I’m an alla prima painter, meaning I finish just about everything I do in one session. I need the drive and flow for the whole work. If I take too long a break, I just can’t find the same feeling.”
Stan Sperlak’s paintings are colorful personal journeys through beautiful South Jersey, Delaware and Maryland. His intensely pigmented work is the result of handmade soft pastels on rough and smooth papers and boards that he prepares. Many of the passages are accomplished with a very light blending by hand, while some of the heavier tones are built through layers of pastel that are sometimes liquefied and “fixed” with water, alcohol and turpentine applied with brushes, razors, spoons and rags. Pastels, from the French word paste, are pure pigment mixed with gum and clay. By virtue of their mineral make up, dozens of minute facets refract light to the viewers’ eyes and create that special look and depth that pastels can bring. Pastels on permanent surfaces such as board and archival papers will hold their color for centuries and not fade, crack or yellow as other mediums often do.
Sperlak has favored pastel as his medium because of the primal nature of using one’s hands, the sensual experience of touch, and the serendipitous marks that are caused by the unusual shapes of the sticks. Over the years, Stan has most often worked on smaller pieces “plein air” or on location from life, but now has begun to experiment with very large works from these studies in the studio. The evolution in the studio is also allowing the artist to challenge color perception and put emotion on notice. While working outdoors makes one choose ways to resolve compositions and values rather quickly, the gained experience also compels the artist to work with an abandon and vigor in the studio which will inspire and keep those feelings pure.
He is a signature member of the Pastel Society of America, the Mid Atlantic Plein Air Painters, the Maryland Pastel Society, Riverfront Renaissance Center for the Arts in Millville, New Jersey and the Cape May County Art League. He studied part time at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, with Al Gury, Patrick Arnold and Jill Rupinski. He is also a student of Patricia Vanaman Witt. Since 1998 Sperlak has been showing professionally and is currently represented by SOMA Gallery, Cape May and William Ris Gallery, Stone Harbor, both in New Jersey; Main Line Art, Philadelphia and Laura Craig Galleries, Scranton, both in Pennsylvania; Hardcastle Gallery, Wilmington, Delaware; Main Street Gallery, Annapolis, Maryland; and Bishop’s Stock.