RICHARD W. PLASSCHAERT
Quiet and unassuming, Richard
W. Plasschaert is a study in perseverance. He has spent the major portion of
his life in the pursuit of his chosen profession.
He was born on April 25, 1941
in New Ulm, Minnesota, a peaceful little community about seventy-five
miles southwest of Minneapolis. His father, Maurice, was an
army career man and like all other military families, they
were constantly on the move. Dick's formative years were spent
in Red Bank, New Jersey, and from there to various parts of
the deep south.
Dick maintains that there never
was a time in his life that he wasn't interested in art. If
he wasn't actually pursuing his career in art, he was thinking
about it, reading about it, or sharpening his artistic skills
by doodling, painting signs, or painting designs on automobiles.
For a time he even engraved firearms with scrollwork and scenes
Immediately after graduating
from New Ulm High School he made a number of attempts to discover
in which direction his talents would take him. He held a series
of odd jobs for several years, all of which were art oriented.
It was about this time that he and Mary Zangel, his high school
sweetheart, decided to get married. She became the motivating
force in Dick's life and, other than himself, is probably
more responsible for his success than any other single person.
In 1960 he enlisted in the Minnesota
National Guard for a six-year hitch. Unlike the full-time
program of the regular Army, the part time service of the
Guard allowed him to pursue his chosen profession while fulfilling
his military obligation.
Although he has always had an
interest in wildlife, his art did not always reflect that
interest. In fact, the bulk of his early work was primarily
landscapes with a few portraits thrown in. His ability at
landscape painting was a strong point in his favor when he
decided to concentrate on paintings of wildlife, for it is
the background which quite often determines the success or
failure of a particular painting.
Painting does not come easy for
Dick; he works very hard at it, usually spending between sixty
and eighty hours per week in his studio. More often than not
he works seven days a week. Hard work and perseverance have
paid off, however, for his paintings reflect the talent of
an accomplished artist.
From the time he graduated from
high school up until he won the federal duck stamp contest,
he used great care in selecting his employment. If his full
time "paying" job did not actually entail the use
of his artistic talents, then it must allow for the maximum
number of leisure hours to continue his painting. He had an
understanding with the printer for whom he worked that his
ultimate goal was to be self-employed as a wildlife artist,
and at some point he would resign. If things didn't go well,
then his job at the print shop would always be held open for
him. Twice he took advantage of the "agreement",
twice he went broke, and twice he returned to the print shop.
Just as he was about to try his wings again, he received the
announcement that he had won the federal duck stamp contest.
During the brief periods of free-lancing
he gained a pretty fair reputation as a landscape artist.
Most of his paintings sold well in the New York market, he
exhibited in the Audubon show in New York, and he was accepted
into the National Academy, an honor which is not to be taken
Dick's hobby (how in the world
he has time for a hobby is beyond me) is making period furniture.
He just recently finished helping his father-in-law make a
set of jigs for making spinning wheels. His father-in-law
makes and sells about two dozen spinning wheels per year.
Dick enjoys the challenge of making furniture such as this
because to be successful at it, one must have patience, be
exacting, and be able to work well with his hands.