ART HAS ALWAYS been a part of life for Brisbane-born artist Sandra Blackburne. The wild country landscape – what she sees or imagines in the natural environment – is a constant source of inspiration. Living rurally as a young child saw her desire for art emerge by way of sketching, in particular sketching horses. “I loved the magic of their images appearing on the page,” says the artist.
Sandra undertook classic art training at Queensland’s College of Art. However, it is her knowledge from studies in Australian literature from the University of Sydney that proves the major muse in her work, particularly the collision between modernity and the natural environment.
Sandra’s studio in the Hunter Valley in rural New South Wales is set in an open landscape much to her benefit, as she spends a lot of her time in the field sketching. The floor to ceiling windows open onto a beautiful vista with a colourful garden. “The studio has so much space,” she says. “I’m loving the uninterrupted peace it allows me – I just love walking into it.”
As a way to gather fresh inspiration, Sandra often travels two to three times a year. “I’m drawn to lonely, more isolated places,” says the artist, who will generally sketch most of her ideas before expanding on those drawings in the studio, which she then builds up when starting to apply oil on canvas. “I usually work in transparent layers of paint, building up the image as I go,” says Sandra. “I love the richness and translucency of oil paint.”
Sandra describes herself as “an ardent environmentalist” with a deep interest in caring for our natural ecosystems, and hopes that through her work she can encourage others to care for them too. Her paintings capture the essence of place – the lights, shapes and colours of nature – but also the impact of man’s presence upon it.