Meet Sandra Bridges of Bridges
Today I am a visual storyteller, a truth-telling oil painter in the traditional genre depicting African-Americans historically in the light that best illustrates the past. It is a duty so to speak to display my God given talent about what fills my heart and the experiences to which I relate. Time is precious in days being short and I choose to spend it gifting back and sharing this love.
For 35 years I taught in the Chicago Public Schools briefly as an art teacher but primarily as a Kindergarten teacher. I know you may be wondering how I went from high school to the babies and that is an interesting story aside from where I am today. Let me say since teaching was indeed a calling my best qualities to instruct and guide were best suited with children wide-eyed and curious to learn about everything. I also was a student in that setting and that is where I first fell in love with reading and storytelling, not holding anything back and sharing the light of the world. I taught, instructed, coached 6 yr. olds for over 30yrs.and emerged filled with the experience and substance to transition to a real artist and painter.
People often ask, “When was the first time you realized you were and artist?” It is indeed a very pat response not at all surprising for I found it as a little girl. I was pronounced by my father as a child as an artist and I proudly wore that title. I embraced that calling and made it my own. I have always been a painter. As a girl, I often took the bus to the Art Institute Museum of Chicago to surround myself with genius that inspires and transforms one’s life. I would ponder what I liked or did not rather contemplative or busy, light hearted or grotesque, how the colors or lack of them played with my emotions. I was amazed the richness and elegance of it all, as close to riches that I would ever be.
It was all that sowed the seeds too my life’s journey. A 58 yr. journey that waited till retirement which afforded me the opportunity to exercise my gift of painting.
I just believe there is a time and a season for everything. With the adjustments made after my art education up to and through college, teaching art for three years, it became imperative that I add more college credits to teach in an area that would insure tenure and provide the necessary benefits for my family. Teaching in the primary grades was not an option for me.
My mother used to say, “Sandy, you can’t do more than one thing at a time.” I found that out trying to paint and teach. Something had to give so I tabled painting. I stopped completely, not picking up a pencil or a brush for over 30 years. Not a day went by that I didn’t think of it but I believed if it were indeed a gift, I would be able to return with no heartache or sorrow.
I suppose if there was a struggle it was inward and taunted me for a long time. But in the end I rose from the ashes like a phoenix, as painter you can seriously consider.
I like to quote how others describe my work. They say it is powerful, beautiful, touching and all those words are what I strive to evoke from the viewer when I show African Americans of all ages in different settings. I love portraiture and consequently I take private commissions or utilize photos to share out a story. I have a recognizable color scheme and brushwork that is my signature. Today I am happy to have paintings in the hands of serious collectors. To me if you have collected more than one of my paintings, you are indeed serious, and I am grateful.
I think if you are truly striving to be successful you will eventually realize that it is elusive. For the criteria you set today will change in a month, in a year. I think it best to just keep it moving and stay on course, even if you are in a pause mode, as long as you are seeing out, forward, you are being successful on your journey. So my next painting is the success forward. Now my grandson has given me a mandate to do his portrait. I consider it a compliment to come from this sixteen year old and now I must with due seriousness take that task to heart and get it done from the eye of a grandmother. Wow! That is a responsibility and now I wish me well.
Now if you get my meaning when you look at the painting, than in that I am successful. When I unexpectedly have someone hug me, teary-eyed and appreciative of what they see; that is the epitome of being successful as far as I am concerned.