Born in Long Island, NY in 1948, Spike Ress had early exposure to the world of commercial art through visits to his maternal grandfather's studio at Grand Central Station. Though his Air Force family moved from place to place, these early impressions never left him. In the 1960s the Ress family transferred to Roswell, New Mexico. It was there Ress began his art career at the age of sixteen working for a local sign company. With his strong interest in art and a passion for learning he quickly gained the skills needed to advance into ever better positions in new locations, eventually becoming art director for a major sign company in Las Vegas, Nevada. In spite of success as a commercial artist, Ress felt the pull of fine art ever since he first held a brush. Weekends and vacations were devoted to pursuit of his own artistic development, traveling with paints and camping gear to find the diverse landscapes that inspire his work. In 1978 he left commercial art to pursue painting full-time. He began with a focus on watercolor, a medium he still finds challenging and exciting.
After gaining national acclaim as a watercolor artist, Ress added oils to his repertoire. “I find the contrast between the way one must handle the paint and brushes in oil versus watercolor stimulates me to more creative and expressive use of both media,” Ress says. Today he works comfortably in both media but always with a preference for landscape. He knows well, and loves the land and clear light of the American Southwest but the challenge of new subject matter in different parts of the world is always rejuvenating. With a wanderlust born of his transient childhood, Ress still seeks adventurous travel whenever possible. Ress explains his approach, “No matter where I am, I try to respond with direct honesty to what is before me. It is my aim to capture the way a scene feels, not just the way a scene looks. Whether it's the bright light of a hot Utah desert or a misty cold day in Alaska, I hope to communicate that feeling to the viewer.”