With an exhausting schedule of workshops, classes and seminars that take him around the world to countries such as Australia, New Zealand and Iceland, among others, it’s a wonder that pastel marvel Stan Sperlak would want to do anything but just chill out when he comes back home.
But, as they say, there is no rest for the weary, because Sperlak returned to his rural home and studio in Cape May Court House this spring and immediately began preparing for his ninth solo show at SOMA NewArt Gallery, “The Sublime and the Cape,” which runs through Oct. 16.
“I was gone from the U.S. from mid-February to mid-May,” Sperlak says. “I was shepherded around from house to house, traveled on nine airplanes, six boats, two trains, several rental cars, slept in 24 different beds, hotels and motels, with various host families — who were just the most helpful, happy wonderful people and talented, great artists.
“When finally got back, I wanted to become a hermit and not run from place to place. I counted 110 days that I could stay home and I cherished every one. I locked myself in my studio and painted for the show.”
The 52-painting exhibit is more or less an “evolution” of his work. However, fans and collectors will be tickled to know of two profound differences within the context of this particular show — his use of color and his new signature.
“I played with new color groupings, pulling out sticks that I never used before,” he says. “Because I had so much time for myself, I put together color combos that you’d think weren’t believable. But with a little push and pull, they came together.
“At least half are groundbreaking in color, composition, texture and intrigue.”
“In my process — on purpose — I pulled together two sticks and made a passage — a sky or marsh — and put them in place. I used an algebraic equation — if yellow is X, what is Y? How do you bring it all together? The viewer may think I created a problem, but I solved it very well.”
Despite the new and almost-problematic color combinations, Sperlak claims that he has “stayed true to my heart without being too decadent.”
“It became a little bit of a game. Can I entertain myself … but can I surprise other people, too — without putting in a horse or something not normal to my paintings?”
For many, “The Sublime and the Cape” is simply a compilation of more of what Sperlak is best known for — his breathtaking landscapes. And if that’s a determent for skipping his show this time around, don’t let it be. To see these new works in person, is not to be missed.
“I’ve always been know for painting simple subjects — landscapes, serene skies. In theory this is not so different,” he says. “But seeing it in person makes the difference. The pastels look like they’ll fall off the page. People swear that I have lights installed behind paintings.”
In addition to the bold, new colors, Sperlak is now signing his paintings with his name — and not his usual S.R.S. initials.
“I finally decided to sign my name to my paintings … I felt it was time to actually do it, so they now say ‘Sperlak,’” he says. “It’s a literal signature. For my collectors, it puts a smile on their faces, they’re so used to the emblem of S.R.S.”
All of the pastels are available for sale at SOMA, as is Sperlak’s latest book “A View from my Easel, Vol. II” ($60).
“The book is an update of the original ‘A View from my Easel,’ and has many of my award-winning and best images since 2010,” Sperlak explains. “It shows the wide range of my work — from international paintings to plein air paintings to studio paintings.”
Sperlak will be in attendance at a book signing at SOMA 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 7, before he heads off to China in a few weeks to “re-introduce landscape painting to students.” In the meantime, he couldn’t be happier at home — SOMA.
“It’s an astounding thing to have nine shows in one gallery,” he says. “I’m always very appreciative of the support I get from my gallery and those who help me in my art career.”