Rick Shaefer grew up mostly in Europe and was introduced early on to the European landscapists—most notably to the Dutch and British painters like Ruisdael, van Huysum, Durer, Rembrandt (especially his etchings), and Constable and Turner. These still tend to be touchstones for his work.
His drawings lean toward a contrast and scale that feels entirely modern. The charcoal line work is kept pristine and the vocabulary gestural so that there is as much detail as possible without getting bogged down in the tedium of a photo-realist approach. The abundance of the marks leads the viewer to anticipate even more detail and fidelity than is there upon closer inspection. He has consciously tried to build into the drawings this interplay between the visceral calligraphic nature of the marks up close and the process by which they visually coalesce when stepping back.
The cloud paintings allow for a sensuous counterpoint to the line work of the drawings. In these he attempts to maintain a looseness of approach with the brush and paint allowing the medium to have a significant voice in the process. A foundation is laid down with large brushes and loose strokes followed by glazing. The intent is to approximate the ephemeral material of clouds and yet capture their often sturdy and imposing seeming bulk that can often take on a robust, sculptural presence.