With a background in architecture/town planning Ralph Stanton found his way into visual arts later in life. Taking inspiration from the West Australian light and landscape and from Abstract Expressionism – particularly the ideas of New York School painter Mark Rothko – he creates striking paintings rich in colour and texture. As an artist he is interested in expressing an ‘inner light or emotional space’ through non-representational imagery.
Enjoy getting to know Ralph Stanton …
When did you first feel the desire to be artistic and realise you had talent?
I have felt an artistic urge from an early age. I trained as an architect where I spent my first career in town planning and urban design, with some success. But I did not realise my talent for visual or three-dimensional art until later in life.
Where did you learn your art?
I undertook a diploma at Claremont School of Art in the 1990’s.
What inspires you most?
I was greatly influenced by Mark Rothko’s approach to the idea of “self-transcendent experience, revealed through art and, above all, colour – its inherent expressiveness.” I take this idea in a direction inspired by the light and colours of landscape (especially Western Australian landscape) and/or by my own inner feeling.
What message are you sending to the viewer of your art?
Rothko’s aim was “to formulate a message transcending self – about the human condition generally.” For me, I’m not sure there is a “message” as such. (Or perhaps, in the words of Marshal McLuhan, “the medium is the message”). Either way, I am happy if the viewer sees beauty in the work and responds with feeling and an emotional connection.
Describe your studio
My first real studio was at PSAS in Fremantle. In 2004 my wife Jo and I moved to a new award-winning terrace house – designed together with Nash & Ghersinich Architects in Northbridge, Perth. My studio occupies the ground floor and is light and airy, with full-height south-light windows; it opens onto a lovely walled garden which filters west light via a large light-well.
Currently Jo and I are on extended sabbatical in Sydney, where I have a studio at Square 1 Studios, Alexandria – a group space with other artists working in all media and ranges of expression. It is stimulating to meet and talk with other artists having similar as well as diverse interests.
Describe a typical day
In Perth, I was an afternoon painter. Mornings were engaged, in writing, piano or other activities, leaving afternoons open for painting – not unlike a university or art school timetable. This gave space to take my time, contemplate and proceed – sometimes slowly, sometimes quite fast.
In Sydney, my day is more hectic and varied; Also piano and now choir, as well as family pursuits; and in the studio I am more focussed on the work in hand. It is quite a change, and an energetic boost.
What mediums do you use and why?
I am a fan of quick-drying acrylic, particularly the Australian-developed “Atelier” interactive paints, which allow a great deal of flexibility. I use proprietary “flow,” “extender” or “clear” mediums for particular effects, often over a made-up hand-worked textural ground.
What are you working on now?
I am working on similar themes, and specifically working towards two exhibitions in 2018 – in Sydney and in Margaret River.