Jean Richards. Edith Jean Richards had a varied and successful career as an artist, calligrapher, teacher and writer, as well as radio producer. Born and raised in Edmonton, she took many courses in art and writing, at the Banff School of Fine Arts and at the University of Alberta. Influenced by her mother, artist Ella Richards, Jean also studied under H.G. Glyde, Jack Taylor, Harry Savage and Harry Wolfarth, as well as with master calligraphers.
She was inspired by the rural Alberta landscape, by its constant change of light, form and space. She painted “visual poetry” to persuade people to look at and realize local beauty. She used various media and tools to achieve this: watercolour, crayons, pastels, ink, acrylics, collage, fragmented rock crystals, or a sponge dipped in colours, to “find the living essence of things”. Her work was wide-ranging, from Modernist abstract works using expressive, bright colours and gestural brushwork, to relatively traditional landscapes and still-lifes, loosely-painted portraits, and buildings rendered in geometric shapes. She sometimes wrote poetry to accompany her paintings. A retrospective show of her work was held at the Collectors’ Gallery, Calgary, in 2017.
She regularly held one-woman shows locally, and group shows nationally. Her work was exhibited in Canada, France, the UK and Japan. Jean won the Prize Certificate of Excellence for Calligraphy at the Tokyo Museum in 1984. She was a recipient of the Alberta Centennial Medal in 2005, and in 2013 won the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for calligraphic work.
Her work is held in numerous collections, including the Alberta Government House Foundation, the AGA, the Provincial Archives; the Mayor’s Office in Hull/Gatineau, Quebec; and at City Hall, Cardiff, Wales.