Artist Statement

My figures live in the space between reality and abstraction.

I am always searching for the poetry, the unique juxtaposition, the totally genuine impulse that is not explainable.

I have been drawing and painting figures all my life. As a child, I drew the comings and goings of everyday life in my family. This early propensity and my love of the written word permeate my paintings. I love the turn of phrase, the condensing of emotion into poetry, the allusion to this or that subject as symbol. My figures live in that space between reality and abstraction.

I am a life long learner, trained in literature and art. I have spent countless enjoyable hours drawing from life, and have taught figure drawing and painting at the university level for over 20 years.

I combine my figures with abstract elements to suggest thought or emotion, psychology, or history beyond the literal depiction of the figure. The flattening of space, addition of marks and symbols, and omission of other elements are all reminders that this is not an attempt to copy reality, but a response, a viewpoint.

The figure’s gesture is my entry point into interpreting and understanding. I look for the weight and subtle shifts of posture and curve. I break up the figure by making abstract marks with a variety of brushes, knives, scrapers, squeegees, trowels, and other hardware finds. Along the way, I celebrate the surprises, how the marks add to or subtract from the image in both representational and abstract ways. Learning about the figure and revisioning it in these ways helps me tell its story.



Sandra Speidel is known for her figurative and abstract paintings, which reveal a rich and complex surface quality and ambiguous interpretation. Though her paintings are anchored in classic painting and drawing, they suggest a broader story through the exploration of abstract elements.

Sandra attended Duke University in North Carolina as an English and art major. She later received a degree in journalism and came to California to work as a writer for WomenSports Magazine.

She soon returned to art, studying at the San Francisco Academy of Art University. Before turning to fine art painting in 2000, she enjoyed a very successful career as an illustrator. Among her clients were Apple Computers, FTD Florists, the US Postal Service, and Warner Books. She illustrated 19 books for children, including three for Maria Shriver.

Throughout her career, Sandra has continued to study art at the San Francisco Art Institute and with local painters Chester Arnold, Jamie Brunson, Michael Azgour, and Nicholas Wilton.

She has taught figure drawing and painting at the San Francisco Academy of Art University for over 20 years. In addition, she teaches ongoing painting workshops from her studio and is frequently asked to judge shows and mentor other artists.

Her work has been exhibited in national shows and in galleries throughout the Bay Area. She is influenced by the figurative work of Richard Diebenkorn, David Park, Romare Beardon, Egon Schiele, and Milton Avery among many others.




BA Duke University, with Honors
MS Ohio University
San Francisco Academy of Art University
San Francisco Art Institute

Selected Exhibitions



Gallery One, Autumn


Artspan San Francisco Open Studios

Top 5 Award, judge Eden Stein, Secession Art & Design


Art2Life International Art Exhibition

juried by Julie Nester of Julie Nester Gallery    




Art Trails Open Studios


Spring Invitational Small Works

Gallery One, Petaluma, CA




“Spaces Between”

New Figurative Paintings, 2 person show

17 of my paintings included

Desta Gallery, San Anselmo, CA


Ninth Invitational Exhibition

Graton Gallery, Graton CA


Spring Invitational

Gallery One, Petaluma, CA





Slate Gallery, Oakland

Group satellite show

4 of my paintings included

“Art- Light_ Joy”

Spindrift Gallery, Gualala, CA


Sonoma County Open Studios


“Go Figure”

Spindrift Gallery

Groups show including 9 of may paintings

Juried, “Traveling Man” won First Place


O”Hanlon Center for the Arts, Mill Valley

Juried by Donna Seager and Suzanne Gray of Seager Gray Gallery


“Celebrating Women Painters”

Spindrift Gallery, Gualala, CA

Groups show including 9 of my paintings.



“Collect” Berkeley Art Center juried art auction, September

Sonoma County Open Studios, October

San Francisco Open Studios, October

“Abstractions” Gallery One, August


Invitational #8, Graton Gallery, Graton, CA, January

“I Think Therefore”, solo show at Passaggio Wines, Sonoma, August

“Sonoma Scapes” Gallery One, July

“Recent Work” Epperson Gallery, May

ProArts Open Studios, Oakland, May

Invitational #8, Graton Gallery, Graton, CA, January


“Haunting” juried show, Linus Galleries, Los Angeles, September Sonoma County Open Studios, Sonoma County, October

ProArts Open Studios, Oakland, May

Invitational #7, Graton Gallery, January

“Painting Only,” Pacific Art League (juror Charles Hespe of Hespe Gallery, San Francisco) October 2010

“Speaking of Solitude,” Marin MOCA National Competition (juror Maria Medua, Director SF MOMA Rental Gallery), September 2010

Juried Figure Show, University of San Francisco Law Library, Kendrick Hall rotunda, curated by Saiko Matsumaru, August-December 2010

Diego Rivera Gallery, San Francisco, August 2010
Guest Artist, Graton Gallery, June 2010
“Invitational #4,” Graton Gallery, January 2010
“Tiny Show,” Studio Gallery SF, December 2009
“City Streets,” Studio Gallery SF, June 2009
“Body Work,” Studio Gallery SF, May 2009
“Tiny Show,” Studio Gallery SF, December 2008-2009
Sonoma County Open Studios, Artrails, October 2002-2009
“All Mixed Up,” regional juried group exhibit, Artisans Gallery, San Rafael, August 2007
Sausalito Art Walk, summer 2007
“Tiny Show,” group show, Studio Gallery SF, December 2006, 2007
Anticipation Art Gallery, group show, December 2006
Mill Valley Fall Arts Festival, September 2006
“Faces of the Fallen,” group show, Sonoma Valley Museum of Art, February 2006
Graton Gallery Show, “Invitational,” September-November 2005
Giant Steps, Access Benefit show, November 2004


Faculty, Graduate School, San Francisco Academy of Art University