Artist of the Month: December 2018

Vivian Sathre pauses in her studio with an in-progress, ala prima work.

LaVerne Kyriss

“Talent is not the most important aspect in any of the creative arts,” explained Vivian Sathre. “No matter your medium or your forum, you must find your own voice to be successful in any creative endeavor.”

“I still copy other artists when I’m trying to understand how they achieved a particular outcome,” she explained. “It’s dissecting the work to understand what’s inside. It’s all about practice and perseverance and improving your skills.”

Sathre also encouraged budding artists to use the best quality materials they can afford. “Student-grade materials don’t have the same quality and feel as better quality and you’ll have to learn to paint all over. You’ll be frustrated if you practice with lower quality supplies.”

“Whether you’re a writer or an artist, it’s important to learn the various techniques of how to do something. Then you can borrow and adapt those specific approaches and make them your own, building your own style,” Sathre said. “I’ve been working on loosening up, being more painterly, using softer edges and not being too focused on painting within the lines.”

“Last year, I started working in oils for the first time. I need to feel like I’m being stretched as an artist, so I try new things,” she reflected. “I saw an ad for an online class and I really liked the paintings. It’s ala prima—all in one sitting—painting wet into wet.”

“This approach is different than I have used in watercolor, acrylics or pastels. I complete the first layer in transparence and then come in with water soluble oil paint,” she explained. “I jump around the piece, being careful of my values. I don’t under-paint with acrylics. Since this is wet on wet work, I can only go so big. 12×12 is where I’m at today, but I want to go bigger.”

Sathre likes to paint things that make her happy. “I paint still life, flowers and animals. I take photos and work from them. The Golden Goose is a great place to find objects to include in a painting,” she smiled. “I’m always trying to channel the light in my work. Good light is critical to creating a painting. I like to change the colors so that it surprises you. Oh, and polka dots. I use them a lot. They’re happy.” She also explained that she crops and then grids her photos with software called griddrawing

The children’s book author got her start in art taking watercolor classes. “I painted every day for a couple of years. Then I approached a couple of galleries in Vancouver, WA, where we were living. You have to do something with all of those canvases,” she explained. “You need to believe in yourself. I once had a book rejected 12 times. It sold on the 13th time. You must do your homework and target which gallery to approach. But don’t get discouraged.”

“Paintings go through teenage years, in which they’re still developing,” she counseled. “Step back and take breaks. When working you’re too close to see the whole picture. Pause, then adjust the color, composition and values as needed. Look again. You’ll know when you’re finished.”