Suzanne Sandboe, SFCA - Artist Interview
Artist Interview 2021
“Art is unquestionably one of the purest and highest elements of human happiness.
It trains the mind thru the eye and the eye thru the mind.
As the sun colours flowers so does art colour life.” ~ Suzanne Sandboe, SFCA, ASA
Q. Please tell us a bit about yourself. Anything you’d like to share perhaps where you live, where you were born or your family.
I was born and raised in the Buffalo Lakes area of the Peace River Country and grew up on a grain farm in a family of 7 always surrounded by big skies and beautiful countryside. I always enjoyed nature with my family and parents who were avid outdoorsmen and workers of the earth. Many fun summer camping trips were taken to the mountains to camp and fish over the years and much time was spent up in the saddle hills north of home enjoying nature.
I come from a very creative family. Both my parents were creative and my Dad also very musical coming from a very musical family. There was lots of art and music in our family over the years which we still enjoy today.
I graduated from Sexsmith High School and in 1977 I married Eddie Sandboe. Together we raised two boys who are now both married and live in Calgary. We have 3 grandchildren whom we adore and spend as much time with as we can.
Q. Can you remember the first time you realized you liked creating art and wanted to become an artists? Was there a particular person who was instrumental in aiding your decision or helping you to pursue your goals? If so, in what way did you feel they helped?
I knew from the time I as a very little girl that I had an instinctive drive to create and make beautiful things. As early as grade 1 and 2, I remember doing art classes with our teacher who was particularly interested in painting and I was very taken up with the process. I knew then that I had an ability but even more so the desire and drive to make art. I was soon doing drawings and paintings on my own time and was so excited by the prospects of all things creative. Art very soon became part of my every day life.
Throughout grade school I took every opportunity I could to be creative in a variety of medium and self expression through painting, figure skating and sewing as a young girl. In high school I did many school murals and backdrops for different events and in grade 12 upon request started actually selling small pieces of art. It was unfortunate in those days there was actually no art curriculum in our high school so I pursued art on my own by correspondence, then furthered that with workshops throughout the oncoming years.
Each little step became a bigger step and opened up a world of excitement in art for me. If I was to say that there was a particular person who influenced me, I would have to say it was Jim Adrain, whom I so admired and from whom I took my first watercolor workshop back in the early 1990s. Jim became a very close friend and mentor of mine as we worked together in the Peace Watercolor Society. Various workshops in different medium followed over the years including the Red Deer College Series Programs, mentors such as Jim Adrain, Bob Guest and Euphemia McNaught and art travels with Mike Svob.
Q. What Motivates you to create art?
Simply put the motivation comes from a love of all things creative, wanting to make art and create beautiful things. I’ve always enjoyed the creative process and been inspired by the work of others as well. When I was young the work of the masters drew me and as I became involved in the local art scene in the beginning of my art career, I joined the Peace Watercolor Society, the Alberta Society of Artists and the Federation of Canadian Artists. I love art, music, antiques, history, pottery, poetry, skating, dance, and most anything creative. I see beauty in so many things around me. Here in the Peace River Country, I feel fortunate to have the never-ending landscapes, our people and our history to draw from and from which to create. A common thread that runs through my work.
Q. Do you have a favorite medium and if so, why?
I was very driven as an artist and have tried my hand at many different avenues over the years. I was honestly interested in it all and was never afraid to dive in and figure things out whatever the medium. Drawing, pen and ink, print making, mural painting, watercolor, acrylic, oil, commercial sign painting, airbrushing, pottery… I tried them all over the years. In the end however, it was the painting that won out and that I have spent most of my time at. I currently work primarily in watercolor and acrylics. I find they both lend themselves to each other very well with the fluidity and transparent layering abilities and large range of creative possibilities with both medium.
Q. Can you tell us a bit about some of your artworks and what they mean to you?
BEACH BABES, HOMER ALASKA, 30x40, 2020
Captured in Acrylic on Canvas, these retro and seasoned images dubbed, “Beach Babes”, speaks of the life and its people out on the spit at coastal community of Homer Alaska, also known as the halibut fishing capital of the world.
The use of playful warm colors in the evening sky licks the mountain tops and settle on these three old maids along the shore of Kachemak Bay on the Kenai Peninsula telling tales of years gone by.
I endeavored to paint the characters of three these old retro boats and I couldn’t help but liken them to three old beach babes or old maids.
