Art has always been and continues to be a life lesson for local painter Joan Sanders. She values her own creativity as well as the works of others.
Sanders was born in Portland, Oregon. She says she was an attentive child who, despite hardships, was always sure that she would pursue a career in art.
“My parents were divorced, and my mother became a housekeeper to make a living,” Sanders said. “We lived in several different households, but I didn’t feel deprived. I was a quiet, shy child and was quite happy doing things by myself. I was always doodling in school and sometimes other students liked my drawings. I always knew that art was my road to life.”
She majored in art at the University of Oregon and went on to study at The Art Center College of Design, which was located in Los Angeles at the time. Sanders completed her degree at California State University, Long Beach and her art has since been shown in several exhibits around the world. New York, Florida, New Mexico, California, England, France and Wales are just a few places she has displayed her art, and she recalls one special event, in which her art was profiled on international cable TV.
“It featured my Moroccan series of paintings,” she said. “These poetic interpretations of Morocco came about while traveling there and falling in love with the country. I have been fortunate enough to have one of the paintings featured in a book curated by the Smithsonian called Object Lessons.”
Her paintings include a variety of mediums and mixed media, and more recently, are influenced by her love of vibrant pastels. One series was inspired by various aspects of Moroccon culture, and another, entitled Fresh Paint, had a broader theme.
“Fresh Paint constitutes a wide range of subject matter, no holds barred,” she said.
Sanders enjoys creating art alongside other artists, but is most creative when she is alone. “I work well with groups of artists, drawing or painting from models,” she said. “When I am creating a piece strictly from my own imagination or inspiration, then I have to work alone. I have a small studio, but it opens onto a outdoor space which is where I do most of my solo painting. I also paint with two other artist friends in their studio, but this is after the initial concept has occurred.”
Her art is influenced by a variety of artists, whether or not they are well known. She appreciates the art but also takes into account the effort and commitment it takes to be an artist. She hopes that her own art can influence others in a similar way.
“I am influenced by many artists,” she commented. “I love the line work of Edgar Degas, for instance. But every day, I see the work of artists that I know personally or that I see in art magazines, and I am full of admiration for them. Today, in our culture, artists work under the radar with very little notice. I have to admire how artists continue to pursue art anyway, despite the lack of monetary awards or public acclaim. My penchant for drawing portraits has pushed me into learning more and more about the subject and studying the work of so many fine artists. I hope others like my work, and I really hope that some of my paintings make people happy when they look at them, such as in my Fresh Paint series, which is very colorful.”
She will always be grateful to art and the lessons it taught her about herself and life in general.
“Art has always been there for me, especially at those times in my life when things have not gone well. Now that I am no longer young, art is still a faithful companion and always there waiting for me, no matter what. It has taught me to be much more observant to the textures, colors and images in the visual world around me, and I am so very grateful for that. Yes, art has served me well in my life, including the friendships of other artists. It has also pushed me into learning new technology. Today, you have to become familiar with Photoshop, jpegs, tiffs, picas, etc., if you are going to keep your work in the public eye. And in the end, art is, ideally, a communication between the artist and the observer.”
Sanders will be featuring her painting, “Anthurium,” in Art Auction 15 at the Long Beach Museum of Art on May 19. In addition, she will be featured in the Mid-City Studio Tour on Saturday, June 1 and Sunday, June 2.