Sandy Coomer’s art was featured in Issue 2 of Backchannels, is the cover for upcoming Issue 4, and can also be found in Issue 5 this summer.
How did you become interested in art?
I am a very visual and detail-oriented person. I notice things – texture, line, movement, perspective, color. I notice differences between things. I would say I’ve been interested in art since I first knew how to express myself. It came as part of my personality. When I was older and recognized art as various forms of visual creative expression, I started reading about famous artists. I became enamored with the Impressionists and the 19th century American artists. I knew I did not possess a talent like those artists, but I longed to create. I began with pencil drawings, then mixed media and paper piecing, and in the last 5 years or so, my interest turned to abstract art.
What role does creating your visual art play in your life?
Visual art is my “Play” time. Nothing in my life makes me feel as light and unstressed as creating art. I am also a poet. While I love poetry, writing feels like work. That’s why visual art is so important to me. It is not work. I don’t burden myself with rules or expectations when I’m painting. I don’t try to control or force it. I let every piece reveal itself to me. As a self-professed rule follower and control-freak, this freedom is a valuable turn in my everyday life.
Regarding the last question, are you satisfied with the space your art takes in your world or would you like it to change? If you’d like a change, what would it ideally look like?
I’d love to have more time to create art. I’ve designed an art area in my home with a good table surface and lots of shelves. I have the physical space but I struggle with finding the mental space. Since I started Rockvale Writers’ Colony, my creative work has been less my own and more concerned with other writers’ endeavors. This is fulfilling work in many ways, but I do long for a little more “me” time. If I had 1 or 2 days devoted entirely to visual art, that would be a dream come true.
How did you come to create in the medium you currently work in? What do you love about it?
I am in an acrylic pour phase in my art life. I discovered this type of art accidentally, when a friend sent me a video of a demonstration and said, “This makes me think of you.” I was impressed with the freedom I saw in this art. There’s so much you can’t control and the results are always a surprise. Every time I pour, I am delighted with the way the colors mix, the cells rise up, the layers fold over each other. (And if I’m not delighted, I can scrape the paint off and start over!) It’s a very scientific process, as it has much as to do with the specific gravity of the paint and substrates added into the pour. Coming from a science background, I like that.
What’s the biggest challenge you face in creating your art?
Besides time to create, the challenge is what to do with the finished pieces! I used to actively seek art shows and exhibits, but I don’t really have time for that anymore. The writers’ colony and my own writing keep me very busy. I have many beautiful finished pieces that are sitting in a closet. I’ve begun hanging some of them at the writers’ colony and I’ve been surprised at how many writers are interested in purchasing art. Another challenge is the cost of the material I paint on. I don’t use canvas, but hardboard panels like claybord and gessobord which are quite pricey.
What is the most rewarding thing about your work or your process?
I love creating beauty. I feel content with the finished acrylic pour pieces. I also love to hear other people’s responses. Since this art is abstract, people can see completely different things and interpret the color and lines in different ways. When someone purchases a piece of my art, I let them tell me which side is top, which is bottom, which way it should hang. I also let them change the title if they wish. There’s no need to control anything.
What do you want people to know when they see your work?
It was created with a sense of gratitude and a heart of love. I’ve always wanted to counter this world’s division and discord with beauty. I want to put something good in the universe. I believe in the power of creativity – in writing, in music, in visual art – and that it can help heal the brokenness inside us and between us. I want viewers of my art to sense the connection between artist, art, themselves – and know it is a gift freely given. It’s the power of love that started inside the art moving outside and beyond, like love tends to do when we let it.
About the Creative Process:
These acrylic pour paintings are part of a large collection that explore the earth, the body, the environment, mystery, and science. They are created by combining acrylic paint with various substrates and silicone oil. The layers of paint react within the mixture according to their density, and form an abstract design. I interpret the design in terms of land, water, sky, body, natural and mystical elements, and phenomena. My aim in creating this collection is to present unusual and alternative views of life, nature, and science in order to inspire viewers to ‘widen their world.’
Sandy Coomer is an artist and poet living in Brentwood, TN. Her poetry has been published in numerous journals and she is the author of three poetry chapbooks and a full-length collection, Available Light (Iris Press). Her art has been featured in local art shows and exhibits, and over 150 pieces have been published in journals such as Lunch Ticket, Gravel, The Wire’s Dream Magazine, and Up the Staircase. Sandy is the director of Rockvale Writers’ Colony in College Grove, TN. She is a teacher, a dreamer, a seeker, and an explorer. Her favorite word is “Believe.” Learn more about her at www.sandycoomer.com.