Quiet and unassuming, Richard W. Plasschaert is a study in perseverance. He has spent the major portion of his life in the pursuit of his chosen profession.
He was born on April 25, 1941 in New Ulm, Minnesota, a peaceful little community about seventy-five miles southwest of Minneapolis. His father, Maurice, was an army career man and like all other military families, they were constantly on the move. Dick's formative years were spent in Red Bank, New Jersey, and from there to various parts of the deep south.
Dick maintains that there never was a time in his life that he wasn't interested in art. If he wasn't actually pursuing his career in art, he was thinking about it, reading about it, or sharpening his artistic skills by doodling, painting signs, or painting designs on automobiles. For a time he even engraved firearms with scrollwork and scenes of animals.
Immediately after graduating from New Ulm High School he made a number of attempts to discover in which direction his talents would take him. He held a series of odd jobs for several years, all of which were art oriented. It was about this time that he and Mary Zangel, his high school sweetheart, decided to get married. She became the motivating force in Dick's life, and other than himself, is probably more responsible for his success than any other single person.
In 1960 he enlisted in the Minnesota National Guard for a six-year hitch. Unlike the full-time program of the regular Army, the part time service of the Guard allowed him to pursue his chosen profession while fulfilling his military obligation.
Although he has always had an interest in wildlife, his art did not always reflect that interest. In fact, the bulk of his early work was primarily landscapes with a few portraits thrown in. His ability at landscape painting was a strong point in his favor when he decided to concentrate on paintings of wildlife, for it is the background which quite often determines the success or failure of a particular painting.
Painting does not come easy for Dick; he works very hard at it, usually spending between sixty and eighty hours per week in his studio. More often than not he works seven days a week. Hard work and perseverance have paid off, however, for his paintings reflect the talent of an accomplished artist.
From the time he graduated from high school up until he won the federal duck stamp contest, he used great care in selecting his employment. If his full time "paying" job did not actually entail the use of his artistic talents, then it must allow for the maximum number of leisure hours to continue his painting. He had an understanding with the printer for whom he worked that his ultimate goal was to be self-employed as a wildlife artist, and at some point he would resign. If things didn't go well, then his job at the print shop would always be held open for him. Twice he took advantage of the "agreement", twice he went broke, and twice he returned to the print shop. Just as he was about to try his wings again, he received the announcement that he had won the federal duck stamp contest.
During the brief periods of free-lancing he gained a pretty fair reputation as a landscape artist. Most of his paintings sold well in the New York market, he exhibited in the Audubon show in New York, and he was accepted into the National Academy, an honor which is not to be taken lightly.
Dick's hobby (how in the world he has time for a hobby is beyond me) is making period furniture. He just recently finished helping his father-in-law make a set of jigs for making spinning wheels. His father-in-law makes and sells about two dozen spinning wheels per year. Dick enjoys the challenge of making furniture such as this because to be successful at it, one must have patience, be exacting, and be able to work well with his hands.