gmhTODAY 18 gmhToday Feb March 2018 - Page 79

S andra Willson took up painting two and a half years ago at the advice of her therapist to help her deal with a traumatic event from her childhood. Discovering it had a calming effect, she has painted in earnest ever since. Drawn to nature subjects, she likes to “create scenes that speak to people, and take them to a peaceful place.” One can see this result in her deeply mesmerizing renderings of land and ocean scenes. “That’s how it was at first, very much an escape from my own thoughts,” Willson recalled. “The more I did, the more I loved it, and I was happy with the way they were turning out.”  It’s no surprise that Wilson gravitated towards landscape painting. She grew up in a family of nature lovers, recalling “My family was always going to the beach, or camping in the Sierras, that’s just what we did,” she said. Born the second of three daughters to Rex and Kathy Stevens in Gilroy, Willson was raised in San Martin and gradu- ated from Live Oak High School. She attributes her early inter- est in drawing to her parents. Her mother is a children’s sewing teacher and her father is a retired carpenter who has been an avid photographer for as long as she can remember. Married to her high school sweetheart, Michael Willson, since 2005, she worked as a nanny for ten years before taking up painting. A corner of her cozy kitchen serves as her studio and displays numerous completed works of scenes from the local vicinity and beyond. Willson openly shares the sexual abuse she suffered at the age of six at the hands of a friend’s father, and the twenty-five years she remained silent. She now wants to share her story to encourage other victims and to help her own healing. “I was having panic attacks daily and rarely left the house GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN for more than a year before I started therapy, where I was encouraged to get back to my art.” Willson works exclusively in oils, liking the vivid colors and textures she can achieve. She studied textile art and fashion design at West Valley College in Saratoga, but is primarily self- taught when it comes to her painting. Wilson's inspirations include Bob Ross, whom she describes as “an artist for the masses,” and Wyland, a well-known Carmel conservation artist. She also admires the work of famed photographer Ansel Adams. Viewing her body of work, it is clear that she has a close affinity with nature. Painting landscapes and seascapes almost exclusively, her command of light and shadow enhance the almost photographic realism she exacts. One can almost feel the spray from her ocean waves with the delicate contrasts of aqua hues and vivid white cresting foam. Her larger portfolio of works can be viewed online at Brazilian illustrator Mathias Castro is quoted as saying “Art speaks where words are unable to explain.” Sandra Willson’s art communicates a peaceful place for all to enjoy. FEBRUARY/MARCH 2018 Dan Craig is a local artist whose early works were in the Realism style. He now enjoys an Impressionistic style. He lives in Morgan Hill with his life partner, Kim. 79