Congratulations to our November artist of the month, Sandra Power! She was a finalist in The Artist’s Magazine’s 30th Annual Art Competition. Her still life, Ribbon with Coffee Pot, is below. Keep scrolling to see what Power has to say about art and life.
Seattle, Washington ~ www.sandrapower.artspan.com
I was one year old when World War II began in England. The war years were chaotic. I lived in Hull, a northeast port, for most of them. We were bombed every night as the Germans wended their way home after hitting London. Later, we were evacuated to a nearby town as there was an unexploded bomb in our street. My father, who fought in the war, was proclaimed missing, presumed dead. Later, we learned that he was a prisoner of war. Times were tough. There were several circumstances which rescued me from these grim realities but most of all there was my drawing. I escaped with my set of colored pencils and would draw constantly.
As a teenager, I was accepted into the Hull High School of Art and Crafts. After my move to the US in 1962, I spent two years at the Corcoran College of Art, in Washington DC, where I studied drawing and painting of the figure.
I had trained as a nurse in England. The years that followed were devoted to my nursing career and raising a family. I did not return to art until my midfifties. Then, I made up for lost time devoting every day off or holiday to working in my studio. I was living in Washington DC at that time, which allowed me to spend long hours in the National Art Museums. I soaked up all of the teaching their art treasures gave me. Over the last few years I have enjoyed the luxury of being a full-time painter.
I work exclusively in oil and always from life. I recently moved to a studio with windows that fulfill my dream of north light. Still life is my passion. There is a mystery to be found in the still presence of objects. I seek to absorb myself in that mystery and hope to unlock its secret. It’s all about the experience of seeing. My compositions have a simple order that is informed by classical tradition but is contemporary in concept. I am in love with shapes and with the negative spaces they create when thoughtfully placed. My palette tends to be somewhat monochromatic as I feel that I must choose between the focus on shape and design versus saturated color. For me, the end result must be that when I look at the finished painting I see myself. In that way I know that the work is honest.
Coffee Pot with Ribbon is one of my more colorful pieces. My son had brought the coffee maker home with him from Spain. As soon as I saw it I knew I must paint it. I admired its shape, patina and reflective surface. After placing the objects the set-up seemed too static. I included the ribbon to give a little color and add a dynamic, calligraphic line which created movement. The orange thumbtack provided a touch of “zing” next to its complement in the blue of the ribbon. I was also intrigued by the distortion of the ribbon when seen through the glass bowl.
I often have quite a struggle in making a successful painting but this one, although it had some challenges, went rather well. I enjoyed discovering the small details that revealed themselves after careful observation; an unexpected touch of color in a reflection, a subtle change in value, a lost edge. These are the delights that make long hours at the easel worthwhile.
I enter The Artist’s Magazine competition every year. I believe that entering such competitions, along with juried exhibitions, provide the artist with the opportunity to assess their level of accomplishment. Competing brings much needed exposure to a wider public. The result, win or lose, also provides the impetus to continue making better and better art.