Richard Dixon artist - painting inspiration
Artist Richard Dixon

Canadian artist Richard Dixon has been painting professionally for 40 years, but he remembers only a sliver of this time. Dixon tells us that he once owned galleries that restored and dealt in Rembrandts, Van Goghs, and rare art, creating his own art internationally as well, until a series of spinal surgeries and neurological disorders through the last nine years changed everything, creating what he sees as “a blessing.”

Dixon now spends half of his day in a wheelchair, often unable to speak due to aphasia. He spends the other half of his day, every day, painting outdoors.

Read his story, and be inspired.

Painting outdoors

“Life is lived in the moment of NOW, which is perfection for plein air painting!”

Written by Richard Dixon

My release from this supposed disability is to spend the half day of mobility painting plein air artworks followed by the refinement of those in the studio in the half day when I cannot walk/stand/speak but can paint. Through plein air painting what would be a very limited life is both rich and rewarding.

Painting landscapes outdoors
Beaver ponds at Elk Island National Park. Done rough on site as a plein air 36 x 48 and refined in studio. The emphasis is on the misty, surreal nature of the trees in the background contrasted with the old beaver pond; the details are simplified for composition and focus. At some point I will redo the scene with a few bison in the scene as there were the day it was painted. Elk Island is the breeding source for all wood bison currently on the planet after the last herds were moved there for preservation. From Elk Island, bison herds can now be found on most of their former range and as far away as Russia and China.

When I am painting, the focus is entirely in the moment with no thought of technique, only following the energy of the creative impulse. The paintings literally materialize from nowhere. As I have no past or future, those distractions do not exist for me any longer.

I am fully alive when painting and the disabilities of the body drop away from my conscious reality.

Painting landscapes outdoors
Final image of Continental Range at Panorama, British Columbia, 30 x 48 inches, painted en plein air rough on-site. I had considered adding a cougar or eagles to the final image but chose to focus the image on the landscape with the unique light of the first snow clouds opposed by the yellows of the changing foliage for contrast. At some future time I will likely do a piece related to the cougar and to the eagles.

The general public and even those close to me see the change in my life circumstances and feel sorry for me, not realizing that this is the greatest blessing I could ever have received.
To be fully immersed in the moment of creation, painting, carving, sculpting, is indeed life itself!!!!

I have 1,600 art instruction books that I can use in the process of helping artists to create art, but I really concentrate upon showing them a way toward appreciating their own creativity and following the flow of energy that creates exquisite art. I have begun to share this with artists in workshops based not upon my past commercial successes in the arts but upon the current experiences of profound disability that have forced me to a greater understanding of the source of creativity — setting aside the distractions of life in order to create.

Artists have the greatest gift in the world in their hands if only they can find it within them!

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  1. Richard, I think you’re so right. Whether we have a current disability or we struggle with juggling all of life’s demands when we put it all aside and soak in the creativity given to us we are blessed, so very blessed. I’m so glad you are able to enjoy this part of your life so fully. Thank you for sharing your talent and wise words. God bless your every day, every moment!


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