Painter eventually follows his heart from finance to fine art

Seascape at Black’s Beach, La Jolla, by RD Riccoboni.
Seascape at Black’s Beach, La Jolla, by RD Riccoboni.
( / Courtesy photo)

The color-drenched work of fine artist and entrepreneur RD (Randy David) Riccoboni is now available at Leaping Lotus on South Cedros Avenue in Solana Beach. The location represents the third for Riccoboni, whose work is also available at his Beacon Artwork Gallery in Old Town and at his studio salon on Fifth Avenue near Balboa Park.

Riccoboni’s signature paintings visually tell the story of the old and the new San Diego, re-creating “the places where we live and places that we love that are historically significant,” he said. “And it turns out that all the places that I love to paint, the people love also, which is a good thing business-wise.”

This business approach to his art is no accident. Riccoboni built a career in banking before he devoted his life to his passion of painting.

His road into the world of finance was circuitous. Born in central California in 1960, Riccoboni moved to Long Beach as a toddler. When he was 3 years old, his family moved east to Connecticut, relocating to his father’s roots, where they lived in a Victorian home that his grandfather had built in 1902.

His innate artistic talent showed itself early. At age 4, he discovered his mother’s paint-by-numbers set and experimented with it. Gifts of paper, pens and colored pencils soon followed, “to keep me away from the walls,” joked Riccoboni, who added, “I’ve never stopped painting since.”

Riccoboni had no formal art training; but as a teenager, he was offered a scholarship to New York’s Parsons School of Design. His high school art teacher advised him to learn the business of art rather than enter a program likely to stifle his artistic style. That led Riccoboni into banking and human resources, learning about money and people.

Over a five-year period, Riccoboni worked in banking in Long Beach, where there were still family ties. He was a “young gay man and wanted to follow his dreams,” he said. However, his move West coincided with the start of the AIDS crisis, and Riccoboni witnessed firsthand friends dying from the disease.

Depressed at the loss, Riccoboni moved back to Connecticut, where charities were being established in the 1980s to help fund the race for the AIDS cure. The idea struck Riccoboni that he could offer his paintings as charity fundraisers.

“I knew strongly that I had to do something with my art,” he recalled, “and this was an opportunity to make a difference.”

There was an artist call for an AIDS project in West Hartford. “I entered three pieces, one got best in show and the other two got honorable mentions,” said Riccoboni. It was the start of his donating to charity.

Riccoboni went back to California in 1993, where a show at TriCity Medical Center and exhibitions in Los Angeles brought his work into the public eye. However, donating original art pieces to help raise funds for charitable organizations proved to be a financial drain.

“Someone suggested I donate signed prints, instead,” Riccoboni said. “And that’s how I got into the printmaking part of my business.”

Riccoboni is prolific. “I paint everything from Oceanside to Coronado to the mountains down to all our favorite beaches and our architectural treasures,” he said.

“It’s important for me to have an upbeat look at life, and I portray this in my color palette,” he said. This approach has helped his work to become instantly recognizable, creating a faithful collector base.

A fan of architecture, Riccoboni creates drawings and paintings of historical buildings and landscapes. Notably, he has recently produced a richly illustrated booklet on historical Balboa Park.

“The Art Traveler Guide: A Portrait of Balboa Park” was created in partnership with Save Our Heritage Organisation, and captures Balboa Park’s buildings, gardens, arcades and fountains in Riccoboni’s distinctive expressionistic style.

The booklet, along with his signed giclée prints, are available at Beacon Artworks Boutique on the upper level in Leaping Lotus Merchant Shops, 240 S. Cedros Ave., Solana Beach. Visit