you know it or not, you’re probably familiar with
Rick Welch’s art work. Your gaze has probably not
only rested upon it, but penetrated it.
Especially if you’ve spent a major holiday in town.
Remember the wizard Gandalf wishing Happy Holidays on behalf of Arches
Book Company a couple of years ago, or the rugged striped jeep cruising
along the front of City Market last April, or the enormous dinosaur still
guards the children’s section of Back of Beyond Books? Yep, you’re
familiar with Welch’s work.
Rick Welch is known for his many skills, but most notably for his window
painting. His work has brightened the entrances of businesses around
Moab for the last fifteen years, since he returned after obtaining a
Design Production Art degree from the Phoenix Institute of Technology.
Window painting allows Welch to indulge in two of his favorite aspects
of art, realism and detail. Welch displays a strong attraction for representational
art. He admires the “trompe l’oeil” technique, which
literally means “trick the eye.”
good example of this type of work is located over the gift wrapping section
of Arches Book Company, where Welch painted a shelf harboring classics
by Hemingway, Kafka and other notable authors. Despite the enormous proportions
that look more like a giant’s library, the painting is such a realistic
portrayal, including shadows imbuing a three-dimensional quality, that
the work “tricks the eye” into believing the shelf exists.
He strives to represent the object of his artwork as realistically as
possible and declares that he wants the finished work to “look
like a photograph.”
This desire for realism is linked to his detail-oriented method of painting.
He loves the meticulousness of recreating what he sees. Welch admits
that “I would have a hard time being an impressionist because of
this attention to detail.”
Even in the ephemerality of window painting, he labors over the work
despite that it will be washed off within a month. Welch is also a self-acclaimed
Although he has parlayed this talent and personality trait into a viable
commercial outlet, he also pursues his interest in art on other canvases,
exploring a wide range of mediums. A thorough training combined with
a natural artist’s desire to recreate and manipulate reality inspired
Welch to become adept at using different methods of painting, including
oils, pastels and air brush.
A good manifestation of this ability to use mixed media is his painting, “1937
Chevy.” To create this photorealistic picture of a classic Chevy
parked in what appears to be an apartment complex, Welch used air- and
paint brush, watercolor, acrylic and gouache.
evidently enjoys playing around with the effects each medium creates
as he includes an array of different reflective surfaces, including chrome,
water and buildings. He accurately captures the fluidity of water, the
sheen of metal and the glow of clay.
Although Welch strives for realistic representation in his depiction
of objects, the arrangement displays his artistic vision and license.
From afar or at a first glance, the apartment complex resembles a sandstone
canyon with a stream running through it. The influence of the Moab area
is clearly apparent in this intentional blurring of images.
Another artistic addition to the composition is the tear drop headlight.
According to Welch, an avid classic car enthusiast, the 1937 Chevy didn’t
come with such a feature. He chose to add it to the painting as a central
focal point in which most of the objects in the painting are reflected
on the concave metallic surface.
In addition to cars, wildlife and portraiture are Welch’s favorite
subject matter. One work of interest he completed for an art class features
a wolf. The animal is in a classic pose evoking wariness and defiance.
What stands out about this piece is the checkerboard effect over the
realistic representation. Welch used squares of warm and cool tones in
an alternating sequence, which makes the painting look as if a transparent
checkerboard has been placed over it.
Achieving eye-catching effects through his deft use of mediums is one
of Welch’s recognizable traits as an artist. In “Watching
the Light Show,” the Three Gossips and Sheep Rock are illuminated
by vivid bolts of lightening. The majority of the painting is done in
air brush, giving the rocks soft contours. Against this blended-in background,
the sharp definition of lightening bolts, which were painstakingly painted
in with acrylic, stand out.
Painting the lightening was his favorite part because it demanded the
most attention. In his perfectionism, Welch captures the sizzle and electricity
of the bolts. It seems as if the crack of the thunder can be heard as
the lightening illuminates the sky and rocks below.
Welch’s ability and comfort in using such a wide array of mediums
can be a surprise to most who know him. Still a young artist, he continues
to work at a hardware store, and many people know him as “the lumber
guy.” Welch is used to hearing people react to his art by saying, “I
didn’t know you were an artist.”
Considering his parentage, it should not be a surprise. His biggest inspiration
is an artist who, a generation ago, used to paint windows around town,
too - his mother, Kathryn Welch. She specializes in oil portraits, and
surrounded Rick with art. She gave him confidence in pursuing his own
creative abilities. Welch enjoys challenging and developing his artistic
talents by painting in a variety of mediums and surfaces. He is a young
artist worth keeping an eye out for. And if you’re spending the
holidays in Moab this year, it’ll be hard not to since most likely
at least one of his creations will grace a window where you shop.