After more than 40 years of professionally capturing the world of sport through his colorful and energetic works of sport impressionism, Richard A. “Rick” Rush says painting never gets old to him.
“I’m living my dream,” he said. “By God’s grace I plan to paint as long as I can.”
Rush, 69, is known worldwide for his colorful paintings that depict a wide variety of sports, with his trademark sport impressionism capturing the spirit and technical accuracy of sport. In 2011, the United States Sports Academy’s American Sport Art Museum and Archives (ASAMA) named him the Sport Artist of the Year in painting. The award is presented annually to an individual who captures the spirit and life of sport so that future generations can relive the drama of today’s competition.
Rush, who is known as “America’s Sport Artist,” has worked with and depicted numerous high-profile sports figures such as Joe Namath, Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant, Muhammad Ali, Albert Pujols, Nolan Ryan, Bo Jackson and countless others. His works portray subjects of historic significance and include the Olympics, Super Bowls, World Series, and NCAA National Championships. His creations grace the collections of public museums and galleries around the world, as well as numerous private collections.
The Tuscaloosa, Ala., artist says one of the great joys of his recent work has been the inspiration he has found within his home state. His current works have featured the athletes and coaches of the University of Alabama and Auburn University, which combined have won five of the last seven college football national championships and have produced three recent Heisman Trophy winners.
“There has been a lot of athletic success in recent years in Alabama and the southeast and this is so much a part of the sporting life we live,” Rush said.
He has done pieces on all of Head Football Coach Nick Saban’s championships at Alabama and Louisiana State University, and is currently painting Alabama’s recent 2015 championship. Other popular works include his depiction of Heisman winner and NFL Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton of Auburn, aptly entitled “Super Cam.” Considered one of his best works, his “Destiny Defeats Dynasty” depicts Auburn’s 2013 return for a winning touchdown of an Alabama potential game-winning field goal, believed by many to be one of the greatest plays in college football history. Purchase a print of “Super Cam” in the bookstore today.
An accomplished high school quarterback who grew up in Mobile, Ala., Rush earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in art from the University of Alabama in 1972. After graduating, he headed Southern Living Magazine’s Southern Living Gallery, where he coordinated promotions of art publications. In 1975 he moved back to Tuscaloosa to try his hand at becoming a full time sport art painter. His studio and gallery remain there today.
“Artists tend to work in areas that are close to them, so becoming a sport artist was the culmination of the two things I have been involved in all my life,” Rush said “I started drawing and painting at a very early age and I was very interested and involved in sports, especially football.
“It is such a joy to be involved in something you have a passion for and you live to do every day,” he added. “My job is an extension of who I am.”
Rush says his artistic goal is to go beyond the mere visual portrayal of an event to capture the actual spirit of each occasion. His paintings portray the sports scene at its best, holding on to unforgettable moments and split seconds that spell the difference between a win and a loss. In the art of Rush, these moments live on forever.
“My goal is to look at sports and this sports lifestyle we are living and try to suspend that in time so people can come along 50 years later to see what it was like to be at that particular sporting event at that particular time,” he said.
“In my works, the brush strokes are loose enough that you sense the motion and dynamics of the image, yet the pieces are colorful enough and representational enough that you get the feel of the event.”
Rush he says he appreciates the growth in popularity and respect for sport art that he has witnessed over his career, which he attributes to institutions like the Academy and ASAMA that have recognized the fine art value of sport art.
“As an artist, I really appreciate what the United States Sports Academy has done through its American Sport Art Museum and Archives,” he added. “The Academy has placed a high value on sport art because it captures our culture, and the Museum has helped give sport art a much greater credibility by recognizing it as a highly refined art.”
For more information on the art of Rick Rush, go to www.RickRushart.com.
Founded in 1984, ASAMA is dedicated to the preservation of sports art, history, and literature. The ASAMA collection is composed of nearly 2,000 works of sport art across a variety of media, including paintings, sculptures, assemblages, prints and photographs. The museum is open free to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. www.asama.org.
The United States Sports Academy is an independent, non-profit, regionally accredited, special mission Sports University created to serve the nation and world with programs in instruction, research, and service. The role of the Academy is to prepare men and women for careers in the profession of sports. For more information about the Academy, call 251-626-3303 or visit www.ussa.edu.