By: Monteque Pope-Le Beau
Edited By : Colleen Page
Images By: Ms. Sandra Newman
It is a picturesque day in Santa Monica as I drive up to the beautiful Fairmont Miramar Hotel. The hotel is very striking and elegant as the lady I am about to meet, Ms. Sandra Newman. The life journey she embarked on was one which made her into the person she is today and at times tested her will. Not one to give up she pushed ahead regardless of what others told her, she never gave up on herself or her dreams. It is always a pleasure to meet talented artist and Ms. Newman is no exception. She is both a lady of the times as she is creative. The Art of Monteque got a change to sit down with the brilliant and exquisite Ms. Newman in the garden of hotel, sipping tea before she had to catch her next flight.
What a wonderful day to meet.
Sandra Newman: It yes is. The weather is always beautiful. It just makes one want to smile.
Not a day you would want to spend inside.
SN: No it isn’t. I prefer being outside.
Being you are a wonderful artist, storyteller and designer. What does it mean to be an artist to you and what is your definition of art.
SN: A person who creates with his hands: My dad was a veterinarian, he was an artist when working with animals – an artist of medicine. My mom was an artist using paints and fabric. My art the ability to create freely what I see in my mind’s eye. An athlete is an artist creating movement with their bodies. Running is a way to express and release energy- I love to run.
What was your family life like growing up?
I grew up in a small northern Maine town, called Island Falls. My dad was a large and small animal veterinarian from Ithaca, NY. He graduated from Cornell University. My mom was from Windsor, VT and studying Fashion Illustrator at Parson in New York City when they married. Shortly after, Dad became the State Veterinarian for Maine. It was this job that lead him to meet the farmers in Island Falls who asked him to open a veterinary clinic in the area. They moved in 1949. My Dad loved it, my Mom adapted and grew to love the area and the people, though she always missed Vermont. Growing up was fun, we had the freedom of playing outside. Summers we lived on Pleasant Pond and spent my days watering skiing with my friends. The winters we lived in town and I went to Island Falls Grammar and High School. We had a ski area in town, May Mountain, where skiers came from all over to ski. Sadly, the beautiful old building was torn down and the skier area closed due to lack of snow.
I remember, when I was little, my Mom would comb my long hair before bed and I would read to her. It was a my time with her. I loved to sew and still love do. I use to create my own cloths and patterns. This was a talent I inherited from my Mom. I remember, I had a chemistry set and would set it up in the kitchen while Mom was making dinner. I would sit at the table with my little alcohol burner and combine chemicals, never thinking to read the directions! I still have the belief, when all else fails, then read the directions!!
Have you always been curious and adventurous?
SN: Always! A closed door or wrapped package isn’t safe with me!
In what way did the time you grow up in influence you?
SN: I grew up always playing outside. I really have an aversion to being cooped up inside, but when my creative side takes a hold, I can spend hours working on a project. Creating something I love, be it a clothing design, a book about Scooter or another invention. I have two US Patents and two US Trademarks!
Now that is impressive!
SN: Thank you….. I think so….
How and why did you come to be an artist?
SN: It is in my Genes. My Mom and her Mom where both artists. My Grandmother Skinner was the first woman to build her own telescope.
What inspired you to follow the same path?
SN: Others telling me I couldn’t do it and being able bring to reality what I see in my mind’s eye.
Was your family supportive of your decision to become an artist?
SN: They really didn’t have an opinion one way or the other. My oldest and youngest sisters are insanely jealous.
In that case did mentors play a big role in your artistic development and if so why?
SN: Oh, with my sewing. I would go to Maurine Emerson’s house and sew with her while she carefully watching my every stitch. Also, my photographs, a definite/positive yes. While living in Taos, NM I would visit photography studios and have them critique my work.
Who were your mentors?
SN: Sewing – Maurine Emerson, a family friend whose mom, Lila Emerson I idealized when I was little. Both she and Maurine where so gracious and sophisticated.
My photographs – Charlie Collins the most awarded artist in the history of the Taos Fall Arts Festival.
What was the early years as an emerging artist like ?
