Richard Ashley Norris
"I like to draw people. This is the answer you get when Richard Ashley Norris is asked about his work. Although he produces works of art that feature many different subjects, he says that he prefers doing faces. "I really enjoy the challenge of trying to achieve a good likeness. There are so many different facial expressions, I always find new ones to use in my renderings. His technique of alternating layers of soft and hard pencils give his graphite renderings an almost photographic effect. His colored pencil works exhibit a deep rich quality that is achieved by the application of pen and ink, overlaid with colored pencil and blended with graphite. He says that he never really enjoyed painting with brushes when he was younger, however more recently he has developed an appreciation for the technique. "I guess my patience level as I get older allows me to take the necessary time to produce quality paintings. That patience is paying off. His acrylic paintings have been so widely sought after until he barely has time to finish them before they are sold.
Born and raised in East Palatka, Florida, Richard received his initial formal training while still in high school. After graduation, he entered Florida State University where he studied fine art for two years. While in his first year at F.S.U., he entered his first major art show. Although the show featured a number of the well known and established Artists from across the southeast, Richard was awarded first and third place honors. He was later featured on local television showing and discussing his work. Over the years, Richard has been commissioned to produce works of art for such companies as the Kinney Shoe Company, Philip Morris and J.C. Penney. In 1993 the national office of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People(NAACP) commissioned him to produce an original mural to commemorate the installation of Dr. Benjamin Chavis as the new national director. The work was unveiled and featured at the 1993 national convention in Indianapolis, Indiana where it was broadcast to more than 63 countries as a backdrop to a speech given by the honorable Nelson Mandela. In 1994, he was again commissioned to produce an original work for that year's national convention in Chicago, Illinois. In addition to the art work for the convention, Richard was also commissioned to produce the only official poster commemorating the 40th year anniversary of the Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, Supreme Court decision. In 1995, Richard was asked to produce a limited edition poster for the internationally renown Dallas Black Dance Theatre. The Dance Theatre is the only performing group from the state of Texas that was invited to perform at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. The poster was used as a fund raiser to commemorate the event. In 1998, Richard completed a portrait of baseball pioneer Jackie Robinson for the Harlem Y.M.C.A., Harlem, N.Y. The project was commissioned and under-wriften by the Kinney Shoe Company. The original was unveiled at the 1998 Young Black Achievers in Business and Industry Awards Banquet in New York City. Posters were released at the 1999 Harlem Homecoming Festival.