The Honesty of Painting
Rarely as viewers do we get to see art that is profoundly honest, a personal vision that one artist has been true to for thirty-plus years. Ross Skinner is a painter, an artist who has a personal vision; a profound honesty that not only explores his interpretation of reality, but more importantly he also shows his relationship with the art of painting, his immersion into nature and his dedication to exploration of subject and materiality.
Ross is emotionally invested in the subjects he paints; he stops, sits and absorbs. This immersion allows him to become connected and involved in the landscape. Many works in this exhibition are painted near where he likes to surf, others a walk from his home; areas he knows well, areas he returns to again and again. He doesn’t repeat himself by returning, but to explore the changes of light, atmospheric conditions and the change of mood he has, as a reaction to these. He paints the edges of urban life, landscape that meets water and edges of urban habitat. Very rarely does he have people in the landscape, an irony considering he is also well known for his figurative works. He explores areas with difficult histories and others threatened by ever increasing urbanisation.
For Ross, the process of turning reality into art starts with drawing, following the structure of reality in a series of exploratory studies, before they are manipulated and changed, not for the sake of change, but to explore the non-obvious. This allows a true artist to manipulate reality to make art. This is not deliberate; it’s a part of who he is and the way he thinks; it’s never contrived. The paint, so precisely chosen in colour and tone, applied with exacting certainty, along with the mark is always a conscious decision. There is no ‘happy accident’, but there is room for meditation and involvement at a level where he enters a sense of flow, a moment when the artist and the art connect on a level where it’s automatic. This is only obtainable with the knowledge of painting and art, and that makes art possible. Far more than a painter, he is a true artist; the art is from him and part of who he is.
He is a master of tone.
He has a singular personal vision. His knowledge of the Western Cannon is enormous and he is more knowledgeable in this area than most painters. It’s this knowledge that feeds his constant questioning of his art and this makes art not only visually important, but also intellectually so. Every mark, every tone, every colour selection is a conscious decision.
Dr. David Middlebrook
Artist and Academic
In my work I find that I tend to respond to subjects that I find in my immediate environment. These are subjects I can come to every day, even if it is just to look and think. Local landscapes, shadows cast against a wall, or flowers in a vase against a studio wall. Here is a subject I can study at night, perhaps when the noise and distractions of the day can be left behind, and a subject that can be considered repeatedly. Through my use of the paint I have try to put down that which strikes me as about the subject, such as the fall of light and shadow, an arrangement of objects, or a resonant colour note. In painting I tend to proceed from a more straightforward depiction of the subject, to one where I have aim for a development of elements such as structure, shape, tone and colour in such a way as to reward continued contemplation. In this I wish to follow in the footsteps of artists who have worked from their own immediate environments and in doing so have created lasting images that I believe can enrich our experience of the everyday.
Image by Charlotte Skinner