The Amaryllis is a painting that was done while on the Certified Ross Floral Instructor course
The Magnolia was done while on the CRFI course
The Spring Blossom picture is one that will be a submission for Coast to Coast 2011
The Magenta Water Lily is painted from the Book The Joy of Painting Flowers II by Annette Kowalski
My name is Sandra Harling. I am a snowbird. In the summer I live in the small village of Lanark near Ottawa and in the winter I live in Yuma Arizona. I was born in Scotland and came to Canada when I was 9. My husband Rick and I have been married for 25 years; have four children and 10 grandchildren. We both served in the Canadian Military as Administration Clerks. Rick served for 38 years and I served for 34 years. In 2003 I retired to begin doing what I love most, paint and teach full time.
I have loved art my whole life and had always wanted to learn how to paint. Art classes in school began when I was in grade 7 and I enjoyed it so much that I asked for a John Gnagy learn to draw kit for Christmas. I was so excited when I got it and brought some of my first drawings to my art class to show my teacher. She told me that I had no talent and I may as well forget art because I would never be good at it. I was crushed and nothing that I did after that ever seemed to be good enough so I gave up and put my kit away. It’s funny how a few words can shape what you think of yourself when you are very young. It wasn’t until 1997 when I saw Donna Dewberry on the Canadian shopping channel that my interest was renewed. I was amazed at what she was doing and she was telling everyone that anyone could paint. I listened to the people who phoned in telling her that they were painting beautiful things within hours of picking up a brush. I bought the kit and tried hard but I just couldn’t seem to get it right. I tend to be a very visual person and do better when I can actually see things being done so I decided that the best way to learn was from Donna herself. I went to the One Stroke certification in Spokane Washington. I loved it and when I came back I practiced and after I thought I painted well enough I began to teach. I progressed with One Stroke and became an Elite Instructor, the first in Canada. Donna made me believe that I could do it and I did.
My love of oils began when I was at a One Stroke convention in Orlando and met Don Ross who was an artist working with the Alexander Art Company at that time. I sat down at their booth for a make it and take it taught by Wilson Bickford. That was all it took to get me into oils and oils have been my passion ever since. I became an Alexander Certified Instructor in 2005 and completed the Certified Ross Floral Instructor course in 2009. In the fall of 2007 I began a certification with Robert Warren and completed it in the fall of 2009. I have to say that flowers are my favourite subjects to paint. I like the soft colours and the transparent look that some of the petals have. When I paint them I don’t use patterns very often so the end result is often very different than the original plan. Landscapes however, require an outline and have a more rigid plan.
I love to teach and tell my students to think for themselves and not always try to do copy what I am doing exactly. My aim is to teach them how to paint things such as clouds and trees and flowers so that they have the knowledge and ability to create their own paintings without me. My art teacher may have been an excellent artist but she was a very poor teacher and certainly a poor motivator. Instead of helping and encouraging me she took the joy out of art for many years. As a result of this experience, when I teach, I try to give my students the positive reinforcement that they need and hope that they will derive as much pleasure out of what they do as I do when I teach them. I would say to anyone who has thought that they may want to give it a try, grab a brush and jump in. Age is not something that should stop you. Two of my grandchildren share my passion. They have no inhibitions when they pick up their brushes and love to paint when they come to visit. Jillian, who is 8, has just finished a landscape which she is donating to a silent auction in support of breast cancer.
Painting can also be therapy. When I taught in Calgary I had a student who like me, had always wanted to paint but had never tried. She began to paint with me after her husband had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. She told me that painting was her therapy and her way of coping. I can get lost in time when I’m painting so I can see the therapeutic aspect that she spoke of.
Every year the local art group that I belong to has an art show and sale. The first year that I participated in it I sold nothing but had many comments on how nice my paintings were. This year was my second year and I sold two paintings. Previously I had sold paintings to friends and have given away many paintings to groups as donations but when I sold my paintings at the art show it was such an ego boost, and for me, a confirmation that I was “an artist”. I guess I still heard that teacher in the back of my head telling me that I would never be any good.
My studio is under construction so at the moment I am teaching at conventions in Canada. In April I taught at the Coast to Coast convention in Toronto. In September I am off to Calgary Alberta to teach at the Paint in Alberta convention. Currently I am working on my submissions for the Coast to Coast 2011 and the East Coast Creative Arts conventions. I am hoping that the studio will be completed and open for classes by the end of the summer but in the interim I am available for travel teaching. Both the wet on wet method and also the Robert Warren method of painting are featured in the classes that I offer. For those who would like to try oil painting but don’t want to spend a lot of money on brushes and paints, all classes include the supplies and use of brushes in the cost. I have met some very interesting people and gained some very good friends in the painting world. It has been an exciting journey since my retirement. I have so much more to learn and look forward to many more years of painting.
I welcome anyone who is in my area to drop by for a chat or sign up for a class. Some of my work is displayed on the gallery page of my website, www.creativepalettes.com. Should you wish to contact me regarding a class in your area please call me at (613) 259-5392.