RDA’s personal interests– family, horses, music, nature, farming, local community– are represented not only in his written work and song but also in his visual art. In fact, nearly all of his personal or pastoral written works are associated with his own illustrations. He was nearly always working on a pencil sketch, although he also worked with pen and ink, loved woodcarving, and occasionally painted. Although RDA experimented with different styles, his art was typically subtly stylized, idyllic, and focused on natural scenes and objects, rural people, traditional buildings, and, especially, horses. He periodically challenged himself with drawing a horse in a new pose or from a new perspective– to see, he once said, if he really knew what horses looked like.
This page presents just a few examples of RDA’s artwork, labeled as “folk art” just to indicate his favorite topics and to distinguish these works from his scientific illustrations and cartoons. More examples will be added in the future.
RDA’s typical procedure with ink drawings was to produce studies and sketches in pencil, then draw with pen, make corrections and adjustments (including using white-out, which would sometimes stand out in the original but be invisible in the final product), and finally have the image photocopied or (later) digitally scanned in black and white.
Click on images to see them larger. Unless otherwise mentioned, the images are of original ink drawings or black and white scans of ink drawings. Any descriptions appear below the images; referenced written works can be can be found on the Writings page.
[The arts]… elaborate on reality,
at their best enthusiastically,
and necessarily passionately.
-RDA, “Reality and the Human Social Enterprise”
Horses and Horsemen
The above two images are of an original ink drawing (top) and a black and white scan of another version (bottom). Note the differences that show it to be two different pictures, including hatch patterns, shapes of the animals’ tails, and the orientation of the horse’s right ear.
Nature and Landscape
“A Place for Sam”. Ink drawing, which had long been hanging in the Alexander home. A copy appears in The Mockingbirds River Song. On the back of the frame is a description: “This drawing was made by Richard D. Alexander, about 1959, in honor of his wife’s grandfather, Samuel J. Kearnes, who was his friend, and who died in February of 1952. RDA saw this tree in Arkansas and thought of it as a place where Sam would like to fish. So the picture is titled ‘A Place for Sam’.”
“Pop, about 1930”. Pencil, from Pop’s Story.