By Gina Malone
Sandra Bottinelli’s parents are both artistic, though neither chose art as a career. Her mother is German and her father is Chilean. “I always joke, but am slightly serious about it, that this genetic mixture is what caused me to jump back and forth between abstract and realism and then combine the two,” Bottinelli says.
Viewers often think her pieces are the work of multiple artists. “When I paint, I want the piece to feel a certain way so that one piece might have heavy, fast strokes while another has soft, blended ones. I use different techniques depending on what I am trying to communicate. I love to paint like this because I am constantly learning new techniques and new ways to get an idea across.” Among her influences are Van Gogh, Frida Kahlo, Caravaggio and William Blake.
She began drawing at an early age and, with the support of her family and the encouragement of her teachers, officially began her professional art career in Portland, OR, after college. She first picked up a paintbrush when she was 21 and has been painting ever since, developing her own style along the way. “People always say my work is so different across the board, but there is an underlying feeling that ties them all together.”
When she paints, she says, she is physically connected to nature. “Everything is natural and that is how I paint it. Even a mechanical object is natural as it came from natural resources and if I were to paint a car, for example, it would feel more like nature and less like a machine.”
A favorite subject since her young years has been animals. Though never around many animals growing up, she was attracted to them, she says, because of their coloring, anatomy and characteristics. “The different personalities that span across the animal kingdom are also interesting and seem to mimic those of the human race.” In her earlier work, she would often paint animals into human situations. “Moving forward, I began to put animals into atypical environments like space and abstract landscapes.” One of her paintings, a Texas longhorn with roses, “just popped into my head and stuck there so I knew it was my next painting.”
More recently, she has begun to paint human figures. “My work is always evolving and hard to pin down.” Her completely abstract pieces, she says, are not planned, but rather evolve out of emotions as she paints. “I never know what they are going to look like when I start them.”
Another idea that inspires her is the concept that everything is real and abstract at the same time. “If you zoom into something closely, it can become abstract and if you zoom in further, it can become realism again. It is the idea of structure in chaos and vice versa.” She plays with the idea in some of her larger pieces. “This co-existence of realism and abstraction to me is the natural world.” She paints large pieces, some of them 48” x 72”, two or three times a year. She works in oils on canvas or wood panels.
One of her favorite aspects of being an artist is meeting people and talking about her work. “I love to hear what other people see and feel in the work. I would say that my favorite things are the act of creating and then watching people enjoy—and even not enjoy—my work. It’s not for everyone!”
With the acquisition through the years of techniques has come an ease of expression. “When I have the knowledge of how to put something down, then I don’t have to think about it anymore and I can allow more easily for nature to take over. This is a wonderful place to be and is what I would call my ‘zone.’”
Bottinelli Fine Art has two locations: downtown Asheville at 56 South Lexington Avenue, #105, behind the Aloft Hotel, and in the River Arts District at Wedge Studios’ whiteSPACE, 129 Roberts Street, #2B7. To learn more, visit sandrabottinelli.com or call 828.329.4785. Find her on Instagram @bottinelli_fine_art and on Facebook (Bottinelli Fine Art).