Sandra Sengstock-Miller [sandrasengstock]
What do you do? How do you define yourself as an artist?
I Sandra Sengstock-Miller am a visual artist whose main medium for painting is pastels. I do dabble from time to time in watercolour, acrylics, and mixed medium.
I paint full time as I enter my paintings for Australian wide art exhibitions and from time to time international exhibitions as well.
I do a variety of subjecst from Australian and International wildlife to landscapes, seascapes, and portraits.
I have had 2 solo exhibitions and have lost count of the number of jointed exhibitions with other artists in galleries. My aim is to be accepted into a gallery or galleries permanently as an exhibiting artist. Many doors and prizes have come my way.
I belong to a number of wildlife and community societies. Was part of the Fabel Castell Wildlife exhibition in Germany in 2000 and also an exhibiting artist in the Bristrol International Wildlife Exhibition in England. I flew from Australia to England for that exhibition with 3 other artists.
Art has become my life with many more years to come yet, I hope. I have travelled to many countries collecting reference material for my paintings
Your biography in four lines.
I was born in Queensland, Australia. I am a self taught artist. I think I have always been an artist from the first time I pick up pastels when about 6 years old. My art has sold around the world and has led to exhibiting in Germany and England. I have won many prizes and many doors have opened for me over the years.
Do you upload your work to the web? If so, where could we see it?
Yes I have a number of sites that I upload my paintings to. They are as follows
How is an idea born? For you, what is inspiration?
Sometimes I just wake up with an idea that I have to paint and the juices are flowing. As I travel so much within my home state and overseas I draw my inspiration from the love of nature and the landscape. I love bush/ rain forest walking, and grew up near the beach so all of nature's best I breath and paint.
What role does technology play in your creative process?
My digital camera is my best tool as I record all of nature's beauty. I will never in a life time use all of my reference material. My computer comes in handy for putting myself out there as an artist in the wide world.
I create my paintings straight on to paper or canvas so my paintings are created from hand, mind and paper with no computer input.
What is art?
Art is a form of communication. I paint my feelings about what I feel about the landscape, seas, and creatures great and small. Art has been there from the very early times of life. Tribes of people have recored their art as a form of communication, such as rock art which have survived to this day. Art was their story telling.
I paint to express my communication to the viewer but each viewer has their own vision of the painting. Art is in the eye of the beholder.
When do you get your best ideas?
My best ideas usually come from my sleep when the mind is relaxed. Sometimes I can be looking at my reference material and something will strike a cord in my mind. It may not at all look like what I had been viewing when finished but that is my artistic licence coming to the fore. The idea gave me a base to work forward from.
How do you evaluate whether an idea is good or not?
When my piece of art is speaking to me from the paper then I know my vision of where I am heading is working.
Three creative ideas that you would have liked to have created?
The art of the early portrait.
When and how did you begin to see yourself as an artist?
If you take a child's point of view to start with I have drawn and coloured in for as long as I can remember. I just had this relationship with pencils and pastel that gave me great enjoyment.
Growing into teen years I still dabbled and then came marriage and 4 children but even then every now and again I would try to paint and life got in the way again. Family now teenages and some had left home when I knew it was time to get back to my love of art.
Art was full steam ahead and I was serious. I often ponder where I would be today if I had kept to art all the way.
Why do so many artists and creators have such volatile personalities?
I am very easy by nature and have learnt to let go of rejection that does come with the art world. It wasn't meant to be at that time so let it go and it will happen when the time is right.
Do you consider yourself postmodern?
Yes, I consider myself to be. Postmodernism is an aesthetic, literary, political or social philosophy, which was the basis of the attempt to describe a condition, or a state of being, or something concerned with changes to institutions and conditions.
In other words, postmodernism is the "cultural and intellectual phenomenon", especially since the 1920s' new movements in the arts. I relate to all conditions of art.
How should a work of art be evaluated?
Depending on who is doing the evaluating. If the art work is being evaluated by a judge then every judge will have a different opinion. An art work can achive a top award in one show and receive not a thing in another show. It is not that your art is not good enough it is just one person's opinion.
A gallery will evaluate your work on how well you will sell in his "upmarket" gallery. Are you going to draw the buyers and how well you are known. Then if you happen to make that grade he will then look at your work as his personal opinion.
A collector will evaluate your painting on what he or she will think it will increase in value of the time and how it will resell.
