ROSEMOUNT - Ten years ago, Greta Sandquist decided to become serious about painting.
For 15 years she had chosen a stable career path working in commercial art, designing Christmas ornaments. Even though she possessed an inner desire to work full-time as a painter, she chose against pursuing this journey.
Perhaps she chose a safe path in lieu of becoming a painter because it was a little risky and unstable. Most artists have to face the stereotype of becoming a starving artist.
But her passion to paint prevailed over the fear of failure.
Sandquist, 45, now paints full-time at Ginger Street Studio in St. Paul. Her original paintings are now on display at the Rosemount Steeple Center until the end of March.
"It wasn't until I was older that I realized what I needed to do was follow my passion which was fine art and painting," she said.
Life presents opportunities
The Great Recession led to her layoff in 2009. This was a blessing in disguise as she was downsized along with many colleagues who worked for a company in commercial art.
"It was the best thing that could have happened because it forced me to reevaluate what I was doing, and I knew it was time," Sandquist said. "I thought now is the time to see if I can sell my paintings."
The public responded by buying her artwork at regional art shows and fairs around the metro area.
Sandquist said she has been an artist for as long as she can remember. Her first painting was created at 3 years old - and she still has it. Painting at such a young age, she said she received a lot of support throughout her childhood from her parents and art teachers.
An artists' style
Bright, vivid paints in a kaleidoscope of rainbow colors bring her cityscape paintings alive.
"I love color. My bent has always been toward color and light and I have even had people ask me if I put LED lights behind them," Sandquist said. "It is always something I have been drawn to with unique combinations of color and I enjoy putting them together in ways that are lively, especially in my cityscapes."
Most of her cityscape paintings are of Minneapolis and St. Paul. She goes out at dusk to take hundreds of photographs of the cities.
"I like the look of the lights when they are glowing," she said.
Besides painting the bright city lights, Sandquist is inspired to paint rural scenes and realistic images of farm animals. She grew up on a hobby farm. The farm animals' eyes are expressive and seem to speak to you upon first glance. She gets inspiration to paint the farm animals after seeing them close-up at the Minnesota State Fair.
"The eyes - that is where you get the personality when painting the animal - it is in the eyes and I make sure to take special care when I am doing the eyes. I want to make sure I am capturing the life and personality," she said.
Winter is the time she spends hours in her studio painting to get ready for the spring and summer art shows.
She does not paint on canvas but chooses to paint on wood panels. She said she likes painting on wood because it is smooth and hard, whereas canvas has is more flexible.
Sandquist has painted using acrylics for 17 years, and she said she is ready to embark on expressing her art with oil paints.
"I stopped doing oils because of children with the fumes and the mess and it is harder to clean up," she said.
Giving family and friends paintings as gifts is a pleasure, but she loves when her artwork is given as gifts.
"When something really speaks to you and you fall in love with it - I love making that connection with a person who loves my work so much that they want it in their home," she said.
Happy she was brave to pursue her painting career, Sandquist said "It is something I have always wanted to do, so it feels like a dream come true not to be cliché."
If you go…
Who: Greta Sandquist
What: Paintings are now showcased at The Rosemount Steeple Center until the end of March.
Upcoming event: Original artwork will be part of the St. Paul Art Crawl, April 26-28.
Contact: Sandquist’s business Ginger Street Studio is located in the Midway Triangle building located at 2500 University Ave. W., St. Paul. She can be reached at 651-246-6582. To see her complete collection of artwork, visit www.gretasandquist.com.