Just out of college, Hollis Richardson lived and worked on the Navajo Reservation at Chenle, AZ in the four corners area of the southwest, where the states of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah meet. He developed a deep appreciation of native people and a respect for their culture and customs. He discovered the Navajo belief that they must do everything they can to maintain harmony or balance on Mother Earth. He witnessed the simplicity of their lifestyle, the songs and chants meant to restore equilibrium to the cosmos and their celebrations that brought families together. His ability to see beyond poverty and social problems, to see their humanity, became the basis of his ability to accept all people as equals. His American western paintings and drawings are colorful reminders of a very different way of experiencing life.
Much later, (1977-1987), the artist moved to rural Idaho where he was in daily contact with ranchers and loggers, who patronized his small general store. He also taught art and social studies, grades one through twelve in Riggins, Idaho, where their children and grandchildren educated Richardson on the local culture. The rodeo was the main event of the summer in the Salmon River canyon community of Riggins, ID and everyone in the community went and some participated. The Nez Perce Reservation at Lewiston, ID was a short drive and he enjoyed many of their small powwows, which drew participants from other tribes. The people of Riggins and the Nez Perce were frequent subjects of his American western paintings and drawing.
During summers, and after selling the small business, Richardson worked full time on his artwork, creating realistic drawings and paintings in a traditional and an impressionistic style. After moving to Denver, the annual multinational powwow was a special treat, and he continued to make Native Americans the subject of his oil paintings. He loved the color and decorative elements of their native dress, and the movement of their dances. The sound of the beat of their drums gave rhythm to his paintings and a longing to work full time on his artwork.
Long weekends in Colorado were punctuated by visits to Taos and Santa Fe, where he trekked through many art galleries and visited the pueblos nearby, where natives continue to live . The Taos artists, including Nicoli Fechin, an important Russian impressionist, became an important influence on his work during a period of several years. He was also introduced to the work of Sergei Bongart, a Russian impressionist living in Los Angeles and William Reese, a student of Bongart’s living in the northwest. The master works of these accomplished artists spurred him on to achieve similar skills in his own paintings and drawings.