Art

Art, Nature & Soul #31

Several years ago, I started painting these smaller studies, on 8”x8’, 10”x10” & 12”12” panels. Some are painted from photo references, others en plein air & still others from my imagination. Most pieces are created alla prima, in one sitting, as way to explore & complete artwork concisely, making them at an attractive price point, to the new collector.

Where ever I go, there I am capturing a moment in time and space. Hopefully conveying more than a sense of place and evoking an emotional sense of life, as intended. Everything I paint is important and meaningful to me. It has a had an impact, made me think, wonder and want to share my experiences, feelings and ideas. More over these moments are autobiographical slices of life shared.

So please come along this journey, explore it with me, be part of it, as I continue down the rivers, roads, alleys , and paths less traveled, to destinations unknown.

As always thank you for your continued support,

~Richard

*Most of these studies are not on my website, but are on either Facebook or Instagram. Please contact me for further info, if you’re interested in aquiring any of these, or the other small treasures.

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Art, Nature & Soul #30

“I’ve Seen The Light” ,

Over the past 6 years, we've been going out to Ptown on Cape Cod. Friday nights they have a gallery walk, that have featured artists on these nights. I stumbled upon 'Hilda Neily Gallery' early on and was immediately intrigued. A few years later, in 2017 a living retrospective on H. Neily & this painting, ’HEAT', was in her gallery and felt, I had found an immediate kindred spirit in her work, as she was getting back to her roots and incorperating some drip work, as well.

~Hilda Neily started painting with Henry Hensche at The Cape School in Provincetown in the early 1970's. Hensche started The Cape School in 1933, carrying on and developing the ideas of his teacher, Charles Hawthorne, who started the first art school in Provincetown. It was Hawthorne's school that led to Provincetown becoming one of America's preeminent art communities.

So then this happened, last year May 2018~ Not at her gallery but several blocks away on Macmillan Wharf, I stopped to view some student work, at a hut, of The Cape Cod School of Art. I'm asking questions about the art and the person is asking questions about Blaze(our pup) and loving on him. The conversation goes on and we're talking more about art. She starts telling me, that the school and she teaches, ”color how to see color and that once you get it, it's like dropping acid." So I tell her that I'm an admirer of Hilda Neilys work, she seems to understand that, like none other. She says, "I am Hilda Neily." I've been stopping in at her gallery over the past five years, had only seen photos of her, always painting, from the back or side profile, but never met her. Our conversation went on and on, about art, dogs and our partners. What a kick and a thrill, would love the opportunity to study with her.

With that I decided I must study with this artist, so this year, August 2019, I attended the 3 hour a day, 5 day workshop. As an artist , there’s always more to be learned & explored. It's emphasis is color and light, Hilda had me at, "once you get it, it's like dropping acid" & so we shall see. BaHaHaa😀

So, it was, I set out with this goal in mind, too learn to see the light saturated color and add it to my more tonal/colorist palette in approach paintings, thus integrating that blast of light to my work. But keep in mind that while I’ve attended some classes, studied via book & dvd, various great artists painting techniques, that it has been about 25 years since I’ve taken a class or workshop. Within my studies, which have been to learn and find what made those artists successful, not to do what they do, but perhaps incorporate some small amount of that magic into my artworks. Which is to say not immerse myself in their discipline, but utilize it within mine. The last class I took being a Remrandt style painting class at the S.A.I.C.. That would be the extreme polar opposite in approach, for various reasons, one being the palette was only 4 colors, Titanium White, Ivory Black, Venetian Red & Yellow Ochre. Teach, the instructor that is, then, was surprised at the amount of color I could express with this limited palette.

*Note 1~How I see color. I’m said to be highly color sensitive. I’ve come to see it, not as big blocks of color, but more like all the colors that are reflected within the color, that make the color, thus I’ve tended to express it broken. Ones eye tends to average it all out, at least from a distance, to an uniform color, but up close a more complex variation appears and is expressed, at least from my perspective, intent & purpose.

