Born in Lufkin, Texas in 1971, the landscape and culture of deep East Texas influenced Russ in an important way. Working in traditional and experimental methods Russ uses landscape as both a center and as a point of departure. 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. The circumstance gave a new meaning of growth through volatility, resulting in more content-driven work, concerning spiritual issues.

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; and the Museum of East Texas in Lufkin, among other venues. In addition, his work has been published in New American Paintings: Western Competition, Vols. 30, 48, and 102.