With his studio and art gallery in Scottsdale, Arizona, Rick Kersten specializes in painting the deserts and canyons of the Southwest, although his work has covered a wide range of other locales and subjects. His Southwest paintings depict dramatic landscapes, nature, architecture, horses and people - including historical western personalities, such as Pancho Villa, Zapata, Wild Bill Hichcock and Buffalo Bill Cody.
A native of Arizona, Rick Kersten has worked in a variety of art forms, including: painting, sculpture, book illustration, greeting card art, murals, cartoon strips, and retail store and restaurant design.
Living close to the colorful Arizona Grand Canyon, Rick has had the opportunity to capture the radiance and definition of its constantly changing appearance, as the light and shadows shift on its canyon walls throughout the day. He has painted dramatic images of these transitions.
Rick noted, "Color has a very emotional impact on me. There is a delicate feeling in the Arizona desert as colors change. You have to be aware of everything that surrounds you. Color has to look and feel like a warm summer rain or a bright sunny day." He explained that he begins most paintings on location, taking photos or doing quick sketches in pastel to capture light and color. He then works up his paintings in his studio, using oil or acrylic paint.
Rick said that his visual knowledge has grown through his river rafting experiences in the white waters of the Colorado River - that cuts through the Canyon walls - and through hiking into the canyon. He commented that "There's such a spirituality in the Grand Canyon’s remoteness that I will never feel I have captured even a small portion of it."
In addition to his paintings of the Southwest, Rick has also painted images of Mexico, which include paintings of Mexican architecture, landscapes, indigenous cactus, local people, and culture, such as his painting, Balladora - of a Mexican dancer, and of Mariachi bands. His clean, simple depictions of daily life in Mexico are enhanced with shades of pink, purple, orange, yellow, turquoise, green and blue - that vividly capture the moods of the region.
Rick received his formal education in art, when he studied at Arizona State University in Tempe. During his senior year there, Rick was commissioned by the Del Webb Corp. to create paintings for their hotels and restaurants.
Following college, Rick worked as
an art director for several advertising agencies in the Phoenix area. He was
also a freelance artist for a popular Phoenix television show, "Wallace
and Ladmo," that lampooned
local and national news, and politics.
After college, Rick joined the Navy and served in Vietnam, during the War. While in the Navy, he had the opportunity to do paintings and illustrations of life in Vietnam, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan. Many of these illustrations were published in the Navy Times newspaper. While in the Philippines, he painted a mural for the main administration building on the Subic Bay Naval base.
After he got out of the Navy, Rick returned to Arizona, and formed Kersten Brothers Studios with his brother Pete. The studio specialized in product designs for the retail market. This venture eventually grew into Kersten Brothers Greeting Cards, a production, sales and distribution company that had numerous accounts in the United States and abroad.
In 1985, the publishing and distribution part of the business was sold. Although Rick is still involved in licensing Kersten Brother's artwork, his primary focus is now doing what he loves most, painting the Southwest.
Rick’s art gallery, the Kersten Gallery, is located in the Scottsdale Airpark in Scottsdale.
For more information,
the gallery's website at:
Edited by Mel Fenson from information derived from the artist’s website.