Last Post of this Blog

Hi all,

This is the last post I will be making on this blog for a while. Please check out my new blog on my NEW Gallery website! It also has my poetry on it. The blog is updated frequently with news and all my works in progress.

Here is the link: Sandra Walton Art Blog
Please join me!

PS. If you are for the Hand Painted Designs check out my new store and blog at!



New in the Zoo…

The fun news is that I am in an art show this month! The first annual student art show at the Neoteric Renaissance School of art. My old master’s copy, the Bargue Leg will be in it along with sight size figure drawing from some great talent!

neotericshow_postcard2It feels really good to take a piece that you have worked so hard on and frame it, elevate it. It says something to yourself about how serious you take yourself and your journey. I want to frame more work now. The only problem there is affording the frames! The pastels are notoriously difficult to frame as well. One of many reasons why I am turning my focus to the oils.

In other news, I have been working hard an a new Grisaille underpainting of a new work. The figure is a study I just started from a psychiatric patient photograph by Dr. Diamond from the 1850’s. Below is an in process photo. I am pleased at how the face is coming along!

Finally, I have launched a new website at!! A brand new orignal art gallery, poetry salon and my online shop for my painted jewelry, news, a new site blog and more! I love it. I think this is the best site I have had and think I will stay with this for a while, a long while


Working from photo’s

In the Atelier forum on facebook they have been talking about the pros and cons of working from life vs. photos. It is pretty much agreed that working from life is required for any serious student of art. However some were of the viewpoint that working from photo reference was somehow not as valid as work done in front of a live model or still life. Well, that is very easy to say for someone that has access to *space*. Models can be found, still lives set up… life is everywhere, just paint from it, right? Easier said than done when there is no space between your easel, the wall in front of it and the wall behind you. When I one day have the luxury to have a nice little set up to my right or left that is appropriately eye level then that day I will work from life every day, day in and day out and love the hell out of it. When I one day have the gift of being able to place a model a reasonable distance away from my easel so I might use sight size I will have a personal renaissance of drawing and painting only from the life. Until then I will take advantage of the models at school WHEN I can and I will paint and draw from *whatever* I need to so that I can continue to work at home and fill that crazy need within to just “do it”.

Absurd to think that somehow there is less validity in the work of an artist that has no access to the luxury of studio space. It is thoughts like that that create a subtle and specific kind of elitism that can divide even something as free as making art into the “have’s” and the “have not’s”

Speaking of photo’s… I have been working on a few pastels lately. I thought I would show the the steps so far of one work in progress. The still life comes from a larger still life I set up and took multiple photo’s of creating different individual still lifes. I spent some time drawing from the still life before I had to take it down due to above mentioned space issues. Now I am working primarily from memory and photo reference. It still has a long way to go – I’ll post it again when it is finished.

Anchorage – A new pastel in progress

For fun here is the start of a new pastel I am working on. The image is a view out my window of my little apartment when I lived in Anchorage. These are underpaintings. I usually use a very bight colors to lay out my compositions and establish color balance then work my way deeper and deeper into more realistic tones letting the colors shine through. This one will go through quite a bit of evolution before it is done and it will be weeks. I love pastel. I am working hard on classical drawing practice and painting oils in indirect grisaille, it is a rigorous discipline. The pastel gives me a chance to breath and work directly with color.  I think it is important as I learn the traditional methods to keep making pictures that are colorful and fun. One feeds the other and it is all a path to finding your own expression which emerges out of the sfumato of your efforts.

Still life in Grisaille – Saturday, August 10

Today’s work on the grisaille still life. Tonight was really good good painting. My eyes were focused and were clearly sensing value, my hand was comfortable enough with the brush and I was able to escape my incessant self-editor. I made the write shadow-shapes instinctively and was able to figure out how to work with the brushes some. All good things. I worked on the right half of the cloth brought up the lights all over. This came as a most welcome treat because for the last week I have been wondering: a) will my eye ever work with what I see and the canvas and not just make stuff up and b) will this ever be fun again. Yes to both, a strong yes!

July in the rear view mirror (almost)!

