GUEST ARTIST: “The Element of Surprise” by Sandra Strait

Hi, I’m Sandra Strait, aka molossus, aka rooibas, aka myfeetshowit, from Fairview, Oregon. When I first got into social media I thought it would help if I had a different name for the various forums that I was in.  It didn’t.  To this day, I have ‘new’ friends who suddenly realize they’ve known me for years. I’ve also been accused of stealing my own artwork several times.

Before I continue, I want to let you know I’m holding a giveaway of Stonehenge Aqua paper for the people who comment on this post.  Details are at the end of this post!

I’ve never had a formal education in art, just my 10,000+ hours of practice. I started out with school notebook paper and a cheap Bic pen as soon as I could hold one.  Over the years, the paper got finer and the pens got fancier and I started using other mediums as well.

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor by Sandra Strait - Rockin' the Mixed Media-Watercolor, Micron & Gellyroll on Aquarius II - Doodlewash

When I was drawing, people would say that my work looked like a painting.  When I did oil painting, I was told that my paintings looked drawn.  When I did Artist Trading Cards, using marker and acrylics, I was told they looked like miniature oil paintings.  You may sense a trend here.

It’s possible that my slightly different way of doing things started when I was a child.  My father was a zookeeper.  In those days, the zoo didn’t have a nursery so, if a mother abandoned her babies, a zoo employee would take them home to raise.  While all the other children in my neighborhood had cats and dogs for pets, I had lions and tigers.

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor by Sandra Strait - Sunset in Rust and Teal-Cobalt Teal, Quin Rust, New Gamboge on Gemini Coldpress - Doodlewash

I’m a firm believer that there really aren’t any ‘bad’ art supplies.  We’ve all seen amazing works of art done by someone using toothpicks or the cheapest pens and paints.  When I try out a new product I try to destroy it.  That is, I push past what I know to be good technique until I see the limitations in the product.  Then I try to learn how to use that product to the best of its limitations and …wait, there’s more… then I try to think of ways that I can use the tool in unexpected ways.  Mind you, I’m more likely to push a cheap tool to total destruction than an expensive one.  I’m a bit strange, not crazy!

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor by Sandra Strait - House Sparrow - Doodlewash

About five years ago, my mother became very ill and I was spending long hours at the hospital with her. I started doing Zentangle, a method that uses patterns, and only needs a pen or pencil and a three-inch piece of paper.  I fell in love with the technique because I could surprise myself as much as the viewer.  I’d start drawing my patterns, and then decide what the drawing would be – sort of like finding animal shapes in the clouds.

Leaves A'Fall-ingUnfortunately, I loved tangling so much that I messed up my wrist, drawing constantly, and that’s when I started using watercolor.  When I first began, I was using my non-dominant hand (I’m slightly ambidextrous) and by the time my wrist was better, I’d abandoned my old love, Zentangle, and taken up full time with watercolor.  I do have to confess – I’m a terrible cheat.  I frequently return to my old loves – Zentangle, ballpoint pen drawing, and mixed media, but I always come back to watercolor.

Titian Haired DancersI still try to surprise myself.  Not as much by starting without a result in mind, but by constantly changing the products that I use and the style I paint in. Last year, I painted a bird every week.  This year I’m alternating between the quality of light and stylized paintings in the vein of Eyvind Earle and Zoltan Szabo.  Right now, I don’t care for painting people, but tomorrow I may wake up and decide I’m going to paint people in court costume from the French Revolution.  I just never know, and I love that.

Because I use so many color schemes and try so many brands, I’m constantly creating DIY palettes.  I could just buy the cheap plastic ones, but where is the fun in that? I scour the bargain and second-hand stores and yard sales for old tins.  I convert ice trays and mini-ramekins and egg plates.

I have a blog, ‘Life Imitates Doodles’ where I share my work, post art supply reviews, and tutorials, and hold art supply giveaways. Three times a week I post a list of links to art and crafting tutorials, giveaways and reviews. If any of you post art-related reviews or giveaways on your blogs or in social media feel free to let me know and I’ll add them to my list.

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor by Sandra Strait - Standing Water-watercolor on Strathmore Aquarius II - Doodlewash

Though I’ve been a member of the World Watercolor Group for some time, I’ve only been a member of Doodlewash for a short time.  It’s been a delight jumping in, meeting fellow artists and discussing my favorite subjects – art and art supplies.

Thank you, Charlie, for all your hard work in setting up this community for your fellow artists.


GIVEAWAY has ended! Thanks for Entering!


