EBALDC Resident Richard Aswad: Finding Unity Through Painting

Nov 20, 2013

by. Jerico Paguio

Richard Aswad is one of eight artists featured in "Artists in Residence: Creative Works from the Residents of EBALDC." Richard is one of many talented artists living in EBALDC's communities, and he was one of the inspirations for the show. Last week, he talked to EBALDC staff member Jerico Paguio about his work.

“I was told I was an artist in Santa Barbara when I was in college,” Richard Aswad says as I sit down with him on a Friday afternoon to get to know the man behind the paintings exhibited in the Asian Resource Center Gallery.

You wouldn’t guess that Richard has 30 years of painting experience under his belt. He looks too young for that. His only giveaway is his full head of white hair. “The first six years I didn’t want to read anything about painting. I wanted it to be kept pure in my mind,” he explains. Then he cracked a book and discovered what others have done and written about. “To be honest, I didn’t like my paintings," he adds. "So I went to the library to see what else is out there." He says it took time to understand the delicate technique, but the result is wonderful. He appreciates that art lasts for hundreds of years. “You make it look like its real and everybody likes it. The problem is, what do you paint?”

Richard started painting with pastels, but over the years he discovered the "invention" of oil painting. He calls it an invention because layering with oil creates an infinite combination of possibilities. His surreal style definitely embodies this philosophy.

The hardest step about creating a masterpiece is finding the unity in the steps, Richard says. Each step is connected to another. He mentions a Russian artist who paints in 18 steps. Eighteen isn’t the important part—it’s the fact that the artist realizes there are multiple steps and knows which one leads to the next. “There is this gradation of change. There is a philosophy that can be carried into the painting. Dali said it’s built up like a photograph. The way a painting develops should be the way a photograph develops.”

He starts to tell me about some of his inspirations, but our time is cut short when his home health aid calls to take him to his doctor’s appointment. I shake his hand, thank him for the interview, and help him up from his chair. Before we say our goodbyes, he says he hopes to see me at the upcoming reception at the Asian Resource Center Gallery and reminds me to view more of his work on his website,  www.richardaswad.weebly.com.

Meet Richard Aswad and our other featured artists at the exhibit reception at the Asian Resource Center Gallery on Friday, November 22 from 5–8 p.m.