"I don't think of myself as gifted," said Fraser.
Yet, without a doubt, he is. Fraser's mastery of lifelike detail is such that one might be tempted to take a fingernail to a piece of tape on a painting, for example, to see whether the tape is real or rendered in oil.
The Gates Family Foundation Curator of Painting and Sculpture at the Denver Art Museum, Timothy Standring has kept an eye on Fraser's paintings for the past twenty years. He also authored an essay in Fraser's book.
“I’ve marveled at his ability to tell visual stories and to create visual conundrums with such incredible precision and clarity,” Standring said. “He’s a cut above.”
Fraser’s visual stories include variations on themes. Subject matter ranges from iconic objects such as Hershey kisses and goldfish crackers, rubber ducks, smoke bombs, matchsticks, skulls, butterflies, seashells.
But Fraser’s paintings depict a strange world. Sheet music gets folded into paper airplanes. Arrows pierce battered running shoes. Golf tees hold eyeballs. Dead frogs are served on saltines. Bandaids mend pears. A watermelon wears a pineapple crown. And citrus fruits dangle spiraling peels.
“They’re visual rebuses, puzzling. You wonder, ‘What mind came up with this?’ But even though his story is a riddle difficult to understand completely, he doesn’t make it ambiguous. The poetry he’s communicating is quite clear,” Standring said. "He's not a surrealist and not a realist. He's Scott Fraser."
"Everything rests on drawing skill. Without it, my work wouldn't come off as well," said Fraser, who executes numerous sketches before each painting.
Fraser begins working on exhibitions as far ahead as possible, including for shows at Jenkins Johnson Gallery in San Francisco, which has represented him for more than twenty years.
"I work way out," Fraser said, referring to his schedule.
Fraser has honed his talent for forty years, driven by subject matter and composition.
At the time of the interview, Fraser was working on a commission. A longtime collector approached Fraser and Daniel Sprick—Fraser's friend and painting peer—to create still-lifes with wine, chocolate, and a famous landscape.