Sandra Strait
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Doodlewash Gallery

Creator of Doodlewash® and founder of World Watercolor Month™ (July) and World Watercolor Group™. 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!
Published in Featured Artists
293 Comments
  1. Robin Edmundson 2 weeks ago

    Beautiful! I love how you practice and practice. It’s my favorite way of learning to do things!

    • Sandra Strait 2 weeks ago

      Thank you! Practice doesn’t really make perfect, but it sure helps! Good luck with the giveaway!

  2. Anthony Billings 2 weeks ago

    I’ve wanted to try Stonehenge, but the little scraps they sent out as trials just weren’t up to the task.

    • Sandra Strait 2 weeks ago

      It is hard to really get a feel for a paper with just a small piece. There are so many things to try doing with it. Good luck with the giveaway!

  3. Martha Keim 2 weeks ago

    Love me some Doodlewash

  4. Tamiko McCurry 2 weeks ago

    I love the idea of using one medium so well.. folks think you are doing something else..I also believe in practice pratice pratice.. and not sleeping on the art you can create from bic pens and other super inexpensive art supplies….

    • Sandra Strait 2 weeks ago

      Exactly! People miss out when they think they must have the newest and the best. Good luck with the giveaway.

  5. Faith 2 weeks ago

    A great article!
    I started doing zentangle in 2012 and soon got fed up with the restrictions, the groupie thing and the tiny paper format and decided to do my own thing.
    One name stuck in my mind and that was Molossus!!! I looked at your designs, drawings, samplers etc and was really fascinated -. and challenged, of course. I even have you on my list of “friends” at facebook, from that beginner time. I came from painting large canvases to drawing because I moved and no longer have the space to paint in comfort. I have no talent for watercolouring, but you certainly have and I am full of praise for all you do.
    I live in Germany, so I assume that I’m ineligble for the paper even if selected. No matter. I just want to compliment you on being focussed at Doodlewash and for inspiring me to get on with the job.

    • Sandra Strait 2 weeks ago

      Thank you! I love Zentangle, but never wanted to beome a CZT because I never wanted to stay with the traditional format, so I know what you mean. You are eligible for the giveaway! If you win you might want to take up watercoloring – talent comes with the trying, lol. The paper is a little rough for pen drawing (though I’ve used it for line and wash) but is great for mixed media.

  6. Karen Kay 2 weeks ago

    I would love to try out this paper. Great article and I especially love the first image with the sheep. I will be visiting your blog right after I leave this post.

    • Sandra Strait 2 weeks ago

      Thank you! Enjoy your visit at the blog and good luck with the giveaway.

  7. moureeng 2 weeks ago

    Hi,
    This is my first time on Doodlewash and I tried to read every section of the Blog. I really liked your article and how you learned your craft. Beautiful design and range of subjects. Also I like you you put new art supplies to the test, we should all try it! Thank you for your article, I learned many new techniques and ideas for my art from looking at your creations.
    Thank you;
    Moureen Ballard

    • Sandra Strait 2 weeks ago

      Thank you. Doodlewash is a great place to find articles and discuss art. I love it! Good luck with the giveaway.

  8. Shelagh 2 weeks ago

    Hi Sandra – thanks for sharing your story. I love your cocky little sparrow in monotone. I work mostly in brush and brown ink on toned paper, but I’d love to try the Stonehenge.

    • Sandra Strait 2 weeks ago

      Thank you. I love monochromatic painting. I don’t know why I don’t do it more often – probably because I’m trying to do too many things, lol. Good luck with the giveaway.

  9. Linda Cannon 2 weeks ago

    I am impressed with your variety of materials and styles of painting. I would like to experiment with a number of these….Go Ducks and Beavers!

  10. Barbara B. CZT 2 weeks ago

    I love receiving your emails and I love the doodlewash site. I would really like to win this paper. I have been working on my watercolor painting and I think this paper really sounds like it would be nice to work on.

    • Sandra Strait 2 weeks ago

      Thank you. The Doodlewash site is a great place for all artists, but I think especially for beginners. The Beginners Forum is always posting information. Good luck with the giveaway!

  11. Dörte 2 weeks ago

    Thanks for share your story and the giveaway! I alwyas love trying new material.

  12. Stephanie Hartwick 2 weeks ago

    Thanks for the inspiration. Looking forward to visiting your blog

    • Sandra Strait 2 weeks ago

      Thank you! I hope you enjoy the blog. Good luck with the giveaway.

  13. Susan March 2 weeks ago

    Relatively new to watercolor and very new to Doodlewash, I’m enjoying reading the artist’s histories and yours is certainly inspirational. I’m enjoying the whimsy in your work. I’ve just signed up to follow your blog for ongoing motivation. Thank you!

