Art from the cradle of mankind

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Challenge Winner - Margaret Sanderson

Susan van Zyl Susan van Zyl 640 posts

Margaret Sanderson is one of our two winners in the Domestic Animals Challenge and as she already won a challenge, we will now do an in-depth interview with her.

1. I see that a fascination for human and animal portraits dominate your artwork in your profile. Is there a special reason for this?I’ve always had a fascination with traits of character and behaviour, both human and animal – and how they show up in our facial expressions, body language, etcetera. I love to draw a character, not just a face.2. Your animal portraits also have a strong humorous aspect to it. Is this planned or do you just take your artwork where it leads you?

Humour is a useful tool. It gets us through many of life’s knock-backs and can brighten up an otherwise gloomy day. Sometimes I’ll start off with a serious subject and end up turning it into something rather frivolous.

3. Your animal artworks surely would do great as illustrations in children’s books, were you approached by publishers to do illustrating? If not, would you consider it? Are the pros and cons to illustrating your work?

I haven’t been approached, nor have I offered illustrations to children’s publishers. My reluctance to do so would probably have something to do with the fact that I find it difficult to produce a piece of work on demand. I much prefer to paint subjects of my own choosing, and when the mood takes me. Deadlines and specifics go against the creative process as far as I’m concerned. I suppose it’s lucky that I don’t have to depend on my art to make a living, otherwise my son and I would be living in a cardboard box under a viaduct somewhere!

4. Your celebrity portraits are very lifelike. How much time do you spend on deciding who you are going to do, and how much time on preparing and then also the actual painting?

I have a pretty failsafe method as far as likenesses are concerned. Some artists use a grid which they can scale up from a photograph onto a canvas. I don’t like to use a grid as such, because of the traces they leave behind, but I do use a similar scaling system. Insted of grid lines, I use a series of pencil dots which represent the corners of each square, then I can copy each ‘square’ from the original photograph. You can alter the clothing, the hair parting, or the direction of the gaze, so that it’s not going against copyright laws! Of course, I have to be drawing a celebrity whom I admire, or I wouldn’t be able to do it justice. There’s not a great deal of planning really, and the process takes a few hours spread over two or three evenings.

5. Your cartoons are funny and most of them depict an everyday situation. How do you look for inspiration in your daily walk and what triggers the situation to speak to you?

Everyday situations are what we all relate to, and most have a funny side to them. I see and hear amusing things happening around me all the time, and if something appeals, I can’t wait to twist it around in my head to produce something visual, or a piece of verse in order to share it with someone else and possibly brighten a moment in their day too.

6. How do you organize your ideas? Do you jot them down for later use or act on them the moment they enter your head?

I do a lot of thinking over. I’m definitely not an impulsive person. I find I get the most pleasing results that way.

7. It looks that you are an animal person. Do you have pets at home? Are they funny or serious no-nonsense animals?

I’ve always had pets. At the moment I have a very territorial rabbit called Noddy, who is apparently responsible for all my bad fortune over the last two years as he stomps on every lucky spider which dares to cross ‘his’ kitchen floor. And then there’s Hattie and Lou, my two guinea pigs, who miraculously produced a litter together after the pet shop swore they were both females! I did forgive them however, especially when I saw those cute baby piggies being born.

8. Do you work from photographs or just paint as it comes to you?

I do need photographs as starting points. They are my ‘crutch’ if you like, even if the finished article bears no resemblance! It’s a confidence thing to get me going.

9. Your artworks are very colourful and you use bright colours often. Do you have a favourite colour that you reach for first?

I love blues and yellows in particular, but the colours I use the most of are black and white, because they can be mixed with anything.

10. Which medium do you prefer? I see that you use charcoal, pastels and acrylics.

I go through stages. At the moment I’m into coloured pencils. Faber-Castell and Prismacolor, because the colours are so vibrant and you get such fine detail with a pencil point.

11. When did you start drawing/painting? What triggered it?

I used to write and illustrate poetry, just for fun. The illustrations got more elaborate, until they finally took over.

12. What other activities do you have besides painting and drawing and writing?

I like to do DIY around the house. I own my own tools, and have put up shelves,curtain rails. I’ve made soft covers for a three piece suite, curtains, and cushions. My son is quite a handful too. He is almost twelve, and has autism.

13. Your writing is just great to read. It is if you take something very familiar and turn it into a work of art by describing it in a very funny and witty way. It seems like you see it with different eyes than the rest of us. Does it come to you easily or do you ponder on an idea for a length of time?

Most of my writings originate from funny stories I hear, or have read. I love inventing rhymes to tell an amusing story. Some of them take ages, while others come easily. It just depends.

Sleeping under the stars

Just drop me here Grandad

The Fat cats always win

Salvador Dali

Ray Winstone

Grease is the word

Colourific Beatles

The Evil Spirit

The Evil Spirit

The sermon today was ‘the demon drink’
It was meant to make the parishioners think.
The vicar was using a small demonstration :-
Two glasses, a worm, and a bored congregation.

He held up the wriggling worm in his hand,
grabbing a few folk’s attention, as planned.

“If I drop this worm, in the water-filled glass,
as you see, no danger will come to pass.”
And so it was that the wriggling worm,
in the water, continued to wriggle and squirm.

“..But if I drop this worm in the rum..
…it will have the effect of a hot summer sun.
..The worm’s life is over. It’s poisoned…it’s dead!
..That is the peril of rum!” he said.

“So what” said the vicar, “can we learn from this?”

“To be sure..” said a voice, “..give the water a miss…
..If you’re troubled with worms, drink a bottle of rum
And poison those bastards, invading your bum!”

Christmas Charr

Christmas Charr

I’d planned it all, way back in June
But Christmas Day still came too soon.
EIGHT for lunch, and no-one cared -
How could I be so unprepared?

The doorbell rang, the baby cried,
the Yorkshires came out of the oven and died.
The roast potatoes were under-cooked..
for the pre-boiling stage had been overlooked.
The hob had not sufficient rings
..for sprouts, peas, cauli, and similar things.

A trickle of sweat ran down my face
“Beam me up Scottie….I can’t take the pace!”
Laughter filtered from the room next door
as the bacon rolls went all over the floor.
The dog got there first, before I was able
and carried his contraband under the table.

Glasses chinked, and they all shouted “Cheers!”
(why was their jollity offending my ears?)
A lock of hair fell, and tickled my nose
as a pan of boiled water splattered my toes.
I opened the fridge, for the horse raddish sauce,
where a bottle of wine took my reason by force.

One glass, surely, wouldn’t be missed
(but half an hour later, I was pleasantly pissed!)
My husband’s blurred form appeared at the door.
He took in the state of both me and the floor.
The smell of charred turkey had brought him running
“Did you forget…that my mother was coming..?”

BettyHermann BettyHermann 4716 posts

Congratulations Margaret! I’m very happy for you…:)
Your work is full of life and love, playful and a real joy to view!
This success is very well deserved!

Susan van Zyl Susan van Zyl 640 posts

Wonderful to get to know you better Margaret!!!!

Margaret Sanderson Margaret Sande... 137 posts

Thanks Betty for those lovely kind words! And Susan, thanks so much for taking the time to put all this together, I appreciate it !

craftloft craftloft 916 posts

Margaret, what a wonderful interview! I wish I was as versatile and organised in my art as you are! Congratulations again on your win & on this wonderful page. I loved reading about you & getting to know you better. :) I loved the writing too, you have an incredible imagination!