A landscape less ordinary

Sandra Blackburne creates stunning paintings capturing the essence of Australian landscapes.

There is something exceptionally captivating about Hunter Valley artist Sandra Blackburne’s work. Full of rich and vibrant colours, her landscapes depict far from ordinary scenes, yet are so very clearly a reflection of the great Australian land. Less interested in producing photo realism or picturesque landscapes, Blackburne creates stunning paintings – bold, yet beautiful, dramatic, yet serene and every one of them bursting with warmth and colour.

Given she was trained as an illustrator and graphic designer before undertaking a successful career in advertising and corporate graphic communication, you might expect her work to be controlled, yet it’s quite the opposite – something she actually does quite deliberately. “I have a strong illustrative background but try to break through it in my work,” she says. Having sold her advertising agency in 2010, Blackburne needed a break from the corporate world and so studied at the University of Sydney, achieving a BA Honours in Australian literature. All the while she painted.

“I have always painted but it wasn’t always how I made an income. I think it’s incredibly hard for artists to make a living solely from their work, especially if starting from scratch.”

Sandra Blackburne, artist

Preferring to work on a large scale, she produces pieces that, while not entirely abstract, are very far from being traditional. Her passion for nature is evident and her bold use of colour makes for some striking pieces. Exploring the textures and layers of the Australian landscape, Blackburne is passionate about nature and spends much of her time travelling around Australia and beyond, accompanied by diaries in which she draws all that she discovers.

“I have a picture diary of everywhere I go. My drawings serve as a reminder, while photos can capture colour. There’s always something to see, even in the most barren of landscapes. Once your eye becomes accustomed to what might initially appear to be just arid land, you start to see detail. It might be trees full of angst as they fight to survive, or the way the light falls on a particular area,” she explains. Her fascination with nature is clear and her ability to draw out the detail and find beauty in things that others may not even take a second look at is what makes her work special.

Silent witness

“I think every artist sees things in their own way – I do think we all see things differently. You can lose yourself for hours painting, seeing something where someone else might not see anything at all,” she adds. Sandra is a regular exhibitor in the Sydney arts scene, with solo exhibitions running usually every two years and other collaborations on show in between. She runs a monthly workshop in Sydney, taking students out to paint and hopes to begin something similar in the Hunter Valley region in the future. From gnarled powerful gums to the earthy rich tones of outback Australia, her paintings give nod to the silent witness, as she describes it, that is the force of nature. “It’s back to nature – observing the passage of time – with nature being the silent witness. The work is a re-generational story; no matter what happens on the land, nature is always stronger than you think,” she says.

Sandra Blackburne, Open Studio, from 19 – 21 September from 10am to 4pm. All works will be available to purchase. For more information: www.sandrablackburne.com

Read more interesting stories in the Spring issue of Hunter&Coastal Lifestyle Magazine.

Story Lesley Horsburgh, images courtesy of Sandra Blackburne