Gordon Skalski is a representational artist and illustrator from California. His current work focuses on the delicate yet essential relationship that we share with nature. Gordon uses several mediums to accomplish this: oils, acrylics, watercolors, pastels, and charcoals. His inspiration comes from the observation that “humankind has disconnected from the natural world in such a way that it has become an accessory.” The figures in his work are representatives of the potential cost incurred as a result. As a creator, Gordon’s goal is to establish an emotional connection between the viewer and the art, in a way that invites discussion and reflection.
We caught up with Gordon to talk about some of his work, his philosphy as it pertains to art and his muses. Read on to learn more about this illustrator and his evocative work.
I’m a California native, although I am very connected to my Scottish heritage on my Mom’s side. I have a very supportive wife (who doubles as my agent), two daughters and a son (all three of which are very creative in different areas).
As an artist, I’m primarily self-taught with some college and atelier training. I work in many different mediums (oils, acrylics, charcoals, pastel, ink etc) and I love to challenge myself with new tools and techniques as much as possible. I really can’t remember a time where I wasn’t drawing, painting or sculpting. I do however remember the spark that started that passion that I still feel today. It was a book called “The Art of the Brothers Hildebrandt.” It was in the clearance section of the local bookstore and I begged my parents to buy it for me. It opened a whole new door of awareness into the world of creativity for me. I scoured those pages for years, analyzing every detail of the artwork literally until the pages were falling out. Some of my other art influences include Andrew Wyeth, Gottfried Helnwein, and Canadian wildlife artist Robert Bateman.
Incorporating nature themes into my representational art seemed like a very organic process. My dad loved to camp and garden and as a result, I spent a lot of time outside as a kid. I was fascinated by the outdoor world and its wild inhabitants and I absorbed as much of it as I could. Climbing trees, exploring tide pools and looking under every dead log or rock for some interesting animal or insect was my daily escape. I devoured every book and field guide on wildlife that I could get my hands on. My dad’s message was to always respect it and it would respect you. That wise notion has stayed with me for years and become a foundation for the way I live. I’ve taught my kids to be aware of how important this amazing connection we have with the natural world is and that we aren’t just observers, we’re participants.
My personal philosophy on art is pretty straight forward. I absolutely love the creative process on every level. The struggle and emotion that is poured into each work is such a beautiful way of making a connection with the viewer. The way of looking at things from a different perspective and being able to create this illusion of my minds vision that can be thought-provoking and hopefully inspiring is what drives me through each piece. My current work titled “Plagues of consumption and retribution” deals with our delicate yet essential relationship with the natural world. There seems to be a pervasive disconnect that is happening in the world today. The consequences for taking that relationship for granted can be devastating to future generations. But there is hope in harmony and balance. It’s really about choice. Having daughters has changed my views and priorities in many ways.
Most of my subject matter includes the female form in some form of interaction with nature and wildlife, albeit metaphorically at times. For me, it is important to represent the female form in the most positive light, as a thing of strength and beauty. Symbolically, there is this notion of mother nature and birth and nurturing that are the roots of everything we come from. It’s all quite humbling when you put it into perspective. I grew up around many strong women. My mom, sisters, grandmother, aunts and cousins were always prominent forces in my life. I was always very aware of the fact that the men in my family always represented the physicality of strength, while the women epitomized true fortitude. It seemed like a symbiotic relationship of sorts and quietly matriarchal. On some cellular level, all of these experiences are infused into my creative process. The resulting visceral stream of expression is in the best case scenario, hopeful and honest.