A map draftsman for the Naval Department during World War II. His fine draftsmanship influenced all his later works in the detail and meticulous realism of his style.
Nora Panzer, ed. Celebrate America in Poetry and Art (New York and Washington, D.C.: Hyperion Paperbacks for Children in association with the National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, 1994)
Between 1938 and 1941, Roger Medearis was Thomas Hart Benton’s most promising student at the Kansas City Art Institute. Under Benton, he learned to create detailed studies for his paintings. He began with sketches and then, to get a feeling for weight and depth, made three-dimensional clay models. As he painted, he applied numerous layers of paint to produce colorful and vibrant scenes that were highly realistic. He completed Godly Susan, the last painting he did before World War II, shortly after he left school. During the war, Medearis worked as a draftsman for the Navy, which suited his realistic style and attention to detail. When he returned home, he found that regionalism in which he had worked was being replaced by abstract expressionism. As a result, Medearis gave up painting, took a job in sales, and did not return to art-making until the late 1960s. The last thirty years of his career saw a major output of paintings, drawings, lithographs, and bronzes, which highlighted his regionalist style and Benton’s lasting influence.