Art, Nature & Soul #17

What is ART? More importantly who decides. Are the answers based on academics or emotive ones, is it because it's realistic or non-objective, does the fact that a painting was done in oil rather than acrylic have any weight, or perhaps it's the fact  that it was painted 'en plein air', instead of in a studio, gains us some insight.

Whether, it's highbrow/middlebrow/lowbrow, who cares. Van Gogh, Monet, Vermeer and El Greco are several visual artists, who had gone, rejected or un-recognised in their own lifetimes, someteimes both. So many others were discovered and advocated for, by persons of influence and decisiveness, within their lives, such is the case with Jackson Pollock. Personally, I know of at least three instances of persons being summoned to the court of high success. What they all had in common was the abitlity to put themselves out there, at all costs, until they gained an audience with that person or persons of influence, sometimes by happy accident. Once this happens, your in, it's art, for many this happens posthumously,  their efforts go un-recognised until some future date and sometimes never.

 What can be known for sure, is that being an artist of any sort is an uphill battle all the way. It takes an unbridled passion, discipline and fortitude.  As for me, my 'pallete' is extremely large and varied, when it comes to 'what is art'. It's an endeavor, often thoughtful, historical and relevant, to its time and speaks to the context of the creator.  It's what inspired a person to create something of a non-utilitarian purpose. A person who is merely struggling to grow as a human, as artist and make their statement about life and the world around them, as they experience it, see it.  The history of art, what it is, and who decides, is as long and complicated as the story of human history itself.  Whether you started creating at age, 1 or 101,  create in crayons, oil or other materials; are the most apt realist or most compelling minalmalist abstract artist, who decides if it's art are the people who purchase your artwork, show it, collect it, now, or in 25, 50 or 100 plus years, later.

While you may 'like' or 'not-like' it, if it's in a museum the broader concensus, is that it's art. But, that's another subject. fore it ,speaks to your personel sense of aesthetics. That said, most people,  seem to rely on the leaders, for their decision making, as to whats good, what's art, and fall in line with such. So when those persons of influence, that gallery that took a risk, the art fair that juried you in, that exhibit you were allowed to participate in, that magazine that wrote an article, those individual family members, friends and persons from around the globe, decide to purchase and acquire a piece of your work, declaring it to be art. Thank them, for in the final analysis, what art is, is in fact in the eye of the beholder, so it's most important to be grateful to those who behold yours, declaring it 'ART'.

Thanks everyone; family, friends, patrons, collectors, sponsors and benifactors, for your continued support and as always feel free to comment. ~Richard

'Eye of the Beholder' 36"x36" acrylic on canvas (yr.20  ) in private collection

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Art, Nature & Soul #16

I love a road trip, heading down the highway, an adventure to destinations unknown. Growing up, I remember my family driving all over the country on various trips. Mostly camping, or visiting family, although sometimes they would be to explore historical sites. As I grew older, hopping on the train, or taking off in my car seemed second nature. To this day I still get that adrenaline rush of anticipation as I turn up the music, have the camera ready and hit the road.  Life is about the journey, not the destination.

During this time frame I was taking representational subjects and breaking them down unto their abstract forms. Dripping and splattering the paint attempting  to control the chaos. Besides having a vivid color palette, which colors I applied first became crucial to the dynamic dimensional aspects conveyed. Putting the sky in last, allowed the blue to drip across the entire landscape creating layers of depth.

These artworks seemed to have a theraputic value, a cathartic aspect to them, plus they were so fun to do. As always feel free to comment.

'Meditations 8, the road trip, 22"x10" acrylic on linen, (yr. 2011) in private collection    

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Art, Nature & Soul #15

Intuitive and stream of conscious, so were the the artworks done in this time frame. Sunrise and sunset, the day begins and ends,  many of my color sketches, studies and completed works, involve these times of day, as it's when I'm out there, usually walking, inspired.

During this time I was writing and editing a novel, 'Libertalia, Seize the Day for Remember We All Must Die' under the pen name DrahCir. It is a steampunk pirate fiction with historical elements. A fun romp through time & space, drawing on my life and long list of literary influences.

