About me

Hello! I'm Rhonda Libbey, and Imaginative Realism artist and illustrator. I live in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania with my wonderfully supportive boyfriend and two silly ferrets.

I grew up in an unusual old farmhouse where the decor was lavish and art nouveau. I was surrounded by stylized beauty indoors and natural beauty outdoors. I began my artistic journey when I was 6 years old, beginning with drawing, and I have never stopped. To be an artist is the only thing I ever wanted to be, it is the only way I have ever known.

I have been a professional illustrator and graphic designer since 1996 and I have had the good fortune to work on some cool projects and I have shown in some great galleries.

My most recent works are created traditionally in oil paint and gold leaf, with oil paint layered in glazes on top of the metal to achieve a luminous effect. I am drawn to the contrasts of delicate and bold that both oil paint and gold leaf possess.


My Process

This is a brief overview on my current process, broken down into stages. I have used examples from different projects.

1.Thumbnail sketches

I tend to do quite a few of these in order to explore many possible solutions for my composition.

I tend to do quite a few of these in order to explore many possible solutions for my composition.

2. Photography and reference material

This part can be really fun, sometimes it's an excuse to get your friends together. It is necessary though sometimes when you want a realistic effect, rarely do our memories hold all of the details of something clearly.

This part can be really fun, sometimes it's an excuse to get your friends together. It is necessary though sometimes when you want a realistic effect, rarely do our memories hold all of the details of something clearly.

3. A good drawing

This is where it all starts to come together and I start making big decisions for the painting.

This is where it all starts to come together and I start making big decisions for the painting.

4. Color Study

This is where I use a scan of the sketch and quickly apply color, usually digitally these days. I create as many variants as necessary until I am certain about the palette I intend to use.

This is where I use a scan of the sketch and quickly apply color, usually digitally these days. I create as many variants as necessary until I am certain about the palette I intend to use.

5. The painting

After I transfer the sketch to the surface I am working on I lay down all of the gold leaf that will have paint blended on top of it. Then I get to the business of underpainting and layer upon layer of color I work to the finish from there. I typically paint in thin glazes of color.

After I transfer the sketch to the surface I am working on I lay down all of the gold leaf that will have paint blended on top of it. Then I get to the business of underpainting and layer upon layer of color I work to the finish from there. I typically paint in thin glazes of color.

Selected clients

Pittsburgh City Paper, The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, ProtoMedia, Hide-E-Hole Ferret Rescue, Petersen Games, Fantasy Flight Games, AEG, Slugfest Games, Relentless Publishing, and Atlas Games.

Selected galleries

Heinz History Center, Guanshanyue Art Museum, Moxie DaDa, Panza Gallery, The Art Institute of Pittsburgh, The Art Institute of Phoenix, The Art Institute of Minneapolis, and Pittsburgh Center for the Arts.