ArtistSandy Tew has been delighting BATB fans with her beautiful
A sampling of Sandy Tew's art
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your interests in general.
Well, I came from a big family and have 4 adult children (a son and three daughters) and 5 granddaughters ranging in age from 6 months to 11 years old. I married when I was not quite 19 and we just celebrated our 34th anniversary. Feel free to do the math for my age.; ) I also have a fraternal twin sister.
I love anything creative, lots of different kinds of music, cats, children and reading.
When I was
raising kids I was
an in home daycare provider. Since then I’ve worked as a sign
maker for a short
time and now I teach drawing, knitting, crochet and other craft classes
time at a county run
You have created quite an impressive portfolio of Beauty and the Beast artwork. What drew you to the BATB TV series and why did you/do you feel the need to express yourself in BATB art? Had you worked with art before being involved with Beauty and the Beast or did your artwork develop from it?
I was drawn (no pun intended ; ) to the idea of the show even before it premiered. I’ve always loved fantasy/sci fi type books and TV etc. When I read the premise I just knew I had to watch it. And of course after the pilot I was hooked. I love the romance and the whole thought of a safe place for people to be who they are and also the thought of helping others less fortunate. Plus, I was enthralled with Vincent and the amazing job both Rick Baker, Ron Koslow and Ron Perlman did to make him “really live”.
Who most influenced and/or encouraged your talent? Did you have formal training and where did you study? Or are you self-taught, honing a natural talent and working from instinct?
In my home environment we were always encouraged to be creative. It was how we entertained ourselves. We weren’t destitute but we didn’t have a lot of extra money for toys etc. Drawing and music were a huge part of my childhood. Also, my husband has always encouraged me.
I really don’t have any formal training. I had a good teacher in Junior High School but the art teacher in High School wasn’t exactly wonderful. First, he never liked one of my older brothers and held that against me. Plus he told us how many assignments to hand in each semester without giving us supplies or much help. I didn’t have money for art supplies and I only did pencil drawings because of this so he gave me an F. The only one I ever had. I gave him up after my junior year. I then married the November after I graduated from high school. I never did go to college even though I had the grades. Maybe sometime in the future I’ll give it a try.
Self-taught Isn’t exactly the phrase I’d use for myself. The word instead that describes it better is “autodidactic”. This means self led learning. I’ve learned mostly from books. I have a large library of art books I’ve purchased in the past 20 years. I’ve also learned a lot from art that others do and love to see the process they go through even more than the finished product. And I’m learning a lot from the students I’ve been teaching the past 5 years and I think it can encourage others to create when they see that someone can still be good without formal learning.
Does artistic talent run in the family?
You could definitely say that
since my Mother’s brother was a fine
artist named William Monte Andersen. He painted under the name of Monte
My husband has artistic talent as well but hasn’t picked up even a pencil in a long time. Our son and youngest daughter both draw really well but again haven’t done so in a long time.
I would like to add though that I don’t think artistic talent is only genetic in a family. It’s hard to know how much is in your genes and how much has to do with the environment you were raised and encouraged in. I am more and more convinced as time goes on that anyone who is willing to put in the time and has enough desire can learned to draw well.
Do you have a special place where you like to work and can you describe it for us? Do you ever find yourself drawing at odd times and places, whenever and wherever the mood strikes you?
I usually draw in two different places…
The first is at home in my reclining chair where I can sit back and relax and hold a masonite drawing board in my lap. The lamp is on my left side so my drawing hand doesn’t cast a shadow across the paper. I love being able to work and visit or watch TV with my husband in the evenings. The second place is at work in the arts and crafts room. I used to have trouble having others watch me work but in 5 years I’ve learned to relax and let them ask questions.
I do “doodle” in places like the doctor’s office etc. and when I was first trying to hone my skills for portrait drawing I would sketch the speakers at church in the women‘s meetings. If my family could tell who it was I was happy. I always tell my students to draw when ever and wherever they can. I’ve really got to go back to taking my own advise!
You often use pencil for your drawings. Can you tell us about this favourite media?
My favorite media will always be pencil. They’re always available, immediately ready, easy to take out and put away and their ability to give a picture a 3D quality with shading isn’t too hard to do. After I married I had 4 kids in 7 years and the idea of preparing art supplies and cleaning them up afterwards was out of the question with little fingers and inquisitive minds. I do though admit that I didn’t do a lot of drawing when the kids were all little and I did have some pieces I worked on that were “added to” by the kids. ; )
What other types of media have you used, for example colored pencils, crayons, watercolors, pastels, oils? How do you like using them and how do you decide which to use for a particular piece of artwork?