My Background, a partial context~ I’ve drawn and painted, been involved with the arts, the entirity of my life. Over the past 15 years have focused, prolifically on creating & exhibiting my artwork. I’m mostly self taught as I have little formal training, thus am highly experimental, in the past, however, am more refined of late. I’ve also been in the custom framing and fine art sales business, since 1986, thus am said to have a keen eye for color. If you know what slant rhyme is, I’m a slant colorist. For further info, refer to my website, about the artist, blogs or Facebooks about me.

Workshop~

Day #1- A sunny day at the Cape Cod School of Art, a class of 16-18 peeps. We set up are easels outside to do block studies, to see how color and light interact upon each other. That is to say how different colors reflect and change color, depending on the intensity of light or shadow. I set off doing what I do, how I do and had a very nice painting going, as I tend to work fast and matter-of factly. As some of the students perused each others work, some viewed mine and I heard things like, “he speaks his own language”, and I thought, cool. Then instructor came by and started working the painting, knocking down my work, in fact scrapping it off, showing and expressing why it was not correct. I was mortified, for one, I do not scrape off paint, its expensive. I tend to take pieces to their completion, if they’re not successful, I move on, but keep them around awhile as learning tools, to see what was wrong. Feeling out of sorts, at this point, I realized that the persons involved in this workshop were all at various levels of painting experience, including myself, as I’d have to unlearn, or rather try to stop doing what I do, if I were to get anything out of the experience. Although, the instructor did like some of my color notes and said so. At the end of the 3 hours, we set up our paintings in the classroom for critique. Mine stood out from the rest, for one reason or the other and not necessarily for goodones, or so I thought. Once they were set up, a woman I had not met, pointed at my work and asked who’s is that. I kept silent, then ‘C’ asked again and I replied mine. She, ‘C’, then said it looks like a HENSCHE. For review, Henry Hensche was the Cape Cod school of art instructor whu trained Hilda Neily, my current instructor. I felt a shiny lining, a ray of light, if you will.

Day #2- Began with 3 hour workshop. Overcast, grey day, H. Neily did a grey day demo. Which should have been perfect for me and yet in order to learn this way of seeing, I must abandon my artist ways, so I can then integrate this new info into my artwork, moving forward, thus challenged. Challenge one, see in blocks of color. Challenge two, I primarily use brushes and palette knife is a sublemental tool usually. Now I’m only using palette knife. Challenge three, I tend to mix color on the canvas. Challenge four, the scrape off still freaks me out. Challenge five, My panels are typically toned iron oxide, prism violet or grey, some canvas, others smooth. I’m asked too paint on white smooth boards only. My initial thought is, Great, now even the panel will reflect the light and color, but, thought, perhaps that’s intended. As Hilda states to me, “Grey board saaaad, white board HAPPY.” Adding, “the world is so messed up,” and I finishing with, “why would we want to add to that?” A most challenging day, to say the least & had to set my ego aside for the remainder of the workshop.

Day #3- We all met at a dune crest that overlooks cottages, salt marshes, the Atlantic and Ptown, off in the distance. Also, this was near where we stayed and I already had fallen in love with the view. It started as a sunshiny day. Several of her assitants, would peruse the other painters, coach and give direction. Several of them, over of this & previous days would stop by me, like what I was doing, then Hilda would come over to see what I was doing, blend or scrape off. I was working on a painting, as I’ve stated before I work quickly, so by the time Hilda got to me I had built a great many details into the painting and had what I thought a top 25%. A top 25%, is a really, really good painting. She began to blend and knock down the sky, my heart sank and my eyes bulged out of my head as my stomach flipped over, no joke. She continued, and spoke of blocks of color then stopped, stood back, partially , I think realizing, sometimes regardless of getting the light right, a good painting is a good painting. I finished knocking the colors together and removing all details. Went to see what another painter and assitant was doing. He had built up a good painting, as well. I told him I thought I had something too, he had commented as much, just 10 minutes prior. When I told him of Hilda’s reaction to it, he said, it’s best to just follow the instructors direction and perhaps the meaning would become clear. I then looked & found an opportunity to tell Hilda how I came to the workshop and showed her some of my most recent artworks, to give some context and tell her what my goal was, to see and understand the light saturated color in which she painted. The day was done and I got back to the Hotel. I had taken some photos, I had every day since the workshop began. I had taken a photo of Hilda’s and my piece that day. Eureeka, side by side in the photos we had the same color range, I had got it. While my broken color had everything there it wasn’t until they were blended, could the instructor, standing right up on it, see if I had it correct. I was thinking painting, I should have been thinking color study and realised this way of seeing and the approach is just the opposite of my regular one.

