Ron was born in Montreal and raised in England. When Ron left school he was, he says, a fat little English boy who dreamed of saving dolphins and protecting the oceans.
Recognizing early on that he had the “gift of gab”, Ron entered to the hospitality industry, and at 19, landed a restaurant job in the Canadian Rockies. Here, a friend introduced him to diving. In a 7mm wetsuit he plunged through a hole in the ice that had been cut with a chainsaw. “It was horrifyingly cold and there was nothing to see,” he recalls. “It turned me off diving.”
His job took him to Vancouver on the west coast, and he agreed to dive again, assured it would be a better experience. Thankfully it was - he continued diving and a year later qualified as a dive instructor.
When he was offered a contract job managing the restaurant at the Sydney Opera house, he hopped a plane without a second thought. Ron decided to travel north to Cairns after his contract expired, itching to dive the Great Barrier Reef.
Once there, he was hesitant to leave the tropical north of Australia, and he looked for a job. He came across a live-aboard dive company that ran two vessels – one out of Cairns and the other out of Townsville. However, when he asked for employment, he was met with a firm “no.”
Reluctantly Ron returned to Canada. One year later, his heart set on directing Australian dive expeditions, he moved to Townsville, bought a campervan and stubbornly parked outside that same dive operator for 10 days.
Ron finally won them over, and worked on their boats over the next four years. He was “diving every day, charming girls, sketching and photographing the tropical underwater life and writing poetry.” He wasn't saving any dolphins, but a large part of his childhood dream was already beginning to take shape.
As the dive company grew, Ron became domestic sales manager. The position turned international and in 1997 he relocated to Vancouver, Canada where he had the perfect job: traveling six months of the year and interacting with other divers in the industry.
Ron’s next challenge was to become an artist. He’d always been creative, and now he wanted to share visually some of the vibrant life he’d seen on the reef. With no formal art training, taking the first step was the most difficult.
Then, some years ago, a Uruguayan artist urged him to “have a go.” The gates opened and out poured the images that Ron had stored in his mind for years. “I went home, bought canvas, acrylic paints and oils, and started painting.”
He can’t explain why he chose to paint in the pointillist style. “Dot painting among Australian Aborigines is inspirational to me. It is a style of art I find relaxing and therapeutic,” he says. This approach requires hours of detailed work, building up to 10 or more layers of different paint and texture before Ron is satisfied with the result.
He calls his art ROGEST -a play on his name, Ron George Steven. Today ROGEST originals sell for thousands of dollars. Ron also reproduces his artwork, and retains the reproduction rights. Each reproduction is made using the Giclee printing process. “In my opinion as a painter, this is the very best way of reproducing my work,” Ron states.
Making prints of his artwork allows Ron to carry out his dream of helping our oceans. “I want people- through my work- to think locally and act locally,” says Ron. “For instance, I will give environmental, critter-related, or educational organizations reproduction rights or use of images to help their cause.
So far ROGEST has helped dozens of environmental groups and organizations in this fashion. Yet, ironically, he has yet to paint his beloved dolphins.