I have done some watercolors lately, mostly of roses. I’ve also tried pastels and pen and ink but haven’t even tried oils since I was in Junior High. I’ve lately thought that it’s time to try them again.
But my other favorite media are art quality colored pencils. They can take a lot of time though so I don’t use them as often as I’d like to. I use a technique called grisaille where I do the first drawing in regular pencil so all the grays and forms are already established and then I print them out lightly with my printer and use the color pencils over this. Sometimes I use a colored piece of paper which can speed up the process. There are several benefits to this method. I can get the likeness first with the pencil drawing. It’s almost impossible to erase the color pencil so I can work out every thing before I add the color. The best part is that if I mess up I just print out another copy and can begin again. And, I can always go back sometime in the future and finish any pencil piece I’ve done before in color.
How do you choose the subject of your art? What inspires the composition of the drawing, the choice of making a face portrait or a full body position…the position of the bodies? What do you imagine first – the content of the work or the emotion you want to convey?
I try to mix up the new B&B art that I do between formal portraits, photo refs from the show, C or V separately or together, full body images, romantic, suggestive etc. So it just depends on what I’ve done lately and what I feel I want to do at the moment. I have a couple flies of photo refs I’ve saved over the years and I usually pick from them. I’m always on the look out for something I think will make a great V&C drawing. I do make any changes to the refs I feel like making. Artistic license and all.
Is there a subject in the Beauty and the Beast universe you especially love to draw? Something that is particularly difficult?
I do love to do pieces that give us something we didn’t get in the series. Things like bed scenes and intimate moments of the two together.
I think a lot of B&B artists (if not all) will tell you that Catherine (Linda) is especially hard to get a great likeness of. Even after all these years I struggle a lot with this. Especially when I’m doing a piece not from a ref from the show. But just like everyone’s Vincent doesn’t look the same, Catherines from different artist have their own different style, too. ; )
Do you create your BATB artwork from scratch or do you find inspiration from photographs and/or video scans? Or both?
Hate to burst anyone’s bubble but almost all artists, professional or not, work from reference photos. Refs can be found from the actual promo photos and screen captures of course but it’s a lot of fun (and help) to use refs from magazines, romance novel covers, and things found on the internet. There could be a copyright issue there but changing several things in a ref makes it more ‘original’ and I really don’t think anyone is paying much attention to our little universe here but us. ; )
I’ve looked for good possible B&B refs for 20+ years now and don’t even have to think about it anymore. I see a great couple pose or something that would make a great Vincent and automatically save them for my files. I’ve been known to “take, not steal” pages out of magazines in the doctors office etc.
Also, even though I use to I don’t usually freehand the basic lines in a ref anymore. I can do it but it takes a lot more time and I wouldn’t get much done in a year. I usually scan a ref and enlarge it to the size I need and then use graphite paper (sort of like carbon paper) and put down a few preliminary lines on the paper. I don’t need a lot of lines but it gives me a jumping off point so I can at least quickly, get all the proportions right. Photos usually have some distortion though so I almost always have to change some lines. Of course I change lines when I do C & V faces and also I usually have to “beef up” the Vincent’s body or make him taller etc. I have to keep my drawing board upright pretty much when doing this since a flat picture will be shorter when you raise it up vertical. Very disturbing when you think you’ve got it just right and find it doesn’t look so good when held up.
Besides drawing, you have used your creativity in many different ways to pay homage to Beauty and the Beast. Could you tell us about some of the more crafty items you've created?
I blame Chan and a few others
for my getting involved in bookmaking and
other crafty items for B&B. Seeing her and others
“color outside the lines”
has gotten me totally addicted to paper crafts of all kinds.
enraptured with the amazing papers and embellishments that are
from the scrap booking industry. Even better is the fact they are
archival. After doing drawings for a lot of years it’s
exciting to go the extra
step and use my art in new imaginative ways.
I just don’t draw enough new pieces of art each year anymore. It’s still fun but it’s hard to find anything original and it becomes too much like work. I’m always on the lookout for paper crafting ideas that have a “wow” factor built in. I get several magazines for paper crafting and I check the internet a lot for how tos of special projects. I also get “kits” from a few places that just beg me to make them into a B&B project! Some of the things I’ve done in the past few years are Jacobs Ladders, a clock, coasters, boxes that have surprises in them, a fan and many different types of handmade books. It will be a long time if ever before I’m bored with paper projects.
Does personal experience ever influence a piece of art? Have the images in your artwork ever been a reflection of yourself or someone you know? To what extent?
