Growing up in and around Joilet, Illinois, Douglas Racich enjoyed sketching from time to time, and was even encouraged by his father to take some formal art classes, but he never did.

A graduate from the University of Illinois as a biology major, then receiving his dental degree from Loyola University, Racich, who now lives in Leelanau County with his wife, Michelle, a Zen Shiatsu practitioner and martial arts expert, he creates egg tempera paintings of rare beauty.

Upon selling his practice to move to Michigan, Racich still maintains his dental license working at a biological testing company in Traverse City.

Christmas of that same year, Racich received a box of watercolor paints from his wife and inspiration, Michelle. After the box collected dust a couple of times, he finally pulled them out and completed a painting. After that, he never stopped.

Racich creates beautiful, detailed, realistic paintings in egg tempera, a very old technique that dates back to before the creation of oil painting and uses dry pigments, egg yolks and water – the membrane of the yolk is dangled over a receptacle and punctured to drain off the liquid inside, and the white of the egg along with the membrane of the yolk are discarded. Racich works on multiple egg tempera paintings simultaneously since the hand-mixed paint must be discarded after each use.

American artist, Andrew Wyeth, whose works are particularly admired by Racich, often painted in this demanding medium.

Egg tempera painting allows for great precision; since the paint dries rapidly, it must be applied in a thin, semi-opaque or transparent manner, which requires numerous small brushstrokes, which are applied in a cross-hatching technique.

“I think this manner of painting suits me; the attention to small details that it requires was also needed in my dental career, so it transitioned nicely into my art career.”

While the antiquity of the technique inspires Racich, he admits that it does have its difficulties and frustrations.

Racich also paints in watercolors and will often have giclée prints of his egg tempera and watercolor works made for sale; due to the meticulous attention to detail and slowness required by his painting process, having prints available makes the art both more available and more affordable for those who love the paintings.

Derived from a French word meaning “to squirt,” giclée is considered the most effective technology in existence for turning original artwork into prints. Giclée prints are high-resolution digital scans, printed with archival quality inks and papers. Racich said that the giclée process provides better color accuracy than other means of reproduction, and ensures fade and color-shift resistance of 75 years on watercolor paper under average indoor light conditions.

Racich’s subjects include local scenery and still life, with squash from the garden being a particular favorite.

“I appreciate it when viewers take the time to look closely at the detail in my work,” he said. “Each piece is a unique blend of colors, carefully layered to achieve a final image.”

Come visit Racich’s work at Mullaly’s 128 Studio & Gallery.