Sunday, April 5, 2009

illicit Art Attack #2 - Ron M.


It’s our second instalment of illicit Art Attack. Half the fun of looking at the works of these…er..unique snowboard artists is looking through their websites. This week we look at US based artist Ron Merino whose website is a prime example of the genre…
Home Page
The home page starts with this text. Strangely Ron has written his introduction from the third person perspective:
“Welcome to our virtual gallery featuring the works of Ron Merino, a San Diego CA native. Ron demonstrates his artistic genius in oils. Through his extraordinary talent and remarkable ability to capture motion he gives us a profound insight into a movement in time.”
So he starts off straight away by proclaiming himself to be an ‘artistic genius’. He’s not just saying he has a bit of talent, nope, he’s saying he’s a fully fledged artistic genius, up there with Michelangelo, Monet, Picasso and the like. Not content with this he also considers himself to be an ‘extraordinary talent’ who has ‘remarkable ability’ and who can provide ‘profound insight’.
Now either this guy is the most misunderstood genius of our generation or he is profoundly nuts. Let’s see if we can determine which he is…

Here's a few example of Ron's work. We'll get to the snowboarding ones later.

California Surf 1 or Armageddon as its otherwise known. This giant golden virus attacking the silhouette of a sportsman is a particular and peculiar feature of a number of Ron's paintings.

This one is called Teahupooh which is the Hawaiian for Total Poo.

This one is called Waimea. Why me indeed.

Nice swan! Bada boom

Artist’s Statement
Not content with just blowing his own artistic trumpet on the home page Ron gives is some additional insight into his genius…
“I paint because I want to leave something behind as a legacy. I find that the dynamic flow of painting fascinates and captivates; it's like electric energy.”
Electric energy - or as it’s more commonly known these days - electricity.
“I start by finding an image or photograph that captures the fluid motions of surfing, snowboarding, skate boarding, Skiing and other images. I translate these images to canvas to recreate the “motion” with detail and embellishment.”
Why the inverted columns on the word motion? Is he suggesting that there is no actual motion before he gets involved? Is he suggesting that snowboarders are involved in some sort of mass conspiracy where we all stand around, like gaudily clad mimes on mountains, pretending to the rest of the word that we are actually hurtling down them?
“I take time sometimes days to study the image to determine how best to display it on canvas. I next decide the types of colors and cropping so that I capture the image that I want. Once I determine how I want to display the image, I transfer that image to the canvas. Most of the images I paint take a number of weeks to complete because the composition changes while I'm in the creating process of painting.”
Yup. That pretty much how painting works
“I find a sense of accomplishment in creating and capturing an image on canvas together with a satisfaction in the creative process. I guess the toughest part for me is the completion of the process; in other words, determine exactly when I am done. I am finished when it captures the image, the moment and the motion that I'm looking for.”
Not sure you have really been determining when to stop all that well Ron. I think you should probably be putting another layer of paint over the whole painting. Better yet it might be worth learning when not to start.
Lets have a brief look at some more art before we continue...

The one legged and one handed surfer could still rip it up.

This is the instantly recognisable Ross Williams. You could tell it was him without the title of course.

Red version. No idea why this painting was repeated in red and in reverse. Maybe Ron thought he hadn't quite captured the character and style of the surfer in the first example. Or. Maybe Ron is colourblind and painted this version first before someone pointed out his mistake.

Press Releases
Ron’s talking about himself in the third person perspective again:
ORCO Mural 2008
“Ron has been working on the approval of this mural project for over four years. There were several times when it seemed that the appropriate approval authorities weren’t going to allow him to complete the mural. After multiple road blocks, Ron’s tenacity and not being one to take “No it can’t be done…give it up…let it go” the final pieces fell into place. Ron was so committed to the project that he funded a major portion of the materials cost and did all the painting solo.
Ron’s unwelcome painting, on an otherwise nice and inoffensive magnolia wall, was not well received by people with eyes. He worked at and incredibly slow pace, taking over four years to finish a single painting. His refusal to understand the reality of how bad he is allowed him to ignore the desperate pleading of his remaining friends and everyone else including the legally elected representatives of the local populace while he continued to paint. Ron paid for everything because no one wanted to commission this monstrosity and he was forced to paint on his own because no one wanted to help.
Lets take a look at the painting...