Keeping it direct, raw,  & spontaneous, with all the things in my thoughts influencing the outcome, I set out this morning, with acrylic paints, linen canvas, palette knives,  and brushes to paint a piece for a digital colorplate illustration for the novel (1of24 included). The sun peeking out the sky, the ocean, and a tallship in silhouette. Look carefully and you can add your story to the scene.

'Dusk' (Black Sails) 16"x10" acrylic on linen. (yr. 2011)

It became p'178 for the novel, thus acquired and in a private collection.

  

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Art, Nature & Soul #14

I have raised a variety of critters most of my life. As a child we had dogs, birds, fish & turtles, as an adult cats, dogs, birds, fish, tortoises and even hermit crabs have been companion critters. I've always felt it was important for children to raise a pet of some sort, to teach them a healthy respect for, and understanding of, other animal life. If you haven't raised a critter or two you probably did not know they also have an emotional life.

At one point we raised a family of Shiba Inus. A father, mother, daughter, & son, this is a  mother/daughter piece I painted the year they both passed being the last surviving members of that pack. Sunny nearly 17(on right) and Snowy 15 1/2(on left) had a tamaltuous and sometimes competitive relationship, most of their lives. In their final years, while always protective, they became very nurturing,  tender and loving  of each other. There were a great many moments caught on camera & film and this one in paint of one of thoose fleeting moments of endearment.

Me, not generally being of a realistic or literal visual interpretive nature, but more of an emotive one, went to work painting them.  I tend to like a more alla prima, direct, & intuitive approach, to capture and transmit my emotional visual energies to canvas, in an attempt to avoid a contrived, overthought or static relief. With a combination of oil paint, brush, and palette knife, I intended to carve a matter-of-fact rendition of the two that captures both their likeness's, as well as the emotions of this tender moment shared by them, mother and daughter and was most happy with the results.  

As always feel free to coment.

'Still Moments' 20"x16" oil on canvas (2012, NFS)    

  

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Art, Nature & Soul #13

Trying to engage a broader, more universal, world wide audience and have them relate to or see themselves, as participant, in my artwork has been a goal for a great many years. Whether an abstract, landscape, or figurative work, I've worked toward a person having an emotional response to the colors, textures, patterns, composition and design of a given painting. 

In the more figurative works done at this time, I eliminated any standard visual impact that could be used to judge, criticize or discriminate and gave the persons an equal basis regardless of economic status, sex, age, raceethnicitynationalitydisability, mental illness or abilitysexual orientationgendergender identity/expression/dysphoriasex characteristicsreligiouscreed, or individual political opinions in which to express themselves, their being, their love.

This smaller work, done utilizing a drip,  splatter, splash technique I had developed over a great many years.  Shifting from my abstract work into a more figurative piece, carving with palette knife, then using sculpting tools to create edges, add line, and so, the figures emerge embracing, with a  passionate kiss, untouched by human evaluations, identified on their own terms.

'Another Kiss' 12"x12" acrylic on canvas (2012) available 

    

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Art, Nature & Soul #12

Inspiration comes in many forms and from many avenues. I grew up in a little one bedroom yellow house, until age 7, in a nearby suburb of Chicago. The house was set back further from the road, as compared to others in the neighborhood. Me, my mother, father, sisters, & on occassion, extended family members lived there,  when they needed a place to stay temporarily.  

Memories flood back from days gone by. An early memory being  one of the great mystery of snow. Around age 5, I had scooped up some snow and saved it in a metal & lidded minnow bucket, to save for the spring, only to find when spring had come, the snow had melted. I suppose we all have these kind of experiences, but for me, it became a realization of a few things. One being, the awe of beauty, another of the inevitability of loss and still another of emmense possibilites of learning.

This piece was painted in 2011, at the plateau in my drip & splatter fusions of abtract and representational subject matters. I'm using acrylic and interference paints here. Swirling loaded brushes of color on a substrate, allowing them to drip, then  splattering them with h2o to encourage the process, followed by carving and directing the flow with a palette knife to create the subject and story, the painting is then completed with more splattering.   

