Featured Artist Sandra Pearce shares her journey and how she developed a unique art style that everyone admires. She also talks about taking a leap of faith that has changed her life.
Be sure to visit all of the places Sandra showcases her art. The links are located on the bottom of the interview.
Featured Artist Sandra Pearce
Dave – Hello Sandra, thank you for joining me today.
I first discovered you online while I was researching artist websites to showcase on a post I wrote 7 Amazing Artist Websites – Inspiration For Artists and I am excited to share your story.
When did you first start creating art and what inspired you to do so?
Sandra – Wow, the start was as early as I remember, drawing on any paper I found, especially paper grocery bags. That’s when my Dad, a journeyman printer, started bringing home paper for me to draw on. And then every Christmas I received pan paint tins, they had beautiful paintings on the cover…I loved playing with the watercolours.
Dave – You were born in England, as a young child you and your family Immigrated to America, resided in New Jersey, California and settled in Oregon.
How did the travels inspire you to create your beautiful landscape paintings?
Sandra – In England, I was in love I loved the rolling topography, with patchwork fields in every shade of green and yellow and brown, stitched together by dry fieldstone walls and higgledy-piggeldy hedgerows.
New Jersey had similar rolling farmland but more open, with spectacular fall color, thunderstorms, and deep winter snows.
California was golden (dry) much of the year, and only wet and green for a few weeks.
It turns out that I truly prefer greener views and cooler climes, and Oregon meets my romantic vision.
There is a quiet calmness to nature that just inspires me, and I often see my favorite memorable places in daydream wanderings.
Dave – You are blessed to be able to view in person different beautiful landscapes and it shows in your artwork.
In your bio, you talk about taking the biggest leap of faith and have always been glad you did.
Tell us all about it.
Sandra – I have realized I am just not a city dweller. Or even suburban.
I don’t feel comfortable in apartments or suburban tracts hearing motors and sirens and voices all day.
The cost of living in a one-bedroom California apartment was going up faster than my pay.
I thought of moving to Vermont or Oregon for the scenery and country life. I settled on Oregon after a dark stormy winter visit. I thought “if it’s this beautiful now, what will it be like in summer!?” And it would be a shorter distance for visiting family in California.
I got on a waiting list for a place to live in Oregon and returned to work.
When Oregon called and said come in 30 days, I immediately gave notice and started planning.
I did not have family, friends or a job in Oregon, but I was going. It was both terrifying and thrilling – I felt so alive!
I was amazed by the number of people who said they were envious, would love to take such a leap, but cannot.
To all who expressed that sentiment, I would say, why not? True reasons are rare, most are fear of the unknown, of change, of so-called security, even children.
No matter the trappings, all can be managed. It’s purely a matter of choosing your priorities and working through the hurdles one at a time.
Once in Oregon, I was able to live on small savings for a few months and explore, settle in, and detox from the stressful life I left behind. I have never felt so free and invigorated. To this day I am the happiest I have ever been in my life, and it just keeps getting better!
Dave – That is so inspiring. As humans we get used to our surroundings, work and habits we have created over the years.
It is easier for most people to say “I wish I had” instead of taking the steps towards their dreams.
People like you are an inspiration to many people who fear change.
What advice would you give to young artists dreaming of creating an art business?
Sandra – Don’t let anyone discourage you.
My parents were supportive of my art, but college and acquaintances and employers all convinced me you can’t make a living at art.
So I made art a hobby, second fiddle to a paycheck.
But they were wrong!
There are thousands of artists making a living, owning homes, putting kids through college.
It is not easy, it is hard work all the way.
There are lean times, you have to be perpetually determined.
Most of all you must perfect your craft.
There is no shortcut to mastering expressing your vision. It is a lifelong learning curve.
Along with the craft itself, you must treat it as a business, dealing with marketing, taxes – and calculate the costs of various jobs.
Don’t lose money on a commission, don’t undervalue yourself.
Get a high-quality full-color business card with a beautiful image on one side and your information on the other. Always have them on you.
I have a variety of images; the new acquaintance is delighted to choose which image speaks to them.
When the image is beautiful people keep them, even display them.
Dave – That is encouraging advice that I hope all young artists who have a dream read and take to heart.
What makes your artwork unique and separates you from other artists?
Sandra – I am not a formula painter.
I approach different subjects or mood in various ways, but still, I am a traditional style watercolor painter for the most part.
First emulating English style, but then gradually learning to get stronger value contrasts, unless the desired mood dictates less.
Studying John Singer Sargent, Winslow Homer, and Edward Seago as well as living masters, I explored more vivid hues as well as beautiful greys.
These days I rarely use salt, masking, and other techniques.
I admire brush handling and love challenges, and I constantly work on improving beautiful washes and mark-making. I love to see the artist’s hand, and I want my hand to show in my work.
Dave – What message would you like your viewers to receive when they look at your artwork?
Sandra –Whatever is tugging at my heart or touching my soul at that moment is what I want to convey, communicate to the viewer.
I want them to see the glory of the morning light, or feel the stillness in the fog, hear the distant laughing and clinking of wine glasses, smell the fresh salt air.
I want the viewer to find that experience without my coaching. Or to stir a wonderful memory deep in their heart.
When these connections are made with my viewers, they become new collectors.
Dave – Your beautiful art tells a story and captures the simple things we often overlook in our busy days. When I look at your art I feel more relaxed and at peace. I get to escape from the daily stress for a few moments and recharge my batteries.
