By Kathryn Kelman/ ne news editor
NE students can learn from North Carolina artist Leo Rucker Feb. 22-23.
Rucker’s passion for art was first harnessed when he was five years old shortly after moving from Lynchburg, Virginia, where he was born, to Lexington, North Carolina.
“My next-door neighbor commissioned me to do a pencil portrait of her deceased husband who fought in World War I,” Rucker said.
In elementary school, Rucker was primarily exposed to painting and papier-maché and early on gravitated more to painting.
“I enjoyed mixing paints and making colors,” he said. “Even though I didn’t know what I was doing at the time, I had teachers to help foster that.”
Rucker was inspired to pursue his art by many people over the years despite a difficult economic situation and lack of resources. His cousin was one of them.
“I was intrigued watching him capture animals and their perspective,” Rucker said.
He focused on recreating landscapes in his early years but began to focus on people. After seeing his peers draw and paint people, he challenged himself to do the same.
“I wanted to be as good as them,” Rucker said.
Today, the focus of his art is still primarily people.
“I’m always gonna be that Renaissance kind of painter that does people,” he said.
Working with pencil, pastel, acrylics, watercolor and oils, Rucker hopes his photo-realism style captures the heartbeat of his subjects.
He is passionate about creating images that touch people’s lives.
Rucker’s work has been featured in numerous articles and commissioned by many in the public and private sectors, according to his website.
In 2014, he was commissioned to recreate one of the classic artist Raphael’s paintings in the Vatican titled “The School of Athens.”
“I had to try and create the artist’s original work, capture the time period and put myself in it too,” Rucker said. “I’m the proudest of it.”
But no matter how much success he has, Rucker remains committed to giving back and serving his community through his art.
“All the people that gave to me encouraged me to repay that,” he said.
Rucker works with other artists and youth and donates a lot of his original work to help with fundraisers.
Rucker will be in NFAB 1314 from 3 to 5:50 p.m. Feb. 22 and from 12:30 to 2 p.m. Feb. 23 to give painting lessons to students. The Feb. 22 lesson is for painting students only.