Van Gogh & Gauguin have there yellow house experience and I had mine, a duality and juxtaposition of turbulence and joy.

'Yellow House' 19.5"x15.5" acrylic on board 

Your comments and questions are welcome.  

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Art, Nature & Soul #11

Melancholia & Bliss, are the dual nature of emotion and being. We cannot as humans have one without the other. To have great sadness in our lives is to have had great joys,  to express some of those deep emotions are something I strive to convey in my work. 

I've been drip, splash & splattering for as long as I can remember. It is not merely an aesthetic or decorative expression for me, though, but more so, an emotive one. The drips of paint, a symbol of blood, of sweat, of tears, like a rainy day, in color, the duality of loss & gain, the persistence of memory, how we see it or what we make of it.

Most of my artworks of this nature and approach have been of a more abstract nature, although over the years I have begun to fuse the representational aspects of my surroundings and life into the process and images. This piece was created just after what seemed an epoch of my life, a turning point. Who I was, how I saw myself and defined myself had once again undergone some dramatic and severe changes. 

We were on vacation, along the Atlantic seaboard, it was the first one in a very long time. I mixed the abstract, the representatinal, the drips, splatters and splashes together, layered on canvas to convey my deep feelings of loss & isolation, of hope & love. Memories fade, but are conveyed and sounds, smells, & visuals are strong triggers to bring us back and humble us our being.

Enjoy, and feel free to comment or contact me for more information.  

'Silhouette on the Beach', 20x10, Acrylic on Canvas

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Art, Nature & Soul #10

Cross that bridge when you get to it. About 25 years ago, I took a train trip across the  U.S. southwest, stopping at the various places along the way. We were able to schedule as many off's and on, stays as we liked. Amtrack has a route, the 'Southwest Chief', if you want to see America, its the only way to travel. Sleeper cars, lounge & dining car, plus a dome car in which to see the whole panoramic view.  We took an enormous amount of photos and video, great references for paintings and memories too.

San Francisco was one of our highlights on the epic trip, working in acrylic I tried to capture both the complexities of life there and the bridge that stands as a beacon of hope and safety for many. It's not all 'Sunshine, Lollypops & Rainbows', all the time, but it is a place where no matter what your thoughts on life are, you will find acceptance and kindred spirits.

Using a drip and splatter method of layering paint glazes and giving some line with palette knife the bridge emerges from the dark, an overcast seaside landscape to reveal safe passage, for all that seek it.

As always your questions and comments are welcome.   

"Gateway to Freedom' 24"x20" acrylic  

        

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Art, Nature, & Soul #9

During the late 80s, there were several controversial art exhibits, one of art photographer Robert Mapplethorpe's (then recently deceased) work, still another artist, had painted Chicago Mayor Harold Washington in drag, and yet another, where the american flag, spread upon the floor in which the viewers were asked to walk upon it and sign the guest book. It was the tail end of the decade in which HIV/Aids, made its self known here in the U.S. and questions of sexuality, gender identity and freedom were again called into question.

Throughout most of the 80s, I too, was struggling with some these questions for myself and as an aspiring artist was striving to communicate my ideas and thoughts on them. As more of an outsider artist, I was constantly experimenting with the mediums available, figurative works appealed to me, expressing the human condition was important, DALI (also recently deceased) was hugely popular and the more surreal the art, all the better for me. More so, then and recently, I had just become familiar with Ed Paschke's, more social and political artworks, as well. Hence, most of the work I produced back then, had these things in mind and does just that, tries to self express, answer questons.

One piece I created back in the day, is entirely too avant garde, risque and racey for general consumption, lending itself to a more private viewing. However, this piece inspired by my personal struggles, plus Rodin & Klimt's take on what it means to love, artworks entitled 'The Kiss', is archived, and survives still in my personal collection as a homage to those turbulent days and my finding resolve.

As always, your thoughts, questions and comments are welcome.

The Kiss, (yr. 1990), 24x36, Oil on Canvas, Richard Sperry

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Art, Nature & Soul #8

A decade or so ago, I was creating primarily in acrylics, using a drip, splash, splatter and palette knife approach, with subjects being both abstract and representational in an attempt to merge the two concepts into a unified idea.

