Local artist, Richard Jahn has always been resistant to any class or instructor who tried to force him to fit into a mold.
“I didn’t want anyone to try making me conform. The artist inside of me was fine — and I didn’t want to change. I decided to go for it and do my own thing,” he said.
It has always been important for him to remain “authentic” as he paints from his own heart. In his vivid richness of color and movement in paintings of the Pacific Northwest, I see his love and appreciation for the natural beauty of our area. The freedom and freshness of his style captures the spirit of our environment.
I met with Richard at LA Frames in Renton where his dynamic artwork is on display, including his largest so far, the 36”x 48” South Fork of the Snoqualmie River. Many of his works are representative of scenes around Puget Sound — this display includes several prints. Owner, Woody Smith was helping Richard set up.
Richard told me, “I have always thought of myself as an artist.”
Even as a young child, he would constantly be drawing. He was inspired and encouraged by his art teacher in the eighth grade. When his art was entered in the Renton Annual Art Show for the first time in 1986, he took second place out of several hundred entrees. He has won many awards over the years, including a first place in a Tukwila art show, and a People’s Choice Award in Maple Valley.
He enjoys reading about the life stories of other artists. Picasso was still a working artist when Richard was in school. “I like Picasso’s freedom of expression to create art so spontaneously and with such bold uniqueness,” he said.
It occurred to me that this is exactly what I would say about Richard’s art, as well.
From 1991 to 2013, Richard served as a fireman for the city of Renton. I asked him if he had lots of time to paint while waiting to slide down the pole and go to a fire. He explained to me what was really required of him in serving the city in this position.
Richard has two memories that stand out from when he was a firefighter. One was of saving a young man who had collapsed at a job site from cardiac arrest, and another was saving a man who was choking in a crowded restaurant. It was obvious that he found reward and personal fulfillment in that roll.
His artistic creativity was utilized as well. All the fire stations discovered his skill with designing site information drawings for use by crews responding to a scene. For this purpose, he learned to use computer drawing software and this knowledge was also transferable to his art career.
“I think digital imaging is an important part of who I am as an artist. Besides painting, digital art is important for the prints that I make. This is the bread and butter of my art business,” Richard said.
Richard’s artwork can be found in many homes in Washington, as well as all around the country and as far away as Paris. He has explained and demonstrated his painting process in public forums, such as the South Hill Artist Association. A group of aspiring artists often meet with him.
“I like to play different types of music at these sessions and whenever I paint,” he said. “When you paint, it opens up another part of your brain and really helps you to appreciate music on a different level.”
He finds Renton to be very supportive of arts and the artist. His work was recently on display at the Renton Wine Walk and will be part of this year’s Renton’s Annual Art Show.
I have attended this event for several years, and it’s wonderful to see so many of our local artists and their work.
The 2018 show is July 27th, 28th and 29th at the Renton Community Center during the IKEA Renton River Days festival. The show is juried by recognized professional artists, art educators and knowledgeable art collectors.
You can visit Richard’s website: www.richardjahn.com. Writer Jaris English can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.