I probably discovered David Sandum through Twitter, which has the ability to connect people from across all spheres. What I find interesting is that while born in Sweden and living in Norway, where his studio is today, his influences include the American Southwest.
This quote by Matisse, which I drew from his website, sums up Sandum's approach to painting: "I do not literally paint that table, but the emotion it produces upon me."
Ennyman: What caused you to first take an interest in art?
David Sandum: I have loved art for as long as I can remember. When I was a child, I used to visit the Gothenburg Art Museum with my mother, and loved to walk through the halls and look at paintings. The instinct to draw was nearly overwhelming. But it wasn’t until later in life that art became a serious path. Looking back, it started when I went to college (University of Utah), where I took several art classes. I particularly enjoyed one class in art history, where the professor with great enthusiasm, should us slides of artwork I hadn't paid noticed to before, explaining color, composition, and so forth. And all of a sudden, my focus went from naturalistic art, to more modern pieces (that often today aren't considered so modern), by Van Gogh, Matisse, Bonnard, and so forth. But my education was in organizational communication and history. Having graduated in 2000, we moved home to Scandinavia, and I started a job in IT-sales. After about a year, the tough changes and consequences of working my way through college, led to a total collapse, and I entered a serious depression. It was during this difficult time that I started to paint. Through art, I found a way to deal with my difficult emotions and transmit them. So expressing emotion is, and has always been key to my work, with color as the main vehicle. I have written a memoir about my experience with depression and art that will be published soon. You can read more about it here.
E: Did you have any formal training?
DS: I am completely self-taught. But have spent lots of time around other artists and asked many, many, questions.
E: How did you come to master your craft?
DS: If you want to be a good painter, there are no short cuts. Development can only take place through stubborn determination, and hard work. I have painted full-time since 2000, and I'm barely starting to get the hang of it.
E: Do you have a favorite medium?
DS: Oil painting and gouache.
E: How does oil painting compare to gouaches and acrylic?
DS: There are several differences: Oil painting is oil based and takes a long time to dry (depending on thickness, pigments, and what you mix the paints with). Acrylic and gouaches are water based paints that dry quickly. Thus, painting oil is most often more long-term (though painting in one session wet-on-wet, can sometimes be successful). In general, I feel oil paint is richer and has a different glow. But there are many kinds of pigments and versions of paints, both with oil and acrylic. Beginners often use acrylic, as it dries quicker and is easier to paint layer on layer, and you can paint on watercolor paper etc., which oil isn't so well suited for.
E: Who have been your favorite artists over the years?
DS: There are so many, and it varies from year to year. But there are of course some I'd like to mention, such as Van Gogh, Munch, Bonnard, Matisse, Gaugan, Kahlo, Chagall, O'Keeffe, Emil Nolde and the German expressionists, Seurat, and Norwegian painters like Victor Sparre, Håkon Bleken, Tore Heramb, and Ferdinand Finne.
E: You obviously enjoy landscapes. I find landscape painting exceedingly challenging. How do you approach this kind of subject matter?
DS: Nature has always been key for me, and I have switched from painting pure landscapes, to figures, and figures in landscapes. But my method is always clear: There needs to be focus on emotions, not copying reality. O'Keeffe taught me that. Her landscapes were from actual places, yet abstracted and raw emotion. Painting at Ghost Ranch NM last summer in her footsteps, was a strong spiritual experience. The desert truly has healing powers. But being Scandinavian, the ocean has always been important, and having lived in Norway so long, and Utah, the mountains. I draw inspiration from my own experiences and impressions. Munch's idea "to paint your life story" has always been my vision.
E: What are you working on currently?
DS: Lately, I have been working a lot with faceless figures, and more urban themes, such as cafe's. (See recent oil paintings at his website.) But I always work on some nature scenes as well, mostly in gouache as you can see on my website.
Thank you for this opportunity to talk about my art.
Be sure to visit www.davidsandum.com to see more.