Diane Spence and Richard Sandstrom will open their home gallery in Qualicum Beach on Dec. 8. (Emily Vance photo)

Diane Spence and Richard Sandstrom will open their home gallery in Qualicum Beach on Dec. 8. (Emily Vance photo)

Drawing inspiration from everywhere – Qualicum Beach duo open home gallery

“It’s just rock’n’roll”: artists Richard Sandstrom and Diane Spence talk creativity, intuition

Where does art come from?

Some people are seemingly born with a paintbrush or guitar in hand. Others come to the pen, canvas, or wheel after decades, never having known that all along they harboured this unique ability within themselves.

The truth is, inspiration can come from everywhere and everything. It lives within us, but it is also a force greater than ourselves, and our inspiration is often found at the confluence of all the things that surround us.

At least, that’s what Qualicum Beach dynamic duo Richard Sandstrom and Diane Spence have found in their quest to exist in the intuitive, inspired state that artmaking requires – that it’s a combination of inner vision and outer inspiration.

The two will open their home gallery on Beach Road in Qualicum Beach on Dec. 8.

The gallery features Sandstrom’s acrylic and oil paintings, wearable sculpture-like jewelry as well as visual art made from rare and natural woods (including local maple and yellow cedar), some of which has been pigmented and inlaid with copper etchings.

READ MORE: ‘I Paint With Light Now’: Parksville digital artist on display at MAC

“Some of the work is recognizable and takes on a landscape feel… The other stuff is existential – in that it exists for its own sake – kind of an inner vision,” said Sandstrom.

Spence’s work is a combination of abstract painting and photography, showcasing the beauty of nature, with delicate macro-images of flowers and black and white inks in the Japanese style of sumi-e.

The two have a lot to share, and it’s not limited just to physical works of art.

As an art teacher in Spokane, Wash., Sandstrom taught many disciplines in his 30 year career – including drawing, painting, pottery, jewelry and sculpture. An avid lover of music, poetry, books and all types of art, he’s no stranger to drawing inspiration from the many genres of creative energy that exist in the world.

“I think all that has allowed me to get a feeling of what’s going on… The more you see, the more you connect. And the more you listen, the more you hear,” said Sandstrom.

“Poetry is so wonderful. Books. Reading anything, constantly. And good movies, good music, good food. It all goes into that, how you make something. You just sort of… you feel it.”

READ MORE: Parksville artist displays works inspired by a career in music

Speaking to Sandstrom, one gets the sense that the lines between all the mediums are blurring – a conversation about his wearable sculpture line quickly slides into a haiku about plums.

Then it turns into a meditation on his favourite Academy Award-winning films, and invariably lands on one of his favourite phrases – that “it’s all just rock’n’roll.”

“It comes from within. And everything we see belongs to us. Everything we hear, belongs to us… It’s fun. It’s not work,” said Sandstrom.

“But it’s also painful – it’s a blessing and a curse at the same time. Because sometimes you can get involved in something, you don’t want to quit. It’s a constant. You walk the knife-edge with balance, though. You don’t get too tipped over.”

Sandstrom plans all his pieces, making small sketches that turn into a full size drawing that gets replicated via carbon paper onto the canvas.

Spence’s work comes out a little bit differently. The two met in Palm Springs in the early 2000s, and the rest is history.

Spence, a nurse at St. Paul’s hospital for 30 years, mostly used her creativity in the kitchen up until the past decade. Now she’s an accomplished photographer and painter, preferring abstracts and unplanned pieces that often unfold in twists and turns on the canvas.

“He plans everything, and I don’t. I’m more of – it’s like you’re making spaghetti sauce. You just know what goes in there. It is all intuitive. This is where I want to know the basics – and they’re the basics of any painting. Colour, line, contrast, design, continuity. If you’re doing abstract, or you’re doing realism, it’s all the same,” said Spence.

READ MORE: Four generations of logging and mining stories in one Parksville show

“But putting that first stroke of paint on that canvas is where it starts.”

Spence says she often takes canvases and makes marks, going with where the colour, shade and intuition lead to create a fully realized piece. She’ll balance the marks out on the canvas and work as she goes.

“Working intuitively is difficult … but on the other hand it’s so rewarding. Every layer you come up with wonderful surprises!” said Spence.

