August Artisan of the Month: A.W. Sprague II
Our WanderingEducators.com Artisan of the Month for August is a renaissance man that I have known for several years, A.W. Sprague II. A.W. is an artist, writer, and poet philosopher. I've known for years that A.W. is an incredible digital artist, but it wasn't until this year that I found out more about his paintings! And, of course, as soon as I saw his paintings, I had to have one to treasure myself. His paintings are eclectic, as a social, modern, abstract, or pop art commentary (among others). Each painting is vibrant, full of rich colors and incredible creativity. I was lucky enough to sit down with A.W. (over coffee, of course! As you will see from his coffee paintings, we both love the stuff), to talk about art and life and painting. Here's what he had to say...
"Agricultural Communications" - Impressionist commentary on the occurences of crop circles
WE: Please tell us about your paintings...
A.W.: I like to paint Symbolic Non-Realism; and I work mostly with acrylics. Sometimes I work with watercolors, and practice realist techniques, but I do the later mostly for relaxation. I fully enjoy the challenge of portraying concepts instead of painting still-lifes, portraits or landscapes. My paintings most often center on specific contextual subjects placed in dynamic relationships on semi-realistic backgrounds, with all painted in contrasting or vibrant colors. Some of my work has Pop Art, Modern Art and/or Abstract nuances, as reflected in my preferences for rich, dynamic colors and cartoonish, primitive or stick figured elements. Overall, I always hope to paint things that viewers will find interesting, intriguing, appealing or inspiring. My goal is always to paint things that are eye catching and thought-provoking.
"Three Sisters" - Symbolic Non-Realism commentary for breast cancer
"Coffee - Sun 003" - Pop Art commentary on coffee
WE: How/when did you start being an artist?
A.W.: The idea of being an artist has always appealed to me. I've always thought that artists were magicians, what with their ability to render recognizable likenesses of people, places or things in ways that tell a story or convey a concept or impression.
I played around with drawing when I was a kid; but I didn't show any significant talent. I never took to painting, although I certainly loved the childish tactile joys of finger painting. When I was in my mid-twenties I started reading books and practicing drawing. Although I still thought my talent was abysmal, I confess that occasionally I could or would produce something decent or interesting.
For a number of years I flowed back and forth between nurturing drawing as a hobby and not dabbling in it at all. Then, in my mid-thirties, I met the son of an artist, a musician who suggested I try paints. I was hooked once I discovered some of the effects that seem to flow easily from wielding acrylics.
I would also like to give a nod to my graphic artist experiences. Right next to painting, I love to work with artistically creative computer programs to manipulate photos and create intriguing compositions or artistic commentaries.
Painting in process
"4 R troops" - to be sold with 80% of proceeds going to a veteran's charity
"Distant Storm a'Comin" - Abstract commentary on a midwestern storm front
WE: What medium do you prefer to work in?
A.W.: I paint mostly with acrylics. I like the versatility and their ability for bright and vibrant colors, the way they will blend together in the brush and on the canvas, and their fast drying times. I also greatly enjoy working in the digital medium; and I'm looking forward to working in multi-media sculpture.
"3rd Shift at the Pickle Factory" - Pop Art commentary on the joys of working midnight shifts
"Yin-Yan 0002" - Symbolic commentary on the cycles of life and nature
WE: What do you draw inspiration from?
A.W.: Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, and Maxfield Parrish would have to be the established artists who have had the most leading influence on my art and my attitude towards art.
Externally, I draw a lot of my inspiration from society, religion, cultures and the people around me. What guides my paintings the most would be my understandings of how the world, and the people places and things within it, interact and interplay with each other.
I see my creative process as more spiritual then intellectual. My inspiration seems to be a multi-stage process. Original inspirations often come from something environmental (hearing something, watching something, thinking about something), then my inspiration (a Muse) comes from within and steers me to some canvas or paper. Then I just try to follow the Muse as best I'm able.
"Summer Grass" - Modern Art commentary on summer's grassy fields
"CDFS-188" - Modern Art commentary on the use of Environmental Impact Statements
WE: Where are your favorite places to paint?
A.W.: Our studio apartment. I've rarely enjoyed painting anywhere else; although I have been known to sit at coffee shops and play with my water color kit.
"Political Weather 2006" - Modern Art commentary on politics
Hand-made and painted books
WE: What do you enjoy painting most?
A.W.: Inspirational pieces, Commentary, Pop and Modern Art. I pretty much enjoy any project where my mind and hands are in a creating mode.
Two hand-made lamps
"Z Air" - Symbolic commentary on the aspects of air
WE: Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?
A.W.: I just want to say that I've come to see myself as a very creative person. I like to work with my hands and mind on anything that creates something. To this end I also dabble in pen and ink drawing, pencil and charcoal sketches, colored pencils, markers and conte' crayons, and I also have worked with wood, fiber and paper to make several hanging lamps and half a dozen hand-made books. I just like to make stuff.
I'm also a writer and a poet; albeit not one of the best. Overall, I'm trying to practice and pursue the lifestyle of the philosopher.
I'd like to express my deepest appreciation to the Wandering Educators' web site for the honor of being featured as the Artisan of the Month.
"Enduring Storms" - Expressionist commentary on living with depression
"Field Dancers" - Abstract commentary on pastoral living
WE: Thanks so much, A.W.! I appreciate you sharing your time, thoughts, and art with us!
Here's the one I was lucky enough to purchase:
"Objects in Space" - Abstract
To see more of A.W.'s paintings, please visit his site at:
http://www.stryderbill.com/index.htm and click on Artwork.
A.W. is offering a special discount to Wandering Educators. His prices are amazingly affordable, and include free shipping:
$225 for the stretched canvas paintings. They are offered with a commitment that ten percent of the final selling price will be donated to an appropriate charity. Brown paper paintings are priced at $75.00 with the same caveats and discounts.
"4 R troops" will be sold with eighty percent of the proceeds going to a veterans charity, and is $75.00.
The watercolor drawing, "Three Sisters," is a tribute to breast cancer survivors, and is $45.00, with fifty percent of the proceeds being donated to a breast cancer charity.
The lamps, which are made from wood, fiber,and glass, are $135.00 each.
The only books that are for sale from the books photo are the orange, red, dark green and large black ones; they are $35.00 each. The other books in that picture (the small black one and the lighter green one) are hand-made books that he's already filled or started to fill with sketches and journal entries. The smaller black one is his pride and joy - A.W.'s first and only hard-back, it is leather-bound with about one hundred pages in it. The other books are all soft-covered and hand-painted.
Please contact A.W. via email (bill [at] stryderbill dot com) if you are interested in purchasing a painting, lamp, or hand-made book. When you email him, please tell him that you are a Wandering Educator, so that you may receive the special discount.
All paintings and photos provided by and copyright of A.W. Sprague II.