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Oct 10, 2016
Plein Air Pastellist Elizabeth Sandia talks about ‘Ruby, Magenta and Wine.’
Elizabeth Sandia - Ruby, Magenta and Wine

Elizabeth Sandia, “Ruby, Magenta and Wine,” pastel, 40 x 40 inches


Elizabeth Sandia, Artist

Before she began her career as a fine artist, Elizabeth Sandia had a background in advertising, illustration, and architecture. When she moved to Santa Fe specifically to become a fine artist 21 years ago, she studied with a famous pastel artist who advocated working plein air. Her 6th painting won her several awards and showed her that she was on the right track. She only painted plein air and drove many places at the time to find great subjects — Colorado, Arizona, Wyoming, California.

Elizabeth plein air painting in 2003

“Spiritually, I would always begin every painting session asking for guidance with my work. I got out of my own way and let Spirit take over.”

Her pastel work has been written up 34 times in various art magazines since 2001, and featured on covers 4 times.

‘Ruby, Magenta and Wine’ was inspired by a favorite place of hers on Upper Canyon Road in Santa Fe. When the property was sold and the new owners built a high wall around it, she decided to create a tribute to this place where she loved to paint.

“Fall is my favorite season because of the wonderful colors. I love magentas, reds, oranges, hence the title, ‘Ruby, Magenta & Wine.’ ”

Her technique developed out of a need to replace the special pastel paper she had always used. In 2006 the manufacturer changed mills and it was no longer available. So she had to invent a surface with the grit she needed, in order to build up layers of color. Determined to make lemons into lemonade, she experimented with a special pumice gesso, applied with a brush. It had the right tooth for pastel. She built up rich undertexture on the surface with random strokes, visible to the eye in the finished work.

Sandia - Ruby, Magenta, Wine close up

“I have a saying – you can never be too thin, too rich, or own too many pastels. When I paint – I select from a selection of hundreds of pastels.”

After the base coat dried, the surface was then coated lightly with acrylic paint—oranges—then she began building up the many layers of pastel using regular chalk (not oil pastel, which she ‘never got the hang of’). It was this process that was used to create ‘Ruby, Magenta and Wine.’


Sandia’s development of ‘Ruby, Magenta and Wine.’

In 2008 Elizabeth suffered a spinal injury and declined any surgery, but she no longer risks hurting herself and sticks to painting in her studio, working from photos and sketches. She only occasionally works in pastel these days, because of lung irritation. She now paints in oils, and has studied with Matt Smith and Scott Christensen.

She is a featured artist in the current exhibition ‘Inhabitations: Western Landscapes,’ on view through Saturday, October 29, 2016.

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Posted in
  • Diving Deeper
  • Pastels
  • plein air
  • Santa Fe
  • Upper Canyon Road