suppose the focus was in those schools? Learning to draw the human figure, undraped, un-obscured—a fundamental for artists. The session I attended was conducted in a private gallery in Park City. My heart raced as I anticipated (for the first time in my life) seeing a woman step out onto the platform, fully revealed. And then she did it. She stepped onto the platform. She stood there, naked. I started drawing. My heart slowed down. I began the overwhelming task of laying values, lines, and marks on my page—desperately straining my brain to correctly record proportions, anatomy, edges, divisions of light and dark. The experience desexualized. I know there are people who won’t believe this. All I can say to those people is, if you don’t believe it, you’ve never conducted a serious study of drawing the human figure. If you had, you’d know.

Later on, after my career had begun, I attended weekly figure drawing sessions to continue to hone my skills. I made a comment about what I felt was a hint of a sexual nature in some of the poses chosen for the session, and I was chastised. The man who chastised me was and still is an upstanding spiritual man—active in church callings and a hero to many artists including myself. The human body is not inherently sexual, he told me. And he was right. I stood corrected.

Later in my career, I met a lovely lady who would later purchase many of my paintings. She too was an artist. Her house was and remains full of nude works of art. Soon she was called to serve as Stake Relief Society President. She explained to the Stake President when he extended the calling, “This is part of who I am. I’m an artist, and the human figure is very important to me.” She expressed concern that some women under her stewardship might not understand. She didn’t want to be a stumbling block to them. The Stake President expressed his confidence that she should serve anyway—that nothing in her home offended him, and that if anyone was offended by it, it was probably because that person had experienced something in their past that was unpleasant. Was that Stake President correct to make such a blanket assumption? I don’t know. But I do know that my artist friend served faithfully and is one of the most caring people I’ve ever met. From my perspective, her love of the human form in art did not detract from her spirituality or ability to serve. What could have detracted from her spirit? Being forced into a puritanical rejection of those good things that spoke to her soul.

So. Why do I paint from the nude, and why do I occasionally display those paintings? Why do I hang some of them in my house?


1. Because I want to be an excellent artist.

In today’s email, this thought was expressed: “I just love most all of your marvelous work, BUT…”. To me, this is similar to the following comment: “Well I love everything you Mormons do, but I just can’t stomach Joseph Smith.” Joseph Smith is a fundamental for Latter-Day Saints. Figure drawing is a fundamental for artists. I want to be an excellent artist. My artist friends reading this will nod their heads and say, “Yes, of course.” Others may read it and scratch their heads, unable to reconcile this idea with their spiritual convictions.

Should a young Mormon who wants a career as an artist choose a different career path if he or she is unwilling to draw from the nude model? No. I don’t think so. But I will say this. If a young Mormon wants to create classical or realist works worthy of depicting the great doctrines of the gospel and stories of the human experience, he or she will most definitely need to study the human figure in great depth.

2. Because art celebrates the human figure, God’s greatest creation, in a non-sexual way.

I teach my young children to appreciate the human body. If they see nude art, I teach them not to say “Ew, gross!” I teach them to have respect.

I hear this all the time: “But I have teenage boys.”

What better way to teach teenage boys that the human figure is beautiful, not sexual, than to have a piece of art in the home? Or at least take them to an art museum once in a while. The alternative is to make them jump to the remote, shut the magazine ad, run out of the movie theater, at the slightest and earliest appearance of skin. What does that teach them? The body is evil. The body is sexual. Run away from nudity at all cost. I think this is unhealthy.

Where then, can we draw the line between nudity and pornography, or art and pornography? This can be difficult, especially when you or your teenagers have been conditioned to dismiss all nudity as pornography. We often want things spelled out for us so we don’t have to work to make judgments. But I say, let’s use our judgment. That’s part of God’s plan—for us to use our judgment: Is the work of art respectful to the human body? Maybe it’s not pornography. Is the work of art aimed to stimulate inappropriate sexual responses in me? Maybe it’s pornographic, and I can walk away like a mature adult. Let’s not teach our children to have an unhealthy, body-hating, puritanical view of the human figure–or they may be more likely to give in to temptations thrown in front of them when their parents are not around, something that will surely occur.

