Born in Lufkin, Texas in 1971, the landscape of deep East Texas influenced Russ in an important way. Working in traditional and experimental methods Russ uses landscape as a centering point and as a point of departure, bringing back elements from explorations. Major personal and artistic changes occurred however, when Russ fell ill with an auto-immune disease in 1994. He worked and completed graduate studies at Stephen F. Austin State University in Texas until a major relapse in 1997. This forced him to change his working methods and materials from large mixed media works to small-scale watercolors. In remission, the circumstance gave a new meaning of growth through volatility, resulting in more content-driven work, often based off growth, decay, re-arrangement and reconstruction.

Russ Havard's paintings have been exhibited in numerous solo and group exhibitions both regionally and nationally, including George Billis Gallery in New York and Los Angeles; the Longview Museum of Fine Arts in Longview, Texas; the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston; Washington County Museum, and numerous art fairs, among other venues. In addition, his work has been published in New American Paintings: Western Competition, Vols. 30, 48, and 102.