Abstracting & Simplifying Your Paintings

With instructor Sandy Ostrau


Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, March 8-10, 2019 from 10 am - 3 pm

Gualala Arts

$325 Members; $375 Non-members. See materials list. THIS WORKSHOP IS FULL.

Find materials list here


Sandy Ostrau is an experienced plein-air and studio oil painter specializing in modern landscapes and figurative work. She has developed a unique style of simplifying the subject and creating interesting color fields full of rich textures.

In this workshop, Ostrau will introduce her techniques in reductive composing and techniques for creating beautiful color harmonies and textures. Participants will also learn how using texture and line will enhance focal point and create a more interesting surface to their paintings.

Sandy will start each day with a demonstration using her techniques and then participants will experiment with these techniques on their own paintings with guidance from Ostrau. 

About Sandy Ostrau:

“In my art, I take scenes of everyday life – people, places, and activities – and

reduce them to their fundamental elements. I strip away the superfluous detail

and minutiae of the moment in order to present each scenario in its essence,” Ostrau says.

Sandy Ostrau


At a certain point, she says, specific content is not that important or even relevant, but rather what appears to be happening, creating situations that can be observed or contemplated in more universal ways.

Ostrau says this sense of ambiguity or vagueness allows for a range of interpretations and assumptions for viewers to perhaps add their own content, emotions or undercurrents, overlaying what they think is happening with their own explanations.

To heighten viewer engagement, Ostrau says she uses texture to create a sense of dimensionality, a perception of three dimensions in two, thereby inviting viewers to “step into” each composition as if they were actually there and to participate in their own narratives.

Midtown-Sandy Ostrau

“Many of my paintings invoke feelings of solitude or even loneliness. The figures

appear connected but often seem to be looking away from one another, absorbed in their own lives and stories, perhaps occasionally connecting,

perhaps not –  like strangers in the same scene,” Ostrau explains. “At other times, figures seem to be waiting for someone to arrive or for an activity to begin, anticipating a meeting or a reunion, for instance.”

Whatever the circumstances, she says, there’s always an outcome awaiting discovery. “The ways I express feelings of solitude or disconnectedness in my open-ended plot lines are based on my own introspective moments as well as on

assumptions about the subjects in my compositions.”

With her ever-present sketchbook, Ostrau observes alone, recording actions and interactions at a distance, working with whatever she can see, taking what little information is available and imagining the rest.

“Fog Bank”-Sandy Ostrau

“So much is unclear, uncertain and not possible to observe. Blending in the settings – the trees, water, and other surroundings – I translate my observations into paintings, which in turn become the stories, stories we can either share with one another or ponder in our own unique and personal ways.”