One armed iceberg surfer, with fire pouring out of his side, is attacked by the ever present giant golden virus

Surf Magazine
San Diego California, surf artist Ron Merino was chosen to help decorate a house for a lovely family in need of a home makeover on the ABC Show, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. The show will air in mid-September and will make you cry. It's seriously the best show ever.”
I suspect it will make me cry. I suspect it will not be the best show ever. I suspect this magazine is being ironic.

Ron appeared in the Rancho Santa Fe Review in an interview with Harry Brooks. These are a few extracts:
“When he said let's roll, it had the same kind of American spirit I have heard from others Merino said as his voice cracked with the motions of recollections that brought tears to his eyes.”
I only put this in because I think it partly answers one of the questions I had earlier about the “motion” conspiracy. There seems to be some misunderstanding in parts of California between the word emotion and motion. I think Ron was maybe trying to put emotion into his paintings and was suffering from emotions in the interview. Either that, or in the middle of the interview Ron suffered from the motions and shit himself.
“When I started this by had no idea where it was going he said of his painting that evolved over 10 months after he started research for it in late September 2001.”
And after ten month it ended up looking just like every other mawkish 9/11 painting...
There are thousands of painting just like this if you do a Image Search.
9/11 - is it still too early to make jokes?

The Process
The best thing about Ron is he shows the steps he takes from a seemingly innocuous photo to ending up with a mess of paint. Luckily(?) for us he has chosen to do this with only his snowboarding pictures...
This painting is called - Snowboard 1

White and blue. Snowboarder not coloured in yet

Bit more blue. Snowboarder not coloured in yet

And more blue. Snowboarder not coloured in yet.

Some more white. Snowboarder not coloured in yet.
Hang on a sec.. that's the final picture. Good job the painting is called Snowboarder 1 because without the title I couldn't tell there is one.

This painting is called...Snowboarder 2
If you look at the photos on the site it is also known as Darren. I guess he went through a lot of artistic turmoil before he arrived at the final name
A fairly dull generic snowboarding photo

OK, this snowboarder will be painted in black. That's good, he will be easier to find in the final painting. Ron is improving.
Add a vat of yellow paint

And buckets of red and orange

And voilà - an eyewatering sunset.
Ron clearly made a huge investment in yellow and orange paint for the wall mural and is now struggling to find ways to use it up.

But this one is my favourite of the processes. It is called Boarding Kilauea and it is a natrual progression after Snowboarder 1 and Snowboarder 2...

Blue white and black. You can see the influence of Snowboard 1

And here is the massive overuse of yellow that we saw in Snowboard 2.

Look the giant virus is back. He's using everything in his bag of tricks in this painting.

Bloody hell. He's painted the snowboarder. That's a big improvement. Bit odd that the mountain is black though?

Fucking Hell!! He snowboarding a on a fucking volcano Ron! What have you gone and done? This is bloody mental!

So that's pretty much Ron. For reasons of journalistic integrity I do have to point out this last painting.
I point this one out because somehow, and one must assume, by complete accident, Ron has managed to paint something I can recognise. He has actually used a subtle palete to represent the sea which produces an identifiable image. What is more, he spoils us by painting into the picture a surfer who is recognisably human. Well done Ron. You have proved that every dog has its day.

Ron M. In summary

At the start we asked if Ron is the most misunderstood genius of our generation or he is profoundly nuts. I think Google speaks for us all when it says:

See you later folks. If you want to read about another famous snowboard artist check out

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