The Renegade Rip

Vibrant Visions

Maria Eutsler

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When Bakersfield College graphic arts teacher Nelson Richardson was attending Santa Monica College, friends said he’d never get a job in art.

“So, of course, whenever people tell you not to do something, you do it,” he said.

Today, 24 years later, his passion for art remains strong.

“It’s a very competitive field,” said Richardson, who is a professional graphic arts designer in addition to his teaching position. “You’re not going to make a lot of money out of it, but you’re going to be satisfied doing what you truly want to do. I just feel privileged that I’m even able to work in the field of art. I choose to do this because I think it is one of the more exciting ways to live.”

That excitement is reflected in his exhibit at the BC library art gallery called, “Nelson Richardson: Pattern and Illusion, a Retrospective.”

The exhibit will be on display until Oct. 26.

Some of Richardson’s work from the ’70s, such as “When Values Meet” and “No. 4 (Searchlight Illusion),” are kaleidoscopic visions of both color and structure.

“All of my work from the ’70s was very optically-oriented,” he said. “If you look at them long enough things begin to happen, shifts in the planes and shifts in the foreground and background, working off the two components of your eyes, the rods and the cones.”

Most of Richardson’s work from the ’80s, such as “Clouds,” and “Hail Storm (Who’s Counting),” uses shadows to create the illusion of depth.

One of his 1980 pieces called, “Fuzzy the Stake,” has a different feel than his other works.

“‘Fuzzy the Stake’ was kind of a breakthrough piece for me because that was the first time that I didn’t use masking tape. So everything else had a real crisp edge to it,” he said.

In the 1990s, Richardson began working with landscapes and the splatter effect, with pieces like “Kern Landscape” and “Cloud Shadows.”

Along with creating art, he has been teaching at BC part time since 1986, and full time since 1995.

Not only is Richardson a professor of computer graphics, but he also created the computer graphic arts program.

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