Thursday, March 22, 2018

Skip Dyrda, Muralist and More, Tells His Story

I know it sounds obvious for an artist to say this, but . . . I create. That's what I do. Sure, the bulk of my work is painting murals, but that's not my only creative outlet. In fact, just today I took a silver dinner fork and turned it into a stylish cat. It's a gift for a friend. 

All this started with my mom, who was very creative in a crafty kind away . . . you know, refrigerator magnets, Christmas ornaments, that kind of stuff. My own creativity started with building plastic models of mostly racecars from the track located just a few miles from where I grew up in Southeastern Pennsylvania. At one point, in the late 60s to late 70s, I began creating pen and ink drawings of the same racecars and even sold them all over the Northeastern United States. However, it wasn’t until I moved to Florida in the early 90s that I really got into all kinds of creativity.  It was after I was hired to work in a local art factory. It was there that my eyes were opened to what could be created in the art world. I started out doing screen-printing and airbrushing and then later I worked on paintings using all sorts of media . . . watercolors, acrylics, oil paints, and pen and ink. We even created steel plate etchings and handmade papers. After two years, I went out on my own. First I assisted a local sculptor in addition to creating hundreds paintings for cruise ships. It was around that time that I discovered the decorative arts. 

I had been sharing an art studio with a friend who did work for local interior designers. When she would decline a job she thought too difficult, they would hire me to paint the custom canvas floor cloths and murals. Over the last 20 years or so, I have painted hundreds of murals, canvas floor cloths and paintings for private collectors and businesses. But I have found that my true love is painting outdoor murals. Specifically, murals we all know as ‘public art’. When I am painting outside, whether I am on a lift, on a ladder or on the ground, and public can watch and interact, it’s almost like being on stage. I discovered that the interaction with the public is one of my favorite parts about painting murals.

The other thing I like to do is paint site-specific murals so I can make sure it’s more than just a pretty picture on a wall. I prefer that the work has some sort of meaning, a reason for being there. And I'm also looking for reactions from the viewer, hopefully, a “wow” reaction. Additionally I like to try to entice the viewer into doing a 'double take', noticing something they did not see at first glance. I believe someone once said, ”The devil is in the details”.

For the last 2 years, I've been working with the Punta Gorda Historic Mural Society on several murals. The first was inside the fire station there, where I painted two large murals. I'm currently in the finishing stages of another, this one outside, called “Ladies Remembered”. This fall, I'll be working under a bridge over the Peace River along the Harbor Walk, working on a mural that will sort of look like you can view aquatic life through the base of the bridge.

And in between all that, I keep creating, whether it's making something out of a silver fork, my photography or graphic design. It's what I do.

Oh, and one more thing. Look for the red string. It's in almost all my work, it's my 'mark'. I've been including that for about twenty years.

This is Week 11 of Artists Tell Their Stories. To connect with Skip and see more of his work, please visit the following links:

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