CABIN TRAIL, 24X36, ACRYLIC, 2018
This painting received 1st place in the National 2020 Federation of Canadian Artists Landscape Show held in Federation Gallery Vancouver, BC. (The highest national entry show held to date by the FCA)
Captured in acrylic on canvas, north of home in the Saddle Hills is a small piece of land where we go to play and enjoy nature.
This is the trail into the bush caught in the sunlight of a beautiful fall day.
Painted in a rainbow of warm fall colors with cool tones in the shadows of the forest this painting lifts the spirits, rejuvenates the soul and invites the visitor to stay.
This is a very special place for me and all of my family where we have spent countless hours over the years. A place that keeps family close.
GATEKEEPER, VENICE, 36X24, ACRYLIC, 2018
Painted in Acrylic on Canvas, this painting captures the reflections in the rippling waters of this ancient Venice Canal as the Gate Keeper keeps watch over the canal.
Painted with warmth and romance this painting tells a story of not only another place, but another time.
Travels in 2017 took us to this location. I love the history and stories of these places.
MORNING LIGHT, ARLES FRANCE, 18X24, ACRYLIC, 2018
Captured in Acrylic on Canvas, this quaint little street scene from Arles France, is painted with high contrast to capture the early morning light as it filters through the medieval streets of this captivating French village.
The morning light licks the buttery walls of the ancient buildings and invites all to enter this charming scene.
I love, love, love Arles France!
OPI NALU (CURVE IN THE WAVE) 30X60, 2018
"Opi Nalu", is Hawaiian for "a curve in the wave". This image is painted with the brilliant rich colors of the ocean capturing the swells of the waves as they crash upon the shores of Napili Bay, Hawaii, sending sprays of water on her beaches only to recede back into her foamy depths.
Through this painting I endeavor to capture the sounds, scents and beauty of this Island Paradise. One of my favorite places on earth with the sand and salt and surf.
A place of ethereal beauty where fresh breezes blow through your hair and the scent of tropical flowers fill your senses.
SUNDOWN, 16X40, ACRYLIC, 2020
This painting received 1st place in the Peace River Chapter FCA Show, A World of Contrast, 2019.
A kaleidoscope of colors play across the evening sky as the evening sun settles in the West. This is a painterly image of the homeland where I grew up in the Buffalo Lakes area of the Peace River Country.
It’s painted with vivid color, passion and a deep sense of nostalgia and memories of my home. A reminder of the fall days and harvest time of my years growing up on the farm.
THE GOLDEN HOUR, VALDEZ, AK, 24X48, ACRYLIC, 2020
This painting was juried into the 2020 Federation of Canadian Artists Signature Medal Show at Federation Gallery, Vancouver. The Golden Hour captures the perfect moment in the mountains of Valdez Alaska as the morning sun licks the peaks of the Chugach Mountains surrounding the Prince William Sound at Valdez Alaska.
Painted with warm morning sun bathing the peaks in light and capturing the misty clouds of morning across the valley this painting depicts the beauty of the glaciated terrain.
Travels in 2019 to Alaska took us to this location.
THE WRANGELL MOUNTAINS, AK, 24X72, ACRYLIC, 2019
This painting received 1st place in the Peace River Chapter FCA Show, Fleeting Moments, 2020 - An Acrylic on Canvas painting capturing the rugged beauty of the eastern Alaskan mountains much of which extend from the Copper River to the St. Elias National Park and Preserve near the Yukon border.
Painterly brush strokes with rich warm colors of copper and gold reflect the deposits of these minerals in these majestic mountains and capture the rugged beauty of this wilderness with snow covered peaks reflecting in her glacier ponds. This image also is part of our travels to Alaska in 2019.
Q. When you create art are you thinking of anything in particular What sort of emotions if any, arise during the creation process? Do you listen to music and if so, what is your favorite?
Its not hard to get lost in the process of creating. I’ve always said that I paint by intuition. I have a strong feeling for what I am doing and let the creative muse take over leading my work and what I do. When I am in the zone the day can go by without even realizing time has passed. That’s when the best work is produced when you can let the rest of the world fall away, get in your zone and focus on the work at hand. It fills me with great excitement and satisfaction to accomplish what I have set out to do and create paintings that I love and that move the viewer. And yes, I love music and always have my tunes on in the background. I love many different genre but favor our music from the 60s and 70s. Rock, soul, jazz… Elton John, the Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, The Beatles, CCR, etc.
