"Vibrant about Life, Art," was the title of a 2006 newspaper interview with Texas artist, JoNell Richardson, who had just been named San Angelo Art Club's Artist of the Year for the third consecutive year.
After several decades of painting, Richardson continues to pursue her creative urges. She says that time can disappear as her watercolor pigments flow off her brush onto the paper. Born in Bandera, Texas, JoNell lived on a ranch until she was four. Her early childhood memories still provide inspiration for her paintings. The small school she attended in Rocksprings, Texas, did not employ art teachers, but when she was thirteen, her parents recognized her talent and arranged for her to take some oil painting classes with a local artist. JoNell also studied art books to learn more about techniques, design, and color mixing. Later, she began using pastel and acrylic paints in addition to the oils. In 1957, JoNell married and had three sons. During this time, her family took precedence, and she had extensive travel opportunities, which helped to fuel her desire to capture images in paintings.
In early 1970, her Big Bend Park-inspired oil painting won The People's Choice Award at the San Angelo Art Club, and a change was about to occur—a short time later, JoNell attended her first watercolor workshop with Ronald Thomason. This was a joyful experience that began a journey that continues today. She realized that painting with watercolor was not all that different from other mediums, but for her, it made painting much easier. She continued her workshop study with noted artist, Bud Biggs, followed by Naomi Brotherton, Leo Smith, Clay McGaugh, Ken Hosmer, Diane Maxey, Margaret Hoyback, Vernell Leach, Cathy Lubke, Warren Taylor, and Joseph Fettingis. She studied with several of them on more than one occasion. Whenever possible, she took art history and drawing classes at San Angelo College. In 1985, JoNell's "September Song" was accepted in the West Texas Watercolor Society National Exhibit. In May, 1988, she was the Feature Artist at the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame in Hereford, Texas. One of her numerous commissions includes the Museum of Frontier Medicine at the Fort Concho National Historical Landmark in San Angelo, Texas.
Although this was a busy time in her personal life, she continued entering art exhibits whenever possible, including participating in regional art competitions. One exhibit at a local library in early 2000 prompted a young woman who wanted to learn about painting and watercolor, to ask if JoNell would give her lessons. JoNell had to do some soul searching about this, because she doubted her ability to teach and she already had a full-time job. However, JoNell remembered her first art teacher, who had accepted JoNell as a student after being told it was a time for her to give back. JoNell realized it was now her own turn to give back, and the young woman's drawings and her obvious desire to learn convinced JoNell to give teaching a try. The experience was so rewarding that Richardson slowly began to add more students.
Retiring from her job in the travel business in 2003 opened the door to allow JoNell the time to devote to her own painting pursuits and to work with additional students. Currently, her students are winning their own awards, one recently named the 2010 Artist of the Year who commented, "I would never be doing watercolor without JoNell. I wouldn't know what to do. I think it is the hardest medium to learn, but ever since I've started working with her, it's been almost natural." JoNell says, "There are many aspects to working with watercolor. I view each painting as a partnership between myself and the medium. It requires me to use my skills, knowledge and patience, in addition to inspiration to bring about the best results."
Richardson is a member of the San Angelo Art Club, West Texas Watercolor Society and Southwestern Watercolor Society. Her works are in private and corporate collections across the country. Contact her for more information