By CAMERON KILFOY
Special to the Wreckhouse Weekly
“I don’t ever remember a time when art wasn’t a part of my life,” says Sandra Pauls.
Pauls is a Halifax-based artist, whose muse is something she holds close to her heart – the East coast of Canada, or more specifically, Newfoundland.
Growing up in the province instilled a connection to the island. She wants her art to express her perspective of the island, something she describes as whimsical and funky.
“What I specialize in is anything East coast. It’s a reflection of where I come from,” said Pauls. “It is my version of reality.”
Pauls made a connection with art as a child and grew very fond of creating.
“From a very young age I had some form of markers or crayons in front of me, anything with design, or drawing, just art, in general. I spent hour after hour with it.”
The passion and love she feels for art and the time she invested in honing her chosen craft perfected her work, but it was something Paul did in private, just for her. It brought her a sweet simple joy along with a feeling of comfort. It was once she left the province in 1982 that she realized her work’s potential.
“I moved to Halifax after I graduated from community college,” shares Pauls. “During that time I decided to take some evening drawing classes with a group. After a few of those classes, I started to learn about shading and edging and little details to make your work more. It helped me develop my skills as an artist.”
Pauls recalls how a teacher noticed her talent and helped her to nurture it. As her work progressed, she noticed she had a particular talent for drawing portraits.
“In the early ’80s to 90’s I was drawing pencil portraits and selling them,” said Pauls. “I had a few clients back then built up of friends, family, and co-workers.”
She continued to draw portraits and found a niche in drawing babies. It was something she found challenging but grasped quickly and it helped push her to new limits.
“After doing portraits for people, I found you could only go so far,” explains Pauls. “I wanted to get into doing stuff with colour instead of the plain charcoal pencil. I decided I was going to do oil paintings.”
Making the switch from pencil to paintbrush took some time. Pauls found a mentor of sorts in popular TV-artist Bob Ross.
“I used to watch Bob on The Joy of Painting in my spare time. I was fascinated by what he could create in a half-hour,” said Pauls. “There was a guidance I gained from him and one day I came home with a canvas and sat down and decided to follow along as he painted.”
Although her first piece might not have matched Bob’s exactly, it was enough to push Pauls to continue creatively with painting.
“It gave me a new kind of drive to create. It gave me a new edge to pursue.”
Practice naturally made her work stronger. Other than her sketch classes she has no professional art training. Pauls is one hundred percent self-taught, so when she finally began selling her paintings it came as a surprise.
“When my work first got out there and people started approaching me asking for commission pieces I was taken aback,” admits Pauls. “Bringing people that feeling of joy or happiness through my work was what I wanted. I just wasn’t expecting it so instantly.”
Word of mouth helped Pauls build a clientele and when the internet came into play it also increased her market. Pauls considered herself very fortunate for the reception she received.
It was during this time in her artistic career that Pauls gave birth to her two daughters and decided to take a hiatus from her art to raise her children.
“My daughters are the two loves of my life,” said Pauls. “I wanted to be present for them. It was hard balancing my job and all their school and extracurricular activities, along with my art. So I decided until they were older that I would halt my work.”
Pauls knew it wasn’t goodbye to painting, but more of a ‘see you later’.
As the years passed and her children grew up, Pauls found herself with more time on her hands. She decided it was time to start painting.
“My kids didn’t need me like they used to,” says Pauls. “They always encouraged me to paint throughout the years, but the timing wasn’t right. Finally it was.”
Pauls made her return to the painting market, much to the delight of her clients and fans. Not only did she return to painting, but she switched from oils to acrylics.
Pauls knew that she wanted to do something new, something she hadn’t created before and did some soul searching to find her muse.
“I thought to myself what would inspire me,” shares Pauls. “And it always came back to Newfoundland seascapes or things related to the East coast and that’s where I began.”
Pauls found a niche in which she could express herself truly and freely. She wanted to pay homage to Newfoundland and show people a side to the island they haven’t necessarily seen before.
“I wanted to do it in a colourful way,” said Pauls. “I wanted it to fit the vibe of Newfoundland. The people in the province are so colourful and humorous. I wanted to represent that in a way that was different while still having that feeling of home.”
Pauls worked hard to develop her talents and vision and it has paid off. She continues to work in Halifax while painting as much as she can to fuel her passion and keep her gallery on-point.
One day she hopes that she can inspire someone the way she was inspired over the years.
“My work is for everyone and I want my art to be a sense of encouragement for other artists in the world. I hope maybe my vision can help to push them to create something special for them.”
To see more of her work, visit Sandra Pauls artist Facebook page: @ newfoundlandartbysandrapauls.