SN: While I was in high school, I was very active in 4-H, both in Sewing and Dress Review. I would win clothing awards. Wien I was an instructor for small colleges in Boston, I had a bridal studio and designed wedding gowns: I made the patterns, fabricate them with gorgeous fabric and lace and sewed the delicate pieces together. The is when I invented my sewing products. Each dress was design individually for the bride. I loved it, but I was never paid what the gowns were worth – all hand made by myself. When I got divorced, I gave it up and just recently have got the passion back.
When did you know this was what you were meant to do?
SN: When I saw a bride walk down the aisle wearing one of my dresses. And the Crème-de-la Crème – one of my dresses was worn to a black-tie event held at Blenheim Place, London, England.
What was or is your “Dark Nights Of The Soul” as an artist?
SN: I moved from Taos, New Mexico, which I still love and miss after my mom passed away and bought a condo in New Hampshire. It was such a horrible, horrible mistake. The place practically drove me insane – I hated the place. While living there, I realized I had given up everything I loved – my teaching, my photography, my sewing, my creative self disappeared. I was miserable.
What is the driving force behind your work and what is your process?
SN: I strive to make myself proud of me.
What is the artistic meaning and statement of your work?
SN: Since I write children’s picture books, design by sewing with beautiful fabrics and take photographs of only landscapes; if I really think about it, which I never have, it has to do with what I see in my mind, and learn by listening to want people say when they look at something I have created or captured. The children wanted to see the movie about Scooter, but it wasn’t a book, my brides or special gown seekers, needed a one-of-a-kind creation and I wanted to capture in a photograph what I saw or see at that moment in time. My statement, I create what I see or interpret with my mind’s eye.
What projects have you worked on that you are most proud of and why?
SN: While I love all my projects – I have to say, creating Scooter and having the readers wanting to see the movie is thrilling for me. But, I wouldn’t be wrong in stating my photographs, being critiqued by Charles Collins and being shown at the Millicent Rogers Gallery in Taos, NM, doesn’t makes me so full of pride.
I would have to say that would be the highlight to my career.
This is a hard time for the arts. Some artist have stated that it is becoming harder and harder for them to do what the love. What about your career in the arts do you love and what about it do you hate?
SN: I dislike the fact and idea no one believes me when I talk about my photographs because I don’t use a fancy expensive camera. I love the idea I take gorgeous pictures. I am frustrated by the fact I can’t sell them because I don’t have the time right now to concentrate on them.
With what is going in the world and the attacks on arts what keeps you motivated?
SN: I believe in myself as an eclectic artist and believe art is all around us and if one truly looked, they would see the beauty of the world and all that has been given to each and every one of us.
That being said…What are your thoughts on artist support and project funding?
SN: I think taking the arts out of schools is proving to be a huge disgrace and disadvantage to the youth of today. We are graduating students with no create imaginations. Plus, funding for arts in this country is lacking.
What is your opinion on the state of the world and particularly the United States?
You don’t even want me to go here. I think it is appalling what is happening to our country. We are spending billions overseas, and we are left with staving, homeless people, schools falling apart, roads and bridges collapsing. Have you looked at the Mississippi Delta? My small town in northern Maine is starving because the one and only factory moved to China! Our government is more concerned with their re-elections, continuing political corruption, a health care system that is an absolute miss . . .need I go on?
SN: I think so.
If we circle back to the monumental task of an artist to create change what impact do you want your work to have and why?
SN: There is beauty in this starving world that is only concerned with war, hatred and destruction of what was once beautiful.
Looking back do you having any regrets or things you would do differently?
SN: Oh yes, I do!! I wouldn’t have gotten married when I did. I wouldn’t have quit my teaching job. I wouldn’t have left Taos, NM, I NEVER would have bought the condo in New Hampshire!!
How do you see the role of the arts in today’s world and what do you think is needed to keep the arts thriving?
SN: Sadly, computer generated art is taking over from pencil to paper. Computer generated art is so creative, with endless possibilities, but to work with ones hands to paper, is a gift.
What are your views on art education?
SN: A sad state of affairs.
What do you think about the state of our educational system and how do you think it can be improved?