“You can’t… you don’t want to possess it, just let that intuition go with you. Sometimes we over think it, and we ruin it. And sometimes there’s some people that do wonderful pieces of work, they just let that energy go. And it works out. It doesn’t work all the time, it’s very dangerous to do. But when it works, it works and it’s a fabulous piece. Then you feel that energy.”

Sandstrom and Spence’s gallery can be found at 545 Beach Rd. in Qualicum Beach. The grand opening is Dec. 8, after which the gallery will be open to the public on a permanent basis. More information and artwork can be found online at www.sandstrom-and-spence-studio.ca.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Parksville city hall sign. (Mandy Moraes photo)
Parksville city council approves 2021 workplan

Public input still sought on municipal budget and financial plan

Colin Springford expressed his thanks following a birthday truck parade that was held for him on his 75th birthday on April 10, 2020. (Submitted photo)
Longtime Nanoose Bay farmer Colin Springford dies at age 75

‘He will be deeply missed, always loved and never forgotten’

Nicole Shaw, left, and Sekoya Dawn next to their respective works at the Qualicum Arts Supply and Gallery in Qualicum Beach. The art will be on display until the end of February. (Mandy Moraes photo)
Acrylic artists display work in Qualicum Beach

Nicole Shaw and Sekoya Dawn both featured at Qualicum Arts Supply and Gallery

Gord John stands during question period in Ottawa in Sept. 2020. (PHOTO COURTESY CHRISTIAN DIOTTE, HOUSE OF COMMONS PHOTO SERVICES)
2020: A Year in Review with Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns

NDP MP wants to ‘build back better’ in 2021

Parksville Fire Department crews attended the scene of a house fire on Monday, Jan. 18, 2021 at the end of Foster Place in Parksville. No injuries were reported. (Mandy Moraes photo)
Fire crews called to battle house fire in Parksville

No injuries reported, kitty rescued

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

A suspect has been arrested in connection with fires at Drinkwater Elementary (pictured) and École Mount Prevost. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Arson suspect arrested after fires at Cowichan Valley schools

Drinkwater Elementary and Mount Prevost schools hit within a week

A woman writes a message on a memorial mural wall by street artist James “Smokey Devil” Hardy during a memorial to remember victims of illicit drug overdose deaths on International Overdose Awareness Day, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

On the front lines, COVID-19 has not only led to more calls, but increased the complexity

Nanaimo RCMP are seeking the public’s help after a man allegedly assaulted a clerk at James General Store on Victoria Road on Jan. 18. (Submitted photo)
Suspect screams at customer then assaults store clerk in Nanaimo

RCMP asking for information about Jan. 18 incident at James General Store

Chartwell Malaspina Care Residence in Nanaimo. (News Bulletin file photo)
Two Nanaimo care-home residents have died during COVID-19 outbreak

Death reported Monday was the second related to Chartwell Malaspina outbreak, says Island Health

Rod Bitten of Union Bay won $500,000 in the Lotto Max draw on Jan. 15. Photo supplied
Vancouver Island electrician gets shocking surprise with $500K Extra win

Rod Bitten has been hard at work with home renovations, which is… Continue reading

Eighteen-year-old Aidan Webber died in a marine accident in 2019. He was a Canadian Junior BMX champion from Nanaimo. (Submitted)
Inadequate safety training a factor in teen BMX star’s workplace death in 2019

Aidan Webber was crushed by a barge at a fish farm near Port Hardy

Oyster River Fire Rescue members were called out to a suspicious fire in Black Creek. Two vehicles parked at a private residence were destroyed by fire. Photo courtesy Oyster River Fire Rescue
Suspicious fire destroys two vehicles at Vancouver Island residence

Oyster River Fire Rescue personnel were dispatched to a fire at a… Continue reading

Members of the BC RCMP Explosive Disposal Unit (EDU) is on route to Drummond Park opposite of Fulford Habour on Saltspring Island after the discovery of a suspicious cylindrical-shaped device. (Google/Screencap)
Bomb disposal unit en route to Salt Spring Island after suspicious device found in park

Police say a resident discovered the device Wednesday morning in Drummond Park opposite BC Ferries terminal

Most Read