Sandy Dutko’s work hangs at Sisters Library this month.
Sandy Dutko’s work hangs at Sisters Library this month.
 Sandy Dutko doesn’t know a time in her life without art.

“I knew I liked it when I was in kindergarten, and my teacher said I had artistic talent,” she said. “I was the one who always made the posters and things for school.”

Over the years, her “experimental tool box” has included watercolor, oils, gouache, and collage.

Not long ago, Dutko moved from the busy Lake Oswego area to Eagle Crest, where she enjoys the Central Oregon lifestyle. Part of the adventure is getting to know people, in her neighborhood and through her art. This month, 22 of Dutko’s works are hanging in the Community Room of Sisters Library, and they span many forms, from an early work called “Pompeii” to more recent works that reflect her love of nature and trees.

Dutko studied art in college, and continued to take classes and workshops while raising her two daughters, now in their 30s.

“I have always tried different mediums, and sometimes combined them,” she said. “I did oils, then watercolor for 15 years, then left that and went into acrylics, and from that, I jumped back into doing oils, but this time mixed with a cold wax medium. Blended with oil paint, it makes the oils dry faster. You can apply it with a palette knife, you can do layers, and you can collage into it, stamp into it, and scrape through it. It’s the perfect medium for experimenting.”

Her work varies from semi-abstract to pure abstract depending on the mood and her art encompasses many subject matters.

“Sometimes I take old watercolor paintings, mount them to a board, and put the medium on top of that. Everything that I can do in any other medium, I can do in oil and cold wax. I can even throw pastel in there,” she said.

Dutko even makes her own fine art papers, and uses them to collage into her other artwork. Several of her pieces in the library show combine collage with other media.

Her love of nature often emerges in many of her paintings, as she has many stored memories of travels throughout the United States and abroad. Her approach is to begin with creating spontaneous abstract textured surfaces that eventually begin to show her an idea and direction, step by step, and with no final outcome in mind. Sometimes a turn of the canvas can present a completely new idea. This unpredictable approach to painting is full of surprises. Dutko enjoys taking risks, believing that it leads to more interesting art and growth as an artist.

In the library, a large painting depicts an imaginary scene from Portland’s Japanese Garden. It’s called “Stay on Path,” and, yes, there is a sign that says “Stay on Path,” and three crimson-robed Buddhist monks are crossing a small stream on a white bridge. “When I was at the garden, the sign caught my eye, and served as a reminder of the time I was taking classes at the Shambhala Center for Meditation in Portland. The trees are an experiment in mixing watercolor, acrylic and gouache.”

“Siberian Cranes” was inspired by a National Geographic television special.

“I was working on a painting for my Christmas card,” she said, when she looked over at her TV and saw the cranes.

She quickly shot a few frames of the TV on her camera, just so she could capture the position of the birds, and then she created her own setting. A beautiful image emerged, and she used it as her greeting for the season.

Her next challenge is an upcoming class in monoprint.

“Printmaking is about the only art form I haven’t experimented with,” she said. She envisions prints as being the next ideal background for her experimental work.

Dutko’s work will remain on display in the library through the end of November.

Dutko is a member of Sisters Arts Association, Dry Canyon Arts Association, Lake Area Artists, Oregon Society of Artists, Painters Showcase of Portland, and Buffalo Grass Art Society. Her work is also exhibited yearly at the Art Affair Lake Area Artists Annual Show in Lake Oswego, and at the Painters Showcase of Portland Annual Art Show.

She has also shown her work at the Art on Broadway Gallery, the Oregon Society of Artists Gallery, the Lake Oswego Festival of Arts Open Show and Special Exhibits, the Celebration of Creativity Show, Local 14 Art Show, Portland Open Studios Tour, Washington County Tour, and the Sisters Artist Studio Tour.

Her painting “New Territory” has been featured in the North Light published book “Incite 2 Color Passions: The Best of Mixed Media.” Her work can now also be seen at the Hood Avenue Art Gallery in Sisters.

Also on display this month in the library’s computer room are the colorful cut-paper art pieces of Carly Garzon Vargas and digital inkjet metallic imprints by Katie Newton.