For Clive artist Sonja Zacharias, the feature artist at The Gallery on Main this month, there is always more to discover with water-colours.
Zacharias said that even though she has been painting for decades, the wonder of creating new art is never lost to her.
“Even though I have been doing it for years now, when I have a finished painting, it’s still kind of like magic for me.”
Most of the inspiration for her paintings come from the natural world of Alberta, she said. In particular, she enjoys painting landscapes.
Zacharias said she always starts a painting with a mood rather than a scene and then tries to find a scene to fit that mood.
Often, she uses reference photos for her work. She said that she will look at photos, examine the light, foreground and other features to determine what kind of mood the scene lends itself to.
“I get a feeling from the images themselves,” said Zacharias, adding that she will often use several different photos from the same scene and combine features of each in her paintings.
Both Zacharias’ parents were artists as well. Her mother was also a painter and her father did some work as a sculptor in addition to being a math and physics teacher.
Zacharias said her mom began painting with oils and learned to paint with water-colours later.
When her mother began painting in water-colours, Zacharias, then 11, began painting as well.
Throughout her life, Zacharias proceeded to pursue painting as a hobby. As an adult, she studied a year of art at Red Deer College but said she ended up graduating with a degree in drama.
Like her mother before her, Zacharias teaches others to paint as well. She said that what she enjoys about teaching is helping others develop a skill they didn’t know they had.
“Sometimes people will tell me, ‘I’m not artistic, I can’t even draw a stick man’,” said Zacharias. “But you can almost hear this longing in their voice.”
Zacharias went on to say that painting is a teachable skill and if people want to paint, they probably can.
You don’t necessarily have to be ‘artistic’ to create art.
“I think real art starts with that desire,” said Zacharias. “If people have that desire, there is probably talent there. They just don’t know it.”
In her own art, she said she continues to try new things and push her own personal barriers.
She added that this is important in water-colour especially, because there is so much the artist cannot control.
“I like to explain that it is like a dance,” said Zacharias. “I take my turn and then the water-colour will do its own thing.”
She went on to say that she will then step back from the painting, take a look at it again, and then take her turn with the paint again. She said in this way, creating art with water-colour is like a dance, the painter takes turns creating with the paint itself.
“You get surprises,” said Zacharias. “That’s part of what keeps it fresh for me too, that whole adventure.”
That freshness is what keeps Zacharias painting, she said. She added that she feels that, despite how long she has been painting, there is still so much she hasn’t discovered with water-colours.
Zacharias’ display, ‘The Inner Journey Through Landscape,’ will be featured at The Gallery on Main throughout the month of March.