Rick Shiers at BankRI Pitman St. Gallery

“Playing With Paint: Recent Still Life Oil Paintings by Rick Shiers.”

The branch is located at 137 Pitman Street in Providence.  Hours are Monday through Thursday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, contact www.bankri.com or call 401 574-1330.


Artist and illustrator Rick Shiers in his North Attleboro studio.

The studio is just off a busy street in North Attleboro.  It’s a light and airy space, clean, well organized, and clear of clutter with a large work table down the middle.  Painter and illustrator Rick Shiers works and paints here.

A graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design with a degree in illustration, Shiers counts Chris Van Allsburg and the late Tom Sgouros and Paul Langmuir as his professors.  He credits Langmuir with teaching him how to make a living.  “He taught me how to do mechanicals and storyboards,” says Shiers.  “He showed me how to make money doing illustration.”

After graduation, it wasn’t unusual for Shiers to work 100 hours a week or more.  He was making a good living creating storyboards for advertising in television, video and magazines.  Shiers cut back on his work schedule when he got married and he and his wife had a daughter.

Over the past decade or so, the illustration field has changed dramatically.  Technology and computers have leveled the playing field.  Anyone can download a stock illustration or have a logo designed for a small fee.  Fewer people read print magazines and newspapers and opportunities for traditional illustrators have shrunk.  Shiers has enough contacts to keep him working steadily, but there is downtime.  “I always want to be doing something,” he says.  “I get antsy.”

Seven years ago, Shiers started painting seriously in oils.  He finds oil painting challenging and feels he is just now beginning to develop a style of his own.   He is too much of an illustrator to veer far from realism, but there is a painterly quality to the work.   He calls it “painterly realism.”

The paintings in the BankRI Galleries are part of a series of still lifes Shiers has been working recently. Some are quite straight forward –  a small quiet still life with red onions is a perfect study in tonal harmony.  Others are more playful.  A giant piece of bubble gum lies across a canvas like an odalisk.  A child’s jack and a toy block tell a story as only objects can. Very few people populate Shiers’ paintings.  He has had quite enough of illustrating people and all their dramas.  He prefers to tell his stories quietly with hints and whispers, leaving a lot of space for the viewer to take the journey with him.

Rick Shiers exhibits oil paintings at the BankRI Pitman Street Gallery May 4 through May 31st, 2017.

The BankRI Galleries are curated by Paula Martiesian, a Providence-based artist and arts advocate.

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