In an interview with Ben Crowder for "Mormon Artist" (full interview here), J. Kirk Richards explains his background and experience. Here are a few excerpts from this interview:
You do a lot of things—painting, music, videos, children’s books. How did it all start for you?
I think everything started with music. As a child, I was raised on music. I took piano lessons and French horn lessons for years and years, so that’s where I learned discipline for one thing, but also an appreciation for the arts. Incidentally, my French horn lessons were at the fine arts center at BYU, so I would go to my lesson there and walk past the paintings that were on display and just really got excited about art.
With art, how did you start?
Like many creative kids, I used to draw as a child. Then as a young teenager I saw the movie Dead Poets Society and decided that I didn’t want to do music anymore. I stomped up to my parents and demanded that they let me quit music lessons. They were really wise and encouraged me to continue, saying that if I felt the same way after a year, they’d let me stop music lessons. So I did, and a year later, I felt the same way, and I ended up swapping—I convinced them to let me stop music lessons in exchange for art lessons. So, from about the age of 14, I had a private art teacher and was also taking art classes at school.
You served in Rome, right? How did your mission affect your growth as an artist?
My mission totally affected my artwork—anybody who’s been to Rome and Italy knows how much art there is, I mean, it’s just overflowing with art. You get off the plane and practically every corner you turn, you’re bumping into sculptures and statues. During preparation days, we’d go to museums like the Vatican Museum in Rome, and some of the great churches that have amazing paintings—like Caravaggio paintings—but even in the smaller towns, there was a culture of art which affected my painting. Also, I think the colors in Italy are reflected a lot in my paintings—the rust browns and a lot of the color choices I use, the muted palette and the color harmonies come from Italian architecture.
One other thing: the Italians have always loved the human figure, so even in the modern era, when New York took over from Paris as the center of the art world, and the great American painters were doing very abstract things, all through that time, even through today, Italians have had a continual history of using the human figure in their artwork. That’s something I love about the Italians and their artwork.
Continue reading here.
We're so grateful to have the privilege of working with the Richards and to have the opportunity to help people feel the spirit of these pieces in their own homes.