SANDY OSTRAU: Encountering Light Through the Fog
Oil on Panel
40 x 48 in
On a typical day, Sandy Ostrau arrives at her studio by 10am and begins by mixing colors. She finds the rhythmic movement of using the palette knife to mix a great warm up. Ostrau says “It’s a wonderful ritual to focus my attention and loosen me up. Most importantly it switches my thinking to a work mode.” Ostrau’s routine hasn’t changed much over the years other than she used to spend more time painting outdoors. She works with oil paint, but often sketches with graphite or ink, and sometimes paints with acrylic on paper for studies. Ostrau grew up in Palo Alto and enjoyed art making from a very young age. “You could often find me surrounded by my treasured art supplies, drawing and coloring for hours at a time.” She studied Art History and took drawing classes at UCSB, along with numerous drawing and painting classes at the Pacific Art League and Palo Alto Art Center. After college she started a business selling her designs on textiles and clothing, launching her career. She moved into painting because she was interested in learning to use oils, finding them to be a perfect medium for her style. As her work progressed, she came to love outdoor painting and working from nature. She feels that working from nature, not from photos, produces the best work and really trains the eye. Nature is what inspires her primarily. She says, “I am always astounded by the beauty of California.” Though she considers herself to mainly be a landscape painter, Ostrau integrates the figure into her paintings, whether interiors or landscapes. She uses figurative elements to connect the viewer to her work and to instill a feeling into the painting. When Ostrau is the viewer connecting to other artist’s work, she is particularly interested in paintings by Joan Brown. She likes the way Brown depicts her scenes with such simplicity yet captures the gesture and persona of her subjects. Ostrau finds the impasto paint and expressive brush and knife work thrilling. Along with Joan Brown, Ostrau finds inspiration in the work of Nicholas De Stael, Edward Munch, Kim Frohsin, David Park, Richard Diebenkorn, and Masaccio, all painters she admires. She adds that she particularly admires Kim Frohsin for her dedication, skill, accomplishments and following her own voice—“her work is entirely original and expresses her own interpretation of the figure or any subject”—truly an inspirational woman artist.