Sandra Speidel


Mastrius Artist Mentor

This artist is mentoring at Mastrius. Visit our how it works page for membership details.

Mentoring Emerging Artists
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MEDIUM: Oil Paint | Mixed Media Art
SPECIALTY: ✔ Critiques

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 poetry.

I am a lifelong 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 35 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 my response to what I see and feel. This response is what I want to communicate.

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.

Studying the figure and revisioning it in these ways helps me tell its story—and my story. And hopefully I am providing a doorway for viewers to enter the work with their own histories and find their own stories.

painting by Sandra Speidel
painting of a man running in water
painting of a seated woman
painting of a man at departures
painting of a sanding woman
painting of a cyclist


Listed below are this Mentor’s specialty skills. Join this group if you want to grow in these areas.

Specialty: ✔ Critiques



Working with the Figure – nude and clothed


Abstract Oil Painting


Teaching to Self Critique


Providing Critiques


Supplies and Tools – what to use, where to save, and where to spend



Open Studios

“Mastrius has done wonders for my confidence. I have managed to step way outside of my comfort zone which has in turn given rise to so many more opportunities to further my art career.”
~ Deb, Emerging Artist


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painting of a woman with crossed arms

“Your art looks the way a memory feels.”
~ collector Debbie Packer

Sandra Speidel is known for her figurative and abstract paintings, which reveal a rich and complex surface quality and ambiguous interpretation of the subjects. 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 Women Sports 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 painting at the San Francisco Art Institute and with painters Chester Arnold, Michael Azgour, Nicholas Wilton, and Jennifer Pochinski.

Sandra 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 in Petaluma 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 the Bay Area Figurative Artists, Richard Diebenkorn, David Park, Jennifer Pochinski, as well as Romare Bearden, Milton Avery among many others.