I love walking and nature and spend lots of time outside doing so, observing it and trying to take it all in. I'm fascinated with the idea of fractals and overcome with the idea that those patterns echoe and ripple, no matter how large or small, on and on into infinity and back. They whisper to me, that all life regardless of its differences, is connected to each other in a symbiotic relationship. 

There are paths to choose, decisions to make, and no matter which ones you do, to most there is a way re-route, if only  you keep moving forward, being true to yourself. Some of us take a more direct route to get to a destination as quick as possible. Others of us prefer the more circuitous routes and  scenic by-ways. I've been more of the latter, wanting for the thing that eludes us most, the abilty to put our whole selves in the moment and breath it all in.

This piece is inpired by a forest preserve by my home and one of the paths I've walked over a great many years. What began with a blank canvas, was stretched over strainer bars, primed, then slowly color glazes were applied, again and again, until, with a palette knife the path was clear and subtle details were added to journey's end.   

'Sky's the Limit' 24"x30" acrylic on canvas~SOLD     

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Art, Nature & Soul #7

One of my favorite authors/thinkers once quipped, that the problem with abstract art is that it doesn't have a horizon line. Kurt Vonnegut also said and I quote, "I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all the kinds of things you can't see from the center."

As more of an outsider artist, which is to say, an artist with very little formal training and making their way through the conformitities of the day, I'm more experimental in approach. As a boy of 12, I remember wanting for that eureeka moment and thinking that true art must be created in a vacuum. I doodled and drew often, mostly the people around me. Da Vinci, Dali, Van Gogh, Carravagio, & Pollock, were and are my primary artists of interest, as a child and young adult. 

From caricatures to realism, to the more surreal and impressionism, and on to post-impressionism and expressionism, I've created in pencil, pen & ink, soft pastel, clay, oil, acrylic, and a multitude of various fusions of mediums, exploring the possibilities.  Always with the idea in mind that I too could fuse ideas together into a single approach.

With this idea in mind, over a decade ago I began to blend my representational and abstract ideas together. This piece is one of the results of the process of bringing these ideas together. It is done in acrylics in a drip and splatter approach that is layered in a multitude of glazes. It is, I believe, one of my successful works of abstract with a horizon line.

Please feel free to comment.

'The Edge' 60"x48" acrylic on canvas by Richard Sperry

  

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Art, Nature & Soul #6

From my earliest memories of drawing, my primary interests were of people. There are even ones in crayon, around my studio, that were done when I was 6 or 7 years of age. Throughout my childhood you could find me doing drawings of the people around me, mostly cartoon or caricature in style. Sometime in middle school my interests in Leonardo Da Vinci and a more realistic approach took hold as did my medium of choice being pencil. Later in high school, pen & ink cartoons, of all my classmates and teachers, then followed by some commissioned portrait works in soft pastel. While I found realism a struggle and favored the more stylized or caricature works, I had it my head to become a portrait painter and studied that for a time. In my 20s, I really wanted to study with a local rococo style portrait artist, but did not happen, then later took a Rembrandt style portrait class at the SAIC. Life is demanding, our priorities are often dictated to us, as such my openness to to impressionism, post impressionism and expressionism opened up a wide berth of creative outlets and opportunities for artistic growth.  I explored these arenas of art and found them more conducive to the particulars of my life. Over the past decade or so my primary subjects tend to be more landscape and abstract, either building up those basic design essentials or breaking them down into their essence. However, I still love people, doing realistic figurative work and sometimes I have the opportunity to do such. This was the case in this piece and became a merging of learning, mediums, subjects and ideas. Feel free to comment or ask questions. 

Thank you for your support. ~ Richard

'Dream Sequence #50' 24"x20" mixed media on canvas    

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Art, Nature & Soul #5

I created this piece in 1997 and it has hung in my home since then. It still intrigues, holds my attention and seems to be telling, conveying a truth, of my own inner mystery. While I took many art classes growing up, I found myself constantly experimenting with the various mediums and had not sought or received much formal training. However, when I was younger, in my teens & 20s, I had it in my head to become a portrait painter and found myself taking a Rembrandt style painting class at the S.A.I.C. The palette was limited, was a great learning experience, with a fabulous teacher, as a plus, a Goya Exhibit was going on and I loved the history/story telling nature of his work. 

