The first thing I see when I go into Scott Abbott's studio is the canvas he is working on, a replica of "The Scream". The second is a painting on the wall that at first glance looks like an Alex Colville. "The Scream" is a commission; the Alex Colville is a painting Scott did in university. A definite attempt to paint in Colville's style, he admits, a painting of a house, seen through a window; geometry is central. Apart from these two, there is nothing in what Scott shows me where he has attempted to copy anyone else's style. Scott has his own style. The evolution of this style is one from fairly tight realism to a mixture of the realism and abstractionism traditions. Occasionally he has branched off and painted in a more abstract form, such as a series of six mountain and cloud paintings done several years ago when he was out west, having trouble painting mountains using his usual methods. There is a bright and engaging painting from this series on his wall. Vertical waves of pink, blue and green float across the canvas.

Scott started his career as a painter when he was 12 years old. "I just knew; I wanted to paint. And it seems that this is quite a common age to become interested in it, at least with other male painters I've spoken to. After a while it goes from an interest to a compulsion; you might leave it for a while and then you feel compelled to come back to it. Your whole world view becomes shaped by it. You see everything in terms of its shape, its colour, how it can be drawn or painted." Scott's compulsion to paint led him to get his Fine Arts degree from Guelph in 1978.

When I ask him where he gets his inspiration, he thinks about it for a while. Nature, of course, as many of his paintings are landscapes, thoughts of nature. He spent part of every summer in Northern Ontario as a kid, and this left a lasting impression on him. He continues to spend part of each summer there. He went to the McMichael Gallery when he was in grade seven, and this also had a tremendous impact on him. I ask Scott where thei nspiration for "Blue Volkswagon" came from. He was working up north with some friends in 1979 who were really into cars and were always stopping to look at them. He spent the summer staring at cars and began to find the contrast of nature vs. metal very interesting. "Blue Volkswagon" is the only piece he can remember doing that contrasts nature and man. He became increasingly interested with contrasts within nature; death and new life is a theme in many of his paintings.

Although Scott works mostly with oils, he also dabbles in acrylics, watercolours and pencil crayons. He uses the pencil crayon exclusively with his watercolours. He starts with a sketch, then paints over it, then applies pencil crayon on top of that. When I comment that this seems like a unique approach, he agrees, he is the only one he knows who uses it. He says it is more of a commercial artist technique. He started using this unusual method when he was doing a commission, experimenting with ways to solve a particular problem.

Scott enjoys doing commissions, and he does at least a few each year. The one he is working on now, "The Scream", is an unusual request. He has never seen the painting and is working from reproductions. Scott's version of "The Scream" is a portrait of the man who commissioned the work. The man's dog is standing beside him and his brother and sister-in-law are the people standing in the background. It's quite a challenge, but Scott admits that's why he enjoys taking commissions, he enjoys the challenge. It is clear that it is not only with his commissions that Scott allows himself to be challenged. He is a unique and versatile painter whose works immediately attract the viewer to Scott's artistic perspectives on life.
Christine Stodart, April 1998