Chasing Light – The Alps through the eyes of artist Rosie Sandifer

Rosie sandifer

Last summer I was fortunate enough to hike the Tour du Mont Blanc with award winning artist Rosie Sandifer. Not only is Rosie an amazingly talented artist, but she is also a wonderful person and the perfect hiking companion. I was really inspired by Rosie’s enthusiasm for art and her passion for the natural world. She helped me to see the mountains I have spent so much time wandering around in a new light. 

Rosie wrote to me a week ago to share some photos of the iconic Alpine vistas she has captured perfectly in oil paintings. I wanted to find out more about what led her to become a landscape painter, what inspires her to paint and any advice she has for aspiring plein air painters. 

Interview with Rosie Sandifer

Some of your best known works are large scale sculptures, but more recently you have been concentrating on landscape painting. What prompted you to shift your artistic focus?
My training at Froman Painting School in NM, commercial art and art education in college in OK, TX, and VT was as an oil painter. After working from the figure on portraits and figures from life, I developed a portrait career which took me through my first ten years. Besides the portraits and figures in both oil and pastel, I was painting horses, cowboys riding and roping, and Charro (traditional horseman from Mexico) women on horses. Those paintings were sold in a gallery in Taos, NM.
During the next ten years in an effort to see if I could draw in three dimensions, I picked up clay and enrolled in a sculpture class at Texas Tech University- Lubbock.  I became class demonstrator, as the figures and portraits from life study had given me the proportional knowledge to sculpt. Later while living in Illinois, I joined the pre-med classes taking gross anatomy.
In 1980 I showed my first bronze sculpture at the National Sculpture Society in NYC. In 1989 my sculpture, “Applause”, won the John Cavanaugh Prize. All of this led to a career focusing on table size, life-size, and larger bronze and stainless steel sculpture commissioned by universities and companies across America. 
I never stopped painting. A move to Colorado in 1989 landed me in landscape country where I was head over heels sculpting and painting 24/7 for five years before living in the mid-west and presently Santa Fe, NM. Living in the Southwest opened the door to ten years of landscape painting throughout AZ, UT, CA, MT, WY, CO, NM, and TX.
Val Veni, Tour du mont blanc
Val Veni, Italy. Oil /linen – 8 x 10″. Painting by Rosie Sandifer.
What does a landscape need in order to inspire you to paint it?
The light in landscape is what inspires me in the mountains, the desert, and at the coast. The contrast of the shadows and the light result in endless design patterns.
Your paintings from the Tour du Mont Blanc are small studies, some just 6 x 6 inches. Why do you choose to work on such a small scale and is the process to creating a small painting different to a large scale one?
Yes, the smaller studies always precede the larger paintings. In this instance, my TMB studies are more defined than my normal smaller studies. I have other commitments from now until August; therefore, I stayed longer in these studies.
Mont Blanc du Tacul
Le Mont Blac du Tacul and L’Aiguille de Saussure, Chamonix, France. Oil/Linen – 6 x 8″ Painting by Rosie Sandifer.
Do you have any advice for aspiring landscape painters?
My advice to other impressionistic or realistic painters and sculptors, no matter what your subject, is to work from life. I know it is more complicated outside learning landscape because of the changing light, the wind, bugs, etc, but learning landscape from nature cannot be replaced with other ways of learning. Any book, home, office, or workshop study from human and animal anatomical models, building muscles with clay will also give you a foundation of knowledge of anatomy. 
Aiguille des Glaciers
Aiguille des Glaciers and Aiguille de Tré la Tête from Val Veni, Italy. Oil /linen – 8 x 14” Painting by Rosie Sandifer
Which artists have most inspired you throughout your career?
International artists such as B.Steinke, Fechin, Degas, Sorolla, C. Beaux, Sargent, Levitan, Twacthman, Bonheur, Compton, Remington, Zorn, Klimt and Repin.      
Where are you travelling to next?
I will travel to South Carolina’s Brookgreen Museum – April 2020  for the “Celebration” of my 50 Year Retrospective Show which will include both sculpture and paintings. The show runs from January-April, 2020. 
Domes de Miage
Domes de Miage, France. Oil/Linen – 6 x 9″. Painting by Rosie Sandifer

About Rosie Sandifer

Rosie was brought up in Texas and studied Art in New Mexico and later in Vermont. Rosie started her artistic life as a portrait artist in the 70s and began creating sculpture in the 80s. Today, her passion is plein air painting, inspired by spending time in the mountains outside Sante Fe, New Mexico and Colorado. You can view her art work at her website

Jennifer Stretton
Latest posts by Jennifer Stretton (see all)

3 Replies to “Chasing Light – The Alps through the eyes of artist Rosie Sandifer”

  1. When this interview took place, those were the dates given to me of the Retrospective Show. The correct dates are Opening Preview May 8 – July 26, 2020. I will be at Brookgreen teaching a Painting Workshop Monday 4- Wednesday 6 and on May 8 th Preview.
    Thank you, Jen , for the nice article.

  2. Tessa says:

    This is spectacular! Rosie is an incredible artist.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sign Up for Our Email Newsletter

Stay up to date on the latest Alpenwild news. You're free to opt out at any time.