Sandra Bierman credits her turbulent, sometimes difficult childhood as a rich experience that she continues to draw upon in her peaceful, spiritual paintings of women. For several years Bierman lived in a log cabin in Oklahoma with her part-Cherokee grandmother, who helped the young artist survive family moves, school changes and dyslexia. She always had a hug for me, Bierman says. My grandmother was a big, soft, loving woman… my saving grace.
Today, many of the emotions and figures in Bierman's paintings of big, soft, loving women come from her memories of that time with her grandmother. Her work is most often a reflection of her own personal experiences and reflections. The ideas come spontaneously from my imagination, she says.
Her imagination has been an active companion since childhood. Even in that log cabin, Bierman found success and self-nurturance in her art. She won her first scholarship, to a watercolor class, at age 12. Six years later, she was awarded a four-year scholarship to the Maryland Institute of Art, Then life and its financial pressures got in the way of a full-time art career, and she supported herself and her three children as a corporate telecommunications executive for Chase Manhattan Bank in New York. I just dreamed of the day when I could get back to my art, she recalls.
Bierman's dream came true when she remarried in 1983 and retired three years later. In 1988, she and her husband, Arthur, a retired physicist, bought a house in Boulder, Colorado. What they thought was a storage-shed behind their new home turned out to be an artist's studio, where today Bierman transforms large canvases (up to six feet) into earth-toned paintings of nurturing, earth-connected women of many cultures. While her style, subject matter and composition are consistent throughout her work, the techniques Bierman uses are constantly changing. I enjoy varying the texture of the canvas by the way the paint is applied, she says. The process of letting a piece unfold is as exhilarating for her as is the inner journey she experiences while painting. I paint from my mind's eye. I follow my instincts to express things in my inner self and the richness of my life's experiences, but others connect with it too, which is the icing on the cake.
The flowing, graceful lines and swooping curves of her paintings give her work a sculptural form, which may be prophetic. I feel that there is a sculptor inside of me, so that may come out in the future. I feel like I'm just hanging onto the tail of a kite… I'll see where it takes me.
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