Featured Artist Richard Pantell

New York painter Richard Pantell captures an alternative reality in his luminous oil paintings. Learn more about this artist by visiting his website.


Oil painting of a woman in a bathing suit eating hotdogs on Memorial Day by Richard Pantell

“Memorial Day” oil on canvas, 40” x 50”


I grew up in The Bronx where I had immediate access to the great museums of Manhattan at a time when most had free admission. Coming from a family of limited means, I never felt a lack of cultural access.


Painting of a woman in a trailer park pool by Richard Pantell

“After a Long Day” oil on canvas, 40” x 50”


Beginning oil painting at age ten, I knew what I wanted to do. My college art experience was not a good one, as my professors were pushing color field painting which I did not relate to. I left after two years, totally discouraged with art, and rambled around the country with a guitar.


Painting of a woman looking over an el train by Richard Pantell

“Summer Twilight” oil on canvas, 50” x 40”


A few years later while performing in a saloon in Idaho, it occurred to me that I wanted to paint. I returned to New York City and enrolled at The Art Students League. It was there that I regained my artistic voice and direction. I had a wonderful experience at The League being trained by working professionals amid a community of folks who spoke the same artistic language. I continue this experience today, having been an instructor there for the past twenty-three years.


Painting of a nude woman in an armchair by Richard Pantell

“Sleeping Paleontologist” oil on canvas, 24” x 36”


I’ve had many influences such as artists Da Vinci, Rembrandt, the Barbizon painters (especially Millet), the Ashcan Painters, Marsh, Soyer, Tooker, late 19th century Scandinavian artists and German expressionists of the 1920s. Writers such as Thoreau and Kafka, as well as musicians such as Schubert, The Weavers, The Beatles, Neil Young, Tom Waits, and current events all contribute to the art that I make today.


painting of a woman blinded by light by Richard Pantell

“The Light” oil on canvas, 24” x 30”


I use realism as a tool rather than as an end in itself. My goal is to present a reality that exists only on the canvas. I may or may not use models, and the environments in which I place them are usually invented or reworked from sketches.


Painting of a subway station platform with a solitary figure by Richard Pantell

“Crossing Over” oil on canvas, 60” x 40”


My earlier works were usually images of cityscapes and the New York City subway. The subway interested me because there was distance in space and in time. From any station, one could travel anywhere. That station would also contain century-old mosaics covered with recent graffiti. There would be just one small figure in the work, and that figure would always be the star of the piece.


Oil painting of a woman in a pool in front of an amusement park by Richard Pantell

“Starlite Motel” oil on canvas, 40” x 50”


In recent years I’ve zoomed in on the figure, who now dominates the canvas surface. I am currently painting a series of single bathers, often the same woman, and casting her into a multitude of environments and situations. Some of these paintings have a touch of social realism, some are serene, and some are disturbing.


Painting of a female bather in a lily pond by Richard Pantell

“Solitude” oil on canvas, 40” x 50”


I have a passion for using oil paint on lead-primed linen. I apply the old technique of oil glazing due to its amazing luminosity, depth and coloring possibilities. I learned the technique from old books, centuries old incomplete paintings, and by experimentation.


Painting of a woman in a patriotic bathing suit in the reflecting pond in DC by Richard Pantell

“Patriots” oil on canvas, 40” x 50”


I begin with a dry toned canvas, building up a monochromatic underpainting, and add layers of transparent colors, sometimes applying colors followed by layers of the opposite color.


Painting of a woman with arm arm canes in a pool in the city by Richard Pantell

“When You Don’t Know Whether to Laugh or Cry, Just Laugh” oil on canvas, 40” x 50”


As far as I’m concerned, life experience is essential to making art. I’ve never followed current artistic trends and in recent years I rarely visit museums and galleries. I’ve made a sort of self-exile into the studio where I can follow my personal ideas and vision. This is the best way that I can artistically breathe and function.


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  1. These are all admirable. My favorite is Summer Twilight.

  2. Crossing Over is deep and dream-like. Really resonates. Love your work

  3. Lloyd Crow says

    Fantastic work. Would like to take lessons from you, but there is no way I’d ever spend more than a day or two in New York, … or any other large metropolitan city. Just a 77 year old country boy!

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