Featured Artist Archive – Sandy Haight
Artist: Sandy Haight
Q & A
Q: Tell us a little about your art.
A: I paint large, macro view watercolor paintings of flowers and plants, zooming in so close that the viewer is immersed in the sensual inner landscape of the bloom. I call these paintings “Floralscapes.” Watercolor was first introduced to me in a life drawing class. I loved the luminosity of the medium so much that I continued to practice on illustration course assignments, getting more and more familiar with the planning, strategy and execution of a finished painting. I built a portfolio and my illustration career took off. I have always loved the sensuality of this medium, the glow of the colors and the fact that the paint moves and flows on its own, intermingling with other colors. The use of watercolor in my illustration business became part of my signature style that has been contracted for use on book jackets, logos, advertising, event promos and in many publications. My stylized commercial work can be seen on my illustration website: https://www.sandyhaight.com
Q: Why did you start doing what you do?
A: When the recession in 2008 impacted my illustration business, I started teaching watercolor classes at Bellevue College. I taught there from 2008 until I moved from Seattle to Bainbridge Island in 2017. I enjoyed helping students learn to control the watercolor process working from photos of their choosing. Inspiration from teaching created a renewed interest and immersion into painting. I tried various subjects: still lives, portraits, animals and landscapes before discovering that flowers totally excited me as a subject where I could abstract compelling designs within realistic images. I got lost in the painting process and LOVE the end results! This work can be seen on my fine art web site at https://www.sandyhaightfineart.com along with my sumi-e and figure work.
Q: What makes you different from others in your field.
A: Most watercolor painting is associated with being quick and loose like field studies for eventual finished studio paintings. Traditional subjects are landscapes, boats, cityscapes, figures and florals. Rarely abstract. I’ve tried to use this traditional medium to create a more dramatic effect by painting bigger in size and designing compositions that confront the viewer with beauty and sensuous color by filling the paper with a flower that is cropped in an interesting way. I don’t depend on the outer shape of the flower to define it, but look for the life and energy within. I rarely do “bouquets,” but took that on for the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival Poster in 2016 using a dramatic dark background. I have some of those posters still available for sale. I won a gold medal for that painting.
Q: What has changed since you’ve first started?
A: My paintings are continuing to get bigger in size and presentation. I’m using heavier paper that can allow me to paint to the deckle edge of the sheet making a more interesting framing option without a mat. The paper floats on archival backing in the frame. They still need plexiglass to protect for the long term. In 2012 became a Signature member of the Northwest Watercolor Society, NWWS, earned by being juried into a requisite number of shows. The initials follow my signature on art created after that honor. I’ve just been accepted into the NWWS International Open Show with my painting “CascadeDance” which will be online from Oct 27, 2020 through January 1, 2021. Look for it here: https://www.nwws.org.
Q: Tell us something most people don’t know about your process.
A: My intense color is achieved by many layers or transparent washes, usually at least 4 passes for each shape. Each glaze must dry before the next is applied. This builds deepening color while retaining luminosity and the glow of the paper with prior color glazes coming through even the darkest areas. It’s a long slow process. I often work on 2 at a time to make use of drying times. It usually takes a month to complete each painting. It’s slow but the stunning results are worth it!