Sandra Yagi, Eclectix Interview 36

I was raised in suburban Denver Colorado. My parents emphasized the need for a “useful” education because of their concern for monetary and domestic stability, which meant fields such as business or engineering. I obtained my degree in business (finance) and spent 27 years working at major financial institutions. My employer transferred me and my partner to Los Angeles, and then San Francisco. I returned to drawing and painting while working full time, and finally was able leave banking to pursue art full time in 2007. My studio is in the South of Market neighborhood of San Francisco.

I work mainly in oil paints on board. Starting with thumbnail sketches and preliminary drawings, I develop a final, more finished drawing, which is transferred to the panel. The first paint layer is acrylic. Thin layers of oil paint are added. Although I have the main composition and elements of the painting worked out before I paint, there are often changes made throughout the process. My initial vision of how a painting will turn out is always fuzzy at conception, but slowly emerges as the painting progresses.

My favorite art memory from my childhood is …  My parents had purchased a set of children’s books with various science and art topics, and I loved the images of famous artworks that I had never seen before, including a blue hippopotamus from Egypt’s Middle Kingdom and Giotto’s painting, Flight from Egypt.

My interest in art/painting started …  I was always drawing when I was a kid. I hated coloring books because the images were already printed-in, so I drew my own pictures on the blank inside covers of many books. My mother still has a Buddhist prayer book that I doodled in when I was about 4 or 5.

I am often inspired and motivated by…  zoology and anatomy. I love insects, birds, reptiles and other creatures. I also like to just leaf through my art books for inspiration… old masters, such as Titian, Anabale Carracci, Jan van Eyck.

If I could spend the day with any artist (dead or alive) it would be … Delacroix

And we would…  go draw animals at the zoo (which he did frequently)

The tip or art technique (a specific tidbit of craft, advice or mechanical expertise) that has helped me the most is ….  I had an art teacher who said “relate, relate, relate” all in a Spanish accent rolling the “R’s”. He emphasized relating all the colors and elements in your painting with each other – for example, evaluate all reds in the composition, and determine which red is cooler and higher in value. Even if the color is slightly off, if it relates correctly to other colors in the scene, the painting can work.

If I could own one piece of art, out of the world’s collections, it would be …  The Garden of Earthly Delights, by Hieronymus Bosch (below)

My favorite piece of my own art is …   Usually it’s the one I’m working on, but if I had to name one it would be Elegy (see image at top of interview).   Because …   It captures my sadness over the loss of species at the hand of humanity…. in this case, the passenger pigeon, which once flew in huge flocks that blanketed the skies of North America, but went extinct due to over-hunting, by 1914.

My ultimate project or fantasy is …  My ultimate fantasy is to be an artist – so I’m living out my dream right now. I feel extremely fortunate. In terms of unrealized fantasies, it would be to go on a round the world tour, which includes an African photo safari, and a boat tour on the Amazon.

The last song I choose to listen to was …  Reality, by Mortal Love and Lithium, by Evanescence

 The last book I couldn’t put down was ….  Dune by Frank Herbert

 My favorite word is …  discombobulated

 I can’t live without …  my eyesight

It’s not hip, but I really love ….  looking at books with pictures. Especially pictures of animals, insects, protozoans, fish, or any creepy crawly things.

My favorite motto (or quote) is…  ”Art is nothing but humanized science” - Gino Severini.  A close second is “I was born dying” - Edvard Munch

 If you could live anywhere in the world, where would that be?   Paris

If you had to name a hero or heroine, an iconic person in your lifetime, who would that be and why?  My hero(s) are the many people who are defending the environment, such as the local people fighting to save the Amazon, working to guard rhinos from poachers, folks who are fighting the keystone pipeline. If one person would symbolize the efforts, I admire Jane Goodall, who is both a scientist and advocate for the environment, and has worked tirelessly her entire life on behalf of wildlife and the environment.

Link to Sandra’s Website

Ongoing Project: Working with writer Julie Benbow on a collaborative project – Julie is doing the calligraphy and storyline, and Sandra is making watercolor drawings. The project features journal entries and illustrations authored by a fictional English woman naturalist in the late 1700s as she encounters fantastic hybrid creatures on a voyage of discovery, in the tradition of the great naturalists of the past. LINK

 Upcoming Exhibition: Nov. 3rd – Dec. 22nd, 2012  at Bert Green Fine Art, Chicago

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