AUDRA – When things closed in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many people were at home, far from the outside world.
For many people, things only got worse over time as loneliness, depression, and anxiety became common characteristics.
But for an Audra man, seclusion from it all was the exact opposite and helped ignite a flame that had died out 20 years before the global pandemic.
“I hadn’t painted for 20 years and then when the pandemic broke out I decided to pick up my brushes and start painting again.” said Richard Spencer. “I originally started when I was 14 years old. I graduated from Philip Barbour and had taken some advanced arts classes in school. After that I studied freelance for a few years and then somehow fell out, life took over and I put my brushes and paints away until recently. “
Since the pandemic began, Spencer has stored over 100 original oil paintings at his home, which is a stones throw from Audra Park in Barbour County.
“I sold a few, but otherwise I still have them all” said Spencer. “I really just do them for fun.”
Spencer said that the skills he had 20 years ago had returned pretty quickly and that the transition to painting as he was used to was not that difficult at all.
“I was a little surprised how easy it was for me to get back in” he said. “I just picked up the brushes and it was kind of like I never stopped doing it.”
Spencer said his favorite painting is landscape, which makes the area he lives in perfect.
“I photograph a lot of local landscapes and life out here next to the park is perfect.” he said. “One of the charms of buying my house here was the proximity to the state park. I made three beautiful paintings of the river, including the waterfall directly under the bridge at Audra. “
He said that living in West Virginia is the perfect setting for his work. “I hike a lot in very remote, inaccessible areas.” he said. “So there are places that I’ve seen in those back rivers and forests that a lot of people can’t even get to. So I’m going to take photos in some of these remote places, bring them home and paint them. “
Spencer admits that there is nothing he would rather do than visit other countries and paint a few pictures.
“The funny thing is, before the pandemic broke out, I thought about taking a few months and going to Ireland, England and Scotland to paint.” he said. “But I never had that opportunity, so I said the hell and got some pictures from there and painted the landscapes and seascapes like that. I now have a pretty large collection of them. “
Art has always been a big part of Spencer’s family. He said there were several family members during his childhood including his uncle Bud Spencer, who painted a lot. Bud is a well known painter in the whole area.
“It was always somehow in the family” he said. “I remember watching my uncles paint when I was a kid.”
But there is one contemporary family member who has inspired much of his work – his two-year-old granddaughter, Oakleigh.
“I was highly motivated and inspired by my little granddaughter” said Spencer. “I’ve spent a fair amount of time with her and already got her to paint. I got her the necessary utensils and she builds and paints right next to me. “
Spencer can be reached by email at [email protected] for anyone interested in viewing his work.