Chasing Light – The Alps through the eyes of artist Rosie Sandifer
BY Jennifer Stretton | Mar 14, 2019
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 rosiesandifer.com
Jen grew up about as far from the mountains and nature as you can get—in Birmingham, UK. When she first visited the Alps on a university climbing trip, she immediately fell in love with the place. After graduating with a degree in Geography, Jennifer spent the next few years travelling the world, volunteering with conservation charities and freelance marketing to fund her adventures. In 2015 she settled full time in the Chamonix Valley and began training to become an international mountain leader.
An avid climber and environmentalist, Jen’s passion for the mountains and the natural world is contagious. When she’s not guiding, Jennifer spends her free time climbing, skiing, travelling and trying to keep up with her dog on trail runs. Sociable, caring and always smiling, Jen is the perfect guide to keep you laughing and motivated on your journey. She looks forward to meeting you next summer!