Artist of the Week 15
Born in 1968, Russell Gordon received his undergraduate and graduate art education at the Shuler School of Fine Arts in Baltimore, MD. Gordon’s paintings vary in subject matter, from classical tabletop still lifes to naturalistic studies to surrealistic narrative scenes. Often combining layered symbolism and a subtle wit, Russell builds each work with carefully applied layers of oil paint and a strong sense of light and dark.
Working directly from life, the paintings invite the eye into windows of alternate but convincing realities without hesitation or reluctance. Viewers are often reminded of 17th-century Dutch vanitas themes which hint at life’s fragility while reveling in it’s pleasures. Russell’s works playfully involve contemporary subject matters in often ancient mythic narratives. The result is thought provoking and ultimately satisfying to both the eye and the mind.
Though known for his still-life paintings, Gordon has most recently included portraits of North American birds to his oeuvre. Bird study is not new to the artist; in fact, he first fell in love with drawing as a youth while copying the work of John James Audubon. With a desire to learn more about his native fowl, he would often take to the woods looking for birds to render directly from life.
As an adult, observing birds has allowed him to return to nature. He finds it refreshing and invigorating to leave the “controlled environment” of the studio in search of subject matter. Living and working in rural upstate New York provides the ideal place to observe, to be inspired by and then to render these avian paintings.
Russell Gordon stretches his own canvases and frequently fashions the frames which house his works. Gordon’s still life, floral and bird paintings are opulent, almost jewel-like, and obsessively detailed. He hand grinds his own paints and utilizes Maroger Medium to increase the transparency, which allows for a sumptuous layering effect.
Moreover, the artist often employs chiaroscuro to create striking tension within his compositions; this technique is exceptionally successful with pieces depicting decadent vanitas or naturalistic subject matter. Although the Dutch Masters’ influence is underpinning, the artist manages to imbue his work with an astute contemporary feeling, moments of whimsy and a lovely freshness, referencing classical and naturalistic art but instilling also a sense of timelessness.
In 1996, Russell Gordon won first prize for still lifes in the annual national open juried contest sponsored by The Artist’s Magazine. He was also the featured cover artist of American Artist Magazine (April 2000) and received a Juror’s Mention award from the Butler Institute of American Art in June 2000. His work has been exhibited in the national open juried shows of the Allied Artists of America (1994 and 1995), the American Artists Professional League (1995), and the Oil Painters of America (1996).
Contact Lily Pad Gallery West for information on pricing and to view additional works by Russell Gordon
To learn more about Russell Gordon, and view his expanded portfolio, visit his website: