Firstly, we are very excited for your first Australian solo exhibition at REDSEA Gallery. Have you spent much time in Brisbane?
We have plenty of family and friends living around Australia. My brother’s family live in Perth and I have also visited Melbourne, Sydney and Cairns.
Last year we visited Brisbane for the first time. It is fantastic to have a train service from the airport to the city and free Wi-Fi on board. It’s smart thinking and great for tourists. I absolutely loved the Queensland Art Gallery. I always think you can tell a lot about a city by the state of its art gallery and botanical gardens.
It is fantastic to be able to use my job as an artist to travel to a different country and meet new people. I am living my dream.
It’s a short 3.5 hour flight between Auckland and Brisbane, so we will be back again soon… Especially this time of year! Summer would be too hot!
We love that your paintings tell such a vivid story. Are these stories based from personal experiences or are they of a general observation of the world around you?
Everybody has a story to tell… Some people like to talk or sing their way through a good yarn… I paint.
I don’t see myself as a New Zealand artist. I come from New Zealand, but my country doesn’t shape my art. We have artists painting our flora and fauna and doing a fantastic job. I want to portray my own take on “life” and produce paintings that people understand and relate to.
Not everything is as it seems in the paintings. I always have one or two twists so the viewer is rewarded if they look a little deeper and look past the obvious.
We love that each viewer takes a different meaning away from your works. How has your style adapted over time to allow for such unique interpretations?
The overall style has remained the same but different stories throw up their own unique challenges. For example, how to handle grass, how much detail should be added or held back, will too much detail in one area take the viewer away form the actual story? In the painting, Indian Summer, the concept is very simple and I have used very detailed grass to create the overall “mood” of the painting.
In regards to my process, I follow a strict process from the initial sketch through to final art. I never start a new painting until the current painting is complete. Each painting goes through three phases prior to the process of applying paint to canvas. First is the big idea and this could be a phrase, concept or a single word, at this stage the title of the painting is “Fixed” and I seldom change it from then.
Second is the composition. I work in black and white at this initial phase, and I’ll produce several different sketches from there. I then develop one final study. The final phase is the colour study. In many ways, this one can can be the most difficult. I never deviate from the colour sketch, it is my guide and allows me the luxury of painting the final art with confidence.
Some ideas never get off the ground; others I’ll revisit months later. It is important to be able to walk away from a bad idea.
Forget hobbits and sheep, New Zealand is quickly emerging as an arts and cultural destination. What was like it growing up as an artist in New Zealand?
I grew up in Otaki, population 5000, a small North Island country town with a main street, two primary schools and one college. It would be fair to say art wasn’t the easiest career choice in a farming town. You need to be pretty resourceful and determined to be able to survive in the art game and I enjoy the business side of art.
New Zealand is a collection of small towns. Our population is slightly less that of Sydney so you learn to make the most of all opportunities.
The internet has changed how artists reach their market. Social media has allowed me to take my ideas to the world in a way that just wasn’t possible a few decades ago. I love how I can live in New Zealand and have people following me from all over the world. T his doesn’t work for everyone and you do need to have a can do attitude to overcome distance… Sending paintings between countries is a little nerve wracking.
What’s the next chapter for you Ross? Any chance you’ll be calling Australia home?
As I write this, the temperature outside is 0 degrees and the first lot of snow is falling down South. We are very much looking forward to a sunny warm week in Brisbane, and it’s no wonder so many New Zealanders now call Australia home.
I’m also long overdue for a trip back to Perth, and I now have family living in Melbourne so we will be hopping over the Tasman regularly for the years to come. Australia is such a vast place and one trip I really want to do is up to the Kimberley. It’s definitely on the bucket list.
Join REDSEA Gallery and Ross Jones for an Artist Talk on the 15th of June.
June 2, 2014