What supplies do you use for your artwork?
Sandra – I use mostly Arches paper, rough 140 lb. Sometimes other weights and surface textures.
I also use Saunders Waterford rough 140 for certain works, it is a bit more absorbent than Arches.
Professional tube colors are from Winsor & Newton, Holbein, M Graham, Richeson, and Daniel Smith.
I try colors in different brands, they do have a difference in hue and behavior.
Brushes run the gamut, from inexpensive Chinese calligraphy to Escoda synthetics, to large Isabey mops, to fine sables and Japanese Hakes.
I have also taken a liking to some special brushes like swords, riggers and some handmade Lebenzon calligraphy brushes.
Dave – What other mediums do you like to work with?
Sandra – I really don’t, except for value studies and Notans. Pencil, ink, grey value markers.
I have a set of water-soluble oils that I won, and would like to dabble, but that might take another lifetime.
I have worked hard and long to get to this point in watercolor, and I am still in love with it. No two brushstrokes are ever the same, it keeps me challenged.
Dave – When did you start selling your artwork and how did you get started?
Sandra – I had shows in restaurants, salons, county fairs, a co-op gallery and a church gallery in California.
All of them resulted in onesie-twosie sales.
In Oregon, I joined the Watercolor Society of Oregon and Oregon Society of Artists.
Both provided local show opportunities, along with annual local towns’ shows and events. I also enter national shows and regional plein air events. I sometimes sell plein airs on location.
My website takes PayPal; I don’t have a smartphone to swipe cards on location, but I will take a check or cash!
I have had people run off, and come back with the money.
Those people have made a connection with my art and the piece belongs with them!
Dave – What platforms do you use to showcase and sell your artwork?
Sandra – I participate in group shows as opportunities arise, sell directly from my website, and in the Portland Art Museum Rental Sales Gallery. Upcoming is a 3-person show at Walters Cultural Art Center in Hillsboro, Oregon, where I had a 2-person show a few years ago.
Dave – How do you promote your art online?
Sandra – I have a Facebook Page and Instagram.
I only post some paintings and I don’t post to sell, per se. I don’t like being hounded by artists with image, size price, and I don’t do it.
I look to gain credibility and name recognition.
I post to announce shows, awards, art events, some personal thoughts, and my monthly free printable Art Calendar.
When people like what they see, they click over to my website. My newsletter is used in a similar way and can be subscribed to on the website or from Facebook.
And there is also the blog on my website, but I don’t have a lot of time to spend on it as well.
Dave – What was the biggest lesson you learned about starting your art business?
Sandra – That doing art is an expensive business, and you are worth more than the cost of your materials.
How do you put a price on learning, years of practice and experience?
You must value yourself enough to charge enough. And that it is a constant uphill climb, and if you aren’t climbing, you are sliding back down.
Dave – That is so true Sandra.
What tips could you give to new artists who are interested in selling their artwork?
Sandra – Again, perfect your craft.
Value your skill, don’t undercharge. Be humble, always – confident, but humble.
Say yes to opportunities, but do not overcommit.
Look online for shows and galleries, and always read the prospectus or submission rules carefully, and follow them or be immediately disqualified.
Be courteous of other people’s time, and thank them for giving it to you.
Do not try to sell, try to communicate and connect with the viewer, that is when they become a buyer.
Your art should tell a story that touches the viewer– you won’t reach everyone, but some.
Write a description about each piece while it is fresh in your mind, post it with the image.
Always appreciate when someone values your art enough to make it a priority in their budget and their life, this is high praise.
And stay in touch with that new collector, through newsletters and mailings.
Treat them like a friend, and they may become one, as well as collect more of your work.
Dave – Would you mind sharing a few of your favorite creations and share the story behind them?
Sandra – Oh boy, how does one choose? I have many favorites, all for different reasons…but I will give it a try, in no particular order.
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I do love the coast; Oregon has so many sorts of coastline – and I love them all. Rocky cliffs, sand dunes (yes! In Oregon!), grassy shores, mud flats, and wide sandy beaches. This tidal flat area collects massive quantities of driftwood trees after storms, but for now, the tide has carried the driftwood back out to sea, and it is a lovely serene place.
I enjoyed the challenge of capturing the way the late light created a glow as it filtered through the treetops.
A cold misty day in the wetlands wildlife habitat of Jackson Bottom in Hillsboro, Oregon. This is a gem of a place to observe wildlife, especially birds at the edge of suburbia. Much of the walking trails are easily accessible, even by wheelchair, to be explored and enjoyed by all.
A late winter morning and the sapling shows the first sign of spring, new leaves sprouting near the base. Wow, I love these calm peaceful hideaways from the noisy man-made world.
Two friends playing golf at a brew-pub course…they both carry clubs in one hand and in the other, a glass of Ruby ale. What a way to spend a summer day!
Dave – What social media sites can people follow you on?
Dave – Where can people purchase your art?
Sandra – Portland Art Museum Rental Sales Gallery http://apps.portlandartmuseum.org/rentalsalesgallery/artists/Sandra-Pearce/ and my website www.sandrapearce.com, and a variety of shows as listed on the events page of my website.
Dave – I would like to thank you one more time for sharing your artistic journey with us and I look forward to seeing all of your new creations.
Sandra – Thanks for having me, and stirring some great memories!
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