About the Artist
The last time Edward Spera attended an art class was in eighth grade at 13 years old. It was eleven years later that he started to paint in earnest. After watching a documentary about wolves on TV, inspiration struck, and he found some old art supplies in the back of a closet, setting to work on what would be the first piece of a prolific career that has spanned years and continents.
It is no coincidence that Edward’s first piece was wildlife related. In his younger years, wildlife TV programs and documentaries captivated him. While on family trips in Northern Ontario, walking through the woods, or even in his own backyard, Edward always enjoyed watching wildlife. This hasn’t changed; however, his travels have extended beyond the local, and are now global.
Except for one or two early pieces, everything Edward paints is from the wild. Using his own reference photographs for primary subjects and secondary images which capture details not present in the original photo. For Edward, photographs are a useful tool, but they have their limits. Through painting, he strives to recreate the clarity of encountering these animals in their own habitat. Seeing an animal in captivity does not compare to seeing it in the wild.
There is a spirit or essence to an animal that you see in the wild
that is just not there with a captive animal. There is a spark in the way an animal navigates the world on its own terms; whether it is searching for food, caring for young, or interacting with other animals, they are always existing with a purpose in the wild. The shape, posture, and muscle tone of an animal is very different in the wild when compared to their generally overweight and lethargic captive counterparts. Every line, curve and marking is representative of an individual animal’s history. Nature truly created something beautiful in the processes that have given way to the flora and fauna of the world, and Edward tries to mimic that beauty with each brushstroke.
As an artist, Edward always demands more out of every new piece. His ever-increasing penchant for detail is evidence of this. Hair for hair, whisker for whisker. This exhausting attention to detail in his work is emblematic of his patience and desire to get things right. When people see Edward’s work for the first time, one of the most common elements they bring up is the eyes. For Edward, the eyes can give a false sense of completion with a piece, which is why he leaves them for last. Conventional wisdom states that an artist should start with the eyes, since they are a focal point. Edward leaves the eyes for last, so as he works on it the painting never feels quite complete; potentially one hair or one whisker away from completion, concerned that he will short change the detail that he is known for. Once a piece is complete, he never goes back to it. With his attention to detail, the potential for him to spend years on a piece getting every element “perfect” is not outside of the realm of possibility.
The thought process has always remained the same, trying to depict the animal in the most beautiful way he can, offering the viewer a glimpse into that animal’s world with the goal being of inspiring those who see his work to be mindful of the animals that we all share the world with, from the exotic animals in the far-flung reaches of the world, to the animals you see day-to-day in your own backyard.