Ross Whitlock is one of New Zealand’s recognized plein air painters.

His work is in private collections all around the world. He retired from art teaching and moved to Nelson in 2007 to become a full-time landscape painter.

He has found the Nelson Region with its benign and temperate climate and long sunny days ideal for outdoor painting. It has endless subjects from the Marlborough Sounds to its National parks, mountain ranges, lakes, rivers, and the wild West Coast.

In winter he might head South to Central Otago and the Mackenzie Country to paint the majestic snow-covered Southern Alps. Or instead, he and his wife might decide to defrost in the Pacific Islands. Regardless of the destination, his trusty painting kit will accompany him on all these adventures.

He is a realist oil painter who prefers to work on small panels with a limited palette of colour. His painting is noted for its accurate drawing, precise tonal range, vigorous brushing, rich surfaces and subtle colour schemes.

In alla prima or direct painting the expressive gesture of the loaded brush evidences both the perception of the motif and the culturally codified response embedded in the artist’s practice.

Um, what that means is that when he sees a view,  or a subject that he is passionate about he uses a lot of paint as fast as possible to paint it, just like his heroes, Monet and Van Gogh.

As an artist he has always been fascinated by the visual problems of perception and reality. When he completed his Masters degree in 2001 in his thesis work he used reflections and perceptual ambiguities to tease our desire for closure and finality.

Today his latest work still explores that tension between a painted mark and the denoted object. The subjects chosen such as clouds, rivers and lakes allow for fluid boundaries between object and mark. A good painting should also be “good” paint. That is, a painted surface that is interesting and rich in its own right.

Art Career

He was born in Wanganui 1941. Educated at Wanganui Technical College. Studied at Elam School of Fine art and the North Shore Teachers College.

Graduated BA Degree in English and Philosophy from Auckland University 1978.

HOD Art Stratford High School 1978 to 1981.

Director of Art Wanganui Collegiate School 1982 to 1987.

Travelled, studied and painted in England and Australia returning to paint and teach at Queen Elizabeth College, Palmerston North 1989 to 1994.

HOD Art at the Wellington Diocesan School for Girls (Nga Tawa) 1995 to 2007.

Awarded MFA(Hons) Whitecliffe College of Arts and design 2002.

Retired to Nelson 2008 to work full time as a plein air painter.

Through these years he has exhibited frequently in both solo and group exhibitions, winning prizes and awards. He has been an artist member of the Nelson Suter Art Society and has exhibited work in all their Spring and Autumn Shows since 2008.

He has exhibited work in the Nelson Art Expo, the Christchurch and Dunedin Art Shows. He has been a member of different art cooperatives. He taught night classes in life drawing and oil painting at Nelson and Nayland Colleges and the Nelson Suter Art Society for several years.

He organized and ran the Plein Air Painters of Nelson from 2008 to 2015 and set up a stall at the Nelson Market to promote plein air painting.

Today he continues to give private lessons on request as well as demonstrations and master classes to art groups.