Her Sensual Oils Are All About Naked Emotion

All subjects are fair game to Sandra Bottinelli’s brush. Photo by Morgan Ford

She moves dreamily between abstractionism and realism, often combining the two. “I love to paint everything and anything,” says Sandra Bottinelli. “It depends on what my mood is telling me.” If it’s abstracts, it means she’s feeling emotional. “I just need to spit it out without any kind of thought process,” she explains. On quieter days, she prefers realism. Bottinelli describes these latter paintings as magic “in the way colors can push things back and pull things forward on the canvas.”

She frequently introduces abstract concepts around figurative images. Her animal series, for example, features tigers, horses, peacocks, and other creatures rendered with a high degree of realism. The backgrounds for these, however, are generally done as abstract echoes of the colors, lines, and moods conveyed in her birds and mammals. Conversely, many times her abstract paintings contain bits of realism waiting to be discovered on a close look.


Bottinelli says she was always fascinated by drawing, most often using colored pencils and oil pastels. But it wasn’t until she was 21 and halfway through her college studies at the University of Michigan that she first picked up a paintbrush and discovered oils, attracted to everything about them — even the smell.

She traveled twice to Spain, first on her own to Salamanca, in 1992, and as an exchange student a year later, studying art history in Barcelona. After receiving her BFA in 1995, Bottinelli immediately began her art career, working first in Oregon and then in Florida, where she traveled the art-fair circuit. She moved to Asheville in 2011 to “babysit” a house her mother had purchased. Within just a few months, Bottinelli had a room of her own — a studio in the River Arts District’s whiteSPACE.

Her newest series are female nudes where the models mysteriously wear animal masks. She claims there’s no overt symbolism, but she can’t help viewers from injecting their own meaning. “Some people have told me they find them really creepy or very sexual, while others say they see them as empowering.” She’s only painted female nudes so far, but says the next subject will be a male.

“He’ll be wearing a hare mask,” offers Bottinelli, deftly deflecting any inquiry as to why.

Sandra Bottinelli, whiteSpace at Wedge Studios 129 Roberts St., 2B7, River Arts District, and at Bottinelli Fine Art, 56 S. Lexington Ave., #105, Asheville For more information, call 828-329-4785 or see sandrabottinelli.com.

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