Wildlife Gallery

Ron Marlett's painting of three butterflies.

Ron Marlett's painting of a Goldfinch.

Ron Marlett's painting of birds and potato chips.

Jesse Mack by Ron Marlett.

 In the majority of Ron Marlett's still life paintings, Ron liked to include various animals and insects. The creatures add a living interest to the arangement of flowers, fruits, vegetables, antiques, and architecture. There are times, however, when he thinks of painting ideas that focused his attention on wildlife themes that are not associated with the still life genre. Both the behaviors of active animals and the forms of non-active animals have inspired a number of composition ideas for Ron's paintings. For example, in Birds and Potato Chips (1998), Ron wanted to capture the birds seizing the moment of opportunity to snatch a free meal; the dynamic position of the bird with the chip conveys explosive motion and energy. In his piece Painted Ladies (1995), he was more interested in the butterflies as ornaments of warm color that complimented the blue flowers, rather than as instruments to express motion.

 In 2006, Ron and his brother Rob visited Gettysburg, Pennsylvania for the possibility of finding a gallery that would represent Ron's art. A relationship was developed with the Historical Art Gallery who purchased several of Ron's military limited edition prints. One of the ideas that were discussed between the gallery and Ron was the creation of state bird illustrations. Each state bird would have a scene unique to the state's history that the bird represented. Unfortunately, the gallery went out of business in 2008 before Ron could finish the first painting in that series. Years later, Ron placed the unfinished painting Ruffed Grouse at Pennsbury back on his easel with the idea of offering posters of the painting at his website's store. To explore Ron Marlett's wildlife works, click on one of the pictures to the left.

HomePhoto AlbumStore

Three Critiques at the Getty
This essay was written by Ron Marlett to satisfy an art class requirement while  enrolled at California State University, Northridge in October 2003.