Day #4-Before I left for the workshop, I had told Don it seemed that no matter how I painted, Hilda would correct it the other direction. I felt that she was perhaps challenging me. He said, “it’s like a zen riddle, to see what you got, go with it,” and so I did. Light is a fleeting thing, to say the least. The day began as a bright shiny one and so we, set up our easels & painted from atop the dune crest this time over looking the sea. I just love the view high upon the crest where we’re staying, ironically the crest, as it turned out, is also where we’re doing the last three days of our color studies.I painted the trees in the foreground, cottages, ocean & sky. No I was painting blocks of color and was told, “yes, that’s better.” Then our sunny sky closed in, an overcast one. That means my warm & cool color variations changed and that equals a scrap off and a start over. So I scraped off and began again. More relaxed and going with the flow, I painted the scene, light included and so 1 piece completed. But was told,” to think color study not painting, find the light.” I believe Hilda’s guidance has been so beneficial and I’m so psyched to have had this opportunity to paint with her.

Day #5-The last day, was a full sunny one atop the dune crest and I stuck, strictly to color studies and finding the fleeting light. They were a great bunch of people to paint with. I walked around easel to easel, to see what others were doing. Hilda and the group huddled around her as she corrected anothers painting, explaining what she saw, as she worked. I worked the patches of color in a minalimist way akin, in my head, to Rothko. Hilda made her way to me. Are you afraid of color, she said. No look, I responded. The painting at an angle, lined up the 3 layers of the scape perfectly. I squinted down and said, If you look all the colors are spot on. “Really” she retorted, “come now.” “Are you color blind,” she playfully asked, as she began to correct my piece. “no I have a keen sense of color” I said and another painter said, “That’s another kind of color. So it was as Hilda corrected the center areas of my color study, Within each of the centers of land, sea & sky, she left the correct color notes of light.I said, yes that’s perfect and I did another study and Hilda came by again and said, yes, that’s better and I responded ,”yes, I’ve seen the light!” To which she, with a smile on her face said,” that’d be a great title for an article, I said it will be my blog.

Rarely do the stares align, but, it’s always been my mission to seek and find those artists whom I have shared ideas with & who best encapsulate the finest qualities in art and study with them. Hilda Neily is such an artist of these qualities. It has truly been both a challenging & an eye opening experience. Hilda said, “See you next year,” another assitant said to come to some of the ‘drop ins’, & ‘C’ said, “you know you’re a really good artist”. As an painter/artist I am always studying and working out a new problem, it’s the nature of painting the painting & hopefully finding the light, Hilda is such a light.

~Richard

as always your questions & comments are welcome.

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Hilda Neily/Richard Sperry collabrative color study,  (The blocks of color are me, the light in the center are Hilda, light blue in the sky, bright blue in the water & more yellow in the shrubs/trees/grasses. Exactly what I had in mind.)

Hilda Neily/Richard Sperry collabrative color study,

(The blocks of color are me, the light in the center are Hilda, light blue in the sky, bright blue in the water & more yellow in the shrubs/trees/grasses. Exactly what I had in mind.)

Art, Nature & Soul #29

On occassion I’m commissioned to do more decorative abstract artwork, as well. This piece was taylored to this collectors home with little information. That being primarily of color & size, as the client already liked and knew what I do and that’s the key. Being an artist and doing commissions, can be tricky because it’s a meeting of the minds, both collector and artist merged.

At 60”x15” and horizontal the important part for me was giving it a focal spot. This was achieved by using silver leaf and stronger color at the center and tapering off as the piece expanded the depths of the horizon. The rest was basic design elements: color, line, texture, shape, space & so on. Beyond my typical approach, which begins with a three color acrylic splash painting, followed by laying in the my oils, increasingly, I began to utilize a ‘Scraffito’ technique to scratch into previous layers of color, thus giving more line, direction & texture, plus adding in 18k gold or silver leaf as I’ve done in this work.

The piece then completed, sent an image off to the customer for their approval and was framed in a simple black gallery frame, delivered & hung to their delight.

