We had the good fortune of connecting with Lance Richlin and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lance, career-wise, where do you want to be in the end?
My end goal is to create a great work of art. I want it to be technically spectacular and deeply meaningful. I want it to do justice to an idea and get the viewer to understand it. That’s not easy if the idea is complex and all you have is mute stone or oil paint. Finally, the work should move the viewer emotionally. It’s difficult to predict how a work will impact people. My ideas are of a religious nature and hopefully, by the end of my career, I will have something worthwhile to express to the public. Spiritual ideas change as life goes on. A person my have an insight but it can be refined with more living. And how one would express that insight changes with the artist’s development. –There are youthful insights that are correct but not mature and ways of painting them changes with the experience of painting. So I have a lot to look forward to. I think in my 80s, I’ll be doing my best work. There is no way to control the art world. So maybe the work will be exhibited and appreciated. Maybe it will hang on my wall, only seen by friends. It’s foolish to depend on fame and money. In the arts, all you can control is the work and the reward is that it’s constantly improving.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’m a classical realist painter and sculptor. That means that my art is extremely traditional. Like what you would see at a museum of European paintings with a collection of work from the 19th or 17th centuries. I work hard to paint figures and portraits that look like real people. –The hardest part was acquiring the skill to actually practice the art. For me it took about 10 years of study and practice. Once attaining the skill, I think it’s important to have something to express. Something that will be true no matter how many years go by and to whoever sees it. That means that I believe there are universal truths that I try to understand and share. Everything about this career is hard but poverty is particularly challenging. Each piece can take a year. How can an artist be paid adequately for a year of work? And how does one pay the bills with 30 hours per week going to a sculpture that may not even sell? Fortunately, after trying many jobs as a commercial artist and college teacher, I founded my own school and it’s thriving. I can’t say that I found a winning formula for the school’s success. It was more accidental I’ve been around long enough that people find me to study with. The internet helps get the word out. I’ve also learned to really appreciate the students–I tell them what to do but they pay my rent. I teach them well enough that their work could be (and sometimes ends up), in a museum. So it’s a perfect symbiotic relationship.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I love theme parks and Southern California has some of the best ones. I would take the visitor to Knott’s Berry Farm. Universal Studios, Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure. We also have some amazing art museums. The Huntington is the most tranquil and idyllic place in the region. It gives you a dreamlike experience that’s more than just an art collection. The Getty has a fine collection so we would have to see it. Los Angeles County Museum of Art also has a fine collection but it seems to be going through some transition right now. We would go to Barone’s in Valley Glen for Italian food. That restaurant has been beloved since 1945. And it may be a chain but Cold Stone Ice Cream is first rate.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’d like to thank the I Ching, which has guided me through life. It’s the primary text of the Taoist religion. Life has been a rocky road but I’ve always found wisdom when I turn to it.
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