Born in duality

Artist’s realistic paintings bring light, hope

Written by Amy Palser

Vince Wood is the sort of easygoing guy who wears an un-tucked polo with jeans and flip-flops, who doesn’t balk at driving the family minivan — whether toting children or not — and who once upon a time proposed to his bank teller girlfriend with a deposited check. He is unfussy. Un-showy. Unpretentious.

And yet, the man behind the paintbrush belies the art he creates. Wood’s hyper-realistic oil paintings are a theatrical expression of lights and darks. They evoke complex feelings of heartache and hope, sorrow and stillness, pain and peace. He studied painting in the medieval Italian village of Monte Castello di Vibio and showed his work annually in an Irish gallery. Even his given name, Ernest Vincent Wood III, evokes high drama.

It is both sides of Wood — the mellow painter and his passionate paintings — that will be on display at Autumn & Art at Bradley Fair, Sept. 14–16. He is one of 100 artists displaying work at the outdoor art festival, which is free and open to the public. Wood relishes shows like Autumn & Art because it allows him to arrange his paintings to his liking and engage with festivalgoers.

Wood, 39, grew up in Wichita and attended North High. As a kid he loved to draw — mostly cartoons — and entered Wichita State University with a general art emphasis. It was WSU professor Jill Eggers who first called out Wood’s deeper talent and insisted he join her oil painting class.

“She said, ‘You have great light sensibility.’ I didn’t know that before she said so. It was a true case of someone seeing something in you you didn’t know you had,” Wood said.

Eggers, who now heads the painting program at Grand Valley State University in Michigan, recalls watching Wood’s artistic identity emerge. “Your job as an instructor is not to say something brilliant to the student but just to reflect accurately and honestly what is there, to find the words for that,” she said. “Then the student/artist begins to recognize it in their own work, to see what is there, and to understand how they can take that further.”

Thanks to a grant from the Koch Cultural Trust, Wood went on to study painting at the International School for Painting, Drawing and Sculpture in Umbria, Italy. It was there that he met the owners of an Irish art gallery, who invited him to show his work in Killarney, Ireland. It was the first time Wood began to professionally show and sell paintings.

Today, Wood supports his family of four — wife Anna, son Ernest Vincent Wood IV, 3, and daughter Miriam, 1 — with his art. He paints in his Wichita home (claiming the master bedroom for an art studio because of its north-facing windows) and travels to art shows across the nation. In Wichita, his art is on permanent display at Mud Haus, 922 E. Douglas Ave., while his newest painting, “Hope,” is on display through Sept. 29 at Mark Arts’ Oil Painting National Exhibition.

With its central focus a flying dove amidst paper birds, Wood says “Hope” depicts the beauty and hope of making Christ the ultimate value in life. The piece was inspired in part by his father-in-law, who was killed May 12 in a farming accident. “Part of making the piece was a bit of the grieving process for me,” he said. “His hope was placed in his life in Christ. I am at peace where he is and what his life is like now. And I can continue to have hope even considering these circumstances.”

To view Wood’s work, visit evwiii.com. You can also partner with him at patreon.com/evwiii.

 
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