In B&B I don’t think I’ve ever done anything like stick myself in the back of an art piece or anything like if that’s what you mean. But the piece I did last year with Vincent and a unicorn and also the knight, maiden and castle pics I drew because of my love for fantasy in general and the Middle Ages period in particular. I have collected unicorns for a lot of years. Someone told me last year they couldn’t understand what Vincent had to do with unicorns. For me they are both magical beings that “are not, but should be”. Of course Rilke’s poem “This is the Creature” that Vincent reads on the Love and Hope CD is actually about a unicorn but fits Vincent beautifully, too. I did a small book for the artshow in LA based on the poem and used it for the 2007 calendar as well with all Vincent pics. I also did a pic years ago that didn’t work as good as I’d wanted it to of modern day Catherine in front of an ornate mirror with Vincent on the other side in a medieval costume with a castle in the background. I just might have to try that one again sometime in the future.
You have illustrations in several zines. How did you enjoy doing it and how did you proceed to create the art for the stories?
Doing illos was interesting and sometimes frustrating. They were a bit tougher to do but there are some I really loved doing. If I was working with a good editor it was mostly a pleasure and I got to read stories before they actually went into a zine. A lot of the time though ,I worked on art that never got used or the originals returned. Some zines never actually made it into publication. I had fun doing the illos for the BBTV Cyberdreams Zines and also loved doing anything for Ann Brown. I miss hearing from her! A lot of my early illos and others art from way back are cringe worthy but that’s one of the great things about fandom. It’s a safe place to try your wings out and eventually, hopefully fly.
Over the years you have produced many lovely Beauty and the Beast Calendars. How many have you done and are there unique challenges to making them?
Oh, man I had to go look to get the answers to this one. The first one I produced was a 16 month calendar for September 2002 through December 2003. This one included art from Chan, Terrie Milliman and me. It was done as a fund raiser for the San Francisco Con. I’ve done one each year since then of just my art, with there being two in 2005. One was G-PG rated and the other was bit more erotic with a few pics being soft-R. The early calendars were basically just the art with some clip art and quotes. But for the 2007, 2008 and 2009 calendars I’ve branched out into a digital scrapbook style with lots of fun elements and shadows etc. to make them seem more 3D. Since I only do a few new pics a year now I’ve “recycled” past art and used them in a more creative way, adding in songs and poems etc.
I really love designing the calendars and think about ideas for them way ahead. The actual producing of them though can be time consuming and insanity causing! I do everything involved in their production including printing and binding. I refill my own ink cartridges to save money but there are plenty of days when the ink cartridge wins the war. I also sometimes have typos etc. that I don’t notice and then have to redo pages. This year I had a word left off the page inadvertently when I made a few small changes to one of the page files. I had to reprint that page and rebind the whole lot of them. I swear each year I’ll never do one again but I always seem to forget and they help pay at least a bit of my con expenses.
Do you have a portfolio which contains all of your original art pieces? Do you save everything you draw or do you weed things out? If you do, how do you decide what to keep and what not to keep? Do you have any idea how many drawings you have done over the years?
I have a drawer in my art supply closet that holds all the originals I still have. Larger pieces are kept in a portfolio type bag.
I don’t remember ever throwing anything I’ve finished. I have several which I’ve never used for anything or really haven’t shown anyone except maybe to Cathy Moran . They are pieces I’m not happy with for some reason or another. I plan on redoing them someday since I do like the poses etc. I have gotten rid of several tries that didn’t work but usually went on to finish the pic on another piece of paper. You can only erase so much until the paper is ruined.
I no longer own the originals from quite a few pieces that have been sold in the con art shows. I always make sure I scan anything I do now so I have a file of them if they find new home. I have several pieces from when I first had some art in zines that I haven’t scanned and even though they are not my best I really need to scan.
Oh, my, a total is almost impossible but I know it runs in the hundreds. I checked my file that I keep all my B&B art in and it says there are 270 files at the moment. But like I mentioned before there are many older pics I’ve never actually scanned plus I have older art out there that a few editors never returned and I didn’t have a computer back then. In the early days I felt kind of guilty that I spent so much time drawing B&B stuff but now I realize it’s helped me hone all my drawing skills and I know I wouldn’t be where I am now if it wasn’t for B&B.
Do you ever have an artistic slump? If so, do you have a technique to get past it?
Yep, I think most artist’s do. Life gets busy and I just can’t find the time or I look through my ref files and don’t know what I want to do next. Sometimes there are too many I’d like to start at that moment but I just can’t seem to pick one so I stall and don’t get anything done. Also I hit times where whatever I draw just doesn’t seem right to me and I get discouraged and put the pic away for a while. Most of the time I can come back to it later and I figure out what went wrong and try and fix it. Doing portraits is kind of scary since the likeness has to be there. When I do a commissioned piece for someone I worry about this constantly and don’t relax until the client lets me know they like the finished project.
