Photo of Ilene Richard

Ilene Richard

The Golden Harp by Ilene Richard

"The Golden Harp"
by Ilene Richard

Just a Walk in the Park by Ilene Richard

"Just a Walk in the Park"
by Ilene Richard
from her 'Snazzy Gals' series

Ilene Richard Adds Musical Series to Her
Figurative Works at Vermont Artisan Designs

Solo Violin by Ilene Richard

"Solo Violin" by Ilene Richard

When I received an image for new work by Ilene Richard, one of the featured artists at Vermont Artisan Designs (106 Main St., Brattleboro) this month, I fell immediately under its spell. In my "other" life I run a concert-presenting organization and have been involved in a number of musical pursuits, especially singing, since I was very young. I also am a long-time fan of both Pablo Picasso's and Gabriella Münter's sometimes "postery" styles of colorful impressionism with demarcated outlines and simplified figurative lines.

I decided to look online for more background on Ilene, who also has had some of her charming "Snazzy Gals" series featured at Vermont Artisan Designs for the last several months. To my surprise and delight, I discovered that Ilene's artistic fingers have been busy in other creative pies as well....

After graduating with a degree in Illustration, Graphic Design, and Jewelry Design from UMass-Dartmouth, with the intention of becoming a children's book illustrator, she found that industry a challenge to break into. Jewelry design then became her professional pursuit for 15 successful and productive years. Her unique sculptural pieces were featured at national trade shows and represented in prestigious galleries.

But children's book illustration was still calling to her. "Everything seemed like it was falling into place, but I still had a yearning to break into the children's book market. So with a new goal in place, I put a hold on my jewelry business and started to focus on my drawing and painting skills again. I attended the DeCordova Museum School and the Museum School in Boston so that I could find my place and become recognized in this market," she shares online. "Now I can say that I have had the honor to have worked with many large publishing houses and have had many books published. My career is truly a joy, and I intend on drawing and painting forever."

Creating children's book illustrations led Ilene back to her work with color and brush in the studio. Between book projects, she began working on figurative paintings more directly related to her own life. This work "is based on my observations of people involved in everyday activities. Whether it be the interaction of a couple dancing or a group of strangers standing next to each other in a crowded room, I create an emotional connection for not only the viewer but also between the people depicted in my work. Working as a children's book illustrator and painter, it is important to me to create a narrative quality to my work, and draw the viewer more easily into my world.

"There are many elements that go into creating my finished works. I believe a strong layout and design of the canvas is the most important piece to jumpstart a successful painting. I begin with a sketch, and when I am completely satisfied and feel excited about the concept, I will then draw directly onto the canvas and start the painting process. I am never really sure what colors I will eventually use, but I do know as I layer more and color onto my works I feel the work evolve. At this point, if my painting looks and feels balanced, I know I am on the right path towards a successful piece. A strong design, vibrant color palette, and a narrative quality, are what makes my work truly my own."

In light of Ilene's free-ranging imagination, it's not surprising that some of her characters and abstract designs have ended up on designer eyewear. Check out to see these unique frames and a broad sampling of the characters she has brought into vivid "living color." Then stop by Vermont Artisan Designs to enjoy the work in person.

Copyright 2016, Gallery Walk, Brattleboro, Vermont

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