Dennis Spicer – Against the Light

Whether it’s a figure in the studio, a still life, or a landscape really the subject is, for me, just an excuse to mix up paint and apply it to a canvas. I love the sensual feel of the wet brush dragging over the close weave of the linen canvases I use. The buttery feel of the paint gliding on and the unexpected buzz you get when two wet colours bump up against each other or intermix to make an unexpected contrast or new colour. 

Sometimes these happy accidents can be left, sometimes they are either immediately or later painted over, to produce yet another unexpected combination. 

This is what I like, the painting into the unknown, not knowing if the painting will end up being the one I intended to make. 

My approach will vary. I used to paint with fairly small brushes to produce a fairly accurate rendering of what was in front of me. Lately I have been using larger brushes and laying on the paint more thickly and working more intuitively.  Sometimes the paintings will stick fairly close to what I am seeing, sometimes they will become more abstracted perhaps incorporating pattern to produce something more akin to a design, but always there is a concern to paint how the light hits the subjects and how that transforms them into a good subject for a painting that is worth me spending time on. 

Light. Particularly a back light, or contre jour, coming from behind the subject, casting shadows onto a flat surface, which give me scope to introduce rich dark colours, animating the flat surfaces in the painting and giving interest to the eye, that is what interests me now, and I can see my work becoming more loose and colourful in the future. 

Or perhaps I shall return to a more restrained method of working, I don’t know, but that is what makes the process of painting so interesting. 


Dennis attended the Byam Shaw School of Painting in London from 1979 to 1983. Since then he has supported himself as a teacher, teaching painting and life drawing in West London and by selling his art. In 2000 he moved to West Kirby on the Wirral with his family where he continues to teach and paint.


September 2020
Solo Show at Editions Gallery Liverpool.

2019 Royal Institute Of Oil Painters Annual Exhibition
Mall Galleries, London

2018 Royal Institute Of Oil Painters Annual Exhibition
Mall Galleries, London.

2017 Royal Institute Of Oil Painters Annual Exhibition
Mall Galleries, London

2017 Nadia Waterfield Fine Art Autumn Exhibition

2016 Royal Institute Of Oil Painters exhibition Mall galleries London.
Awarded the Windsor & Newton prize for the best painting by a non-member.

2016 Solo Exhibition at the Unity Theatre Liverpool