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Alberta woman creates works of art

Artworks by Sandra Scherger encompasses a wide variety of art forms — pencil sketches, acrylics, coloured pencil, watercolours and DVD slide shows. Sandra, who has always been involved in art and was always encouraged by her family, was nine when she realized that perhaps she did have a talent for art. At this point her grandmother took her to a local artist, Bettie Campbell, for lessons. Sandra says that Bettie was a wonderful teacher and had a huge influence on her work.

During her school years, Sandra worked mainly in pencil as well as doing some painting. Exhibiting her art at the local fair in her hometown of Darwell, Alberta each August was always important to her and, even though many exhibitors were much older than she was, she says, “It made me strive harder to improve my skills.” So, when at the age of 16, a high school teacher commissioned her to do a painting of Edmonton Oiler hockey player, Mark Messier, she was thrilled. The painting turned out well, her teacher gave it to his mother as a gift, his mother loved it and had Mark Messier autograph it. Sandra says, “It was a huge boost to my ego and exciting that someone famous got to see my art!”

When Sandra completed high school, her parents encouraged her to attend art college in Calgary. Four years so far from home was not what she was ready for so she applied for graphic design at Grant MacEwan in Edmonton. When she attended the orientation, she was overwhelmed. Feeling that graphic design would be more than she could handle, she enrolled for a one-year tailoring course at NAIT.

When the course was complete, she did do some sewing for customers but she spent most of the next five years working at the store/café/ lounge in Darwell. It was also a time when she worked to improve her art and to expand her knowledge of different art mediums. She began to receive more commissions for pencil sketches and paintings.

In 1996 Sandra met Kevin Scherger, a fellow horse lover, and at the time a guide/outfitter. In 1998 they were married and now live with their daughters, Kendra, nine, and Kayla, seven, in a log house on 80 acres near Wildwood, Alberta. The 80 acres are shared with 10 quarter-horses and riding is an activity the family enjoys.

Although horses and farm and ranch life are often depicted in Sandra’s art, she does not see herself as exclusively a western artist and likes to draw a variety of subjects. One of her favourite pencil drawings is of her nephew, Michael, cradling a duckling in his hands. In 2004 she submitted some pencil drawings and paintings to The Northern Horse Review (now Western Horse Review) in response to a request by the magazine for submissions from artists. Her art as well as an article about her was published in the June 2004 issue.

Although life as a wife, mom and active community member keeps her busy, Sandra does set aside time, mostly in the winter months, for her art. According to Sandra, commissions are her bread and butter. Mostly people want portraits, often of their children, sometimes of a horse or pet, sometimes a person with a pet.

When doing a portrait, Sandra asks the customer to supply her with pictures. She likes to have more than one so she can study the person in different poses and with different expressions. Each portrait is done with special care and attention to detail. Sandra enjoys doing commissions as they are one of a kind done for one customer. She says that when she sells or gives a drawing or painting to someone, it is like she is giving them a part of herself.

In 2007 Sandra received a new and exciting commission to do the artwork for a book by freelance writer and photographer, Heather Cook. Cook had run an ad in Western Horse Review looking for an artist to illustrate her book. Sandra contacted her and “a great working relationship” followed. The book, Rookie Reiner: Surviving and Thriving in the Show Pen is due out this fall. Doing more book illustrating is an avenue of art Sandra is interested in pursuing to complement her regular artwork.

Her latest art form involves a digital camera and the computer. After having a DVD slide show done for her parents’ 50th wedding anniversary, Sandra thought, “I could do that!” She purchased a new computer and a software program and began to practise. She found that as the music really makes the show, it is vital to find the right music and to time the pictures to the music.

When she does a slide show, people bring her the pictures and the music that they want used. A show is usually 10 to 15 minutes long and Sandra strives to make each one a very personal keepsake of a special occasion.

Sandra loves to experiment with different art forms. She often uses what she refers to as mixed media where she will use more than one medium in the same picture. She finds acrylic paint very versatile and has used it to paint on cream cans, saws, rocks, pine shakes, bracket fungi, leather — “pretty much anything that has not moved fast enough!” To Sandra, art in its many and varied forms is a part of who she is, and she loves it! You can contact Sandra at 780-325-3715 or at [email protected]

Dorothy Mack writes from Lone Pine, Alberta

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