Text by Wolf Schneider ; Photos by Pete McBride
How did an Arkansas boy like you come to live in Glenwood Springs?
I was 5 when my parents moved here, so I tagged along.
Doc Holliday is Glenwood Springs’ most famous former resident—have you visited his grave? Many times, because it’s a very nice hike up the hill where that 19th-century cemetery is. People had startlingly short life spans back then.
In 1999 you tried life for a year in Pacific Grove, CA, but found you still preferred painting still lifes indoors to plein-air landscapes outdoors?
Well, I’ve built my career on the still-life paintings.
And you have a special proclivity for painting kitchen refuse like broken eggshells, oranges, soup cans, and withered flowers.
Those things do make their way into my paintings.
Your studio and home are how far apart?
They’re attached. We’ve been in this house two years. The studio is an upstairs addition we built onto the garage.
The architectural style is …
It’s broadly contemporary, but not wacky. A Frank Lloyd Wright-influenced contemporary style, I’d say.
I hear you’re a stickler for order in the studio.
Yeah, I like to have things where I can find them. I’m moderately neat.
You have only north-facing windows in the studio, and plenty of them?
There are 12 huge north-facing windows; there’s as much glass in that north wall as you could possibly have. Floor to ceiling. I designed it and had it built. North light is the most constant.
How big is the studio?
About 1,000 square feet. Concrete floors painted white, with heat tubes running through. Stucco exterior, drywall interior that’s painted linen white. It’s a warm white.
Your work has been called hyperreal; what style do you consider it?
Is Jan Vermeer your biggest influence?
Yes, along with Jan van Eyck and Rogier van der Weyden—the northern Renaissance Flemish painters from the 1400s.
Oh, did you see that movie …
Yes, Girl with a Pearl Earring! The filmmaker did a beautiful job of taking you into that world. The historical setting looked pretty convincing to me, and the light was beautiful.
It was fabulous looking! So, what do you consider your forte? I like to observe objects carefully and give them their due, with my own cerebral and emotional expression.
Now you may be super-neat, but you aren’t exactly super-fast, are you? You can spend two months on a painting?
Oh, I can spend a lot longer than that. I’ll do 90 percent of the painting in two weeks, but the other 10 percent can take a year.
Has anybody ever told you you look like Jeremy Irons? Or Jackson Browne?
At 53, what quality have you decided an artist must have, and what quality will only do an artist in?
An artist must have an expressive soul. What will do them in is dispassion.
What’s the trait that’s served you best in your career, and what’s the trait you deplore in yourself?
Best is my persistence. Worst is wasting time.
On what occasion do you fudge the truth?
Sometimes when I say, “You look fantastic.” But a smooth-functioning society depends on lies. Put that in.
What’s the range that your work sells for?
From $5,000 to $140,000.
When you reach the end of this incarnation, what sentence would probably sum it up for you?
“He loved life and lived it fully.”
Sprick is represented by Gallery 1261, Denver, CO; Arcadia Gallery, New York, NY; and Grapevine Gallery, Oklahoma City, OK.
Featured in “My World” November 2006