I have spent most of the day mulling over today’s email. During church I researched scriptures on the subject. Here are the conclusions I’ve made, based on scripture:

1. Adam and Eve were naked and innocent.
2. Satan pointed out that they were naked, and told them they should feel ashamed.
3. Knowledge of good and evil makes us aware of our nakedness.
4. Our body is our temple, created in the image of God.
5. Isaiah walked naked and barefoot for three years.
6. The act of clothing nakedness is a spiritually symbolic act.
7. Nakedness is often equated to poverty.
8. The Apostle Peter was naked on the fishing boat right before he saw the resurrected Jesus on the shore of Tiberias.
9. Ham saw his father Noah’s nakedness, and his son Caanan was cursed as a result. (This scripture is strange to me. I think we’re not getting the whole story.)
10. You must not uncover the nakedness of any relatives. (And I think this is a euphemism, similar to “lie with.”)
11. You must not look on a woman to lust after her.
12. Don’t commit adultery.

I go to church on Sunday. I serve in church. I have a testimony of the Gospel. I have a testimony of the power of good art. I want to make good art. I think the world would be better with better art—and that God wants artists to do their part to make the world better. I believe we were created in the image of God–which image I believe should be respected. I have no problems reconciling my faith with nudity. My wife is an artist. Sometimes she comes with me to draw or paint from the nude figure. I have never had a problem with pornography. I’ve never had a problem with infidelity. I could go (and have gone) months without attending a figure session. I’m not addicted. All this to say, there is a healthy way to look at the human figure, and an unhealthy way. One unhealthy way is to fall into an addiction to pornography. Another unhealthy way is to avoid the human figure like the plague.

So there you have it. This is my take on nudity. If you remain unconvinced, there is little point in the two of us discussing the subject further. But I hope you’ll appreciate my paintings of the Savior, anyway, and look past the “vice” that made those paintings possible.

With love and respect,

Kirk

The Discobolus, ancient Greek sculpture, modest-ified.

When You Invest in a Work of Art

August 28, 2012

People often talk about supporting local business, which got me thinking. When an art patron buys something of mine, where does the money go? Here are some of the people we work with that benefit from your patronage:

Four local custom art framers and their families.
Two BYU students, earning their way through college, who help me as studio assistants.
A builder of panels who works days in the coal mine.
Three local piano teachers.
A local guitar teacher, a great talent.
A drum teacher, one of Utah’s finest.
A single mom who helps us with the house.
A local bronze artisan, developing his own business in order to feed his growing family after many years of working for someone else.
A local web-hosting company.
Two locally owned and operated printing companies, each employing over a dozen people.
A local photographer of artwork.
And the list goes on.

I confess, not all my purchases or business dealings are local. The vast majority, however, are indeed. The point of this post, really, is to thank you, art patrons. And to let you know, your investment is not just in me and in my family, but spreads to the larger local art community. Thanks for your support.

-Kirk

The Nativity: Book Launch Event

August 25, 2012

Here’s some quick info about the release of my new Nativity book. If you’re my Facebook friend, you probably were already invited to the Facebook page with this information:

Why I Stopped Blogging

August 24, 2012

Instagram. Yes. I’ve been distracted by Instagram. If you don’t know what Instagram is, it’s a way to take and share photos. But the reason it has distracted me so much lately is the ease with which one can take a photo and group it with other specific photos using a hash tag. What does that translate into for me? Progress shots. It’s a quick way to document the progress of a work of art. Here are a few examples:

Shared Light, in progress, by J. Kirk Richards, as seen on Instagram

You can see the work progresses from lower right to upper left, from the blank panel to an almost finished painting. Each of these three paintings is still in progress. And each is for a show that opens next month at the St. George Museum of Art. The show is a two man show: me and Brian Kershisnik. The opening reception is September 21st, and the artwork will be on display through the end of the year.

Prayer Flags, Nepal, in progress, by J. Kirk Richards, on Instagram

And here’s one last set. This is a monumental piece, as you can see in some of the photographs. There remains a lot of work, but hopefully you’ll see it finished in St George in a month.

Hosanna Shout, in progress, by J. Kirk Richards, on Instagram

Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, maybe I’ll be able to calm my Instagram activity and resume blogging again.

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