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Paintings by Dennis Spicer at DAG 2012

DAG Stories #2: Dennis Spicer

Posted: 29 October 2014

"We moved to West Kirby in 2001, but it wasn't until the following year I submitted for the first time and was pleased to find I had an invite to join that same year. I can't remember if it was also that year or the following that one of my pictures got a prize, from the now defunct Magenta, a table easel, which is still in regular use today. I think I also sold a picture the second year, a small still life which happily was the first of several sales from Westbourne Hall. I was pleased about this as I had set myself the objective of establishing myself as an artist here within two years of arriving. I had previously been living in London where I had two solo shows and most years had shown at the New English Art Club or the Royal Institute of Oil Painters at the Mall galleries, so it was nice to be exhibiting again on the Wirral where I was now living.

"When the show rolls round I always feel it right to do a stint on the desk during the week, something that has meant that I haven't exhibited the last two years as our hols have unfortunately coincided with the exhibition so I feel it is not fair to show anything if I can't invigilate. It can be interesting listening to what people say about the works sometimes when you are sitting there, I remember exhibiting a life drawing of a veteran female model in her late 70's and over hearing someone commenting that is 'was disgusting that someone like that should be posing for artists'!"

Dennis Spicer gallery (click on images to zoom)

Still Life with Lillies by Dennis Spicer
Girl with Necklace by Dennis Spicer
Studio Still Life by Dennis Spicer
Shell Still Life by Dennis Spicer

"My work is predominantly perceptual, that is, from real things or people. I am not so much a fundamentalist about working from photographs as I used to be, and do now work from them occasionally if I need to, but they cannot replace the engagement of translating the world of three dimensions onto a flat two dimensional surface. I agree with the painter Walter Sickert when he said that photographs should be treated like alcohol, only used by people who don't have to, and I am a great champion of observational drawing. I went to the Byam Shaw School Of Painting in Kensington in London which had a rich tradition of observational drawing and painting while still being open and experimental in some departments (it has now moved to Archway in London and been subsumed into the London University of Arts). Many artists lived around the area and it was not uncommon to see Lucien Freud strolling along on the way to his studio in the morning.

"My favourite painters tend to either be early and middle renaissance (Piero Della Francesca and  Domenico Ghirlandaio being two special favourites) or abstract and figurative artists from the twentieth century (Euan Uglow, Giorgio Morandi and Richard Diebenkorn for instance). They may seem very different but one thing they share is the tension between the flat plane of the surface with apparent three dimensionality, however an important influence for me is also the internet, where you can find new artists and read about them so easily.

"I regularly exhibit at the Williamson every year and the Lark Lane Gallery in Liverpool has a selection of my paintings on show. I have also exhibited at Editions Gallery in Liverpool after winning their Liverpool Art Prize in 2012. I now divide my time between tidying the house, cooking and shopping, running life drawing sessions in Hoylake and doing my own art."