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A study in contrasts

The current show at the Suffolk Museum is a study in contrasts.

Oil paintings and photography. Landscapes and detail shots. Local and international scenes.

However, they were all painted and photographed by the same artist — Russell Schools Jr.

“Journeys,” a one-man exhibit by Schools, will hang at the museum through Sept. 2. Schools earned the honor by being the winner of the 2009 Suffolk Art League juried exhibition.

“I felt real good about it,” Schools said of winning the juried exhibition. “There’s a lot of really good artists in the Tidewater area.”

Schools is largely self-taught, with a smattering of art classes at local community colleges. He began doing art when he was about 30 and garnered feedback from family members.

“My mom is an artist,” he said. “She would give me feedback.”

Schools began making art as “something else to take up my time,” he said, and took college courses “just for fun.” He has won other juried shows before the Suffolk Art League one last year, he said.

“I’ve won shows before, and I’ve sometimes not even gotten into another show,” he said. “The same painting that didn’t get into one show wins another show.”

Schools’ photographs mostly consist of detail-oriented shots.

“In photography, I like to find the abstract in the ordinary,” he said. “Sometimes it is simply a matter of viewing distance, which blurs the distinction between realism and abstraction.”

Many of his paintings reflect his travels, such as “Inca Trail” and “Machu Pichu Doorway.” Traveling is a good starting point for paintings, he said.

“It gets you out of your square, and you try subject matter you haven’t tried before,” he said. “It opens your eyes up, and you’ll come back home and you’ll notice things you haven’t noticed before.”

By contrast, other paintings depict local landscapes.

Schools mostly works in oils for his paintings, though he also uses acrylics on occasion.

“A lot of times, I do acrylic, which dries real quick, but I rough it up and paint all over it,” he said. “I like to do [tactile] stuff.”

A room in his Capron home serves as a Schools’ studio, where he prefers to work alone.

“Usually I paint at night, and usually I’m by myself,” he said. “I get distracted fairly easily.”

The Suffolk Museum is located at 118 Bosley Ave. Its hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday. For more information on the museum, call 514-7284. For more information on Suffolk Art League programs, call 925-0448.