2010 Dec 16, 12:10am
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Northbound

It was one of those strange coincidences – you know when you’ve been thinking about someone, and the phone rings, and you hear that someone on the other end? – something like that.

Only days before Ron Dumont called to ask if I would be interested in lending a painting to a show he would be curating, I had been eyeballing these areas with tall railroad beds not far from home. I thought from below they were like great walls interrupting the flow of the summer landscape, but then, they followed the terrain, and had long since become part of it too. Maybe there was a painting lurking in there somewhere.

Ron said the show would be railroad-themed. What a mysterious bit of providence. I told him I would think about it, and see if the inspiration was there.

After sketching out some unused ideas, and waiting for Autumn to set in deeply enough to strip the leaves from much of the trees and to color most of the rest, the perfect day happened. The cloud cover and lighting were just right, and when the sun got low enough, I found it – true inspiration.

For the past twenty years, we have always lived within distant earshot of the overnight trains that run between Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids; “Northbound”, for me, conjures not only that familiar, comforting sound of the horns at night, but also many walks along the tracks with Trish.

"Northbound", 2010, Watercolor and Drybrush on Paper, 21 x 28 3/4 in., by David Jay Spyker

“Northbound”, 2010, Watercolor and Drybrush on Paper, 21 x 28 3/4 in., by David Jay Spyker

You can see “Northbound” along with paintings, photography, and sculpture by nearly thirty artists at “Railroad Days”. The show is on display at the Portage District Library in Portage, Michigan through January 27. Also included are poems inspired by trains, railroad memorabilia, and model trains.


2009 Apr 13, 12:10am
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“Vessels”

I started work on “Vessels” in 2006 not long after completing the painting “Flow”. After a few months I pulled it from the easel to store face-against-the-wall (sometimes you just need to do this with a particular painting), and it wound up staying there for all of 2007, and some of 2008 while I dealt with the worst part of a long term, cornea-scarring injury to my right eye. When I finally put this piece back on the easel I worked at it on and off until it was finally finished in December of 2008. Sometimes a painting just comes together almost as if it’s fulfilling a mystical destiny, and occasionally it’s like pulling the teeth from a running wolf.

"Vessels", 2008, Painting in Acrylics on Canvas, 30" x 42", by David Jay Spyker

"Vessels", 2008, Acrylics on Canvas, 30" x 42", by David Jay Spyker

I have been entranced with waterfall images lately – by “lately” I mean the last few years – and the idea of this space surrounded by an impossibly long and meandering wall of plummeting, rushing water was something I couldn’t get out of my mind. The myriad boats swirling and bobbing about in the swelling waters of this basin symbolize us – humanity as individuals, and as a whole. Each of us is in our own boat (we are the boats), and we all drift about together in the same dangerous and beautiful flow of life.


2008 Jan 29, 1:54am
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The Lost

"The Lost", 2000, Acrylic Painting by David Jay Spyker

"The Lost", 2000, 5 x 3 3/4 in., Acrylics on Hardboard

In representational art, a man or woman pondering the human skull is used to convey an awareness of mortality, or more accurately, mankind’s awareness of his own mortality. The presence of a human skull in painting is a reminder that each of us is here only for a short while, and that our time is indefinite and unknown.

The bird skull in “The Lost” is meant to remind us of the interconnectedness and mortality of every living being with which we share this ever-shrinking globe. It is tiny, fragile, easily overlooked; and while the bird is living, it is swift and fleeting, impossible to simply grasp in one’s hand.

I found this particular skull in a hedge row in my overgrown back yard. I looked down, and it was just lying there atop a single brown leaf in the midst of a patch of dead leaves, pale and ghostly in the near twilight like someone had carefully placed it there as an offering. I could easily have missed it – and stepped on it – as I crept beneath the tangled branches. I knew I had to paint it.

“The Lost” is a small, simple painting. There is no one to ponder the skull; only the skull – painted in life size – hovers before you, the viewer. You are the philosopher, meant to think over this tiny thing. It is intended to engage you, and make you the human element to this painting.


 
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