SN: Deplorable! I remember teaching for a small college in Boston, in their Fashion Art Department. One of the courses I taught, Flat Pattern Design (designing pattern using two-dimensional scale) and having students not knowing how to read a ruler or understand the difference between a 90 degree angle and a 45 degree angle. Their excuse – “they didn’t teach ruler reading in their school!” The year I left teaching, I substituted first thru 12th grade. I wanted to understand where the breakdown was in the school systems. Surprise – 1st grade where they taught a child to add/subtract using popsicle sticks, the chalked board was covered up with wall charts, the chalk board was a 3 x 4 flippy chart and math was organization of – who gets to pass out paper, sharpen pencils, and group the tables. After this fiasco, math was 10 minutes because they had to change the rooms for art class, that was also 10 minutes due to grouping fiasco. Take the education system way from Federal Government and give it back to the teachers! Colleges, another disaster! – Colleges are now a place of business, not higher learning. You can no longer flunk a student because they will leave and that is lost tuition money. I almost took a job at an art institute. When asked what I planned for the 3rd week of my class, I replied, “A pop quiz!” “I want to know what the students are learning and where I am missing.” I was told inappropriate, because that sets students up for failure. The school only gives open book tests, or 24 hour take home exams on a computer. This sets a student up for failure because they don’t learn to know-how, remember and understand.
What are your thoughts about inequality and human rights?
SN: I believe everyone should be treated equally, be they black, brown, white or whatever. Human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, whatever our nationality. It is when these rights are taken away due to overzealous/righteous people who believe their way is the only way that brings about bigotry and hatred.
What are your feelings about the meaning of life?
SN: We all have a right to be here, once born. The woman has the choice to chose. It is the woman, the female, who brings life.
With this being the age of digital media and now that a person with a push of a button can start a new trend or tear a group apart, create hate or even promote a look; what are your thoughts on how society sees image, color, sex, and body type?
SN: Everyone should be color blind to color. As for body types, even though I can’t imagine being overweight, it’s that person choice.
With changing of the weather and a good deal of the country in a drought, what are your thoughts on the environment?
SN: It rains, it snows, we have storms. As for global warming. I am more concerned with our food and water supply and the quality of our air supply.
Okay let’s play the get to know you game.
SN: Gee I don’t know.
It’s So we can get to know you a little better.
SN: I don’t know about this, but I’m game
Who are your favorite authors?
SN: Nicholas Sparks, Camilla Läckberg, Adriana Trigiana, Rosamunde Pilcher David Baldacci, James Patterson,
Who are your favorite poets?
SN: Robert Frost
Who are your favorite musicians?
SN: Leonard Cohen, Enya, Andrea Bocelli, Lady Anabella
Who are your favorite composers?
SN: Harry Ellis Dickson, Joseph Renzetti – 1912 Overture
Who is your favorite architects?
SN: Frank Lloyd Wright and early architects building New England, especially the Brownstones of Boston and the Salt Box houses. And I can’t forget the fun, colorful adobe homes in Taos, NM.
Who are your favorite artist?
SN: Monet,Van Gough, Charlie Collins.
What is your favorite saying?
SN: “Best laid plans of mice and men often go astray”
What is your favorite poem?
SN: The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost
What is your favorite song?
SN: Cat Steven’s – Morning Has Broken
What is your favorite movie?
SN: My Fair Lady and Avatar
What is your favorite book?
What is your favorite car?
SN: My bright yellow Fiat 500!
What is your favorite food?
SN: Anything Italian
What is your favorite place?
SN: Isle of Ponza, Italy
What are your passionate about?
SN: My running, sewing, Scooter and my friends.
What is your favorite destination to travel to?
In your free time what do you like to do?
SN: I love to run!
What is your favorite memory?
SN: My collage semester in Switzerland
What is your least favorite memory?
SN: That horrid place in New Hampshire and getting divorced.
What moves you creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
SN: The idea I can create what is in my mind’s eye
What upsets you?
SN: Knowing and remembering I live alone.
What turns you on?
SN: The idea that soon, I might find the love of my life and not be living alone.
What turns you off?
SN: Knowing, just because a guy bought me dinner, or took me to a movie, I am expected to sleep with them.
Who is the person you look forward to and why?
SN: Aviation Mentor; Ronnie Trippett – my running mentor; Cathy Young – my friend and confidant; Al Nicks – my friend who went through the dark days of New Hampshire; Annie Melanson; and my friends at CAPS.
What is this the goal or purpose you are chasing?
SN: To have my Scooter books made into a movie, my little ski students asked to see. Also, a full time job as a Corporate Flight Attendant.
