BY PAMELA KEECH
Dick Ferrer paints all the time — indoors; outdoors; at his gallery in Nashville, Indiana; at home in the woods. Imagine him always holding a paintbrush.
He lives in a little summerhouse near Yellowwood State Forest with his wife, Dixie, also an artist. A second structure is their shared studio. Both buildings are painted a dark shade of turquoise.
They don’t have much of a yard; the land drops off sharply, down to Salt Creek. That view is enjoyed from a screened-in porch that is cantilevered over the valley. It’s furnished with old wooden lounging chairs and a sparkly chandelier. Ferrer’s favorite chair is a swing for grownups, a slatted-wood seat hanging from ropes and covered with cushions.
Ferrer says he paints from dark to light, meaning that he first lays a ground of dark purple on the canvas’ surface, and then paints the subject on top. His paintings appear to be fearlessly controlled yet dreamlike, with bits of purple showing along lines and curves, heightening and brightening the compositions.
Subjects are crows and ravens, which he considers the smartest birds; bison, which he considers iconic; and cats, which he considers aliens. “I like the way our behavior and animals’ behavior is very similar. They’re like us or we’re like them, I’m not sure which,” he says.
Other themes are objects in the process of disappearing, such as collapsing barns and cabins or rusting trucks and tractors. He also likes to paint children in summer, ephemeral in swimsuits and baseball uniforms. His grandchildren are his models.
When asked if he went to art school, he says no. Then Ferrer smiles, squeezes his wife’s hand, and says, “Quoting Picasso, ‘Learn the rules like a pro so you can break them like an artist.’ I never learned the rules like a pro, but I break them like an artist.”
His studio is listed as 5a on the Back Roads of Brown County Fall Tour. Visit browncountystudiotour.com to learn more about the tour, which runs through October 31. Visit ferrergallery.com to see more of Ferrer’s work. Ferrer Gallery is in The Village Green Building, 61 W. Main St., Nashville, Indiana.
Pamela Keech is an artist and writer currently living in Nashville, Indiana.