Teaching in the classroom and through his writings, painter Ross Sterling Turner was also a well known watercolor painter of marine, still life and landscape scenes.
He had worked as a mechanical draftsman until 1876, when he headed to Europe to study first in Paris and then in Munich, where he met influential artists William Merritt Chase and Frank Duveneck. He began to emulate their style of painting, using thick applications of paint. In 1879 he headed to Rome and copied from the Old Masters, and where his work began to focus on the effects of light and color, and where he mastered his combination of Realism and Impressionism.
By 1883 he had returned to the United States and settled in Boston where he also began to exhibit. He was welcomed into the inner circle of the Boston Impressionists, including Childe Hassam.
When he married two years later he relocated to Salem, but remained active in Boston art circles and continued to take students. He also began to write many educational volumes about art, including a beginner's primer in watercolor painting. He also served as in instructor at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and in 1909 became a teacher at the Massachusetts Normal Art School.
He exhibited frequently including shows at the National Academy of Design in New York and the Chicago Columbian Exhibition in 1893. His works are in the collections of several major museums, including the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C.