London born and New Jersey raised artist Rich Troyanowski had his first artistic encounter in the third grade, when he helped his older sister with an art project. It wasn’t until age 16, however, that he realized his talent for painting.
Still, Troyanowski never intended to be an artist. Following his time in the Air Force, he entered college to become a social worker. Once there, an art history professor asked to see some of his work. He was impressed with what he saw and encouraged Troyanowski to keep at it.
The professor was the spark, but Troyanowski credits his late wife, Trish, as the person most influential in redirecting the course of his career. At her insistence, he attended the State College of New Jersey, where he received a BA in Art Education. He also studied sculpture at Rutgers University, and archeology and museum studies at the University of New Mexico. He cites Howard Wexler and Siegfried Hahn, two renowned Albuquerque realist painters, as close friends as well as mentors.
Today, Troyanowski is a noted artist and popular educator in his own right. Since arriving in New Mexico in 1978, this East Mountain resident has significantly contributed to the local arts community. His experience with children in special education led to a permanent substitute art teacher position at Roosevelt Middle School for six years. He is actively involved in the New Mexico Veterans Art Association, lectures on art throughout Albuquerque, is a judge for many of its art shows, and teaches the occasional workshop around the metro. His work can be seen in at least a half dozen local shows each year, including the Paint the Ballet project and the Veterans Art Association show that takes place at the New Mexico State Fair Grounds in November of each year. He also shows at the Watermelon Gallery in Cedar Crest.
Troyanowski describes his style of painting as eclectic: He paints whatever he feels, in whatever style strikes him, from post-Impressionist to abstract, naturalist to Fauvist. Working in both acrylics and oils, he paints both miniatures and larger works. His surfaces are often thin and dry brushed, with occasional glazing to create a tapestry-like effect.
He feels that being a generalist helps him as an art teacher as well. “It’s the job of the artist to point out something in the environment that is missed by the general populous. I am inspired by everything around me.” Then he recalls some keen advice from a former art professor. “If you can’t see a painting looking down at the sidewalk, you’re no artist.”
Troyanowski is particularly excited about his work with a five-member plein air painting group that meets regularly in the East Mountains to “sharpen the tools in their toolboxes,” encourage each other, and expand their horizons. Plein air, or painting outside, is a challenging undertaking. “The light changes so dramatically and quickly,” he says. “Plus, we try to get a subject down in an hour or two—completely finished.”
Curious and energetic, Troyanowski has a host of interests in addition to painting and educating. He has successfully published Rich’s Relics for many years, selling ancient art and antiquities. He is also a gifted guitar player and active member of a Christian jug band that meets at Mountainside Methodist Church in Cedar Crest.
So what advice would this long-time art educator give to someone who wants to paint but isn’t sure if they have the talent? “Anyone can learn how to paint; you just have to do it all the time.”
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