As a small child growing up in Dayton, Ohio, Ronda Richley loved to watch her mother paint. She was fascinated by the colors and the mixing of the paints and would wait for the gift of leftover paints. In first grade, she had her first formal art lesson: Trees. Upon drawing her tree with multiple branches but no leaves—“so you could see the bird in the nest,” she explains—the art teacher told her it was not right, that she needed to draw a trunk and an oval to make the tree. That night Ronda expressed her dismay to her mother, who told her to ignore what the teacher had said. Even at this young age, Ronda sensed a need to express her own viewpoint, and her mother wisely encouraged her to stay on the path of finding her own voice.
Later in grade school, during recess, instead of playing kickball with the other children, Ronda would draw portraits of her classmates and sell them for a quarter each. Her interest in art continued throughout high school, which led to early acceptance into the School of Architecture, Art and Design at the University of Cincinnati, where she received her BFA with a dual major in Art Education and Painting.
After graduating from the University of Cincinnati, Ronda pursued a career in the commercial arts. She worked as an art director for several publications, became the youngest teacher of art and design at Sinclair College, and opened and ran her own advertising agency. Even after relocating to Los Angeles, Ronda continued teaching and working as a product designer and Victorian art illustrator, which led to the authorship of four patents and well over 100 copyrights and trademarks. Yet, as creative as these endeavors were, the artist within wasn’t satisfied.
It wasn’t until she pursued her Master’s Degree in Visual Art with a Concentration in Painting at California State University, Northridge, that she finally dedicated herself to creating her own expressive work, using a wide range of art-making techniques. Through fine art, Ronda was able to give voice to all of the emotion she’d held deep inside, often expressing her feelings through paintings of trees that take on human form, which soon became her signature subject matter. “I love trees! They give us so much and ask for nothing in return,” notes the artist. “They’re truly my inspiration.” Ronda’s life as “the tree lady” had begun.
After 12 years of the California art scene, Ronda relocated to Orlando, Florida. She continued to teach at the college and university levels, worked as a product and fashion designer, and eventually opened her own gallery, where she gave more than forty local artists, as well as several internationally known artists, the opportunity to exhibit alongside her. She closed the gallery at the end of 2012 so she could pursue her own work full time, without any outside distractions or time constraints.
Since then, she has shown nationally and internationally, and continues to create her paintings and ceramics and to promote other artists as well. She also loves music, and has recently added the drums to the long list of instruments she plays. “You’ve got to take a chance on new things,” she says, which is a motto she lives by. Ronda also believes in giving back to her community, and she’s honored to have been selected twice to be the poster artist for Florida Hospital’s Art of Healing Gallery. Her artwork graces the walls of many prestigious private collectors’ homes throughout the U.S., Europe, Australia, the Middle East, and the United Kingdom. Her art also appears on the Sunrail Art is Moving train. Still residing in Orlando, she maintains her own space at CityArts Factory, and lives in a home surrounded by—appropriately—trees.
“Art: the process of creating which involves the deconstruction and reconstruction of surface, exposing the layers lying beneath by scribing, scraping and overworking of color.”
In my art, I apply these techniques to all that I create, exposing my sensitivity and passion for the human spirit to you, the viewer, allowing you to experience my unique viewpoint of life and nature. My trees display human attributes and include the human form within their branches. After experiencing my art, many have stated that they will never look at a tree the same again. I strive to offer the viewer a perspective on my unique vision of the world, as each of my works tells part of a story with the rest to be finished by YOU.
My work is recognized by my use of palette knives, scribing over the color with tools, range of colors, figures within the trees and are signed “Ronda” without an H.”–Ronda
National Association of Independent Artists 2015-2016
Americans for the Arts: Action Fund 2015-2016
International Society of Acrylic Painters 2015
National Women’s Caucus for the Arts 2015-2016
Florida Chapter of National Women’s Caucus for the Arts 2015-2016
National Association of Professional Women 2015
Florida Women’s Art Association 2017
Art League of Daytona Beach 2017
CityArts Factory, Orlando Florida
Dick and Jane’s, Deland Florida
Art Basel 2017, Miami River Arts Festival, Miami Florida