Hung on a wall, electrically illuminated.
Visual perceptions fused in paint.
No written or oral communication necessary.
They are visual stimulation,
a point of concentration
for those who can linger
in subtle transition
of atmosphere in quietude.

As a student in the MFA program at the University of Chicago, I was fortunate to be part of a small-group seminar led by art critic, the late Harold Rosenberg. His anecdotes and advice instilled in me his belief that an artist learns and grows not by developing concepts alone but through the physical act of creation. This continual physical act of painting, observation and experimentation with various media helped me to advance my technical skills and working process to develop my own visual iconography.

My visual development was influenced by the atmospheric rectangles of Mark Rothko, the spray paintings of Jules Olitski and the contemplative works of Agnes Martin which illicit an emotional response with no apparent representational imagery. I was also fascinated by Op artists, especially the work of two Cleveland Institute of Art professors, Julian Stanczak and Richard Anuszkiewics. When viewed from a distance, their paintings appear to have beautiful subtle blends of color, but up close those subtle blends of color are the optical affect created by hard- edged geometric shapes, each painted a slightly different color value.

I create paintings that combine two visual concepts. When viewed from some distance my canvases have a soft luminous atmospheric glow obscuring surface detail, but when a viewer approaches the canvas for closer inspection, its phosphorescent effect retreats into the surface revealing the many subtle, intricate details that comprise the whole. Surfaces are built up using a variety of acrylic media, including iridescent and interference colors, applied in translucent to almost transparent layers. I often draw on the canvasses between paint applications using pastels, pencils and color pencils to affect the overall image and to shift color values. Some paint layers are scraped into with sponges, sticks or fingers. An electric sander is used to smooth out any build-up of texture and to bring forward colors and patterns obscured in previous layers. Each application of paint is lapped over the side of the canvas leaving a visual memory map of the process for those who are willing to look around the ragged edges. In this way, I emphasize that the surface is an illusion of nothing more than paint. My most recent paintings incorporate an internalized frame showing the progression of preceding color layers early in the life of the painting, an important continuation of my desire to leave exposed portions of the painting process. I see each finished painting as a metaphor for the layers of life’s experiences we encounter as we age. As the Talking Heads questioned in their song, “Once in a Lifetime,” Well, how did I get here?

Marc Ross Art