Artist painting outdoors in a canoe
Manon Sander at work at the Wekiva Paint Out in Florida.
Art studio with paintings on the walls
Manon Sander’s studio

How did you get started and then develop your career?

Manon Sander: All my life I have pursued all kinds of art, from mosaic to murals, but once I walked into a Carmel gallery and stood in front of one of Ken Auster’s breathtaking paintings, I knew I had to learn how to paint in oil. His workshop was the first one I ever took, and to this day I hear his advice in my head when I paint.

Soon after, my family and I moved to San Francisco where I found a small atelier, Marin Art School. I took lessons for three years with Dorallen Davis and Jane Heaphy whose impressionistic colorist style I admired and who taught me almost everything I know today about painting.

I will forever be grateful to them for sharing their knowledge so generously and passionately. It was during that time that I fell head over heels in love with painting, especially plein air because it turns painting into an adventure. I realized that in order to grow as an artist, I had to dedicate myself to painting exclusively, so out the window went my mural business and all other artistic endeavors.

Over the course of the next decade, I finetuned my skills by taking workshops with a number of well-known artists I admired. My jumping off point towards a career as professional artist came when we moved again, this time to Florida. There my work caught the eye of the director of the Lighthouse ArtCenter who invited me to teach weekly plein air classes. Teaching others accelerated my own artistic growth.

I also knew I needed a studio where I could create and make a mess. Having a designated work space at the Village Art Studios in Tequesta, Florida, made all the difference for me, paired with focusing on just painting, getting into the zone, letting go of the counterproductive Mom-habit of multi-tasking. I had to treat painting as a fulltime job, which meant when I wasn’t painting, I was working on finding opportunities to exhibit, to teach, and to promote my work.

I paint almost every day (can’t help it… I love it so much.), and the mileage seems to have made a noticeable difference. There was a turning point during the past couple of years when my work started to get juried more consistently into national shows and to win awards. I started to be accepted into plein air festivals and into good galleries. I got invited as faculty member for Plein Air South and started to get exposure through publications like PleinAir Magazine, Fine Art Connoisseur, and Southwest Art. I feel I finally got some momentum. My work sells well in the galleries I’m in, and I have a great following of students who fill my classes and national and international workshops.

But ultimately, it’s the passion to capture the things this beautiful world puts in front of me and the endless adventure this artist life presents me with that make me hop out of bed every morning excitedly.

Oil painting of a brightly lit two story ice cream shop at night
Manon Sander, “Meet Me At Aunt Ebby’s,” 14 x 11 in., oil, 2021
Oil painting of a building on a pier in a marina
Manon Sander, “Port Authority,”, 16 x 20 in., oil, 2021
Oil painting of people fishing under a bridge
Manon Sander, “The Right Angle,”12 x 12 in., oil and cold wax, 2021
Oil painting of a red classic car driving by closed red umbrellas
Manon Sander, “Joy Ride,” 12 x 16 in., oil, 2020

To see more of Manon’s work, visit: www.ManonSander.com

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