Richard Pionk was born in Moose Lake, Minnesota in 1936 and learned the qualities of a classical still life by spending hours in museums from Brooklyn to Paris studying the works of Chardin, Vollon, and Fantin-Latour. He received his formal training at the Art Student’s League in New York City where he returned later to teach.
Pionk has received more than one hundred awards and honors, including those from the Allied Artists of America, the Audubon Artists, the National Arts Club, the Salmagundi Club, the Pastel Society of America, Knickerbocker Artists, the Hudson Valley Art Association, the American Artists Professional League, and the Ridgewood Art Institute; Pionk was also a professional member of these and other prestigious associations.
Pionk's exhibitions include the Hermitage Museum in Norfolk, Virginia, the Monmouth Museum of New Jersey, the Queen Museum in New York, the Canton Art Museum in Ohio, the Ponce Art Museum in Puerto Rico, the Lever House of New York, and the Jackson Museum in Mississippi. The publication "Creative Painting With Pastels" includes the Pionk's work, as does "How to Discover Your Personal Painting Style", and "Basic Still Life Techniques" and articles titled "Classical Still Life Painting" and "Unlock The Potential Of Pastels" have been published in Artist Magazine.
Pionk offered the following observations and influences on personal technique and school of painting: "I prefer to work exclusively in my studio where I am able to set up the subject and work directly from life, which gives me maximum control of the choice of objects, placement and lighting. I choose my studio because of the north window, which provides a source of unchangeable light. The lower part of the window is blocked out so as to give the light a downward direction as if it were coming from a skylight. In chiaroscuro painting, the eye follows the light, going from one section to another, and the shadows structure the painting. I usually let the light come in from the left to the focal point. The background is dark and the light on objects gradually gets brighter as it moves to the right."
Richard Pionk passed away in 2007.