AUDRA — Back when things were shut down in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many people found themselves isolated at home away from most of the outside world.
For many individuals, things only got worse as time went on as loneliness, depression, and anxiety became common traits.
But for one Audra man, being secluded away from everything was totally opposite and helped ignite a flame that had flickered away 20 years prior to the global pandemic.
“I hadn’t painted in 20 years and then when the pandemic hit I decided to pick up my brushes and start painting again,” said Richard Spencer. “I originally started when I was about 14-years old. I graduated from Philip Barbour and had taken some advanced art classes in school. I studied freelance after that for a few years and then kind of fell out of it, life took over and I put my brushes and paints away until recently.”
Since the start of the pandemic Spencer has stockpiled over 100 original oil paintings at his home, which is located just a stone’s throw away from Audra Park in Barbour County.
“I’ve sold a couple, but other than that I still have them all,” said Spencer. “I really just do them for fun.”
Spencer said the skills he had 20 years prior came back to him fairly quickly and that the transition of getting back into painting the way he used to wasn’t that difficult at all.
“I was a little surprised how easy it was for me to get back into it,” he said. “I just picked up the brushes and it was a kind of like I had never quit doing it.”
Spencer said his favorite painting to do is landscape, which makes the area he lives in the perfect fit.
“I do a lot of local landscapes and living out here next to the park is perfect,” he said. “That was one of my attractions to buying my house over here was being so close to the state park. I’ve done three beautiful paintings of the river, including the waterfall just below the bridge at Audra.”
He said that living in West Virginia provides the perfect backdrop for the work he does. “I do a lot of hiking in really remote, hard to get areas,” he said. “So there’s places I’ve seen in these back rivers and woods that a lot of people can’t even get to. So I’ll do some photography work at some of those remote locations and bring them back home and paint them.”
Spencer admits that he would love nothing more than to visit some other countries and do some paintings.
“The funny thing is that before the pandemic hit, I was thinking about taking a few months and going over to Ireland, England and Scotland to paint,” he said. “But I never got that opportunity, so I said the heck with it and got some pictures from over there and painted the landscapes and seascapes that way. I have a pretty large collection of those now.”
Art has always been a big part of Spencer’s family. He said that while growing up, there were several family members, including his uncle Bud Spencer, who did a lot of painting. Bud is a well known painter throughout the area.
“It’s always kind of been in the family,” he said. “I remember watching my uncles paint back when I was a kid.”
But it’s one family member from the present day that has inspired him to do a lot of his work – his 2-year old granddaughter Oakleigh.
“I’ve been highly motivated and inspired by my little granddaughter,” said Spencer. “I’ve spent quite a bit of time with her and I’ve already got her into painting. I’ve got her the supplies she needs and she sets up and paints right next to me.”
Spencer can be reached by email at [email protected] for anyone who is interested in taking a look at his work.