Soon after, I created this piece. Often times if an artist changes style to style to rapidly its thought they do not know who they are as an artist.   The fact is, that is, my truth is,  that a duality exists in myself and I'm simply not inclined or compelled to destroy it in the name of image. In other words, in the words of Donnie and Marie, "I'm a little bit country and a little bit rock n' roll." (obscure reference #1) While over the years I have refined my vision, I will always continue to experiment and be surprised when they go well.

This is a mixed media piece, that many persons have wanted to acquire, but I simply can't part with it, at any price. (Well, we'll see. Ha!) The many, many layers and various mediums create a field of depth and color shift that's uncanny. Depending on the type of light and it's intensity the painting actually changes from cool to warm and not all at once or as a constant. but as a growing evolving entity in its luminosity. Years ago it inspired this thought,~

    "Art, like the night sky, whether abstract or representational, invites us to imagine, participate and create stories. As we view and gaze endlessly, subtle changes in our perception and vision transforms what we see, at the speed of light, in our minds eye."

~Richard Sperry 

'Infinity & Chaos' 1997,  48"x36" mixed media on canvas.

 

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Art, Nature & Soul #4

What began simply, as a series of more cathartic writing, drawing and painting exercises, took on a life of its own, evolving into a project that lasted about seven years. The result is this novel,  'Libertalia: Seize the Day For Remember We All Must Die'. Those who know me will see all my passions gathered together to tell the story and others will learn a bit about me in this tale.

DrahCir is the pen name for Richard R. Sperry born in 1964 in the western suburbs of Chicago, an artist and writer, with this being his first novel. As a child of 11 he went on a family trip out east to Boston where he found his passion for history and pirates. Some highlights were the Freedom Trail, U.S.S. Constitution, Salem Witch Village and the Pirate Trek and Trail in Lynn Massachusetts. He has spent the last decade exploring colonial history along the east coast, has read over 250 non-fiction/fiction books on the subject of piracy and drawn inspiration from his own life to spin this yarn of piracy on the high seas and beyond.

The novel ‘Libertalia: Seize the Day for Remember We All Must Die’ is a steampunk pirate fantasy fiction with historical elements. An extensive, in-depth study of PYRACY shows the quintessential nature of being human and reveals at its core a well faceted, most fluent, all encompassing, un-compromised view of world history, as untainted by any one cultural belief, value, dogma, and design as none other. All pirate myths, legends and folklore, romantic or realistic lead but one direction, in a search for freedom and equality. The pirate’s code of a democratic-socialist utopia based on egalitarian, collectivist, agrarian ideals are more than a place, but a mind set on a quest for Libertalia.

Steampunk Pirates & a Tall Ship~ The 'Leviathan' is a modified Dutch Fluyt galley. Which is to say, beyond having oars, it's suspended by a derigible. At some point, during a severe storm it passes by way an anomaly that renders its ability to travel in time and space. Here you will meet Captain Kidd, Captain Morgan, Black Bart, Blackbeard, William Dampier, Woodes Rogers, Anne Bonny, Calico Jack, Mary Reed, Dr. Dee and a cast of others, along with Black Captain Randy and the rest of the crew. Join Black Captain Randy and crew on ship Leviathan as they set out in search of El Dorado, find Atlantis, drink from the Fountain of Youth and create their own pirate utopia, Libertalia.

There are two editions available, one is 8.5”x11”, 282 pages and includes 24 color plate images and another in epub form at Lulu.com, Apple Ibook, Barnes & Noble Nook, Amazon Kindle, Kubo & everything else digital now or shortly. . For further information www.sperryfineart.com and www.Lulu.com 

Go to www.Lulu.com, enter 'Libertalia: Seize the Day For Remember We All Must Die' in the search engine to order your copy and thank you in advance for your support.