Commissions welcome & as always feel free to comment or ask questions

~Richard

commissioned artwork in its home

commissioned artwork in its home

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Art, Nature & Soul #28

One fall the 3rd week of October, some 15 years ago, Don, myself and three of our pups, loaded up in our Dodge Grand Caravan and headed for Mount Desert Island (MDI) Maine. On a road trip you can take in the colors of fall and they were particularly vibrant this year as we drove from Illinois to Maine observing the different trees and colors of the states. We arrived in the coastal town of Bar Harbor on MDI and ”it’s so beautiful”, that’s right beautiful & I continued to say that more times than ever before over our week stay. It was solidly 55-75 degrees & perfect walking weather.

New England has always been of fascination to me. I had family out east when I was growing up. The ocean, its old world charm and history had me hooked from the beginning. Everywhere on MDI was yet another picuresque and paintable vista around every turn and so was the inspiration for this piece. A nested harbor for the lobster man of Maine. Egg Rock Light is in the distance as gulls and sea birds circle around in search of food, flanked by spits of land & coastal pines. It’s a cool day and the waters are choppy, but perfect for the fisherman as the boats come and go in search of their catch of the day. A seagull sits sentry upon the scene as the men on the docks pull up cages, small boat, still another sits fishing while a lobster scurries loose on the pier unbeknowst to all but the pup, Kai-Guy, our oldest & first Shiba Inu, knows its there and wants to play.

Its lasting impression survives in this and other such images I created and painted of the area. Where , the sea beckons me, people still make there living fishing, & lobster is served every which you can, even as fast food.

As always feel free to comment. ~Richard

Rock Lobster, 30”x24” oil (2008) NFS

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Art, Nature & Soul #25

En plein air is the act of painting outdoors, it literally translates, as such. But not only, it's also an approach, a matter-of-factness of impression & an expression of directness. Here's a study, I just completed from a photo.

It’s a rarity that I have time to paint outdoors with the busy life and commitments I have. But, I do spend a fair amount of time walking with the pups, twice a day, most everyday. It’s meditative, an opportunity to take all of natures beauty in, and observe it’s ever changing cycles in their abundance. Walking that much, usually around sunrise and sunset, is an opportunity to observe and I remember when I first discovered when the leaves on trees in the fall first begin to change colors. Simply, it’s where first light falls on them and day after day you can see it as the light angle changes over weeks, a month as we move closer to winter.

My eye captures the first idea of the scene. Most often I have my camera with me to capture another interpretation. Then I begin to interpret yet another at the easel, choosing a color palette & painting the painting. Most often I’m not trying to copy nature but rather express my interpretation of it. The colors are choosen to give the atmosphere I’m trying to convey. The shapes and form are often exagerated to give emphasis to the more emotive aspects of nature. Most of the time they are completed ‘Alla Prima’ (in one sitting) and sometimes going back, a day or two latter to tweek the details, thus the medium is in part the message.

Anyone who knows me, knows I love a walk on the beach with the pups and so it was I captured a fleeting moment of joy & bliss, in this oil painting on board.

As always, feel free to comment or ask questions

~Richard

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A Walk On The Beach 12”x12” oil on board

Art, Nature & Soul #24

Blue has always been my favorite color. Those of a more color sensitive nature, will appreciate the tonal nature of this piece and the line I’m playing between abstract & representational art.

We went out to Cape Cod, back in 2014, it had been over a decade since I had been to the ocean. Where the vast sea and sky meet, has left a lasting impression on me. I have painted both abstract and representational artworks for over a quarter century now. Typically they have been seperate entities, with an ocassional mixing of the two on the same canvas. In an effort to unify my body of work, I began trying to break down representational ideas into they’re more abstract forms, with the intention of leaving some of those representational things intact, on the canvas.

Having studied some of my most favorite artists, both living and dead, approaches to achieving they’re goals in their artworks, I set forth to create my own trademark look. The thought being , not to do what they do, but to discover what makes/made their work successful, make my work better and perhaps apply it to my own. The list of artist is to long to state here, but you may be surprised at who they are, so ask me sometime, I’m glad to share and promote them. Myself having mostly experimented and having very little formal training, found this to be a revelation of process’s.

