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Richard Silva

Artist's Biography

As a first generation Portuguese American, I was born in 1939, in Fresno, California, one of a family of twelve. Educated in the public school system and working in various jobs from elevator operator to custodian, I moved to San Francisco in 1970 to seek out my goal of being a painter. Attended the Academy of Art, with my first studio class being taught by Joan Brown, a very skillful and recognized painter of the time. Studying with her for two years, my direction of figurative painting was established, along with inspiration and ideas from similar painters of the fifties and sixties. During this time I was fortunate to meet and know the painter, Robert DeNiro Sr., who also shaped my future directions. After two years with the Academy, I moved over to the San Francisco Art Institute for another two years of study under the wings of such artists as Sam Tchakalian. After four years of study I decided the day had been reached when I needed to leave school behind me and become a painter on my own. I remained in San Francisco for another twelve years painting, and existing as best I could, before returning back to Fresno. After returning to my roots, my employment was merely an end to allow me to grow and paint. It wasn't long before my home and rented storage spaces were filled to capacity with my work. My family members were familiar with my work, a few close acquaintances saw my paintings, but in retrospect I can appreciate the fact that all I did was paint, and then try to find a place to store my art, so I could paint some more. Without the support of my wife (and now 4 grown children) I would have been unable to continue my painting. In 1999 I was accepted as a member of Fig Tree Gallery, one of the oldest cooperative galleries in California, and had my first one man show that same year. The sale of paintings validated my years of study, hard work, and of course my ambition to be an artist. My style of painting is difficult to describe...naivety certainly plays a role, as does my years of study towards figurative style. Most of my paintings and sculptures would best be described as mixed media using any combination of house paint, charcoal, torn paper, cardboard and such on canvas, wall board, metal or wood. I work in the immediate time and space trying to translate my feelings into my art, sometimes taking only minutes, sometimes days. Many of my paintings from years past are resurrected, by either being partially or wholly repainted, bring them to a new time. A quote on my studio wall by William DeKooning is my motto... "I don't paint to live, but live to paint".

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