    • Sandra Strait 2 weeks ago

      Thank you! I hope you find much to enjoy at my blog. Goodl luck with the giveaway!

  14. Kelly D 2 weeks ago

    This sounds like a great product. I would love to try it!

  15. Marrianne 2 weeks ago

    I am I am new to this page and love the concept. Lots of interesting reading. The give away is so generous!

  16. Carol 2 weeks ago

    I would love to try this paper! So generous of you to share!

  17. thetirelesstangler 2 weeks ago

    Hi Sandra! I’ll admit to a gasp of surprise to learn you are Mollosus! I’ve spent happy hours trying out your patterns! The watercolors in this post are stunning! I’ve been Charlie’s follower for a year and a half at Doodlewash and world watercolor group. Thanks for the giveaway! I’d love to tryout the paper.

  18. Sandra Strait 2 weeks ago

    Lol! The secret’s out. Good luck with the giveaway!

  19. Betsy Summerhayes 2 weeks ago

    I’ve followed your work for quite some time on Flickr. It’s always been entertaining and educational. I’d love an opportunity to try the Stonehenge papers.

    • Sandra Strait 2 weeks ago

      Thank you! It always makes my day when I hear that. Good luck with the giveaway!

  20. Nicole S 1 week ago

    I love your paintings!

  21. June 1 week ago

    Hi Sandra, Love your blog and was a regular follower when you were doing zentangle. Still check in to see your comments on art products. I also keep coming back to watercolour whenever I get the time and often just make backgrounds for tangling on just so I can get those paints out. Just bought my first sheet of high quality water colour paper. Makes a difference! Love your watercolour painting in this post.

  22. Debbie Rucker 1 week ago

    Thanks for this opportunity! I love Doodlewash! I’m learning so much from you and being so inspired!! Now if I can quiet the inner critic of mine…

    • Sandra Strait 1 week ago

      Thank you. That inner critic may be loud but he’s not very truthful. Good luck with the giveaway!

  23. Agatha 1 week ago

    I love the fact that you’ve been accused of stealing your own art! Must be a funny situation, at least! Lol
    I’d like to be entered on the giveaway, mainly because Stonehenge is not a brand of materials we see around here (I live in Brazil 🙂 )

    • Sandra Strait 1 week ago

      Thank you! I do get a laugh when someone accuses me of stealing my own work, but I appreciate it as well. If someone else does steal my work, I’ll probably hear about it. Good luck with the giveaway.

  24. Brian Bartlett 1 week ago

    Would love to try out the Stonehenge Aqua watercolor paper. Awesome watercolor paintings Sandra

  25. Alyss Amster 1 week ago

    Sandra,
    You’re a real inspiration! I never had formal art training but fell in love with Zentangle and became a CZT. Last year I got guillain barre where my antibodies attacked my nerves and lost use of my arms, legs and had double vision. I was lucky enough to get better in 6 months where most people it took 1+ years. Unfortunately I’ve had artist block since and have been intimidated by what I see posted. Your fantasy landscapes have given me inspiration to start all over again. Thank you!

    • Sandra Strait 1 week ago

      Thank you. I can certainly understand why you have artist block. I can’t imagine how frightening and stressful that disease must be. I think it does take some pressure off to use your imagination for inspiration rather than a reference photo, but it’s still hard to start over. Good luck with your art and with the giveaway!

  26. Kimberly Stelly 1 week ago

    Sandra, I would love to win some Stonehenge Aqua! I am currently working in watercolor, and I have been experimenting with different papers. This would be a perfect opportunity to try another new product for me!

  27. Margret 1 week ago

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful art and your giveaway. I especially like the sheep in the fanciful scene and the pebbles.

    • Sandra Strait 1 week ago

      Thank you. I do love painting sheep! Good luck with the giveaway!

  28. Love your paintings so much!!

  29. Srividya Ramkumar 1 week ago

    Love your article and your style! I joined your blog email list to see more of your work 🙂
    I would love to try the stonehenge paper :))
    Cheers

  30. Lori Bradford 1 week ago

    Great story! Thanks for sharing and please put me in the running for the paper.
    I hope to be brave enough soon to post some of my watercolours.

    • Sandra Strait 1 week ago

      Thank you! I look forward to seeing what you paint. Good luck with the giveaway.

  31. Kathy Nickol 1 week ago

    What a great giveaway! Thanks for the opportunity 😊. Nice to learn about you as well. Great article.

  32. Mary Stafford 1 week ago

    I would love to try this paper. I found my Mom’s watercolor paints and have been trying them out. Thank you for sharing your talents and supplies❤️

  33. susan1859 1 week ago

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  34. Becky Redfern 1 week ago

    I want to try this paper! I love the bird.

