Sandra Wong Orloff
Open Studios Hours May 20/21 from 11am - 5pm
Working from photos, I love drawing people. Getting lost in the process and motion of mark making is meditative and a comfort. I let the white space of the page form the environment in which the figure sits, and use the watercolor lines to explore that space. I begin with a rough sketch, find the balance between drawing and space, then work in the detail, shades, shape, posture, etc. Sometimes I know what the lines will do before I begin the drawing, or the lines may be revealed after the figure drawing is complete. The lines may respond to the figure and the space, or can be an emotional reaction to my subject. The two mediums come together easily for me. I like the black and white simplicity of the figure set against the playful and vibrant marks of color.
I began this method and series at a time when I was dealing with raising a teenager in a pandemic, both in how the pandemic was shaping his teen years, and at the same time reacting to his personal choices and lifestyle. He started sharing photos with me that he and his friends took for and of each other. It offered me a peek into the life he was living as he moved away and became more independent, and at the same time a more objective way to consider choices he was making. Never has a generation lived in a time of posing, sharing and controlling their image online the way this one does - the photos they take for themselves are goofy fun, push the edge and totally their own.
Then in November 2021 a young man brought a gun to his high school. (The first thought we might have is which one was that?) An image from the immediate aftermath was so compelling and gut wrenching I saved it and thus began a series based on images collected from events in the news. Focusing on the domestic, I brought together images both terrifying and celebratory to consider the interconnectedness of our daily lives and experiences. The lines of color highlight that connection. And, sadly, these images also serve as a reminder how easy it is to forget and move on to the next event.
I continue my drawings using shared, found or borrowed images and exploring the space the figures are in with abstract lines of color. I am currently exploring bringing together multiple images on separate sheets of varying sizes, with the lines traveling through and connecting the pieces together. I am interested in how we present ourselves and what we see when looking at each other. If there are themes to my work, something that carries through for me, it’s finding beauty through challenging times and harder or painful moments.
Sandra Wong Orloff earned a BFA in Painting from the San Francisco Art Institute and a MFA in Fine Arts from Mills College. She was included in the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts first Bay Area Now and awarded an Artist-In-Residence Grant from the San Francisco Arts Council. She was a founding member with Gina Gaiser of the artists collective Ben Dunne Presents, producing pop-up art exhibitions and events. She has taught artmaking to young people, exhibited her artwork here and there and continues to explore her creative process in Oakland, CA.