Fred Sprock

by Dana Kester-McCabe

Snow Hill painter Fred Sprock's creative interest initially was in pen and ink drawing. But taking oil painting classes convinced him that was his medium. His has an Impressionist style. But Fred says whatever it is it is a work in progress.

Fred Sprock:
"It's mostly landscapes. But too say what it looks like, is difficult because - good news, bad news - it's always evolving. So, when I started I was real tight. And, my phrase is "painting the cow in the pasture." And eventually I could paint the cow in the pasture. But then, it looked like everybody else's cow in the pasture. And that's become the challenge. Again, I can't really answer the question "What does my work look like?" because hopefuley it is changing, slowly, but it is changing."

"It's realistic. You know what you're lookin' at. I mean there is no debate there. Oh it's a cow in the pasture. I am not an abstract artist. I guess I am trying to become a subtraction artist whereby - yeah that's a cow in the pasture. That it's a little bit hidden, not symbolic or anything like that. And to do that I do a lot of scraping. So you put on one layer and then you scrape most of it off, which is painful. But then you leave a ghost image, something that you can come back to and do again, and again, and again. If you're lucky you eventually get to something you had intended in the first place."

I'm pretty much, I'd say 95% plus a studio painter. And I don't have a way to start a painting. I have several ways. So I really to have the first pass be really abstract and just have the color as Hawthorne called it, the color spots. And so maybe the first pass is real wet or it could be real thick. So, do the first pass, and come back and tighten it up un the second pass and just keep scraping. And so t may be I only need to go at maybe four or five times."

Fred is using what he has learned doing landscapes with his approach to other subject matter.

Fred Sprock:
"I 'm doin' a lot of still life right now, just to kind of help with the landscape painting and help me to think differently about it or, whatever. And so I've been doin' a lot of bowls, and onions, and stuff. And a lot of white. A lot of white ceramic bowls and such. What's interesting to me about that is the complexity of something so simple. And when you look at it, and I don't do any fancy sort of lighting, it's like: "Wow, look at all the colors in that white!"

"I mean there's nothin' new here. But it's new for me. And then with a landscape, on the other hand, which is complex when you look at it, the challenge there is to simplify that. So I have been playing with those aspects lately, more on the still life side of things. Looking at something that appears to be simple and make it complex by really lookin' at it and tryin' to pull it out."

Fred says that folks who are new to making art should initially get some help from an experienced artist.

Fred Sprock:
"Find a really good teacher, which is really, really hard to do. I was really fortunate. My friend down in Charlotte, We're still buddies. So he wasn't just a teacher. We became pals."

"All the courses I have taken, whether it was in that studio in Charlotte, or in workshops and stuff, basically I found out that they pretty much all teach the same thing, about - I'll make it the center of interest, or the focal point. Whatever you call it; and, how important that is to them. That will save you so much time. That would have saved me so much time. I go out and paint this field and it just lies there like a dog in the sun or something. It's not doin' anything. So that to me can really separate what's good subject matter and what isn't."

Fred is process oriented. His priority in his creative endeavors is to continue to grow and improve.

Fred Sprock:
"The goal I am shooting for overall is the difference between an artist and a painter. And the painter: you don't know anything. You know how to hold the brush like this. And these colors make this. So you get a tool kit of technical skills and you can eventually, if you stay with it, render the cow in the pasture. You've got that skill set, and you can't abandon it. But you have to start takin' chances where you ask: "If I do this what will happen?" And I think that is the goal for me really, to become an artist."

"I like painting. So, I would paint seven days a week. So for me it is easy. I don't wait on the muse. Some days you don't get anything done. But if I were a banker, if the muse did not strike, I don't get to not go to the bank or the insurance company, or whatever. So you kind of have to be in the studio or outside. But for me it's rarely a chore. It's always a pleasure. Again, the results might not be so pleasing but the idea of going in and picking up a brush, it stays new, which is really fortunate for me. So, that's the work ethic. There is no work ethic. It's a fun ethic."

Find out more at or see his work live visit Bishop Stock Gallery in Snow Hill or The Artists' Gallery in Chestertown.