July has been a hard month over here. Aside from the very happy problems of getting used to a new work schedule at the NRSOA and developing my stamina for drawing three hours a day I have been beset by little things; the plumbing falters, the fan breaks, AC on the car on the blink, computer DIES, post dated checks are cashed early. You just duck and cover and wait for the next blow cause the hits just keep on coming. I thank the Great Spirit that it is not always that way. But because it is often that way I guess you just have to look at the good as hard as you tend to look at the bad. I am not a pie in the sky kinda person and in fact I struggle with severe depression which I have proudly spent the last seven years overcoming. I have learned this… that hope is real thing worth fighting for, that miracles happen all the time and that things could always, always be a whole hell of a lot worse. So I tend to look now at the good with the bad. It makes sense that doing this feels a whole lot better than dwelling on the bad all the time. Sometimes it comes down to a choice.

So I take a deep breath in and think about all that is good and the new beginnings in my life right now. The plumbing was fixed in a day, not a week. The computer was fixed the next day and under $50. I sold some books so had the money in the bank for the check and I now have a new fan. Most importantly today has been peaceful.

I did have a birthday this month in the middle of all the craziness. I spent it at a wonderful live Demo of sigh size sculpting by artist Jonathan Chorn and Lisa Silas, my love got me a cake just like I used to get as a kid and Lisa gave me some flowers.


I also made an important decision on Friday. I have been struggling with acrylics and then water soluble oils and have found no real solutions to the problem of replacing oil paints. I have not worked with oils for over seven years, since I moved into an apartment, due to the possibility of neighbors disliking the smell and the possibility of fumes interacting with the gas heater and going boom. Well I finally just had enough. I am going to paint with oils again.. period. I will use Turpenoid to avoid the smell problem and work small and with a fan to avoid going boom. My love, a number of artists and my landlord all thing this is a fine set up so I once again set upon the journey of painting with oils. I am going to keep doing pastels because they just come so naturally to me but I am going to focus my attention on oil painting. It goes without saying that I will continue my drawing discipline and studies. I can already see a huge improvement in my “seeing”.

So the bonus is that I had over $500 worth of artist grade oil paint and mediums in storage and canvases that were halted when I was forced to stop painting all those years ago. Even better, all the tubes opened up after over seven years of sitting in storage!

paint1Finally, I in fact started two works in oils already. One is a simple egg study and the other a painting of a girl in front of a window. I already wiped out the girl a couple times. I am sooo rusty but having a great time!!!

August is going to be a terrific month!

Chisos… Work in Progress (still….)



Finished Two Studies Today

I called it done on two studies today. The first is my first ever pastel portrait. This is where the classical drawing will help A LOT. I can’t wait until I can draw a realistic looking face! I was interested in color matching my pastels in this one and also to do a flesh tone in pastel. I think the palette lacks subtlety because it was my first time. I got as far as I cared to go with the study, learned what I wanted from it and all in all I am happy with the result of the study.

The second is just a fun expressionistic study of some fire and ice roses on a bright Mexican blanket. I really wanted to have some fun with the colors in this one. Loosen up, see how much pastel I could push onto the paper and how the pastel acted at heavier applications. I achieved my goals and I think it is a alright in a quirky kinda way.

You have to do to learn and do lots. I have found it is good to have a goal in a piece. It gives you a signpost as to when to stop if the whole is not working. Not every piece is a work of art, but if you can learn something and better yet – know what you learned from each piece then it is a success. Both are 9″ x 12″ soft and hard pastel on hand prepared pumice paper.

On the Easel July 11

The biggest thing for me right now is going to drawing school and learning to draw the old school method. It will take a long time and change up everything. You can keep an eye on the whole “go backwards to move forwards” concept at the Atelier Student’s Blog which I just updated with today’s very humble marks. However, I can not just stop wanting make marks until I learn how to really draw so I have a few projects on the easel right now. The landscape is hard and soft a pastel on prepared pumice paper. The drawing is pencil from a photograph of a friends mother. The under painting here is the start of a re-do of a tiny acrylic I did a while back. I am using the water-soluable oils and am finding they do not perform as well for me on a smaller scale. I am not really sure where I am going with it, but I like the concept.

