Jack Richeson

A Family Business

Is it genius or insanity? Does Dad continue to support the children, or do the children placate and spoil that doddering old man? Oh, the questions that are so often asked. And while sitting at the bar with a friend and client stirring a Manhattan, the answers come so quick and so flip. But now in writing, some serious thought must be given. I haven’t dug a cherry out of the bottom of a glass for days now. Truth can be very difficult to deal with.


The Master Plan

The business plan was first written in 1949. The goals were clearly identified:

I wanted to be a painter and I wanted to get rich. Now how is that for simplicity? On to execute the plan. As I had been requested to remove myself from high school in my senior year, I went on to the Art Institute of Chicago. Surprise! There again I was requested to remove myself. The wise men of the time had not yet developed the term "Attention Deficit." The popular term of the day was "There goes a Bad Kid." When it becomes obvious that a plan is going nowhere, the smart ones re–assess and re–design. The rest of us – "The Survivors" – rely on luck and evolution.

From errand boy to truck driver, to clerk, to salesman, to manager, to entrepreneur – but always with the assistance of my painter friends. The coaching and teaching of Ben Stahl, Sessions, Haddon Sunbloom, and today the friendship of such greats as Ramon Kelley, Burt Silverman, Daniel Greene, Ray Kinstler, Jack Pardue, Kate Palmer, Robert Tanenbaum, Steve Quiller, Zoltan Szabo, Buffalo Kaplinski, Skip Whitcomb, Chris Van Winkle, Tom Fong and the list goes on forever. I’d need pages to list them all. It was all of them who coached, prodded and wrote the plan. It was all of them who gathered my family together and seduced them into the wonderful world of art – from the stock stored in the attic to the monster building that now houses our fantasies.


The Big Start

How do you start? In my case, it was my wife who let me utilize the living room, one bedroom and part of the kitchen to handle the inventory. Step two was when my son Darren graduated from college with his degree in finance. Instead of following what could have been a brilliant career in “Big Business,” he chose to give it all up to take care of ‘ole Dad. That was twenty four years ago and he is still reviewing my expense reports and bar tabs. While I was on a sales trip, Darren and my wife hired my daughter Kelly and moved everything out of the house and into an unheated loft! When someone moves you into an unheated anything in Wisconsin, you get the feeling that they are trying to get rid of you. Now we had “Overhead.”


Family Circus

Fortunately, you don’t have to pay family very much or very often. My son Shawn, who had just been discharged from the Coast Guard, joined us next. We could not pass up his experience. He was the first Coast Guard Sailor in American History to lose his ship in combat on Lake Michigan. Fortunately, he has given up on the sea and is a brilliant engineer. My daughter Colleen then came in to take over sales and we were starting to roll. My wife had gone from bookkeeper to art director, and had brought us into a new age of merchandising. Soon it became obvious that we needed a photography department, so my wife moved over to that.

That opened the door for my daughter-in-law, Michelle, to take over the art department.

The “Zoo” was really starting to form. We had developed a super employee in shipping that had that area running smooth. When she threatened to quit, Shawn married her, and gave her a title and a credit card. When we purchased our paint company, Shiva, Kelly volunteered to learn the paint business from a few industry veterans and a renowned paint chemistry university. Few would have jumped at this challenge. My granddaughter, Jackie, also decided to join the family business in 1995, and after short stints in shipping, receiving and customer service, has landed herself in the purchasing department, handling over 8,000 line items. My world is a different world and I was never ready for computers. After I had thrown several at the wall, my son Michael joined us as the vice president of purchasing. He also acts as our computer technician and IT professional.

At this stage, I had five children, two daughter–in–laws, a feisty granddaughter and my wife telling me what to do. Most of the time they must have been right as our business has grown – or maybe it was the hand of the Leprechauns again. It was a great loss when my wife passed away five years ago. Fortunately, the children have kept it all going. Now I do most of the ad ideas and product design, as well as handle the overseas work.


Richeson Oil Paints:
Tradition, Quality & Stability

  • Richeson Oil Colors offer rich color intensity, brilliance of hue and chemical purity available to the most discerning artist
  • Manufactured since 1929, Richeson Oils have gained a reputation for the following:
  • Finest–quality with a friendly price tag
  • Each pure pigment is ground to its own correct degree of fineness
  • Formulated individually under exacting laboratory controls
  • Guaranteed to be permanent, free from darkening, yellowing, fading and cracking
  • Made with the finest grade linseed oil, and pure, artist–grade dry pigments

Richeson Oils ~ The Shiva Series are a superior brand of oil paint that is made at the factory in the United States, alongside our hand–crafted line of BEST Easels. These oils have a rich history and long standing quality.

Originally marketed and sold as Shiva® Signature Oils, these paints were created by an artist out of personal need and passion. Ramon Shiva was interested in making a fine paint for himself and his friends in the late 1920s. Ramon’s son–in–law saw the potential of this paint and encouraged him to make a real business of it. During this time, Shiva had a sixteen year–old errand boy by the name of Jack Richeson, who made deliveries to the factory and was fascinated by the paint making process (and a fellow who would eventually make his own legendary contributions to the art supplies industry).

The paint took off: during the 1940s thru the 1950s, Shiva became the leading oil paint manufacturer in the United States, and also led the world in bringing back casein, a paint from antiquity. During the late sixties, the company was sold because of illness and the drive seemed to be lost. The quest for purity and quality, once so proudly held by Ramon, was replaced by efficiency and price control brought on by the new owners’ financial administrators. In the year 2002, a lifelong dream of Jack Richeson’s came true. Today Jack Richeson & Company has gone back to all the old formulas of the 1950s that made Shiva oil the top brand in the United States.

Richeson is committed to producing the “Best of the Best.” Richeson Oils ~ The Shiva Series has generated positive response from some of the top oil painters in the country, including Ramon Kelley, Daniel Greene and Kate Palmer.

Richeson uses only pure, artist–grade dry pigments, ground to each one’s own correct degree of fineness and then formulated individually under exacting laboratory controls. They are guaranteed to be permanent, free from darkening, yellowing, fading and cracking, and are bound with the finest grade of alkali–refined linseed oil available.

Richeson Oils have generated positive response from some of the top oil painters in the United States!

Richeson Oils go through a rigorous series of processes, which ensures an even distribution of the pigment and results in a buttery, even consistency. Because great care must be taken to avoid overworking the pigment, the amount of time required for the milling process varies greatly for each color—anywhere from six hours to three days. Each color of paint that is made must be treated individually.

Last in the process is “resting time” for a minimum of 90 to 120 days before tubing, so that the pigment can reach its maximum absorption level. Richeson tests the paint through the resting process and only after the oil is determined to have reached its prime is the color tubed.

Richeson’s commitment to provide only the best of the best does not allow for short cuts.


Jack Richeson Shiva Oil

Jack Richeson Oil Medium


Jack Richeson Website



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