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Three Rivers, One Mountain - New Paintings by Ross Whitlock

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Three Rivers, One Mountain - New Paintings by Ross Whitlock

An Old Friend returns to the gallery with a series of new works featuring the region’s iconic geography and paintings produced during recent forays around New Zealand and elsewhere. Ross Whitlock, former Palmerston North resident and plein air painter extraordinaire, returns to Taylor-Jensen Fine Arts with around 30 paintings in his inimitable style. “Three Rivers, One Mountain” features framed oil on panel paintings of the Manawatū, Wanganui and the Rangitikei rivers along with views of Mt Ruapehu, the dominant geographic feature of this region. Smaller paintings included in this exhibition feature scenes from the artist’s travels. “Three Rivers, One Mountain” displays both the versatility and capability of this talented artist and tutor. The exhibition will open on Friday April 6th with a reception to honour the artist from 5-7pm; the public is cordially invited to attend (no RSVP required; please just come along) to meet the artist and view the exhibition. “Three Rivers, One Mountain” continues through 2nd May at Taylor-Jensen Fine Arts, 33 George Street, Palmerston North.

On Saturday 7th April, Ross will give an ‘Artist’s Floor Talk’ at 11am at Taylor-Jensen Fine Arts followed by a plein air demonstration in the Square from 2pm.

Ross Whitlock retired from full-time teaching about 10 years ago and now lives, sails and paints in Nelson when not traveling. Prior to retirement, Whitlock had been Head of the Department of Art and Arts Coordinator at Nga Tawa Diocesan School, Marton. Whitlock writes: “As a teacher I tended to work in a very traditional manner, these days I am a more ‘direct painter’. I work much faster using a few bright primary colours, and a very big brush. It must be fun to watch, as I often have people watching me paint. They are usually very respectful, and keep their distance. I like to invite them to come closer and have a look.”

Ross has joined several art groups within the Nelson district and various groups have asked him to give demonstrations of direct painting from time to time. He says: “It has become quite the thing to paint out-of-doors.” Ross says that up to twenty people often join him on Sunday afternoons at different locations to try their hand at plein air painting.

On Wednesday evening 4th April, Whitlock will give a demonstration of Alla Prima painting in Palmerston North. Italian for ‘all at once’, it means finishing a painting in a single session. A two hour time period is planned where Ross will demonstrate alla prima speed painting in oil for the outdoor painter. He will answer questions about the technique, also known as the ‘Master’s Method’. “Not as easy as it sounds,” according to Ross, “because as one might expect things can go wrong: Colours turn muddy; mistakes are messy; composition can be tricky as the necessary sequence of layers from dark to light is deceptive.” This session will be especially interesting to connoisseurs wishing to know more about classical oil painting techniques; the studio artist who wishes to paint en plein air and the beginner who would like to know where to start. Space is very limited. For further information see Stuart Schwartz, Gallery Manager at Taylor-Jensen Fine Arts.

Ross Whitlock was born and educated in Wanganui, studied at Auckland University and at the Elam School of Fine Art. He was awarded a Master of Fine Arts Degree from Whitecliffe College of Arts and Design, Auckland in 2003. Ross was Director of Art at the Collegiate School, Wanganui from 1981 to 1988. He then travelled extensively in Australia and England, returning to teach and paint in Palmerston North. Whitlock retired as Head of the Department of Art and Arts Coordinator at the Wellington Diocesan School for Girls, Nga Tawa, Marton. After retirement the artist was busy fixing up a wonderfully sited but slightly neglected house, not to mention the yard and gardens now fully enjoyed by his wife and dogs. Ross also built himself a proper painter’s studio for use when not painting plein air.

Whitlock has exhibited frequently in recent years both in solo and group exhibitions and reviews, winning prizes and awards including the ‘Popular Prize’ in the Wanganui Art Awards and a Certificate of Merit at the Manawatu Art Expo. Among Ross’s previous work of note has been a series of paintings on 1500 x 1500mm aluminium which feature reflections and reverse images which were created as part of his Masterate degree programme and exhibited in Auckland and at Taylor-Jensen Fine Arts.

Whitlock’s exhibition history has included: a retrospective at Nga Tawa in 2006; ‘The City’ at Morgan Street Gallery, Auckland (2007); ‘Upon Reflection’ at Taylor-Jensen Fine Arts (2008); ‘Seeing Nelson’ at the Suter Gallery, Nelson (2009) and ‘The Plein Air Show’ at Refinery Gallery, Nelson, 2012 and 2014.

Whitlock has work in many private collections in New Zealand and Australia as well as in America, Canada, the United Kingdom and Ireland. His paintings grace the walls of many corporate and academic offices within the greater Manawatu.

Stuart Schwartz can be reached at 06 355 4278 or via email at

The public is always invited to view special exhibitions and other artworks held at Taylor-Jensen Fine Arts, 33 George Street, Palmerston North during gallery hours: Monday – Thursday, 10 to 5; Friday 10 to 6 and Saturday, 10 to 3. The Gallery is closed Sundays and all statutory holidays except for special events.

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