By Irene Ruddock
Eileen Sanger, the beautiful, vivacious plein air oil painter with a passion for life, talks about her art, her future plans and how she managed to not let personal loss define her life. Sanger’s art can be seen locally at the Reboli Center in Stony Brook, the William Ris Gallery in Jamesport and at www.eileensanger.com.
How would you describe your art?
I consider myself to be a modern impressionist. I paint color, light and shadow creating a fleeting moment in time. I use small and large shapes, layering color, and using current themes such as ocean scenes, farm scenes, boats, etc. It’s about what my eyes can see and what I feel.
Who has inspired you along the way?
I have been inspired by Monet, Sorolla, Sargent and even Fairfield Porter. I have also learned from my friend Don Demers, a nationally recognized marine painter. But I have to say that my interest in becoming an artist began with my third grade art teacher, Mrs. Weber, who saw potential in my art and persuaded my mother to let me take lessons. From that point on, I have had either a pencil or a brush in my hand.
Why do you prefer plein air painting?
Painting outdoors opens all my senses and brings out an emotional content. My heart actually beats faster when I am about to begin the painting which reveals the emotion behind the brush, and then intuition takes over.
What is the best thing that art has brought you?
Art has always been the gateway to my soul and true self. It has brought me a sense of purpose and has filled my life with joy. I have met some wonderful artists with whom I have shared the same feelings. It has brought me to new places to paint.
If you could interview one artist, whom would that be?
Claude Monet! I would love to get into his head!
I know that you have been most generous in sharing your art with local charitable organizations. Can you explain why?
I believe that art should be shared and it makes me feel good to contribute in some way. I believe in paying forward.
If there was one word to describe yourself, what would it be?
Survivor! I have had three near death experiences and some significant love losses in my life, but I don’t believe in reliving the past. I look at every experience as a learning lesson and move on. I am an optimist!
After your husband passed away, you chose to move to Riverhead. Why did you choose the North Fork?
I found a small, historic chapel to renovate and love the peace and tranquility in my “little piece of heaven” chapel. The fact that it sits in the middle of wine country and has bucolic views offers wonderful opportunities to paint plein air.
What else are you passionate about?
My other passion is food and wine. I love cooking and coming up with creative recipes. It was my love of food that brought me to work at The Crushed Olive in Stony Brook. I would hand out my recipes, which received such good feedback that it was suggested that I write “The Infused Palate.” It is a collection of my recipes using the flavored olive oils and balsamic vinegars now selling in forty-eight olive oil stores. It can be ordered from my website at www.theinfusedpalate.com.
What is the most important aspect of you that you would like people to know about you?
Wow, that’s a tough one! I guess that I am a passionate, caring and moral person. I enjoy life and always make plans so that I have something to look forward to.
What is the most important lesson you have learned in life?
My dear, deceased mother has taught me that life is 5 percent living, but your attitude and how you approach life is 95 percent. What a fabulous woman she was! I miss her every day, but she had taught me to always live in the moment.
What excites you the most about your future?
This month, I will be sixty-five and I am retired. I eventually will move to North Carolina with my new love, where I would love to start an art organization where I can teach and show my art and the art of others. I will continue to paint until I die since art soothes me and reaches my soul. It will be a part of me forever.