The paintings in this gallery are the work of Alex Fraser and they can be found in the Biology Department at the University of Cincinnati. Try to keep an idea of the size of the paintings as you're looking at them as many of them are quite large, perhaps eight feet or so vertically and many times more than that horizontally. They're extremely difficult to photograph because of their size and the limited space in which to photograph them.

I've offered background notes and interpretations on many of the paintings below and this might seem a little presumptuous but he thought my opinions on art were important. I'm really not sure why as I've had no training of any kind but that may be exactly what he wanted. I was fairly uncomfortable with having life and death power over his paintings and would sometimes avoid the living room as I knew there was a painting in there that I didn't like and I didn't want to judge it. Despite the discomfort at the time, that's part of the relationship with him that I now remember most fondly.

He experimented with different media but the vast majority of his paintings were in acrylic on canvas. He never used oil and this was probably because he simply didn't have the patience for waiting for it to dry. He appreciated watercolor but he had no passion for it.

I have no idea what type of paint was used for the Biology Department but it would have been impractical and hugely expensive to have used normal artist acrylic paints for that. Also, you'll frequently see in his paintings textures that seem slightly out of place. This is because he would Gesso over a painting if it didn't meet his standards and then he'd paint something altogether different in its place but some trace of the original texture would remain. For some canvases, there could be as many as three or four paintings layered over each other.

Alex was red-green color blind. You will sometimes see evidence of it in color balances that don't seem to quite work. It was never altogether clear what red and green really looked like to him and it seemed like one or both were rendered, to him, in shades of grey. In any case, they certainly did not look as they would to you or I.

SPECIAL NOTE: All of the photography on this page was done by Professor Larry Erway of the Biology Department of the University of Cincinnati. He and Alex were very good friends for about forty years, starting in California and then moving to Ohio. Larry's friendship couldn't be more clear in his work to preserve Alex's memory and I'm very grateful to him for providing the many images he sent me.

Here's where it started:

Carousel, the painting

Carousel, the photograph

This is the first painting he did but this not the first version of it. I had photographed a long-exposure image of a circus carousel at night and he was quite taken with the result. I don't know what ingredients mixed within him to get him to decide to paint it but, after a while, he went out for some canvas and acrylics and started painting from the photograph. He painted for the rest of his life.