Thursday, July 26, 2018

DPW Spotlight Interview: Edward Sprafkin

Each week we will spotlight a different DPW artist who will give away one of their best paintings. To enter to win Edward's painting "Mission Roses" go to Daily Paintworks and click on the link at the top of the page announcing their interview.

From Edward's DPW Gallery:

Edward Sprafkin is a landscape painter whose favorite subjects are the changing terrain and dramatic light of the Southwestern landscape. He strives to create a great sense of depth and atmosphere in his paintings regardless of the painting's scale.

Edward's artistic interest sparked at a very young age. He was the child with a crayon in hand, copying drawings out of the Sunday Funny Pages and later creating characters of his own. After graduating high school Ed went on to study cartooning and comic book art.

Cartooning fell by the wayside shortly after being introduced to plein air painting in 2009. Edward began participating in plein air events and became a sought-after instructor at nearby art museums and visual art centers while residing in his home state of New Jersey.

Edward is just as passionate about teaching as he is for painting. He enjoys sharing his knowledge and finds inspiration in seeing students progress onward to new skill levels.

Edward relocated to Arizona in 2014 and quickly found new inspiration in the pursuit of landscape painting.

Tell us a bit about how you first started painting?

I'm asked this question often and It's hard to put an exact date on when I started because I've been drawing since I can remember and it seemed to be a natural progression as a creative kid moving on from crayons to watercolor then pastel and acrylics and later oil. Whether I was fully aware of it or not, I was always an artist.

Did you have any stops and starts in your painting career?

Yes, all the time! Stops and starts seem to be built into the artist's lifestyle by default. There are always varying degrees of successes and crashes, lucrative times and slow but the one constant is the drive to create.

Mission Roses
(click to view)

Enter to win by clicking on the link at the top of the DPW home page announcing Edward's interview.

What mediums and genres have you experimented with?

Just about all of them including the big four: watercolor, pastel, acrylic, and oil. I enjoy painting and drawing from live models as well as being out in nature. I can't forget to mention still-life painting. Still-life is a great way to learn about light and form and all of the fundamentals of painting.

Which ones have "stuck" and which ones have fallen away?

I spent many years using pastel and I still love the medium. However, I backed off of using pastel full time because one of the galleries that I was showing with decided not to accept pastel anymore due to the framing involved. I picked up oil in its place and haven't revisited pastel in awhile. Oil was great for many years too but I never liked the chemistry with all of the different mediums, solvents, and fat over lean rules. Not to mention the horrible smell. I know some artists love the smell of oils but it always bothered me. I did give the water-mixable oils a try but didn't find them to be much of an advantage. Maybe they have improved since I last tried but then again, I'm not really looking for another medium at this time.

For me, acrylic has always been the most intuitive and liberating out of all of the mediums. There are no rules, no limit to substrates, no limit to layering, no limit of application techniques, no solvents, no smell and they clean up easily, and you don't have to wait very long for them to dry. Even though many artists tirelessly try to compare them to oil or expect them to be a replacement for oil, they are not. Acrylic is its own entity. Acrylic can mimic the look of an oil or watercolor but acrylic is best thought of as acrylic. There will be fewer hang-ups if an artist goes in with that mindset when first using the medium.

Campfire & Petroglyphs
(click to view)

Which ones are you looking forward to exploring?

Acrylic is my primary medium and because of its versatility, there are so many techniques and approaches I've yet to explore. Oil paint is a very close second. There are still many great reasons to use oil. One being, plein air painting in the dry Arizona heat. I do use acrylic often when plein air painting but during the really hot or breezy days, oil is less fussy about the weather conditions.

Who or what inspires you most?

Human interaction and mother nature are my biggest inspirations. There's an energy and creative exchange when working with a live model. That model's character and uniqueness, features, attire/style, and personality are all intriguing and inspiring. When outdoors nature is awe-inspiring and quite often presents a humbling, learnable experience.

Saguaro Lake
(click to view)

What does procrastination look like for you?

Procrastination is more of an issue in the studio. It's such an easy trap to get stuck into but in the end, it takes far less energy to just start on the project at hand rather than find ways to dance around the inevitable. Funny how procrastination is never an issue when working in plein air or with a live model.

What techniques work to ensure that you make time for your art?

A clean studio helps but that is a never-ending battle. Now I just aim to keep my studio workspace functional so I can jump in at any time. There's always a painting in progress on the easel and thumbnail sketches planned for the next one in line. Plein air days are the most productive. Not always the most successful but the most productive because then I'm totally detached and disconnected from the little time-suckers of a homebound studio; internet, emails, etc.

Fleeting Moments
(click to view)

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

Ideas can spark from just about anywhere, but mostly it comes from an experience or interaction of some sort. When outdoors, it could be a specific location, a light or weather effect, or a mood. I will then determine the story of the painting and begin designing a composition and value plan that best tells that story. When working with a model an idea can spark from the lighting, a costume, perhaps a suggested narrative with supporting props.

How do you keep art "fresh?" What techniques have helped you avoid burnout and keep your work vibrant and engaging?

I think burnout is built-in with the previously mentioned stops and starts. If you're a full-time artist I'm sure you have experienced burnout at one time or another. Outside of a commission deadline, giving yourself permission to take a day or two off once in a while is totally allowed and completely okay. I don't recommend taking off much longer than that because the longer you're away the tougher it is to get back into the swing of things. I enjoy working from both figure and landscape. I think painting or drawing from a variety of subject matter helps to keep things fresh. Traveling and exploring new locations can certainly jumpstart a creative funk.

Light Catchers
(click to view)

What do you feel you are learning about right now as an artist?

That the carrot might be right in front of your nose but it will always be just shy of reach. Meaning the level we aspire to will always exceed our skills. The great masters were never content as they were always striving to one-up their last painting. More than ever I feel the need to dig deep and keep on pushing.

What makes you happiest about your art?

I thoroughly enjoy the creation process. The subject selection, the planning, building upon the composition and telling the story. I'm completely over the moon when a viewer deeply connects with a piece.

Thanks, Edward!

© 2018 Sophie Marine

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