Before canvases, there were cave walls and at some point between these palaeolithic illustrations and iconic oil paintings of the wealthy and wise, there existed the most glorious murals, portraits and strange symbols daubed directly onto any old piece of wood; panels, furniture, chests, bats and floorboards.
Sadly, the art of layering paint onto wooden objects is no longer totally mainstream, however, there are a few artists still using panels of natural material as the basis for their work. One such creative is Sandra Eterović, a Melbourne-based artist whose colourful portraits adorn 2D body parts, assorted odds and ends and original wooden sculptures.
With a background in textiles and fashion, Sandra’s flair for stitching and knitting shouldn’t go unmentioned, however, it’s her repurposed wooden objects featuring kitschy, brightly coloured paintings and flame-haired and rosy-cheeked characters that have really caught my attention. Sandra has exhibited all over Australia, taking her unique works on the road in order to showcase them to fellow illustrators and designers and of course, to her fans across the country.
Sandra studied Art History at university and now sells her fantastic handmade pieces and vintage bits and pieces on Etsy while living the freelance life. The materials she uses as a base for her paintings and illustrations are usually found, therefore sustainably sourced and I love this upcyled vibe.
A blend of fine art, retro-packaging-inspired illustration and European folk art, there’s a cute, wholesome quality about Sandra’s cheerful portraits and floral flourishes. ‘I find lots of things inspiring’ she says, ‘Fair Isle and other forms of traditional knitting. Trucks decorated with giant smiling cows or shiny apples. Old creaky ships and boats, blue and white stripes, anchors, old signs, sailors’ peacoats. Illustrations by John Tenniel, Edward Lear, Richard Scarry and Maurice Sendak. Certain tiny eighteenth century and French provincial prints.’
Sandra’s creations hark back to a simpler time and perhaps that’s why we find them so jovial, innocent and visually uplifting. From her home in Australia, she dreams up new ways to infuse contemporary painting with a decidedly vintage edge; it’s no wonder the likes of Frankie Magazine and The Design Files are crazy about her. I am happier knowing that Sandra’s work is out there, perking up our lives one ping-pong bat at a time.
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Words: Emily Beeson