Adam Rhude’s warm and realistic paintings invite you to share a quiet moment. You just might want to sit down, sip from a glass of cappuccino, and write a letter to a friend. Evoking a sense of place and simple pleasure is what Rhude says he enjoys as “an antidote to the fast-paced, screen-obsessed time we live in.”
Rhude grew up in Cotuit, but says “… as a kid you want to get out to see the world.” And so he did. Now he’s back and has made a home with his wife and two young sons in Falmouth, truly appreciating “the charm, pace of life and community” he’s found here.
His desire to pursue a career as an artist was motivated by his third-grade buddies’ enthusiasm over a drawing he did, an aunt who encouraged him, and his father—a teacher and ship captain who cut out Norman Rockwell’s illustrations from calendars and arranged them like a collage on the basement walls. His artistic journey began at the Savannah College of Art and Design. From there he went to New York City to work as an illustrator and began classical training in drawing. He had a successful solo exhibition of his figure studies at the Cape Cod Museum of Art in 2003—his first show on the Cape—and started to win awards from the Portrait Society.
He traveled to Guatemala to be with Rachael (now his wife), who was setting up a childcare center there. They later lived in Ireland and Scotland, and in 2009 they moved back to the Cape to work with CapeAbilities and be close to family.
Rhude has gravitated toward painting intimate still lifes, which he finds surprisingly challenging and fun. “I can spend hours setting up an arrangement in the studio,” he says. “With only a few objects, there are infinite compositional possibilities. I give special consideration to lighting, which can determine the mood of the painting. As I make changes, I try to stay true to my original inspiration for the picture. I look for subjects that resonate with me and hopefully resonate with others.”
Rhude’s palette choice is greatly influenced by the portrait painter Ron Sherr, with whom he studied at the Art Students League in New York City. “I paint with a fairly limited palette,” Rhude explains. “It’s possible to mix a copious array of colors with just a few pigments. I tend to use bright, warm cadmiums sparingly. That said, when I need them, they’re indispensable. The best palette, for me, is the simplest possible that can routinely produce a color spectrum that is not lacking.”
Since both of his sons will be in school soon, Rhude will have more time to paint portraits. He just finished a painting of his youngest son, Theo, in which innocence and tenderness shine through. “Working with a subject you love is truly rewarding,” he says.