Rediscovering art through nature

Written by Kim Wahl, Ed.D. on Fri, 01/14/2022 - 14:32 |
Rick Ross

From a young age, artist Rick Ross was always drawing and sketching. One of his first business ventures was as a third grader drawing a cartoon character, Baxter the dog. Ross took orders from his classmates for custom pieces of Baxter in exchange for toys and treats. However, as Ross grew older art took more of a backseat. Aside from some classes in high school and college, he eventually disconnected from it and fell into a more traditional work role without a creative connection in his life. 

It wasn’t until he became a father and shifted gears from his sales job to staying home with his kids that Ross found his way back to the world of art.

“When I would take them to the park, I noticed how they picked up rocks and sticks – everything had such color and texture. They were astonished by it. When you become an adult, you lose touch with that,” he said. “Spending time with my sons and seeing the world through their eyes moved me to pick up the paintbrush again and express color with renewed wonder for the world around me.”

The life change enabled Ross to return to art full-time. It became a way of re-imagining his world again through creative expression, and he started painting landscapes.

“The landscape pieces speak to place, but also to a feeling since I tend to like a lot of atmosphere,” he said. His paintings have been inspired by artist William Turner in this way – by setting an atmospheric mood with deep horizons. 

Eventually, and a bit surprisingly to Ross, he found his way to a new style. Inspired by artists like William Dekooning, he started to focus his attention on abstracts. Drawn to technique, splashes of color, and creative expression, Ross began his journey in the realm of abstracts.

“When I first started, I wasn’t sold on being an abstract artist. I came from a more realistic place with my paintings, so to go abstract was hard at first. But this ‘cold wax and oil’ medium is so easy to do with abstracts. It was pretty basic at first, with large parts of color with really basic earth tones. It has gotten a lot more complex – a lot more layers and more complex. I went from basic earth tones to bright reds and bright blues. I also started to do more line work where it used to be more spots of color.”

Ross’ art has continued to evolve, and he has taken on a new venture – teaching an art weekend for the University of Wisconsin-Platteville’s Continuing Education Institute called Layers: Intro to Oil and Cold Wax. Whether you’re a first-time or seasoned artist, Ross said, “It is such a creative process, you can’t really make mistakes. With all the variety of things to work with, you are going to find things that you are really drawn to and things that you will learn – you can take it into different directions. Come to the class without any preconceived notions and just have fun and enjoy the process!” 

Register for the Layers: Intro to Oil and Cold Wax art weekend at

Complete your weekend of creativity and imagination with a stay at Rembrandt and Rutabagas bed and breakfast, a beautiful place to relax after painting through creative expression. Call 608.553.2631 and mention Rick Ross’ art weekend to receive a discounted rate. 

You can find Ross’ work at, River Arts on Water Gallery, and Paoli Road Mercantile.