I’m a Phoenix, Arizona native, and I’ve lived here most of my life. My family moved to Connecticut when I was in grade school, I moved back to Arizona after college and have lived here ever since.
I’ve created art for the majority of my life, starting in elementary school where I doodled incessantly in the margins of my notebooks. I took every art class my high school offered, and I did pen and ink house portraits to make extra money for college. In 1988 I graduated from The University of the Arts in Philadelphia with a BFA in Illustration.
After graduation I started a career in graphic design, moving back to Arizona in 1992 to work for a design firm in Phoenix. I went on to become a freelance illustrator in 1994, illustrating for a variety of local and national clients (rjd-illustration.com). In 2001, I started my own design company RJD Creative (rjdcreative.com) which has served design clients large and small for over 16 years.
While still in Connecticut, I developed a love of landscape painting, and from time to time would work on my own drawings, pastels and paintings, including landscape and still life subjects. My passion for drawing and painting the landscape reignited in 2016, and since then I’ve been creating a new body of work including what you see here and on my website.
Beautiful places are the inspiration for my work. I have been blessed to be able to live in and visit many beautiful places in the U.S. — my home state of Arizona, the New England states (including Connecticut where I lived for 18 years, New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, New Jersey and Pennsylvania), the island of Martha’s Vineyard, the Big Island of Hawaii, the midwestern state of Iowa, and the western states of New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, California, and Oregon. Whenever I am in one of these places I am inspired by its natural beauty and am compelled to create my interpretations of the scenery around me.
From sketches and photographs of these beautiful places, I create landscape paintings and pastel, charcoal and pencil drawings that use simplified compositions, basic forms, bold color, dramatic or subdued lighting, and atmospheric effects to evoke feelings in the viewer. By reducing representational details, my goal is to enable the viewer to make an emotional connection with the painting. I hope to communicate feelings of peace, calm, quiet, simplicity, solitude, contemplation, serenity, happiness and joy through my work.
I am not attempting to render or reproduce a scene that is before me — my goal is to react and respond to what I am seeing. My drawings and paintings are not intended to be detailed visual descriptions of particular places at specific times, they are meant to exist as reinventions that have a life of their own. My reductionist approach to the landscape and my focus on color relationships within the painting are aimed at inspiring a reaction in the viewer that is influenced less by their preconceived ideas about the subject and more by their sensory experience of the piece in front of them.
I avoid including human elements (people, structures, vehicles, etc.) in my work — I prefer instead to present a view of nature that is unspoiled by human intervention.
The fundamental reason I choose to make art is to create something of beauty, something that can bring joy and peace to the viewer. I’ve chosen the landscape as my subject to celebrate the beauty of nature, and hopefully help the viewer to notice and appreciate the colors and forms in the natural world around them a little more often.
Hudson River School
Color Field Painting
Group of Seven (Canada)
Society of Six (California)
RJD Fine Art