Russell offers award-winning works

Published 4:38 pm Monday, March 29, 2010

Most Alabamians recognize artwork of Richard Russell. University of Alabama and Auburn fans know his watercolor portrayals of football scenes.

This artist, born in Peterborough, England, is a legendary icon, Alabama’s Norman Rockwell. We met at Inverness Country Club, which commissioned five original Russell paintings. He told of his inspiration, and life journey.

“I was age 14, when lying on my bed, reading a Life magazine with President Eisenhower on its cover, I began sketching. Two hours later I had a nice rendition of Eisenhower,” said Russell.

His grandmother, also an artist, encouraged him by supplying brushes and paints.

University of Alabama Professor Richard Brough was Russell’s mentor.

“He was my graphics teacher,” Russell said, smiling. “Brough made a deal with me. If I’d never take graphics again, he’d give me a passing grade.”

Brough stayed in touch with Russell even after he’d graduated, and moved to New York City.

“I got my start in New York, pounding city pavement,” said Russell. Someone suggested he begin painting city scenes, which he did. Some of those paintings are still available for purchase.

Among an array of art offered, Russell has new Alabama National Championship pieces with the official Bama logo. He explained his technique, saying, “Art is the ability to see, and then interpret. My pieces are works of art. This is my passion.”

Russell’s selection of color sets mood in his paintings. He expertly provides proper contrast to intentionally draw the viewer’s eye to a focal point. A painting of football players reveals motion, as obvious as a camera lens. Yet Russell paints his subjects the way of the master artists, with canvas and brush.

Russell’s honors and awards include Official Artist for Alabama Symphony and the Alabama Music Hall of Fame, and Licensed Artist for University of Alabama and Auburn. Exhibitions range from Stuart Gallery New York, to the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. Russell owned a gallery in New Orleans for 12 years. In 2006, he exhibited at the Rockefeller Center Art Show in New York.

Russell paints people and places you may see anywhere, capturing a piece of history, memories, adding a personal “splash.” Shelby County’s own Richard Russell has art offered at many locations, including Bama Fever and Auburn Spirit stores, and Rosenburger Birmingham Trunk at the Summit. See for more.

Gladys Hodge Sherrer can be reached by e–mail at