Sandra Pratt paints museum-quality romantic landscapes using oil on canvas. Her work speaks to the iconic American west with open and vast scenes and brilliant hues of color. Ann Klein, co-owner of SmithKlein Gallery in Boulder where Pratt shows some of her work, describes the paintings as having a quiet but powerful emotion to them.
“SmithKlein Gallery is moving toward more modern, contemporary styles, and her paintings are a beautiful bridge to that,” said Klein. “They still have identifiable objects, and the abstract palette knife work and colors that many people are using in interiors make them resonate with a lot of clients.”
We recently chatted with Pratt to learn a bit more:
Let’s start with a little about your background.
Pratt: Sure, I was born in Chicago and moved to Loveland when I was 12. I have spent some time in Taos and Sweden over the years, but now I live and work in Boulder. I’m a self-taught artist. I did go to art school in Chicago for one semester but then decided to experiment on my own.
How did you get into oil painting as an art medium?
Pratt: When I was younger I read Richard Schmid’s book Alla Prima: Everything I Know About Painting and learned how to do color charts for different colors and values with the palette knife. I love oils because they’re so vivid and rich with an old-fashioned feel. Even the process of making the paint is old, and it just has a thickness that is so permanent.
So how did the palette knife become your primary tool?
Pratt: As I started painting more, I really enjoyed how direct the knife itself is as opposed to brushes which are great for detail and delicate work. The knife has such a simpler effect. There’s a wide range of things you can do with it, and the work looks effortless.
Your landscapes tend to show isolated, vast scenes. Are there personal experiences that have influenced your work?
Pratt: I do use photos for reference, but I like to push the boundaries of what’s there and make it a little more interesting. I’m always looking for unification in the color scheme, and I let the knife take the lead. With my art, I don’t really feel like I’m painting it. I just play around until it looks good. I’ve been enjoying doing mountains and ocean scenes lately, but it’s always evolving.
How would you describe your style?
Pratt: More important than style is the connection people have when they see my work. It evokes a different feeling for a variety of people. Some say they respond to the colors or they just like the feeling they get, or they might just really love the small house. The fact that they respond to the work in such a way that they want to hang my painting in their home is special. That connection with people is really important to me.
Where can I find your work?
I am honored to have my paintings showing at SmithKlein Gallery in Boulder, Vail International Gallery in Vail, and other galleries in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Bend, Oregon and Carmel-by-the-Sea, California.
“I like to push the boundaries of what’s there and make it a little more interesting. I let the knife take the lead.”