Here is one of the early results of a more tonal concept & approach. A variety of blue and white paints, a multitude of painting tools, a complimentary color toned canvas and the inspiration that the sea & sky provided, along with the words of one of my favorite American thinkers.

“Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

As always, feel free to ask question or comment,

~Richard R. Sperry

Blue Haze' 24"x24" oil on canvas

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Art, Nature & Soul #21

The Sandhill Crane~ Theses incredible birds, began visiting us early spring 2013 and have come every season thereafter. As it turns out, the pond behind our home is perfect for raising a couple of fledglings. Every spring they come, nest and we wait to see if they have one or two chicks. The parents begin to raise them, take them out of the pond, training and showing them , how to survive. The adults are so familar with us, they allow us and our current pups to walk within feet of them. Throughout the season, we watch and photograph these wonderful birds as they go through their annual cycle. Interestingly, their plumage changes with the seasons to give them cover from predators. The dusty blue/gray feathers, against the burnt orange coloring is my favorte. As fall arrives the colors turn more mud gray to blend in , they begin the lift off dance and flight training for the long migration south begins. A favorite of my observation times to behold them. They stay longer than I think they will and sometimes I’ve captured some great photos of them on the pond in a snow fall. They stick around, until almost Christmas every year and are gone about three months before returning for another season. I always wish them happy trails and with a little hope, anticipate their return in spring.

On a somewhat mystical note, if not only a, there are no concidences type thinking. I had raised a family of 4 Shiba Inus, a father, mother, daughter and son. The first, the father was Kai-Guy, the ambassador. The male pup, Kodi, was adopted by a family, we dog sit him, about twice a year throughout his life and he returned to us toward the end of his life. They lived nice long lives and in 2012 the last two passed on, Snowy, the daughter at 15.5 years and then the mom, Sunny just before her 17th year, that November. People who know me, know my feelings on life, the universe and how everything is connected in ways and for reasons we do not always see, know or understand. With that said, the Sandhill Cranes arrived early the next spring. I’ve come to see them as incarnations of our family of pups. It may seem odd to many, but it has been a beautiful way for me to cope with their losses. Life is for the greater %, how we choose to see it & what we make of it.

The painting style and techniques in this painting are a fusion of decades of experimenting and learning, come together on canvas. I usually begin with a three color splash and drip, tonal wash, to find the rhythm of the piece. Then a liberal amount of Titanium White is swirled upon the canvas before I begin adding design elements of color, shape, texture, line, balance & harmony. Typically, I think about the fractal nature of the physical world, patterns within patterns, within patterns, broke up by random chaos. My color palette has been fairly consistant and refined over more than a quarter century. I use brushes, palette knives, scratching tools and kleenex to move the paint around until I’m satisfied with the results, it’s then completed with a scratched in, signature.

'At the Pond', 24"x20" oil on canvas (2017) private collection

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Art, Nature & Soul #20

Portrait & figurative artwork, has always appealed to me. Striving to understand both the physical, and the emotional aspects of the human form and expressing them into an artistic translation, has been an aspiration of mine. As a very shy, reserved and introverted child, I often had a camera or drawing utensil with me in, in which to observe and capture the physical psyche of a person, in an effort to understand mine and everyone elses.

From a photo snapshots, bic pen doodles & caricatures, to pen & ink cross contours, ebony pencil drawings & soft pastel portraits in high school, my interest in the human form increased. With that and my drive to understand myself and the people around me, sent me realling in all directions of artistic expression and then finally acrylic and oil painting. I experimented & explored the various genres & applications, all continuing to create and expand my base of learning, as untrained artist with alittle formal education in the arena. Art has always served as my escape, my cahtarsis and therapy.

Fusing the physical and emotional aspects of a person, in a figure or portrait can be quite a donting challenge and yet I wouldn’t have it any other way. To capture the spirit of the soul of a person, not only their appearance or expression, Is quite a thrill when it happens. While I priamarily do abstract and minamalistic, transitional scapes these days, occassionally I do a portrait or figurative piece and sometimes I receive a commission, such was the case with this piece.

‘SCOTT” 16”x20” oil on linen SOLD Commission Work

As always feel free to comment, and know I take commissions and ship.

~Richard

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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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