'Upon Her Arrival, The Whale and The Squid' 48"x36" oil on canvas is one of twenty-four of the images you will find included in the pages of this novel.   

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Art, Nature & Soul #3

I often find myself in the unique position of receiving a relatively objective critique of my work, unbeknowst to the viewer and critic. Sometimes that can be quite harsh given peoples diverse taste and appreciation for art. Even so I try to take something constructive away from that too. Most of the time though the overall take home is positive. There is much turmoil in the lives of people, including myself and so I strive to find those moments of quiet reflection. This work, has been in a group show on flight, a solo exhibit of my artwork and has been hanging rather prominently  on the walls of Proud Fox Gallery & Frame Shop over this summer. 

Some of the things I've heard are, 'How peaceful', 'Serene', 'Less is more',  'Nice approaching feeling on those birds. All due to knowing what drawing and paint can do in the eye.', 'This should have been the piece awarded', and 'How subtle' to name a few. Trust me I get my fair share of, 'My child could do that', 'I don't get it' and I think to myself, awesome buy your child some art supplies, sign them up for art classes and please get out to an art museum, but thats another story, for another time.

Sublties are something that has taken me along time to grow into. It's very easy to to throw color around, overstate with your brush and beat people over the head with the message and theme of your work. After many years of experimenting and studying, I'm currently using a more multi media approach to layer paint, build those ideas, and leave the bold for the finale and exclamation point. Please enjoy and always feel free to comment on my work.  

'Meditations on Flight' 36"x36" oil over acrylic on canvas

 

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Art, Nature & Soul #2

A most unsual piece for me to do, but inspiration just happens and I went with it. We had just arrived in New Bedford, Massachusetts, on the fringe of Cape Cod. I've been on a mission to learn about the plight of the endangered species of whales, especially those along the eastern coast of the U.S.A. It seemed to me, a good place to start was the New Bedford Whaling Museum. To uderstand why they are endangered, I wanted to understand what happened to bring this many leviathans of the sea, to the brink of extinction. Upon our arrival and parking, we noticed a church. It looked familar and turned out to be Seaman's Bethel. The same church that appears in 1956 film, 'Moby Dick', where Orson Welles gives his most famous surmon on the Jonah and the Whale. On to the museum, which was an indepth, and not just a study of whaleing but, the nature of whales. It turned out New Bedford Whaling was the largest industry at the time and was lighting the world, at a great cost, the near obliteration of several species of whale. Thankfully the discovery of our ability to harness electric and edison's light bulb, put an abrupt end to the whaleing industry, just in time.  This turned out to be one of the most fascinating museums I'd ever been to. Standing outside on the balcony of the museum, I beheld this panoramic view of the town and Buzzards Bay. It brought me back to another time, another place, with great awe and wonderment. 

 'Buzzards Bay', 24"x20", oil on canvas.  

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Art, Nature & Soul

   Several years ago, I set out upon the Atlantic ocean in hopes of seeing, some whales, those majestic giants of the sea. I had wanted to go whale watching for some 25 years and I was now 50 years of age and on a mission. We had set out from Hyannis on Cape Cod one early morning, the weather was seemly perfect and the seas were calm. We had traveled out on the ocean, perhaps a mile, when a dense fog encumbered our mission. The boat now moved slowly, as to not collide with these creatures. Soon enough, we could hear their song as they voiced there signals to each other. Soon after we could smell their breath, as one after another, exhaled from their blow holes, their spouts. The fog was dense and we couldn't get close enough to see them. The ocean was calm and looked like liquid glass. Where ocean and sky met was barely distinguishable, and what appeared to be light dividing the sky, may have been a whale exhaling. This was thrilling and left a lasting impression on me. When I got home I painted my impression, first off. Not sure if I saw a whale that time but, days later on another tour we did and now we go every year to see them. Currently, we're following the migration paths, of the Endangered North Atlantic Right Whale from feeding grounds in Cape Cod to their calving Grounds in St Augustine, Florida in hopes of learning and making a difference.    

'Blue Fog', 18"x14" oil on canvas