Q.         Sandra, you’ve had a varied career in the arts, with interests in several disciplines. How would you describe your current body of work?

A:         The majority of my current work consists of digital paintings, mixed media, and enhanced photography. I am working on several mixed media landscapes using pastels along with other traditional media. When I’m creating a landscape, I like to build in a textural surface, and my favorite technique for that is the use of impasto. Van Gogh made it look so easy; this is a skill I am working on to get more perfect results. As you know, I am also a digital painter, and this is an effect that I find more difficult to achieve with digital painting software - but I continue to experiment.

Q.         I have seen quite a number of your artworks; they are impressive and very well executed. Would you say that in your work you tend to experiment with certain styles?

A:         Like Camille Pissarro, I also try various styles and techniques that I admire from other artists and work them into my own art. That said, it is also important to note that a good deal of analysis goes into a given work at the front end. I will use certain style elements that I feel best cast the image as I had imagined it. Each image is unique, so that requires a thoughtful approach in the development of every artwork.

Q.         Do you feel that there is a central theme – or themes – that runs through your work?

A:         Over time, I have explored many themes but currently I favor landscapes, some still life compositions and the occasional portrait. As I mentioned before, the style doesn’t dictate the image, rather it is the opposite - withSUMMER FLOWERS variations in style and technique being dependent on my personal interpretation of the subject. Oftentimes, my work is in response to an inspirational event, from which I will create a painting or other artwork using various techniques. Anything that I create has to inspire me, and must appeal to me as an artist. That is the primary criteria. Then hopefully the finished work will be admired and perhaps collected by others. 

            I think it is also important to note that before I started using computer software and photography for  creating art, I worked using traditional media, creating illustrations using various media such as Prisma color pencils, watercolor for sketching out my ideas for paintings, oil paint, pastels, and acrylic. I am proficient in all of these mediums, and this past experience strongly informs the digital work I do.  And this is also why I feel so comfortable mixing traditional art media and techniques with digital work.  It represents the best of both worlds.

Q.         How long has it taken for you to develop the skills of digital art?

A:         I have spent most of the last 6 years studying the software and techniques required to create true fine art in a digital format. The software has matured incredibly over that time, and computer processing power has increased substantially as well, but my education and experimentation has remained constant throughout. Today, I’m feeling like I have enough control and mastery of the software applications that I can achieve the results I am seeking. I am both a painter and a photographer, and these are distinctly different art forms, each requiring a certain skill set and creative approach.

Q.         You seem very comfortable with the interaction between traditional and digital.

A:         The dividing lines between tradition art, photography, and digital work are becoming increasingly blurred. For example, when I work on traditional paintings using acrylic or oils, I use small boards and paper for sketches and 18” X 24” and larger sizes for works on canvas. But I also have found the use of computer software very appealing in that it allows me to quickly explore new ideas without using more traditional methods while saving valuable time. Essentially, I try to draw the best usage out of all the resources I have at hand. When I am shooting photographs I am using the RAW format because I know that it is likely that the images will end up being printed quite large, and are also likely to find applications in a variety of my work.

Q.         How would you articulate your artistic philosophy?

A:         Work hard, have fun, keep the passion and creativity going, and the end results will be great.  I want my work to reflect, transform, and express something special to those who see it. I’m constantly seeking to leave a lasting and positive impression with the viewer. My artistic inspiration comes from many sources. It can come from a stunning view that stops me in my tracks and instills an immediate passion in me to create something visual from my point of view. In my work I am striving to have my drive to create, to reflect and record, carry through the work directly to the viewer.

Q.         What is the most interesting source for your artistic inspiration?

A:         Dreams. This probably sounds unusual, but a significant amount of my creative drive comes through my unconscious while I’m sleeping. Quite often, I will think of something in my sleep – it can turn into a painting, or may be the resolution of some difficulty I’m experiencing in a current project. Problem solving seems easier while I’m asleep, probably because my mind has been set free from its waking state. 

Q.         How do you approach the planning and creation of your art?

A:         Photography is a central element in my artistic process. I take photos to record images of interest, first taking into consideration the basic composition. I then review the photos, keeping only ones I feel will work for an art project. I then work with each one, adjusting the composition and color, and cropping the image if required.     Next, the photo becomes the basis for the digital painting process. Once that is completed, I will often print the work on canvas and then create a mixed media piece by using traditional art media such as paint, ink and pastel on the canvas surface. Other times, I use traditional media to create an original painting using the digital painting as a reference. I have found that it is far easier to work out the compositional and/or color correction problems on a digital painting and then paint it traditionally, thus saving a lot of time. And the end result is often a much better painting when I use the digital painting to resolve creative issues in advance.

Q.         Do you maintain an archive of images that have potential for future artworks?

A:         Absolutely. Many photos and found reference materials are retained in a folder that I refer to as My Art Morgue. Parts of photos and other references of interest will be filed there in general categories such as Skies, People, Flowers, and so on. It is very important to keep a large art reference file.  It much easier now to build a significant archive than it was before the digital age. Back then, images were cut out of magazines, newspapers, and other print sources. The computer is a perfect tool for this process and for other related applications. Additionally, when I’m out on a photo shoot, I carry a sketch book or something to make notes about the photographs I take for later reference on time of day and place including anything else that might be of use.

Q.         What artists have influenced your artistic style?

A:         I think the most important early influence on my work came from Claude Monet. I was fascinated by his use of stark contrasts of light and shade in his landscapes. My favorite landscape of his is called “Wild Poppies”. I also was quite taken my Pierre Auguste Renoir’s figurative painting. I have spent a good deal of time carefully studying his painting, “The Luncheon of the Boating Party”. The unique painterly style used by Vincent van Gogh is also an inspiration, especially how he made use of thick, directional brush strokes.

Q.         Are there other artists whom you particularly admire for their work?

A:         Here is where the list gets a bit longer … first, there is Pablo Picasso for the unique way he portrayed women. Then there is the great Georgia O’Keeffe, for her ability to envision and order the world in a simple, elegant way. Other artists I greatly admire include Edgar Degas, Paul Cézanne, Andre Derain, and Frida Kahlo.

Q.         How long have you seen yourself as an artist?

A:         As far back as I can remember I thought of myself as an artist. I have been working as an artist since I was around 13 years old.  Art is a basic necessity in my everyday life; even If I could not earn money through my work, I would still continue to make art. My initial influence was my first art teacher, Mrs. Hartford, back in Junior High School.  I guess she saw something in my ability, and she urged me to try oil painting. I agreed and had me work alongside an oil painter at a local studio. I began working on still life paintings, and at age 13, that was my first leap into the world of art. I have never looked back. 

Q.         Why is Art important to you, and to the world at large, and how has it changed your life?  

A:         I can’t imagine my life, or anyone else’s life without Art in it. The world would be very dull place to live.  Just as we need music for our ears... we need art for our eyes.  I have been given a true gift; it sustains me and nurtures my belief that all things are possible.  When I wake up in the morning and open my eyes onto a new day, the very first thing I think about is that I have been blessed with another day to make art, to create, to dance with the muse. Art is an endless adventure, and there are always unexplored areas, new paths opening up to me. That is what is so fascinating and exciting about being an artist. Every day is like discovering a new world, another new planet. There is no end to the possibilities.