    • Sandra Strait 1 week ago

      Thank you. The bird is one of my favorites, as well. Good luck with the giveaway!

  35. Jodi Ballenger 1 week ago

    Sandra, when I look at your art, I like that I cannot say it is just one style. I like the different emotions each piece brings out as well. Your story is so interesting as well. I have always wanted to learn how to watercolor masterfully, and it looks like you have done just that. Please enter me in your more than generous giveaway.

    • Sandra Strait 1 week ago

      Thank you! Watercolor is a fantastic medium for those who like to play with styles. It can be used in soooo many ways! Good luck with the giveaway!

  36. zuzala 1 week ago

    You are not the only “cheater” i am a notorious one. I study a certain subject such as how Charles Reid does faces and when i get really into it, i am suddenly draen to botanicals. Why? Donno. But i find its besf to just go with the flow. More fun too!

    • Sandra Strait 1 week ago

      Exactly! The inner muse wants what the inner muse wants, lol. Good luck with the giveaway.

  37. phoenix 1 week ago

    Man I too, tried to do something with those little samples they had but could not find much use to them but then again I too have artists block, it has been a bit of a bad year for me and I am trying to get back in it. I love all of your artwork, simply amazing.

    • Sandra Strait 1 week ago

      Thank you! Artist block can be so frustrating. I usually just start slapping color on paper until something shows itself to me and perks up my interest. Sometimes, it takes a while. I hope your block goes away soon. Good luck with the giveaway!

  38. Heather Parker 1 week ago

    Ooh, stonehenge!

  39. Annette 1 week ago

    I’ve enjoyed this sight very much ! I joined only a few weeks ago or so BUT find it so much more involved and goes much deeper into our art process . I am a watercolor ist the last couple of years do to health . Always have been moved by making my own art except when I would get irritated by the deadlines as a free lancer AND being with art minded folks . We seem to have a different walk us artists 😉 would love to have win the paper to work with too . That brand of paper is new to me . GOD bless you

    • Sandra Strait 1 week ago

      Thank you. I agree that artists seem to view the world differently than others do. Or perhaps we just have a better way to express it. Good luck with the giveaway!

  40. Belinda Ackerman 1 week ago

    I liked your post telling how you started in your art. I also am self taught and started out pencil and paper drawing and when older in oil painting landscapes. There was a period when I no longer drew or painted. I love having found Zentangle and getting back into the art of drawing, am into water color painting right now along with tangling. I just love your site and your style of drawing and painting and telling about yourself. You are a very interesting and likable person, glad I found your site.

    • Sandra Strait 1 week ago

      Thank you. I’ve had dry spells where it was hard to create, so I know how frustrating that can be. Zentangle is a good way to get back into it because there are no expectations. Good luck with the giveaway!

  41. Daniela Scheele 1 week ago

    I’ve only started with water color so I’m eager to test out various papers to find one that works for me. I’ve never even heard of Stonehenge Aqua Paper. It would be interesting to play with it.

  42. Sue Palmer 7 days ago

    You inspire me to try more all the time

  43. Melody Greenlief 7 days ago

    love your post many of the things you talk about sound just like my thoughts.

  44. Elizabeth 7 days ago

    I’m so excited to have found you Sandra, especially your blog and your Facebook group Fun and Easy Landscapes. Thank you Charlie for continuesly introducing is to these amazing artists and inspirations!

    • Sandra Strait 7 days ago

      Thank you. Charlie does an amazing job with this community. Good luck with the giveaway!

  45. Nina Graci 6 days ago

    Sandra as usuaI your work never fails to inspire and make me pick up a pen. I was smiten by your soulfull bird and dreamy landscape. You’re such a multi-talented artist – always inspiring and always so generous with info and techniques. And now a giveaway! Thank you…..you’ve made me reconsider watercolor.

    …I was dismayed to hear about your wrist. Please take good care of it. You have so much art to produce!

    Thank you too for inspiring me with your take on Zentangles — back in 2012 after surgery, that was all I did for months. And it was your site that kept me up til 3 am, trying out your complex designs.

    Just as I was tiring of the restrictions and rules around Zentangles, I discovered your work, which inspired me to keep going and just have fun with pens, inks and lines. It changed my life.

    Nina

    • Sandra Strait 6 days ago

      Nina, thank you! You’ve made my day with your compliments. Good luck with the giveaway!

  46. […] and constantly working to make it better. And a thank you to each and every person who commented on my guest artist post. I was overwhelmed with the response. I reconnected with friends from the past, and made new […]

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