Interview With Artist Sandy Sandy

About Sandy Sandy

Sandy SandySince 1996, Sandy Sandy has been a professional fine artist and has devoted her career to painting full time. After a divorce, she left behind a thriving advertising, illustration and sign company which she owned and operated for seventeen years. Sandy currently works in her spacious art studio from her NJ Pine Barrens home. Here she is inspired by the wildlife that visits her yard daily. A strong connection with animals and nature is evident in her choice of subjects. Her philosophy of “spirit” is woven into her work, where thousands of watercolors have given way to her flowing expressionist style.

Collectors of Sandy’s original paintings can be found throughout Canada and the US. Commissions are always welcomed to create specific works for individuals and organizations such as The NJ Symphony Orchestra. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Illustration from Moore College of Art and Design and attended The Art Institute in Philadelphia. Having studied watercolor with many nationally known watercolor masters including those from the E.A.Whitney, Brandywine and New Hope Schools has given her roots that are strong in the American Art Tradition. Sandy currently provides uplifting, motivational and instructional content in her various free online communities. She also is available for speaking engagements, demonstrations, workshops and classes.

Sandy’s Website:


Q: What medium or mediums do you work with?

A: With over over 4,000 watercolors, 200 oils and 100 or so acrylics under my belt, I guess you’d have to say that watercolor is my main medium. Recently, I’ve been doing small animal portraits in oils for the Art For Shelter Animals project. I really love the “forgiveness factor” of oils. To me, they are much easier to produce than my watercolors. I work wet-in-wet in watercolor and even after so many paintings, they not always keepers. That’s just the nature of the beast. I must work fast. My timing and technique must be spot on. There is very little room for mistakes. It’s easier to just start over than try to fix most mishaps. Unsuccessful pieces are usually a valuable learning experience, so I don’t sweat it if they don’t turn out as well as I would like. I just redo it! Repetition is the key to mastery!

Q: How long have you been an artist? How did you get started?

A: Ever since I can remember, I’ve always loved to draw and create. Even before kindergarten, my mother always kept my sister, Denise Bush, and I busy drawing, coloring and making collages. This gave me an advantage over my classmates in arts and crafts. My work was commonly singled out and admired. I don’t believe in talent, but I do believe in aptitude and desire. I have always had an intense interest in art and a very strong desire to work hard and refine my skills.

Q: Do you have any formal training or are you self taught?

A: I am a graduate of Moore College of Art and Design with a BFA in illustration. I also attended the Philadelphia Art Institute and community college after graduation to learn computer graphics programs. Over the past fifteen years, I have participated in watercolor workshops given by some of our most accomplished contemporary North American Watercolorists who paint in the Edgar Whitney style. I’m big on self-help books and videos too, but I don’t stray too far from my established style and technique anymore.

Q: Do you have any favorite art supplies that you would like to recommend?

A: Frank Webb once called me a gadgeteer, but as time goes on, I realize it’s not the supplies or materials that makes the art what it is, as much as it is the person who is using those materials. In art, as in may other aspects of life, less is often more. I have been using Arches 140lb cold press paper for many years.I use the loose sheets (22″ x 30″) and wet both sides in my painting technique. You can see a pictures and descriptions of my palette, paints and brushes here.

Q: Do you work with any specific styles or subject matter?

A: Yes, I think all established artists work primarily in a certain style and subject range, be it narrow or varied. I tend to work in a loosely / tight, stylized, expressionistic manor rather than a tight representational one. I don’t see the sense of spending 140 hours on a piece so you can make it look like a photograph. Why not just take a photo and manipulate it on the computer? An artist’s style cannot be bought, borrowed or stolen from someone else. It must come from within and can’t be
rushed. A person’s manner of painting only evolves after many attempts of sight, insight and just “DOING IT”. As Frank Webb said,”It takes many years and acres of paper to become a painter”.

Q: Can you recommend any books videos or other resources that will help new artists?

A: Because I believe learning to draw before you can learn to paint, is paramount, I continue to draw constantly and have been posting a new study daily on Sketching Everyday and Drawing Everyday during the summer for four years now. My favorite book on drawing, which I think every artist should own is “Drawing On The Right Side Of The Brain” by Betty Edwards. The book that helped me the most with my wet-in-wet watercolor technique is Tony Couch’s book, “Watercolor, You Can Do It”!

You can see more books from my watercolor library here and here.

Q: How do you get ideas to create a piece? What inspires you?

A: My emotions about nature and animals get me excited and inspire me. I think that a work of art is more about how it makes you feel than what it looks like. I try to draw the viewer in by offering a different perspective and leaving out some of the details so that they can complete the story. I love symbolism and the universal language of like minds that it connects. The design principles and elements of value, contrast, hues, patterns, shapes, directions, dominance, repetition, variation and composition all comes into play, mentally and physically. In my art, my ultimate goal is to express some of life’s highest moments and hopefully, even if only occasionally, convey feelings for which there are no words.

Q: Are there any artists that have influenced you and why?

A: My high school art teacher, Dorothy Ponciello, influenced me with a serious and in-depth study and appreciation of art history. I feel fortunate to have gotten such a great base of knowledge early on. Dorothy was also the first “eccentric artist” I ever met. Among other things, she tried to make us cultured and served us grape juice and cookies on special occasions which we pretended was wine and hors d’oeuvres.

In college, the instructor that had the most impact on me was New Hope / Brandywine watercolorist, Ranulph Bye . I took instruction from him throughout my college years. I studied watercolor independantly with Mr. Bye one whole year, which ended up being weekly private lessons, often en plein air. You can see some of Ranulph’s work here. While at Moore College of Art, I had three years of illustration classes with well-known children’s book illustrator, Beth Krush, so I’m sure her influence is in me too.

My most profound influence however, has to be Edgar Whitney. I call myself 3rd generation Whitney. He was a a brilliant artist,writer and watercolor instructor. His Eight Principles Of Design revolutionized my approach to painting and design. Discovering him led me to all the other mentors and instructors I have studied with over the past fifteen years. See more about my mentors here .

Q: Do you have a website you would like to share?

A: Like Frank Webb said, “Being involved in art is like being involved in a grand inquiry”. I’m a very curious person, so I often find myself going to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia that anyone can use and edit. I also love Wikimedia Commons , a database of 4,597,834 freely usable public domain media files to which anyone can contribute. I find continual inspiration from Robert Genn’s Painter’s Keys. I have been a subscriber to Bob’s twice-weekly newsletter for almost ten years.

Q: Finally do you have any last words of advice for beginner artists?

A: Keep your brushes wet! There are no short cuts. The only way to get better and find your unique voice, is to do the work. I often say, if someone has average aptitude with a passion for exploration, improvement and growth, they will quickly surpass the individual with lots of “talent”, but a weaker desire. It’s not easy being an artist. One can become disheartened by slow growth, however with strong determined focus and practice, I believe anything is possible.


  1. Karl says

    She is really talented. And this post is really informative with the format and dedication. Nice.

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