Q. Just about everyone is guilty of procrastination at times. Do you have any tips to find time for your art?
I worked full time as a bookkeeper for over 40 years. Along side that I raised a family, worked in a family business, volunteered in the community and surrounding that, did art as much as possible on the side. So, there was very little down time in my life.…ever!! I used to paint late into the nights, on weekends and when ever I could find time. Today, I like to start painting early in the day and still can spend upwards of 15 hours a day getting lost in what I am creating. As an artist when you love what you do, you will find the time to do it. Its easy to let life get in the way and there are times when you just have to learn to let some of those less important things go so you can have enough time or make enough time for your art.
Q. Is creating art your main profession?
Today I’m retired and I can paint full time. Now I like to start painting early in the day and not late into the night like in my early years. But I can still easily spend upwards of 15 hours a day getting lost in what I am creating, it’s just so easy to do. I participate in group shows and regularly do solo shows. I am currently represented by the Grant Berg Galleries in Grande Prairie and Kananaskis. Over the years I have taught a number of workshops throughout the Peace Country and currently have a few scheduled as well.
Q. Can you tell us about any awards or exhibitions or other items that have made an impact on your life?
Over the years I have had a very supportive community and family who have cheered me on and encouraged what I do. I have been fortunate to receive several awards through the Federation of Canadian Artists and a variety of others over the years.
A few notable highlights over the years were:
1991 - My first solo exhibition was held at Unique Gallery Grande Prairie. Followed by upwards of 100 group and solo exhibitions held in the years to follow.
1996 - Purchase of my watercolor painting by Government of Canada, for the Justice Building in Ottawa
2007 – Construction of my new dedicated Studio Space
2011 - Presentation of my watercolor painting titled “Bonebed” to Dan Ackroyd & Donna Dixon Ackroyd at the Philip J Currie Dinosaur Museum Inaugural Fundraising Event
2012 & 2015 Art of the Peace Artist Publications
2014 – Art Painting Trip to Paris & South of France with Painter Mike Svob & 15 fellow Canadian Artists
2019 - Art Painting Trip to the Caribou Mountains with Mike Svob and 10 fellow Canadian Artists
2020 - Arabella Magazine Artist Publication
2020 - Receiving Senior Signature Status with the Federation of Canadian artists
2020 Winning First Place with my painting “Cabin Trail” in the Federation of Canadian Artists 2020 National Landscape Show (notably the highest entry show held Across Canada to date by the Federation of Canadian Artists)
Q. Do you have any major goals for your art career?
I enjoy travelling immensely and hope to plan a European artist residency in the near future. I especially love France, Italy and Venice. I also endeavor to hold shows across Canada with my eye set on a few different locations, also possibly taking a look at some locations in the US.
Q. What inspires you to be the best artist that you can be?
It’s a joy to be part of the art community of Grande Prairie and greater Peace River Country. Involvement and Membership with the Peace River Chapter of the Federation of Canadian Artist keeps me connected with a great group of artists. Its always inspiring to see what others are doing and motivating to keep creating and stretching as an artist. I enjoy visiting galleries where ever we travel and we always take in as many as we can. Some notable ones I have really loved over the years were the National Gallery in Washington DC, the Louvre and D’Orsay in Paris, The Vatican in Rome and the Uffizi and Accademia in Florence Italy. In 2017 Eddie and I went to Italy for our 40th wedding anniversary and it was my greatest joy to visit as many of the galleries and cathedrals we could with the magnificent works of Michelangelo Buonarroti. That’s inspiration to last a lifetime!
Q. Is there anything else you’d like to share about your art journey or inspiration to inspire others?
In 1989 Carmen & Gail Haakstad invited me to join them in their store “Unique Gallery” on main street in Grande Prairie to start showing and selling my work. I am truly grateful for the opportunity that they gave me. That relationship with Unique lasted for 24 years. In 2016, Grant Berg also invited me to join his new galleries in Grande Prairie and Kananaskis. Again, another opportunity which I am truly grateful for. During that time my work was also represented by the Front Gallery in Edmonton for a period of 5 years.
I want to leave my mark on this earth as a successful and well-known Canadian Artist. One who shares their vision of our magnificent country, its history and people through paint and creativity. Each day is a new opportunity to reach these goals and each project is a step in that direction. I have learned over the years that enjoying each step of the journey, dedication to my craft, the desire for knowledge and excellence and consistently producing new and exciting works of art are essential building blocks of a successful artistic career. I am grateful for my years of creativity and I want to continue to encourage and connect with other artists and individuals who share my passion for the arts.
Thank you Suzanne for telling us about your art journey!