If you were not an artist what would be your ideal job, where and why?
SN: Corporate Flight Attendant -a goal I having been seeking for the last 5 years and a desire since flying on my first plane at age of 10!
How do you feel when you are in nature?
SN: At home
What is your thoughts on religion?
SN: I was brought up a Congregationalist. I believe in what I believe. I don’t care what religion anyone else is, but what is happening in the Mid-East and what is happening around the world is so frightening.
What is your feelings about death?
SN: I wish I knew.
What is your philosophy?
SN: Live and let live. To quote the Question of the Month, in my own words. Real is the genuine, the reliable, what I can safely lean on. It is akin to truthful, valuable, even delightful. Its opposite is not illusion, but the fake, the counterfeit, that which can’t be trusted, has no cash value. Theatre, television, paintings, literature deal in illusion but can be real in the sense that they nurture and enlarge us, help to make sense of experience. When they fail in this, they feel unreal, they don’t ring true. They are false, they fail as art.
If you could invite six people (dead or alive) to dinner who would they be and why?
SN: Okay here we go:
a. My dear friend Cathy Young who has remained my friend and confident, after she sold the horrid condo in New Hampshire.
b. My cousin Edda Parisella Torri, whom I miss so much. She lives in Italy and was a strong advocate for me to move to Italy after my divorce.
c. My cousin Martha Ambrose who teaches in Katmandu. I would love to hear her experiences and share them with my friends.
d.Kellie Green, the illustrator of my first children’s book. I would love her to see and hear how talented she really was and how people love her illustrations.
e. Ronnie Trippet, with his encouragement and mentoring, I ran 19 marathons with best time 3:21:56.
f. and yes, Monteque. My new friend who has such a unique personal history I think my friends would be interested in meeting.
Why thank you. I feel truly honored to be included in your list.
SN: I am honored to be count you among my friends.
SN: Your welcome.
Is this something you would still do even if you never got paid?
SN: I constantly think twice about this. How far can one reach without getting paid? Getting paid is like getting recognized, it is the reward for something uniquely accomplished.
See, now that was not so bad.
SN: It felt like I was taking a test.
Well, you passed.
SN: Do I get a prize?
Yes, a pink pony.
SN: Already have one.
We’ll find something else and mail it to you.
SN: I will be on the lookout for it.
Okay getting back on topic. What is the project your working now?
SN: I am working on my third Scooter book. I love my little character. He has been part of my imagination since I first starting teaching skiing for May Mountain, my little town in northern Maine. He became the explanation of why one falls down, skiing.
What was the inspiration for this project?
SN: My little ski students taking ski lessons when I taught for children for Taos Valley Ski, Taos, New Mexico. When they heard the fun tale, they wanted to see the movie.
What have been the obstacles you have had to overcome with the project?
SN: Getting people to buy my books, money to continue project, people me telling how to do project.
What has been the hardest thing you had to do pertaining to your work?
SN: Raising money!
Was there any research needed for this project?
What are the steps you are taking to bring your project to life?
What are you doing for funding?
What does this project mean to you?
SN: Fulfilling a desire of a little boy who asked to see the movie and when I told him, it wasn’t even a book yet. He said his dad would buy it for him if I wrote the book. Book written, now movie.
How is this project different from other projects you’ve created or worked on?
SN: This is a children’s picture book series, I design gowns and take pictures!
Is there a link so people can find out more about the project and help?
SN: Yes they can go to:
Do you have any future projects if so what are they about?
SN: More Scooter books and a photography website
Where do you see yourself in five, ten, twenty years?
SN: Scooter with his own clothing, stuffed animals, coloring books and movies
What else are you doing besides working in the arts, what made you do so and why?
SN: I work as a contract corporate flight attendant, something I have wanted since I was 10. I love the since of flying.
Did you have any obstacles to overcome as you were growing up?
What advice do you have for up and coming artists?
SN: Do not take no for an answer. I have received so many rejection letters, I could wallpaper a four bedroom house.
What does art is Life and Life is art mean to you?
SN: I am ambidextrous and have worked on using both my left and right brain, creating with creative analysis and creative artist detail. It’s fun! [TAOMR]
To see more of Ms. Newman’s work go here
For the latest article on Ms. Newman go here