Lee Radtke has a special affinity for using oil painting to capture the movement, flow and still movements of the Door County lifestyle. He is an active member of the Plein Air Painters of Chicago, Lake County Art League, and Oil Painters of America. Among other awards, he has received Best of Show from the Art in Nature Paint-Out and Second Place at the Cedarburg Plein Art Event. His original oils, prints and commissions are in corporate and private collections around the country.
We were able to chat with Lee recently about his life as an artist and how he came to love Door County.
What are your first memories of being an artist/painter?
I used to draw a lot of automobiles as a child. When I got to high school, I saw that drawing was one of my strong points. After high school, I went to the Institute of Design in Chicago (ITT) where I majored in product design. I dealt with the aesthetics of products and was always doing conceptual renderings.
Have you always been an artist? When did you know you wanted to persue painting for a living?
After I finished school, I worked in Chicago as a designer. First doing retail store design, than later as a design consultant in my own company, "Design Directions, Inc." After I retired, I joined a couple of art clubs.
Do you enjoy using other mediums to make art?
I've focused on mostly oil painting for the last 15 years. Sixty-percent of my paintings are plein air (the act of painting outside "in the open air"). They are smaller paintings, usually 11x16 or 12x16 inches. I also paint larger paintings in my studio from photographs, but I prefer to work in real life.
What do you love about Door County? What brought you here?
I love the natural beauty of Door County. I love the harbors and water, especially the fishing boats in Gills Rock. And here are older buildings here that you can't find in Chicago. The opportunity to paint with the plein air artists are what brought me to Door County. I've learned so much from them. They are incredible artists.
Where is your work displayed?
The art clubs that I belong to let us have our work displayed there, which lead to some sales. I'm having a one-man show starting on August 9, 2015 that will have 60-90 pieces on display. The solo exhibition will be up through September at The Garlands of Barrington. It will be a collection of original oil paintings, including Chicago cityscapes, Northwest suburban scenes, and more.
You can view a large collection of Lee Radtke's Door County paintings in the 2015 Go! Guide, as well as on display at The Garlands of Barrington, 1000 Garlands Lane, Barrington, IL 60010. The opening reception for his solo exhibition will be on August 9 from 1-5pm. You can also view his work at radtkeart.com. 847.347.2993.