For artist Sprick, time is the father of invention |

For artist Sprick, time is the father of invention

Kristin Carlson
Special to the Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Daniel Sprickís "Coach," oil on board, 2009, is one of the paintings on display at the Colorado Mountain College Gallery at 9th and Grand, Glenwood Springs, through April 29.

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – People sometimes stop and stare at Daniel Sprick’s paintings for several moments before determining, definitively, that they are not photographs.

Sprick’s newest paintings, on exhibit at the Colorado Mountain College Gallery in downtown Glenwood Springs, display the passionate attention to detail that has earned the artist solo shows and museum exhibits across the country.

They also express a subtle shift from Sprick’s earlier still-life and portrait work. Instead of contrasting an illuminated foreground subject with a shadowy background interior, these new pieces swap tonal values, placing dark against light.

“I haven’t done an exhibit of figures for a very long time,” Sprick said, although he’s completed hundreds of sketches in his role as a Colorado Mountain College adjunct instructor.

He remembers once painting a figure against a soft, white background in the early 1980s, but he never revisited the practice until recently.

“I worked for years with the preconception that it wouldn’t work,” Sprick said. But now, revamping his approach to the idea, he’s discovered that breaking the rules and obliterating the background places a powerful emphasis on the figure itself.

For the viewer Sprick’s inventive realism opens a door into the territory of childlike wonder – a hyper-real universe created by focused concentration on each strand of hair, each age spot, each wrinkle. As an infant gazes into its mother’s face, Sprick explores his subjects with rapt attention and unbridled curiosity.

In general, the artist prefers to paint strangers – partly out of concern that his subjects may not find his ultra-realistic depictions complimentary.

“Sometimes I’ll approach people on the street. It can be a little awkward,” he said, “but there’s less potential for damage with people who aren’t part of my life.”

Sprick began drawing and painting as a toddler and credits his father, a dental technician who constructed crowns and bridges, with introducing him to the values of craftsmanship and to the idea of art.

“My father put a pencil to paper and formed an image, and I was completely enthralled. It seemed magical and impossible to me,” Sprick recalled. “It still does.”

Over the ensuing years, Sprick drew profusely, improving his technical expertise by, as he described it, “tiny increments” through diligent practice. “Part of the reason I’ve been able to do anything in art,” he said, “is that I’m simple. I can stay with things far beyond the point of reasonable interest.”

Sprick, now 57, continues to persist, sparking an alchemy that transforms the ordinary into something transcendent.

“I have no time constraints,” he said. “This is a liberty I’m enjoying at this point in my career. Because I don’t have to sell everything to get along, I can invest endless amounts of time in work with an experimental component.”

Preferring the idea of invention to the concept of creativity, Sprick added: “None of us creates anything truly original. We’re all building on the momentous progress of earlier generations. If we can add a tiny sliver to it, that’s an achievement.”

Sprick’s newest paintings are on display through April 29 at the Colorado Mountain College Gallery at 831 Grand Ave. in Glenwood Springs.

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