Now in his sixties, Ken Orton has dedicated his life to painting. Inspired by his talented older brother, his childhood was spent drawing the urban, mid-century surroundings of Birmingham, England. At the Birmingham and Manchester Colleges of Art he studied Art Education and after six years teaching in England accepted an offer to head the arts program at the Joan Miro Centro de Arte of the Baleares International School in Mallorca, Spain. For the next twenty years he would introduce the concepts of pictorial composition, color theory and draftsmanship to students ranging from 12 to 19 years of age. Many of these students would go on to achieve great success in the arts and architecture and remain close with their teacher to this day.
An integral part of Orton’s perspective training for his students was the study of the ellipse. He often used glass cylinders to demonstrate how the perceived ellipses generated by variations in the circle's relationship to the eye-line could be used as a powerful tool in creating the appearance of a third dimension on a two dimensional surface. These glass cylinders continue to be an important feature in his paintings:
"I often think of the process of painting and indeed the finished artwork itself, in musical terms: rhythm, texture, coloration and tonal dynamics. In painting glass one is attempting to render a surface that is composed entirely of either refracted or reflected light. These subjects are constantly changing as they interact with objects around them. The raised lettering on the jars and bottles have, by their prismatic nature, an ability to capture tone and color from one side of the composition and pull it, in microcosm, to the other. The rhythmic nature of this lettering provides a stave onto which the decaying light, the tonal crescendos and the reflected counter melodies are written, resulting in an endless path of discovery."
The artist splits his time between the Catskill Mountains of New York and his winter home in Florida where he is happy being able to devote all his energies to painting, and where most weekends (thanks to satellite broadcasts) one can find him passionately rooting on his beloved hometown football club, Aston Villa.