Artists are often asked about the source of their inspiration, why they chose their medium and what their work means to them. For Sandy Pendleton, the answers are found in a lifetime of experiences and brief moments that taken together provide insight into her art.
The earliest of these experiences takes us to two little girls at their grandmother’s kitchen table, intently focused on a holiday craft project. “I learned the joy of creating with my hands from my grandmother and I have been a maker ever since”. Both sisters went on to become artists, but Sandy Pendleton’s path to art was not a direct one.
“My family put a high priority on education. At age five I knew I was going to college. That meant academics, and my early education did not involve art. Fortunately, I had a friend whose family appreciated art and taught me to love art museums”.
Another defining moment came during a museum visit to see the Impressionists. “I remember the first time I saw one of Van Gogh’s wheat fields. The movement of the brushstrokes, the texture, and the colors stopped me in my tracks. I wouldn’t have been able to tell you why that painting spoke to me, but now, many years later, I understand.”
After a career in the corporate world, Pendleton’s curiosity led her to explore her creative side. Without knowing what she was getting into, she took a class in kiln-fired glass and fell in love with the medium. She found the transformation of glass by heat exciting. The centuries-old techniques were fascinating. Pendleton furthered her education with a variety of classes and workshops. Experimentation taught her volumes and helped her to create her own style.
Pendleton’s work with glass is process oriented and time consuming. A single artwork may contain several hundred pieces. Starting with colored glass, a design is created and fired in a kiln. Carefully controlling temperature over the course of several firings allows her to add texture and movement to the glass. Finally, the glass may be placed on a mold and gently heated to give the piece dimension.
When asked about the inspiration for her work, Pendleton replies “I work intuitively. Sometimes I understand the inspiration for a piece long after the piece is made. For example, I have a series of pieces I create by manipulating the glass when it is molten hot. This allows me to capture movement and depth. I connect with these pieces emotionally, but for a long time I didn’t know why. One day I was sitting on my deck looking out at the forest early in the morning. It was very quiet and still, and yet I realized every plant and tree was moving and growing even if I couldn’t see it. I felt this tremendous energy in this very still morning. The movement and energy captured in the glass speaks to me of the energy of that quiet morning. A few years later, I was at the National Gallery standing in front of another Van Gogh. It dawned on me that what I loved so much about the Van Gogh wheat field I had seen long ago was the feeling of energy he had captured. “
Pendleton also takes great pleasure in a series of collaborations with her sister Nancy Pendleton, a contemporary mixed media artist in Phoenix, Arizona. Her sister’s work is a source of inspiration and her support is invaluable.
Today, Sandy Pendleton and her husband spend peaceful summers among the lakes and trees in beautiful Pinetop, Arizona. When the weather cools they relocate to their desert home in Cave Creek, Arizona. Just as she loves the interaction of light and glass, Pendleton loves the way the Arizona sun interacts with the landscape and the different moods that interaction creates. Capturing the shimmer of moonlight, the soft glow of morning, the brilliant hues of the desert sunset, and the mystery of twilight are an ongoing focus of her work. “If I have communicated my love of those moments through my work, I have succeeded.”