In Conversation With Artist Sandra Dovberg

The J’s Bodzin Art Gallery-goers have been excited to take in the new exhibition with curiousity to know if all the artwork is by the same artist. Sandra Dovberg’s mastery of both landscape paintings and abstractions have impressed many of us. In this blog, Sarah Berry, the gallery curator, speaks with Sandra to learn what inspires the artist, how she decides what to paint when faced with a blank canvas, and how she defines her vast style. See the exhibit “UNBOUNDED” before it closes on July 5.

When you sit down to paint, do you have an idea whether you will paint a landscape or an abstract before you approach the canvas or do you let the inspiration flow once you are in front of the blank canvas?

I work with common compositional patterns that can work with either abstract or expressive realism.  The subject matter stems from experience, memory and photo references that I take in my daily journeys. The first step is to commit to covering the canvas with paint, using a personal choice of color temps from warm to cold and or dark to light value changes.  Various tools are used to apply paint, not just paint brushes.  Be brave, have courage!

When did you start making art and what keeps you going?

Early on in elementary school, my parents and teachers recognized my interest in working with my hands to create.  In school I was always selected to make holiday decorations: murals for windows, blackboards & bulletin boards, sometimes alone or leading the pack.  My parents bought me paint by number oil sets, a woodburning set and finally a sewing machine for my 8th grade graduation.  Making clothing led eventually to my extensive career in silversmithing and original jewelry creations.  In college, I majored in Studio Art leading to a deeper understanding of color theory, composition, drawing, painting, and especially working with metal and enamels.

You place your art in the category of Neoexpressionism.  What is that, and why do you think that is the term that best captures what you create?  

Expressionism came into being during and after WWI. Famous artists, such as Egon Schiele and Edvard Munch were seeking to depict not objective reality but rather the subjective emotion & responses that objects and events aroused in a person.  

Neo Expressionism came along later in the 70s.  In my work, I often combine elements of figurative portrayal with abstract  emotional color and mark making in order to tell a story.

Do you have any advice to share w/ aspiring artists?

Try not to make making $ your main goal. Constantly explore and don’t rely on just one teacher.  Take workshops or college level courses from many different teachers,  Overcome your fear of that expensive blank piece of paper or precious metals and gems.  Take a breath and force yourself to get started and then the MOMENTUM will push you forward.  Get involved with an arts organization where you will be constantly stimulated by challenges to produce, learn how to hang and display shows, how to develop the business side of making art and make friends of like-minded people.   

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