I know three things. 1) I am compelled to create  2) This is SUCH an exciting time to be learning and making art. 2) In the long run, my drawing study will make so much difference in what’s on my easel.

New Blog: An Atelier Student’s Journey

A lot of people have suggested I document my drawing instruction as it progresses… for this purpose I have created a blog to post work after each session and the revelations that go along with the work. We see and enjoy so much the work of realist artists living today. They all started somewhere and for some that somewhere may have looked a little like this. It is going to be a very long, very special journey.


Rocky – A Ceremony

Rocky (A Ceremony)

A Black vest over a long winter coat,
Flannel shirt with cut off army pants,
Hiking boots, no socks.
Shoulder long wavy blonde hair
Hiding wide and cloudy green eyes.

It was the middle of summer.
He walked with a heavy stride
Through milling crowds carrying
briefcases and shopping bags.
He noticed every glare, the stares
Of eyes passing by on the downtown
Stage-set streets of Boulder.

Rocky had grown used to the divisions.
He had tried a long time ago to merge
With people, to walk down a street
To sit in a bar, to talk with smiles,
Nods and winks.  It would last
A day, a week, but always the pin prick holes
In the sky would blow wide open.

In mumbled chants he would tell me
Of spirits in the city that move a person
Toward danger to teach them freedom.
He spoke of God and pain. How each life
Has many symbols but only one ceremony.

I had heard of his exposures, of his
Ceremony in the streets but there
Was nothing all summer long, through fall.
In winter there were quiet walks
Like prayer through white streets,
His voice became more private,
Closer to silence. I looked away
For a moment, an ordinary
Glance at something in the snow.

Looking up – His coat was off, vest off –
I picked them up Out of the snow.
I followed him – shirt pulled over
His head as he walked, boots
Stepped out of, cut off army pants
Dropped, walked out of.  I picked up
The shirt, the boots, the pants,
He kept walking, his bare skin
Goose bumbed and stark
Against the snow.

Each step raged with divine force
Carrying him forward, and forward
And forward until he stopped – hard.
His face abstracted and white, mouth
Stretched open over his chin, eyes
Rolled up, shooting into the grey sky.
His arms pushed up around
The tortured face, bent at the elbows,
Fists open – a body opening
Up as if burning  flesh away
Revealing within – the angel
And a fierce soul struggling
And twisted together.

The silence cracked the air.
Everything was silent.

A painter I love

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the living artists that influence me and encourage me to stretch myself and grow. One artist that has really turned me on lately is Stanka Kordic.

What excites me about her work is her treatment of atmosphere, the stuff that is around everything and everyone all the time, the thing that connects us all. Whether you take a metaphysical or scientific view of this “stuff” (and the two are at times so closely related you can’t tell the difference) Stanka in a pure way reflects it in her work using marks and gesture to almost sculpt a life into the space surrounding her figures. She is a masterful figure and portrait artist but is her treatment of atmosphere that really sparked me when I saw it. When I hear her talk about this “stuff”, this “atmosphere” in her video and different articles she has written it is like hearing someone put into words my own thoughts and I wanted to be talking to her saying “yes, I know! It is so good to hear someone put it into words, and form!”

I feel a little guilty for letting myself play with that kind of treatment of atmosphere. First because I have so much to learn about simply rendering and the nuts and bolts of drawing, I feel as if I have not earned the right to play with any form of abstraction or stretching.

Secondly, because I admire her so much that I feel like I risk imitating her style. I hear this feeling is pretty common with artists starting to branch out – but you have to start somewhere, and you have to start where you are moved deeply and we each make our own marks. So it is in the spirit of finding my own way of expressing that atmosphere, that energy surrounding a thing that I use her vision as an inspiration.

I was glad to hear that Stanka teaches her technique in her workshops. Would I love to spend a weekend in one of those workshops! Though for me the technique is a doorway to my own understanding of that atmosphere, and my own eventual unique expression of that space. As it should be.

Thanks Stanka, where ever you are… you inspire me daily!