For all the honors his painting has brought him and has much as he loves the Western art world, it’s the family-focused Western lifestyle that Jason Rich considers the most important.
For all that he has accomplished as a Western artist — the innumerable awards, prestigious shows, international recognition, and financial success — Jason Rich prefers a life that fosters the simple and lasting things.
He was raised with Western values. Brought up on a small farm in southern Idaho, Rich rode horses early and quickly turned to drawing them (as soon as he could pick up a pencil, his mother says) and training them. During summers, he went on cattle drives with his uncle. Today he’s as comfortable riding with cowboys, working corrals, and packing into the wilderness as he is creating art.
Seeking to combine his passions for rural living and painting, Rich got his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in art at Utah State University. Now, after more than two decades of accolades in the Western art world, you’ll find Rich still painting and living true to a life close to the land. Currently making his home on a small ranch in northern Utah’s Cache Valley with his wife, three children, and three horses, he and his family immerse themselves in their community, their church, and the Western lifestyle.
His profession as a painter has provided the perfect underpinning to build his dream without sacrificing the life he loves. “I love being a painter and being a part of the Western art world,” he says. “But, honestly, the most important thing to me is the lifestyle it has afforded my family.”
Rich and his wife were young when he began painting professionally in 1995, and they were strapped: Living in a tiny apartment, they had a baby on the way. “Looking back, we were pretty naive and just kind of jumped into it,” he says. But he persevered in his art career and eventually prospered. Today he’ll tell you the real payoff is something other than financial success: “What I really appreciate about being an artist is the time it’s allowed me to be with my family, to watch my kids grow; the flexibility it’s given me to go to a recital here and a soccer game there, just to be involved in their lives. When they come home from school I can be here and we can talk. So it’s worked out exactly as we had hoped in that regard. And, really, it’s been a wonderful blessing. It’s more than a job — it’s really become a lifestyle for us.” His achievements in authentically representing the cowboy life led to Rich’s 2011 induction into Cowboy Artists of America. True to the mission of that elite organization, he continually strives to use his art and his knowledge of the cowboy life to maintain the Western tradition.
The secret to successful art, Rich says, is love for the subject matter combined with the pursuit of making great quality art. “I’m fortunate because I love my subject matter — the figures, particularly horses; the Western landscape; the history and culture.” He’s quick to add that central to the success of a painting is the artist’s excitement about coming to the canvas every day.
“Every artist is different,” Rich says. “You just learn for yourself what keeps things fresh, because when you start to feel a little burned-out, it shows in the painting. Now, for me, it has become less about the subject and more about creating great art. It’s very important to me that my paintings are portrayed with historical and cultural accuracy, but it’s also become important that I’m creating paintings that stand the test of time.”
The hardest part, he says, is being entirely happy with a painting. “If you’re trying to push yourself to grow, sometimes it’s hard to be satisfied with what you’ve done. It never quite reaches the vision that you’ve had in your head. Sometimes you get closer than others, but being able to capture exactly what you have in your head ... doesn’t happen too much.”
Perfection might remain elusive, but inspiration is always only a lope away. “I live in the foothills now,” Rich told Cowboy Artists of America. “I love that I can hop on my horse and be in the mountains in a matter of minutes.”
Jason Rich is represented by Legacy Gallery in Scottsdale, Arizona; Jackson, Wyoming; and Bozeman, Montana; InSight Gallery in Fredericksburg, Texas; and Broadmoor Galleries in Colorado Springs, Colorado. His work will be on view in December 2017 at Holiday Show at Legacy Gallery in Scottsdale; on April 7, 2018, at Scottsdale Art Auction; and in May 2018 at Artist Workshop Weekend at Triple Creek Ranch in Darby, Montana. Find more on the artist at jasonrichstudios.com.