Though he spent most of his adult life in Texas, Everett Franklin Spruce never forgot his home state of Arkansas. He drew upon his memories of the landscape around the Ozark Mountains for inspiration. Primarily a landscape painter, Spruce set his ultimate goal to imbue his canvases with a sense of emotion; he achieved this effect by combining physical landscape with personal memories and feeling.
Spruce painted Arkansas Landscape in 1938, when he was living in Dallas, Texas. At the time, he was associated with “The Nine,” otherwise known as the Dallas regionalist painters, as they focused on celebrating the local landscape. The painting is a combination of a physical location and Spruce’s memory, adding a fantastical element to the image; he chose to remember Arkansas in a certain way and to portray it as such. The painting has a surrealist feel to it, as Spruce played with the space within the canvas, distorting perspective. The simplified forms reference American folk-art, which appealed not only to Spruce, but also to his audience. Arkansas Landscape has a dream-like quality to it, as if we are seeing inside Spruce’s mind and seeing his memories.