Former student creates art from existing paintings

March 4, 2014 Feature Print Print
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A former OCCC student has made quite the footprint on the local artistic community.

“Thriftfoot,” an art collection by Mitchell Richards, opened on Feb. 14 at the Mainsite Contemporary Art Gallery in Norman and is on display until March 7.

The collection consists of old paintings salvaged from thrift-shops featuring Bigfoot caricatures drawn in by Richards.

Richards, who refers to his Thriftfoot paintings as comedy art, said he began his artistic career as joke.

“I think it’s funny — it started off as a joke,” Richards said. “It kind of just turned into something a little more serious.

“Painting and stuff is still kind of a new thing for me … I haven’t taken an art class since 7th grade,” Richards said.

“I don’t really know what I’m doing … I can’t paint a bunch of landscapes and pretty things,” he said. “I can just paint this one goofy thing.

“[But] the more I started doing [the pieces], the better they got.”

Richards said he gained recognition in 2013 when his girlfriend, Chelsea Miller, submitted his paintings to “Live on the Plaza,” a monthly artwalk in Oklahoma City’s Plaza District featuring art shows, live music and shopping.

“When he first started … he didn’t think that other people would find the humor in it,” Miller said.

Miller said she felt Richards’ recycled art would do well in Oklahoma City’s Plaza District, which is why she submitted the Thriftfoot pieces without him knowing.

“I thought the Plaza District would be a really good supporter of what Mitchell does and the humor that he’s going for,” she said.

After a year of exposure, Miller said, Richards has received a lot of positive feedback. She said Richards was invited to show his Thriftfoot collection at an art venue when Mumford and Sons performed their “Gentleman of the Road” concert in Guthrie in August 2013.

Richards said he has also been hired to generate Thriftfoot paintings for local businesses.

“You can tell that he really enjoys it,” Miller said. “He enjoys seeing other people look at [his art] and laugh.”

Richards said his pieces don’t require much inspiration other than a good sense of humor. He said most of his pieces add comic relief to an otherwise serious setting, such as Bigfoot eating a cheeseburger alongside Jesus at The Last Supper.

“That’s the funniest place to put a Bigfoot — next to Jesus,” Richards said.

“I usually try to have a little story in the paintings,” he said. “I just want people to come and laugh at [Thriftfoot] — I don’t want people to take it too seriously … .”

Richards said his paintings sell between $60 and $120, depending on its size and cost of materials. Richards said he studied journalism when attending OCCC. For more information about Richards’ work, visit www.thriftfoot.com or follow him on Instagram or Twitter at @thriftfoot.

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