Friday, June 29, 2012

Skulls and Roses: Sprick Demo Review

Daniel Sprick
Orchids and Human Head
Oil on Board- 22" x 18"  (from Salon d"Arts 2010)
Happy Summer All! I have been painting and having a great time with all my summer students but before too much time passed I wanted to post my quick review of the wonderful Daniel Sprick demo from a few weeks ago. Sprick is one of the most celebrated artists in my home state of Colorado and perhaps one of the most accomplished realist painters in the country.

He’s known for his oil paintings of  interiors reminiscent of the Dutch interior masters and beautifully rendered contemporary portraits and figures. Sprick's painting "worlds" are chock full of mind boggling painting challenges such mirrors, double window reflections, fabric folds, skulls, petals, flesh tones, self- portraits, and even insect parts.  Sprick’s an artist who has reached such a high level with his craft and technical skill that when I see his meticulous oil paintings I can’t help but wonder:  How in the world does he do that?
Daniel Sprick Still Life Setup--Love the wrapped skull!
To my knowledge Sprick doesn’t paint many demos or give workshops, though I do see him on the roster for this year's Weekend with the Masters which I bet would be amazing.  So after many years of admiration I was really looking forward to his still life demo earlier this month at Meininger’s Art Store in Denver.

Sprick began with an intimate still life arrangement (on top of a sculpture stand) that included several iconic Sprick items such as a skull (which he had wrapped in cellophane) and a single white rose.  (Note, shortly after he started painting a summer afternoon storm darkened the natural north light so my pictures are a bit murky.)

To start, he massed in his large shape relationships with a neutral tone relationships on a medium size (12x16 maybe) standard canvas board.  I loved his interesting U-shaped composition. And I have to say I was a bit relieved when Sprick noted he might spend several hours if not days fine tuning a single subject such as the skull even though he’s painted it many times. As “daily painter” I couldn’t help wonder what it would be like to concentrate on and perfect a single apple or lemon. Could be an interesting exercise...
Daniel Sprick Palette
Sprick’s painting surface quality is satiny smooth.  During the demo he often softened his edges with a fan brush as he worked along.  He has a quiet thoughtful approach—carefully mixing color piles on a large glass surface with a knife.  He didn’t list all his palette colors but I saw he premixed a nice warm white with what I think was Titanium White and Cad. Lemon.This is a great idea if you tend to overuse pure white to lighten colors.

I half expected a hyper realist painter to be detached, literal, and rigid but Sprick manner was warm, humble, and flexible.  At one point he joked that he didn’t care for a certain type of brush because they shed which makes him bristle. Get it? Bristle. Ahh artist humor.  At another point, he said he didn’t love the tall green bottle and would likely change the color of it. You can see it's bluer in his painting.

This demo was only a couple of hours so an artist with this attention to finishing detail can’t complete his work but it was still fascinating to observe a master craftsman like Sprick and gain insight into his process. If I ever have the opportunity to take a workshop from him I wouldn't hesitate. For more info about him I recommend this video interview conducted by the Denver Art Museum.

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