My name is Bernadette Sabatini. I live in Northeast Pennsylvania, near the Poconos. We get four seasons but my absolute favorite is summer. Long languid days where my sun-filled studio is a sanctuary where I can paint and still feel as if I’m outdoors.
I’ve been drawing all my life. One of my first memories was drawing alongside my father as he sketched Robert F. Kennedy in charcoals. My father was a major influence in my life. He was also a self-taught artist and he always encouraged and supported my artistic efforts.
I started doing cartoons of family members and our steady stream of dachshunds. A sense of humor and a love of the ridiculous have always been important in my life
and I hope that comes through in my art.
I would do cards for birthdays and holidays, highlighting the foibles of our family, and they came to expect a handmade card– though I was never a threat to Hallmark!
My father built a business reupholstering furniture and I grew up working there summers and holidays, learning the trade. Once I graduated from college I became partners in the business. When my father passed away 12 years ago, I carried on the business by myself.
I got away from my art after losing my father, I just didn’t have the heart for it for a long time. Slowly, I started to fill sketchbooks with cartoons and drawings. I used pencil and pen, but eventually needing to add color to give life to my ‘people’.
I gave myself permission to take a day off from work and devoted that day to only activities I wanted to do – no errands or chores. I signed up for a watercolor class
with a renowned watercolor artist, Gary Eimbich of Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania. It was the highlight of my week, I’m was learning so much from him, probably the main lesson is patience!
A painting inevitably goes through an ‘ugly phase’ and I would get discouraged. Gary would calmly make me step back and see how I could make it work with just a few
small, simple additions of color or strokes. The turnaround seems like magic.
I use reference photos for my portraits, but have been taking self-portraits to get poses and moods that I want to convey. Everything fascinates me about people – their
faces, hands and especially their eyes. Real people are so much more interesting to me than perfect, beautiful, photoshopped images.
I started small, using Arches 140 lb cold pressed paper in 9″ x 12″ or 11″ x 14″. Then, when I was in a local show, a man was looking at my art and asked me why all my
paintings were small. It’s funny how a stranger can open your eyes with an offhand remark. So now I’m challenging myself with larger images. It can be intimidating but
a larger piece has presence.
I started posting on Instagram over a year ago and enjoy the encouragement and inspiration I find there. It’s a supportive community of artists and creative people. I paint every day. I feel I have a lot to learn but I’m loving the journey.
I’m interested in so many different aspects of art including pen and ink, food art, portraits, and animals. Traditional art of landscapes, seascapes and still lifes really hold no interest for me and it shows in my efforts of these subjects. I see the skill other artists have in portraying them, but I can’t give them life in my paintings. I see a person with a pensive look, or their body positioned a certain way, and I want to paint them.
I’ve fallen in love with watercolors and painting, but like all love affairs there’s failure and rejection. The wonderful thing I’m discovering is that I’m resilient enough to bounce back and keep trying. Even when faced with failure, I’m compelled to keep going, either to stick with it and turn it around or start over and avoid the mistakes I made. Failure can be devastating but the successes are intoxicating – much like love!
Creator of Doodlewash®, founder of World Watercolor Month (July), World Watercolor Group™, and host of the Sketching Stuff Podcast. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!