Carrie Sanderson and I have many things in common. We are both third culture kids, our dads that take amazing nature photography (bird photography in the case of Carrie’s father, and insect/reptilian photography in my father’s case) and we are artists and writers.
Carrie is the first person I have interviewed for the ‘Soul Stories’ section that I felt called to develop and explore, so that other like minded people could share how they conquered their ‘darkness’ to lead the life they wish to lead, in a purposeful manner. So, thank you Carrie!
Carrie is British born, who grew up in the Netherlands and is now based in Scotland. She is a wildlife artist, who sketches and draws photos of birds and wildlife based on photos that her father takes of wildlife and nature. Pretty awesome concept! To be inspired by our parents’ work and hobbies so that we can create a world of wonder through our art. Both Carrie and I seemed to have taken inspiration from the photos our dad’s took but have used our own creative touches to create our beautiful things. For example, seeing dad take photos of insects in the monsoons of India, spurred me on to delve deeper into macro photography of insects and flowers in a way that I had never done before. Now, these are available on greeting cards and keychains and a limited edition of cufflinks.
Carrie is presenting her selection of Winged Wildlife drawings as part of a group exhibition at Galerie Art by Mar in the Netherlands. The exhibition runs from the 18th of August till the 15th of September, 2015. This is what she has shared with me about her dream to be recognized as an artist and how that came about. Incidentally, I am writing this post while the movie on bird watching, called the Big Year, is going on.
Where are you originally from? Describe your life as a cross culture kid (CCK), and how it affected you.
Carrie: I was born and brought up in The Netherlands, though both my parents are English. My upbringing was cross-cultural and bi-lingual as I went to Dutch schools, mainly had Dutch friends and spoke Dutch; at home I spoke English and learnt about British culture through my parents.
As a child I was highly aware that I was different from the other school kids – I knew I was the English girl in a Dutch (school) environment. I used to resist it and I would go through phases of wanting to be 100% Dutch, only later to change my mind and wanting to be 100% English (rebelling in my own way!). I was trying to belong somewhere.
In my twenties I made peace with my “blended-ness” – especially after learning the terms Cross-Cultural Kids (CCKs) and Third Culture Kids (TCKs). I identified myself with CCKs and decided to look at the positive side of being cross-cultural, having the best of both worlds.
Now, in my thirties, I wouldn’t change any of it. Being cross-cultural has shaped me as a person. It has given me a world-view that may have been different if I wasn’t a CCK – and I may not have been as free-spirited as I am.
Tell us about your dream come true. How many years did it take to achieve this dream of exhibiting and what inner hurdles did you find you had to go through?
I had the dream of being an artist as a child and teenager, but I didn’t feel I was good enough. So I buried the dream deep down inside. Over the years, it did niggle me and try to grab my attention, and it wasn’t until after I turned 30 that I started to properly explore my art again. It was then that I knew that something had been missing. I worked on my art for at least a couple of years, then set up my business as an artist, writer and creativity coach in November 2014.
About five months later I was enjoying seeing my friend’s paintings in a new gallery in my hometown in The Netherlands and before I knew it, I was chatting to the owner, showing her my greeting cards (which she loved), and she said she would be happy for me to exhibit my work there. A dream come true!
The inner struggles I experienced were around being seen, and not feeling good enough to exhibit my work. Also I struggled with not knowing how I would do it, and I feared that not having been to art school would set me back and galleries wouldn’t want my work. Another one was around the starving artist limiting belief. I see now how these were big limiting beliefs.
How did you overcome these limiting beliefs?
One of the ways in which these limiting beliefs stopped having a hold over me was by doing the work – by continuing to sketch, draw and come up with ideas for creative/artistic projects. To keep going no matter what my inner voices were saying. Acknowledging the critical voice and making friends with it, too! Because it was showing me what my true desires were. Also, I questioned the truth of these limiting beliefs and I sought ways to explore how my dream could happen, and being open to what possibilities showed up.
I do like to do things a bit differently, to question the status quo and to ask, “Who ever said it had to be done one way and that way only?” Asking myself that question opened up other ways for my dream to manifest. And of course being detached to the outcome is important – in other words, I am okay with the various opportunities that show up that I could not have imagined, like this one did!”
You have chosen to sketch wildlife. Why? What does nature mean to you? What happens when you sketch. Which is the favourite animal you like to sketch?
I love animals. They are beautiful creatures and can teach us, humans, so much about being in the moment. There is so much detail in nature, and to me that detail is absolutely divine. I also feel that nature is uplifting, energizing as well as calming. Walking in the woods is one of my favourite ways to relax and recharge. It’s meditative for me.
When I sketch nature and wildlife I get into a state of flow where I lose track of time, and it’s so much fun. I feel connected and I have a sense of belonging. My favourite animal to sketch is the robin as it has a special meaning: it’s my mum’s maiden name. There are other personal connections, too, and I feel robins are really adorable. I love their feisty characters!
Describe your sketching process.
I usually sketch and draw from photographs that my Dad has taken – he is a keen, and talented photographer of birds (mainly). He then emails me lots of his photos so that I can pick and choose which ones I want to draw.
I first sketch the main outlines of the animal with pencil, then I go over it with pen and ink and I fill in the details. I might use a small paintbrush and a dab of water and ink to create depth. Currently, I do all of this in my living room.
This photo taken by my Dad, amongst many others, serves as inspiration for my art because of how I can see a lot of details in the bird and that excites me. This sandwich tern, in particular, looks so elegant to me in the way he has been photographed by Dad. I love the movement and dynamic nature of this photo. Also the feeling I get from looking at it, there are no words to describe how much joy it gives me!
Amongst all the countries in the world you lived in, which country appeals to your heart from a nature perspective and why?
I think Scotland, where I currently live, closely followed by New Zealand where I lived for a year, are the two countries that have spoken to my heart from a nature perspective. It’s the sheer landscape and vastness of the mountains, open spaces and wonderful wildlife that live there, that makes me stop and feel incredibly alive and joyful to experience it and be a part of it.
What are the next steps for you as an artist.
Next steps are promoting my new range of drawings that are coming out, having an exhibition in Edinburgh where I currently live, and doing more nature-inspired (abstract) painting projects.
You can also buy my work online on Carrie Sanderson Art Etsy shop.
(Editor: Make sure to read Carrie’s blog story on ‘Is your Definition of Success working for you?’ on her website.)
What advice can you give to those who want to live a free life of an artist and a traveller?
I would say, believe in yourself and your ability to make your dreams happen. Start to believe anything is possible and in ways that you cannot even imagine. And if you don’t believe in yourself, then find ways to cultivate your self-belief. It’ll make such a difference to your life, well-being and artwork.
All photos supplied by Carrie Sanderson and copyright as noted after each photos. Used with permission.
Here are the details of the exhibition, if you find yourself in the Netherlands.
Galerie Art by Mar
2242 KN Wassenaar
From Tuesday afternoon on 18th August 2015 till Tuesday morning on 15th September 2015.