     High above Santa Monica, in fall's morning mist, sits the Getty Center. Its walls of stone and glass accentuate the curves and angles of its modern architecture. For many art lovers the Getty Center has become Comelot, where they make their pilgrimage for the treasures they admire. Visitors walk slowly through the rooms filled with European decorative arts, sculpture, and paintings, and rest at panoramic vistas and gardens that make Getty the ideal art museum. From the depths of the underground parking lot, I made my way to the terminal and boarded the computerized tram that took me to the northern gate. The tram door slid open and I walked the slender steps that lead to the museum's tall glass doors. Observant guards stood their posts. The guards' communicators would occaisionally give a faint whisper as their officer gave orders for a change of guard, or a repositioning of the guards' stations. The large marbled foyer opened to a spacious plaza populated with hungry visitors savoring plump pastries, hors d' oeuvres, and various fruit ales. Surrounding the plaza were the Getty's castle keeps that housed its impressive art collection. The lower levels of these interconnecting galleries displayed sculpture and decorative arts. On the museum's second level hung paintings. After viewing the plaza level galleries, I ascended the north pavilion stairway that led me to a collection of early religious art. I followed the corridors from one gallery to the next; each gallery giving me a chronological journey through the last era of evolving European art. As I entered the West Pavilion, I saw a portrait by Rembrandt van Rijn.
      Rembrandt's 26" x 20" portrait, An Old Man in Military Costume (1631), is a beautiful oil painting on a panel framed in dark wood. The stern face stares out at the museum's visitors as if the old man were a drill sergeant inspecting new recruits. Rembrandt's care in capturing the emotional history of the old man is evident in the brow's deep wrinkles and squinting lines around the eyes. Attention to implied texture is illustrated in the man's costume. The armor, cloth, feather, and gold hatband accurately portray the textural diversity of the old soldier's uniform. Rembrandt's palette was kept neutralized throughout the painting. Shaded variations of yellow ochre, alizarin crimson, and gray dominate the background and soldier's attire, while lighter versions of the colors are evident in his face. Other portraits in the museum were done well but are lacking dynamic presence in comparison to An Old Man in Military Costume. What made Rembrandt's painting stand out over other portraits in the museum was how he organized the subject matter on his canvas. The face was positioned below and to the left of the canvas's center. The man is sitting sideways with his left arm slightly back. The diagonal movement that was created by the torso is further enhanced by the armor's curvature. Crisscrossing the diagonal lines created by the armor and torso was the man's back, hat, feather, and lit portion of the background. The feather rises up toward the canvas's edge and bends back into the dark background adding to the strong diagonal force that the figure creates. The asymmetrical balance that Rembrandt created with light and shape  formed an S-curve that is pleasing to look at.
      I proceeded down the grand hall visiting the galleries of accomplished artists that followed Rembrandt. Decades of beautiful natural colors in black, brown, and gray and realistically-rendered textures echoed a refined discipline that was the French Salon's measuring stick for talent and skill. As I passed through the gallery doorway for 19th century art, I was awestruck at the sight of a painting that did not follow the age-old tradition of realism. In front of me hung Claude Monet's The Portal of Rouen Cathedral in Morning Light (1894). The 39" x 25" oil on stretched canvas appeared to radiate light from within its light blue and bluish gray paint. It was truely a watershed in how an artist rendered visions of beauty with oil paint and brush. Claude Monet lived in a time when science, social change, and dissidence were popular subjects with the avant-garde artists who gathered at Paris cafes. New industries began manufacturing art materials that allowed artists to leave their studios and venture out into the city and country. Working out in the open-air brought artists new revelations on how colors change during the course of the day. Monet and the impressionists were well informed on the research being done by color theorists and began experimenting with color discords, complementary colors, and optical color mixing. Monet's haystack and cathedral series demonstarted how color theory, when applied to the same subject matter, expressed different moods and atmospheres.
     In Monet's piece, The Portal of Rouen Cathedral in Morning Light, the hard edges of the cathedral are softened with undefined brush marks. Shadows are subdued with bluish gray values that barely compete with the painting's lighter colors. The painting's composition is made up of the cathedral's architectural lines that coinside with the painting's vertical format, the three value changes that are arranged horizontally across the pictorial space, an orange color discord located in the painting's upper left corner (balancing the light sky to its right), and the darker shadows on the painting's lower section. The dry-brushed application of colors gives the paint surface vibrancy by allowing the under painting colors to peek through the top layers of paint. Monet's manipulation of the principles and elements of design create an effect that captures a moment in time when the morning sun rises and its warm light begins to touch the cathedral's highest steeple.
    Like many of my contemporaries, I can admire the artistic talent that Monet processed during his long career as a painter. Impressionist were not so easily accepted by society in the late 1800s as they are today. Appreciation for what impressionists did in the 19th century was almost non-existent and what support they did find came from intellectural elitists. During Monet's life, the art salons rejected his idea of painting because it locked horns with the popular opinion that art should mirror the world they lived in. Like the impressionists, other artists who experimented with the elements of design were ostracized by the art academies. The Belgian artist James Ensor had his fair share of rejection notices from the Brussels Salon when he submited his piece Christ's Entry into Brussels in 1889 (1888). The large 99" x 169" oil painting on stretched canvas depicts what the reception would be like if Jesus entered Brussels in the 19th century. Ensor satirically paints marching bands playing loud music and dignitaries waving to the crowd of celebrating citiens.Some people carry banners that salute the jovial moments of the carnival. The painting is packed with figures wearing masks and enjoying themselves during the festive parade. The museum visitors much search diligently to find Jesus riding on a mule in the center of the painting. Jesus' expression is one of bewilderment over the lack of interest in the religious significance of his presence. The loosely rendered naive style that Ensor used was successful in creating his personal revulsion to a world of inhumanity. Ensor believed that the modern world was indifferent, stupid, and venal and would sell their own grandmother for a profit. The depiction of Jesus being upstaged by dancing clowns and marching bands is a satirical parody on society's values and the personal intergrity of every individual. Ensor's parody can still be applicable in the 21st century where people who cash in on the misfortunes of others trivialize human suffering.
     After my visit to the Getty Center ran its course and the tall glass doors closed behind me, I felt inspired to work on my own paintings. I have experienced this kind of inspiration before when I watched the Olympics, or had an incredable tasting meal, or seen a well crafted movie. The inspiration comes from experiencing something created by an Olympian, a chef, or a director who see themselves as artists in their field of expertise. It is an attitude about passionately devoting oneself to perfecting their trade. Whatever the trade is, the passion  and dedication to elevate mediocrity to a higher level of perfectionism becomes the expression of art. It is these people that constitute the world's league of artists. It gives me great satisfaction that my life as an easel artist is part of the world league of artist who create for the illumination of others - not only in my lifetime, but far in the future after I am gone.