Elly Sands was born in Pennsylvania where she began her art career as a traditional watercolorist, painting typical rural scenes of old barns, covered bridges and still life. After attending Philadelphia School of Art and many studio classes, she worked primarily in oils.
When she moved to Sedona, AZ in 1987 she encountered an entirely different art genre – very different from the East Coast. It took her several years before she began to understand and experience the southwest art world.
Elly immediately connected with the magnificent landscape. She particularly enjoyed the wide expanse of sky and the always visible horizon. The colors of the desert, sculptural forms of the rocks, and the variety of wildlife began to stir her creative thoughts.
She then discovered the medium of Colored Pencil. Her colored pencil pieces have been exhibited in many national juried shows and are published in “Creative Colored Pencil” and “Best of Colored Pencil III and IV”. Her work has won awards in shows both on the east and west coasts. Several of her Arizona awards are “Peoples’ Choice”, 1st and 2nd Place in Sedona Art Center Annual Juried Members Show, “Jurors Choice” at Hillside Festival of Arts and “Invitational Artist” at Sedona Art Festival. She was selected as the “Emerging Artist” at the prestigious Lanning Gallery in Sedona, where she had a “One Woman” show for two months.
Elly changed her medium from Colored Pencil to Pastel because of problems with her wrist from the constant repetitive motion of layering. It was a blessing in disguise as she took to the new medium of Pastel wholeheartedly. The rich colors are so immediate and vibrant. She particularly enjoys the results of the “hands on effect” of softening and blending with the fingers. She believes the fingers become a part of the process, a tool, and the connection with the painting feels more palpable.
For years her subject matter was primarily wildlife and her personal favorite, birds in their natural environment. Then her fascination with the intrinsic patterns of nature inspired her to do a series of “Organic Abstractions”. Taking an object from nature and abstracting it into colorful designs and shapes.
Her latest series combines these two elements – Wildlife and Abstraction. She feels that using a background of primarily color-fields, showcases the animal more. At times she may portray the animal realistically or choose to take artistic liberty, change a color or exaggerate a dominate feature.
Elly says, “It’s fun for me to portray my love of animals. While painting I feel such an intimacy with them. Their presence enhances the world we live in and somehow softens it. They bring a more peaceful perspective to my life. To glorify a thing of nature through my art is a way of celebrating the joy and concern I feel regarding the natural world.”