June Feature Artist: Sandra Henderson
Sandra has lived most of her life in Perth WA and recently decided to move to the lovely shores of north west Tasmania. She recently joined BCAG as a new member and is already taking an active role in the group. She was instrumental in starting up the Monday art group at Studio 2Eleven. Sandra taught Art and English in WA Secondary Schools for 25 years and only since she has retired has she found the time to pursue her own creativity. She was past Treasurer and President of the Western Australian Society of the Arts and remains a member of the Western Australian Watercolour Society. Since arriving in Tasmania, she has also become a member of the North West Art Circle.
Sandra's earlier work was inspired by flowers. She works from life as well as her own photographs and drawings and tries to capture the "essence of the flower" rather than the botanical view. Renowned WA Art Judge, Carl Altmann, described Sandra's flower paintings as "windows into your own private garden". Sandra has won many awards and has works in collections in NZ, Sweden, Ireland, Netherlands, South Africa and across Australia
What got you into painting?
So long ago, I don't remember. I know as a kid I loved to draw and read. My parents used to force me outside to go and play. I remember all the books in the house had their front and last pages missing. In those days they were usually blank so I'd tear them out and draw on them.
Do you have other artistic pasttimes?
During my art course at university, although I majored in ceramics, I got to be able to explore many other artforms but once I git into painting, I seemed to stay there. I love the fluid forms but particularly watercolours. I do silk scarves to have a break from painting now and then.
What prompted you to join BCAG?
We came to Tassie on a holiday to get away from the heat and fell in love with the place. We checked around and once we decided where we wanted to live, I started to google groups and people around the northwest. That's how I found BCAG and I was impressed that they had their own premises, ran TASART and workshops and classes. They seem a progressive and vibrant group that I would like to be part of.
What do you think you will get out of being a member?
Like minded friends and mixing with kindred spirits. As a group, I look forward to mutual support in our artistic pursuits and the challenges faced through exhibitions. I also see it as an opportunity to use my skills and conduct workshops.
Do you have a favourite or preferred medium?
Watercolours and mixed media - I love the fluidity of watercolours and inks!
What formal artistic training have you done?
Associateship in Art Teaching - WA Institute of Technology; Bachelor of Art (Edith Cowan University and Glass Slumping and Fusing at Curtin University.
What is the excitement you get from painting?
Taking a blank piece of paper and putting down your own ideas and feelings to creat something from nothing - something that didn't exist before and is unique to me. I love the challenges that you have to overcome on the way.
Amongst your many achievements, what are the standouts for you?
President of the WA Arts Society and getting a highly commended at the WA Watercolour Society Exhibition - maybe its similar to being hung for the first time at TASART - I'm about to find out I guess!
What was your most rewarding or memorable painting moment?
Attending the Mitchell School of Arts in Bathurst and working under Barry and Lucy McCann - a week of painting pet portraits in watercolour. I just loved every minute of it. Now I have developed another aspect of my art that is beyond flowers and birds.
What inspires you to paint?
I love the microview of everything. I'm in awe of people that can paint the broad vistas of landscapes but I get so much out of painting flowers and birds.
What do you look for when selecting or choosing a subject?
Texture, colour, pattern and how they interplay to deliver an intricate and detailed subject - I think its the challenge of intricacy in a particular subject.
Have you ever had a moment when it was hard to get into painting?
In 2010, after my solo exhibition at the wonderful Kingfisher Gallery in Perth - I had worked hard at getting 30 paintings ready for the exhibition and after that I just wanted a rest - so I did some silk scarves. Mind you, selling half of my exhibits at the exhibition was a marvellous salve for my tiredness and I was soon back into it.
What is the hardest thing for you to overcome when you paint?
Knowing when to stop and overcome that urge to keep fiddling.
Who is your favourite artist or role model?
Klimt - probably because of the patterns and balance - the decorative aspect. But I also admire Barry and Lucy McCann.
Do you have a favourite art reference?
No doubt, Google
How do you know when you have finished a painting?
I get my partner Bob to look at it - he'll tell me when its finished.
What do you do with your disasters?
Cut them up to make cards - those bits that are too aweful for cards, I use the backs to do colour testing.
What is your biggest regret?
That I didn't start doing it earlier. Despite teaching, it wasn't until 2004 when I retired that started to paint for myself.
What advice would you give to someone starting out in painting?
Do the brush miles - find someone whose work you like, go to their workshops or classes and get stuck in - do the brush miles. Also go to as many workshops as you can.
What can we expect from Sandra in the coming year?
More of the same but especially portraits? But I'd like to explore new media - the fluid ones like acrylics and inks - and improve generally. I will also be attending many workshops and I hope to run a few myself.
If you would like to see more of Sandra's work, you can go to her website by clicking here!