Library spotlights work of longtime artist

Local artist Jean Richards is happy with the opportunity to display some of her artwork at the Fort Frances Public Library during December and January.
“I like the chance to show my work at the library,” she said. “There are a lot of people who go to the library that don’t come to the [Fine Line Art Gallery].
“It is a good chance to let them see my work.”
In addition to her work at the library, Richards also is currently showing a collection of her work in an exhibit with Pam Hawley at the Fort Frances Museum entitled “A Common Thread.”
Her artwork, which ranges from paintings of local sites to exquisite portraits and nature scenes, are all inspired by Richards’ own life experiences.
“I sometimes get my ideas from looking at other paintings, or from scenery and things that I remember,” she explained. “I even have people come up to me and suggest certain things to me.
“Often they will say to me, ‘You should do this because I don’t think anyone has done it before.’ I can get an idea from pretty much anything,” she remarked.
Unlike many artists of today, Richards did not get her artistic training from the classroom of a university or college but instead began her career in her home in rural Manitoba.
“I started to draw when my children were small,” she said. “I would make pictures for them on the windows at Hallowe’en and other holidays. That was well over 30 years ago.
“I remember doing it and thinking that I wasn’t too bad at it, so I kept up with it and have been doing it ever since.”
Among her numerous accomplishments as an artist, Richards regards being commissioned for a painting in 1994 as the highlight of her career so far.
“Kim Johnson of John Aaron Productions was filming a movie called ‘For The Moment’ about war pilots who received their flight training in Brandon, Man.,” Richards recalled.
“Someone asked me if I would paint a picture of the ‘Tiger Moth,’ a war plane of that time that they trained the pilots in. I painted the picture and when they had the premiere for the movie, they presented [it] to Kim Johnson.
“It was very exciting.”
With her paintings hanging in homes as far away as South Africa, Portugal, and England, Richards now is hoping to gain more exposure for her work here in town with opportunities such as those offered by the local library and museum.
“I have received a lot of positive comments from people in the community about my work,” she admitted. “To have the chance to show my work around town is great, especially at a place like the library where so many people come and go.”
Among the collection of works hanging on the library walls are pictures that range from a small, intricately-painted canary to a violent and intense tornado ripping across the countryside.
When she’s not busy painting, Richards can be found showcasing the work of other local artists at the Fine Line Art Gallery on Mowat Avenue–a business she helped create five years ago with more than a dozen other art lovers from the community.
“We created this gallery about five years ago to show the work of artists from the area,” she noted. “We have had a lot more people join our [organization], which has given me a great deal more time to spend on my paintings.
“Something that started with a few drawings for my children has pretty much turned into a full-time career.”