Cover artist Sandra Greba’s “No Vacancy” displays the vivid colors and sharp line that makes this watercolorist unusual for her medium. Watercolor paintings often use soft hues and soft lines. Soft would not begin to describe the strong red that dominates this work.
Greba is an Alaska-born, self-taught, Sitka-based artist who specializes in paintings of birds and flowers, but who occasionally takes on a different subject. She said she was inspired to paint “No Vacancy” from her experiences in Southeast viewing sea lions who have hauled themselves onto buoys to bask in the sun. She admits taking a little “artistic license” and packing in as many sea lions as she could.
Stating, “I like to control every inch of the paper,” Greba explained that her technique is to paint the background first, then the middle, and finish with the foreground. To make lines stronger, she will mask off areas of the painting to keep the colors from bleeding. She employs thicker paint mixes, sometimes using the paint right as it comes out of the tube. She also will use multiple layers to make the colors stand out.
Like many Sitka artists and “civilians,” Greba has a lot of irons in the fire. Besides her paintings, she makes jewelry, prints note cards and designs and builds a popular line of birdhouses. Since 1986, she has operated Hannah’s Bed and Breakfast, where “No Vacancy” hangs on the wall of one room. The full range of her work can be viewed at the new Island Artists gallery at 205 Lincoln Street. Links to her work can be found on her website hannahsbandb.com.