How to paint realism art - Daniel Sprick,
Daniel Sprick, "Death and the Maiden," 2019, oil on panel, 48 x 60 in., private collection

Master artist Daniel Sprick is “seeking something that feels true.” The following is an excerpt from a Fine Art Connoisseur feature article. Learn some of Daniel’s secrets to painting realism at the 2nd Annual Realism Live virtual art conference, November 11-13, 2021 with a beginner’s day November 10.

Contemporary Realism: Seeking Something That Feels True


“I’m searching for patterns that have a key to some undiscovered harmonies. I suspect that there are some things in aesthetics that have never been discovered and I’m trying to find them. I think there are patterns and vibrations that could lead us to more beauty than we’ve seen. Really all I care about is finding beauty.”

In his outdoor scenes, Sprick joins such shadowy guides to the transitional world, shifting himself from domestic solitude into the vibrating, glowing life outside. Out there, Sprick has painted lush parkland with magical rays glowing on green, fresh-leaved trees and flowing rivers. He has entered the astral folk-charm that protected him, and now nature is his enchanted song. Sunshine works backwards here, receding in great swaths of light to a dark vanishing point. “It’s crazy light,” Sprick admits — the isolated and brilliant rays of a low sun glowing under branches against purple darks.

In “Death and the Maiden” (2019), a young woman wearing a striped dress gazes at extravagant blue flowers, one hand cupped, another raised distractedly. A skeleton stands behind imitating her pose, perhaps about to touch her shoulder. In the distance, an artist renders this seemingly heavenly landscape with soft, idealized buildings along the water.

How to paint realism art - Daniel Sprick, "Death and the Maiden," 2019, oil on panel, 48 x 60 in., private collection
Daniel Sprick, “Death and the Maiden,” 2019, oil on panel, 48 x 60 in., private collection

In this gorgeous fiction, another skeleton is the artist’s companion. Floating above the woman, a glass orb reflects rectangular shapes of light — the studio’s bright windows — warning attentive viewers that this is a brilliant fabrication. The painting is an image of reality perfectly balanced with imagination, like a psychic’s vision.

Sprick explains, “There’s a fine line between making things a little too sweet and making as heightened a reality as possible. It doesn’t have to be entirely plausible, just something that feels true, even if it isn’t.”

For “In Search of an Honest Man” (2018), Sprick painted himself again in the mystical world; covered in that striped cloth, hobbling on bowed legs, he is helped by a woman in an overgrown garden. At left, a half-materialized skeleton watches them; at right a younger version of Sprick observes the scene, while a shadowy dog exits. The painting is alive with writhing foliage giving way to a hazy landscape.

Contemporary realism - Daniel Sprick, "In Search of an Honest Man," 2018, oil on panel, 76 x 96 in., private collection
Daniel Sprick, “In Search of an Honest Man,” 2018, oil on panel, 76 x 96 in., private collection

These paintings are not morbid premonitions. Death says, “Et in arcadia ego” (I too am in arcadia), but the ancient symbols are emblems of transformation, of the alchemical change from one state to another.

Sprick has now entered the culmination of the metaphysical adventure he began nearly 40 years ago: “I’ve already done enough paintings for one lifetime, but the reason I continue is that I think there’s some undiscovered territory. I want to find it. Find it or die trying.”

The above is an excerpt from Fine Art Connoisseur magazine, January/February 2021

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