A buyer buys because he likes your work and he is comfortable to see it hanging in his home. He doesn't care about the resale value but the beauty or some connection he can see in the painting
Must an artist reinvent him/herself everyday?
In my humble opinion I believe that I reinvent myself everytime I do a new painting because nothing is done the same. The clouds are different the water and grass is different and the background is different.
Which artists do you admire and how do they influence your work?
The Heidelberg School of artist such as Tom Roberts, Fredrick McCubbin, and Arthur Streeton for their Ausntralian Landscapes in capturing the essence and the love of the land. This school was the first real art movement in Australia.
Very great admiration for Ellis Rowan's paintings 1848- 1922. This wonderful lady achived what "ladies" in her time was not meant to do and this was frowned on. Well into her sixities this lady thought of nothing of crocodile waters and crawling down cliffs in whalebone corsets to capture her subjects on canvas. She was Australian and Internationally respected. She was chosen over all of the above artists to win the Gold medal at the newly formed Artist's society of Victoria. How could she........a women. This woman had travelled in New Zealand on horse back and to far countries of India, Russia, and South east Asia. If there is any artist I take my hat off to and admire so much it is Ellis Rowan.
What do you think about public funding for the arts?
Yes funding is very important for the artist as it gives a helping hand to help those artists who are serious in their profession.
Is art necessary?
Art has been around since the start of time. It is culture and communication for the human race. It gives out emotions and peace. Million of years ago the artists were cave men and these paintings are still be found on the walls or rocks today.
Art was also in the form of the clothes and the tools that these ancient people wore or used. So art in many forms is the thread of our society.
Does it pain you to let go of a piece you have sold?
The answer is usually no as I achive great joy of someone taking the time to choose my art work for what ever connection that they have with the painting.
I do have a couple of art pieces hanging on my walls that are not for sale. The joy of selling someone a never to be repeated art work is pretty special to me.
Is a work of art purchased, or is it better said, that it is the artist who is bought?
Yes some people like collectors purchase art for the knowlegde of owning a Vincent Van Gogh etc They are buying the artist not necessory the art. It is also for the investment value.
Generally buyers buy art for its beauty or whatever it is that takes their eye. I have had buyers come back and say I have bought another piece of your art. Sometimes they just walk up and say that they own a piece of my art. That is very pleasing and warms the heart when that happens.
In art, there is no guide. How do you know what the next step is?
The next step or the next painting is what ever comes to me. One day I will feel like doing a landscapes maybe do three of different scenes and then I might have the urge to paint a beautiful parrot in a rainforest scene.
So there is no guidence. It just comes from the sole.
How do you feel about the fact that the pieces exhibited in contemporary art museums are often of artists already deceased?
Yes the galleries are full off deceased artist's works but this is our history of art. Again the other thread that holds our society together.
I have exhibited in a couple of art museums as part of a group exhibition. We call them State galleries in Australia. I have two friends who have just been accepted into a wildlife art museum in New York. It does work both ways
What role have the figures of art dealer, gallery owners, representatives, and intermediaries in general played in your career?
Art dealers no, gallery owners yes when I have approached them for a joint exhibition.
By holding joint exhibitions (that I organize with 15 different artists) in galleries have seen my paintings put out there that I would not have been able to do on my own.
The dealers, gallery owners, and representatives usually don't come to the artist. The artist has to do all the wheeling and dealing and it is a lot of hard work and many hours involved. It doesn't just happen.
What types of jobs do you usually do?
I am free to paint all day and every day if I wish. Apart from arranging joint exhibitions for a group of wildlife artists which takes a lot of time and effort I am free to paint.
Which of your jobs or tasks do you most enjoy?
I enjoy all of my art skills.
Do you personally collect any items?
Because I am a frog painter I collect frogs of all sort both indoor and outdoors. I have frogs from one end of the house to the other. My husband today handed me another frog to add to my collection.
One day I might move out and let them take over. I also collect paintings that have caught my eye at an art exhibition.
Which websites do you frequently visit?
I try to visit all the sites each day that my art is listed on. Some take more time than others especially if there are replies to answer.
What advice would you give to those just beginning?
My advice is to look and listen and take everything in.
People will give advise from all directions. As you move forward in your art take all advice and sort out what applies to your art and put the rest of the advice into the memory bank for a rainy day.
Experience from other artists is the best advice of all as they have been there and done that. Nothing can beat experience.
Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia