<div style="display:inline;"> <img height="1" width="1" style="border-style:none;" alt="" src="//googleads.g.doubleclick.net/pagead/viewthroughconversion/1028731116/?value=0&amp;guid=ON&amp;script=0">
6 ISSUES FOR £6 Subscribe to Hampshire Life today click here

Sandra Binney and her wide-ranging art style

PUBLISHED: 12:12 24 April 2017 | UPDATED: 12:13 24 April 2017

Sandra Binney in her studio (Photo by Nicola Alan Photography)

Sandra Binney in her studio (Photo by Nicola Alan Photography)


Animal, vegetable or mineral, everything is fair game for the artistic eye of the modest Sandra Binney. A hairdresser by trade, she meets Sandra Smith

The female subject is slim, attractive, dark haired. Her physical beauty, elegantly captured, is, however, little more than a superficial aspect of this character’s allure. Immersion in her own thoughts, being at one with the moment, closed eyes holding in immeasurable emotions whilst blocking out potential distractions are the underlying power of this painting. I admire delicate brush strokes whose one dimensional limitations are no barrier to portraying layers of underlying passion, and hover between envy at such tangible self absorption and desire to share such a compelling moment.

Getting inside the head of an artist is a much relished prequel to writing their profile. Yet right now In the Zone (could there be a more apt title?) tempts me to explore what’s going on inside the head of this subject.

“At a workshop I was encouraged to try and paint women. I saw an image which inspired me. Afterwards I took In the Zone to a local framer where someone bought it without the painting being framed.”

Sandra Binney meets my enthusiasm with coy surprise. Perhaps because she doesn’t have a meaty back story to this image or even the personal connection I’d anticipated. No matter. Given that the 52-year-old creates such intensity via a mere exercise, a challenge, confirms an instinctive artistic flair. Quietly flattered by my comments, modesty forbids her from mirroring my excitement.

“One of the most challenging things is accepting when people say they like your work. It feels awkward. I don’t like show offs but it must be nice if you can just say, ‘Thanks very much’.”

The Stretch The Stretch

Sandra’s portrait work extends to oriental subjects reproduced from photographs, an engaging contrast of soft facial contemplation and detailed, traditional clothing against abstract backdrops. The subject idea originated at a workshop prompting a love of portraiture and desire to make each painting her own. There are young ballerinas, too, each a mesmerising mix of muscle tone, grace and exquisite tutus in a faultlessly bland setting.

But there’s no pigeon holing this artist. Wild animals, birds in flight, close up landscapes and seascapes which hint of Turner all feature in a wide ranging portfolio. “For animals I nearly always start with their eyes. They are a focal point and I like to get the emotion. I continue to work underneath the eyes and flow down to the nose. Sometimes I start with a background and more recently I’ve been trying to be more minimalist. For a while I started with grey – fascinating; it’s just a case of trying something different.”

We chuckle at the comic-like form of a Welsh Mountain sheep she was invited to see prior to shearing, “Like a skinhead with a great big Brillo pad for a body,” before she reveals her yearning to develop abstraction.

“I’d love to be more abstract; it feels a bit more grown up but I feel I have to first become a better painter. Landscapes are easier for abstract work. There are so many things to learn. I also enjoy the spontaneity of life drawing, you can just go for it. I use pencil, graphite or charcoal and I’ve done a couple in pastels which is quite liberating, just doing highlights and leaving the rest to the imagination.”

Despite a love of drawing and painting which dates back to childhood, Sandra “was only good enough” to study Art at CSE Level. A career as a draughtswoman appealed but with no openings for females she instead chose hairdressing, a skill she continues to employ. After having a family she embarked upon a European funded, two year part time local graphic design course aimed at retraining mature adults. This set her career path for the next few years.

Afternoon light by Sandra Binney Afternoon light by Sandra Binney

“I worked for a graphic design company then on the advertising side for a newspaper. It was really satisfying and I worked with nice people. When the newspaper moved in 2006 everyone was made redundant and I did some freelance work at home. Then I was asked to go along to a life class. Hairdressing and graphics were both creative but I was soon hooked on drawing - I loved the challenge. I also liked to paint donkeys and dogs. I put a picture into a competition and it sold. I thought it was a fluke! Afterwards I took a few paintings to Beaulieu Fine Arts Gallery which went in the window and sold.”

Although concentrating on acrylics - and appreciating the opportunity they afford to paint over layers if things didn’t go according to plan - Sandra was soon tempted to experiment with other mediums.

“I love the spontaneity and looseness of watercolour,” she states. “And I’m quite liking acrylic inks or mixing inks and collage.”

On currently favoured MDF board this artist uses whatever comes to hand to make a mark, though brushes are most popular. Long, thin, fine ones (a few of which are expensive) produce the finish she requires for animals though amongst her collection is a signwriter’s brush whose bristles have been cut back.

Sandra’s studio is a log cabin at the bottom of her garden. This thickly insulated, two storey construction is, by her own admission, “a real mess – my excuse is, I’m an artist! My husband is quite tidy. When he brings me a cup of tea he usually walks straight out again. If he stays and sits down I realise I must have tidied up. But he’s good with the business side. I struggle with this, it doesn’t come naturally.”

In The Zone In The Zone

Family members provide other input. When titles aren’t presenting themselves to the artist she isn’t shy in asking others, including her Facebook followers, one of whom suggested Broken Silence. Sandra suggests she is ‘boring’ with her colours. But don’t allow her reserve to fool you. This image celebrates the many tones and shades reflecting the natural environment in which she lives. And more. Via an appealing looseness the onlooker is led on a forest journey only to stumble upon a lone stag. Stillness and intensity of expression reveal a breathtaking scene. Light filtering through the trees almost provokes a need to shield the eyes yet take a moment to absorb the posture and majesty of this magnificent animal.

From her Langley home Sandra is just a couple of miles from Lepe Beach where walks offer ongoing inspiration and sketches or photography provide the basis for future paintings. Here Watermark Open Studios of which she is a member will exhibit at an Easter Fair, April 14-18. Indeed, mixing with other artists is an important part of her routine. Occasional workshops are on her agenda along with Tuesday afternoon classes in Lyndhurst; woodland walks with her dogs often provide stimulating light and scenes.

Greetings cards (60 designs), silk scarves and cushions featuring many spellbinding images not only reveal the artist’s skill but also a determination to showcase her work through a variety of mediums whilst reaching out to the public. Although continuing to navigate the crossroads of self analysis and ambition, creativity drives this artist. Sandra Binney has captured breathtakingly beautiful images. I eagerly anticipate more, whatever her subject.



Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Hampshire visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Hampshire staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Hampshire account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from People

Stand-up comic and TV star Ed Byrne thinks our lives have become somewhat spoilt. Honestly, who needs keyless cars and semi-skimmed milk? Viv Micklefield hears more ahead of a return visit to Hampshire

Read more
Friday, February 16, 2018

Let’s drink to Alresford, home to brewers, gin distilleries, and winemakers…

Read more
Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Can you identify your clam from your cockle? Natalie French speaks with author of the River Cottage Edible Seashore Handbook, John Wright, to learn more about the art of seashore foraging and what delights we can find on our shoreline

Read more
Thursday, January 25, 2018

Braving the winter weather, wildlife writer Tiffany Francis ventures in to the New Forest to discover more about the work of the community rangers

Read more
Monday, January 15, 2018

Every day life at Highclere Castle isn’t all lights, camera, action. Viv Micklefield meets the real Downton mistress and asks, what keeps her grounded?

Read more
Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Some of Hampshire’s best known personalities have revealed what they most love about the county. Here, we compile some quotes from our interviews over the years

Read more
Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Still not bought those Christmas cards yet? Then look no further. Daphne Vaughan’s vivid seasonal watercolours of Winchester are just the ticket and proceeds go to charity too

Read more
Monday, December 11, 2017

As much a part of Christmas as presents under the tree, mince pies, turkey and sprouts, Emma Caulton asks what makes the traditional panto so special

Read more
Tuesday, November 28, 2017

We announce our 2017 winner of 2017 Hampshire Food Hero at the Hampshire Life Food & Drink Awards

Read more
Tuesday, November 21, 2017

When the Hon Ralph Montagu inherited the country’s most famous family estate and motor museum two years ago, he already felt right at home. Viv Micklefield meets the man destined to be the driving force behind Beaulieu’s future

Read more
Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Writer Kathy Lette promises full frontal frankness in her show Girls Night Out, as Faith Eckersall explains

Read more
Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Once a familiar face on local news bulletins, former journalist Caroline Hall now stands in front of a canvas instead of a camera. Sandra Smith met the woman who has sweeping ambitions for her art

Read more
Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The harvest is almost at an end and in Hampshire that means an abundance of food and drink to enjoy from local producers. Claire Pitcher meets a few of them

Read more
Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Faith Eckersall meets two siblings attempting to row 3,000 miles unsupported across the Atlantic to highlight the deadly effects of skin cancer and raise £100,000 in memory of a very special man who lost his life to the disease

Read more
A+ South & South West
Great British Holidays advert link
Pure Weddings advert link
South West Life advert link

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Hampshire's trusted business finder

Job search in your local area

Property Search