That’s a bit like asking which of my children are my favorites. But here’s a list of a few…
There is one pic where C is looking down into V’s face and her hair is pulled back. A few tendrils of her hair hang into V’s face. Very erotic even though you don’t see anything you shouldn’t. This picture drew itself! I swear!
One portrait I did of C alone turned out just like I wanted. Everyone says she looks even better than the actual ref. Cathy Moran owns this one.
A special fav is called ”Come to Me in my dreams”. It’s wild haired V&C but it’s not the same as the famous promo. This one came almost completely out of my head. I did this in ‘96 and will never to sell the original.
Also in “96 I did one called “For Now” where V&C are just outside of the tunnel entrance before they say goodnight for the evening. I’ve always loved this one and even Jamie Murray told me he liked a lot.
JoAnn Baca owns one called “The Power of His Love” which shows a side view of C’s face looking up to Vincent but we only see part of his face. C turned out especially well. JoAnn actually named this piece.
One not seen very much is one I did for Cathy Moran for a story she did about V and Charles. It’s of them reading A Tale of Two Cities at the end of the episode and it turned out just the way I wanted it to.
Then just a couple others… Is it Hot in here (of course!), The V & Unicorn and V & C with the castles that I did last year.
I could go on but we’ll stop there.
Those I had particular trouble with?… Let’s see…
There is a larger piece (I think Lori Hicks owns it now) of the famous C in the shawl on the balcony with V hiding in the background. I did this years ago with a technique where you divide the ref and the paper into squares drawn lightly and then you draw one box at a time. It took forever to do all the shading for the roses that are growing on the arches. I thought I’d never finish it but I’m still proud of it.
Oh, and back to roses again, I did another illo for a Cathy Moran story that has roses as a border around V&C. I’ve never been happy with the couple themselves in the pic and the roses took forever!…Oh, and did I tell you that the roses took forever? ; )
Are you currently working on any new art pieces or calendars?
I have lots of new ideas for this years convention art show. I know I’ll do some kind of pencil things, not sure what yet but I’ve got a lot of ideas for the artsy/crafty type things. I’ll keep them a surprise though. ; ) I’m also helping with the convention banquet centerpieces and hope I can live up to the wonderful stuff Chan has done all these past years. I have an idea just ready to get started on this month and hopefully everyone will love them.
As for the calendars for 2010 I’m really hoping to have one done in time for the con so people can see it and order it for delivery after the con. I’d might get them done in time for the con but you know how the best laid plans go.
What type of feedback do you like to receive from someone who is responding to your work? What was the most interesting comment you’ve had about your art? What do you consider the greatest compliment you’ve ever received?
I appreciate any type of feedback in anyway I can get it. ; )
Actually a comment I remember in the Q-Fer that Nan Dibble made about the art (not just mine) in my first zine I ever contributed to went something like this “heartfelt but unpolished”. I’m glad she could see the heartfelt part and yes it was very unpolished. But…it was just the start.
As for the greatest
compliment…it wasn’t a B&B pic but a
did for a very good friend (you know who you are!) and her mother who
is in her
90‘s. Her mother’s mother had died when she was
just a young girl and she had a
small passport photo taken back when she first came to
Are there any other artists whose work you especially enjoy?
In the B&B fandom there are many. I know I’ll forget someone but here’s the short list.
Early in fandom I was always blown away by Beth Blighton, Barb Gipson , Renate Haller, Rosemary Hauer, and Dragon. I have an original of Beth’s that was a favorite from the very first zine I ever bought. Someone resold it at a con a few years back and I snatched it up for a song.
Now my favs are Chan (of course). I love her loose, sketchy and free pencil pieces. She gets Catherine’s likeness spot on for at least 99.9% of the time. Am I jealous!? Hell, yeah! I have a Catherine she did years ago on the wall in my bedroom. Okay, she actually gave it to my husband who still reminds me that it’s his. ; ) Also, of course Kevin Barnes’ art is simply amazing. I still also love Pam Tuck’s pen and ink work. It takes my breath away every time!
I also want to mention that
the digital manipulations done by
There are just too many to mention but I do think we just don’t have enough active B&B artist’s anymore. See question below…
Do you have any advice to budding artists?
I know some of you are hiding your talents!! Get busy and share it with us. We all have to start at the beginning. If you can, look at some early zines and you’ll find that several of us started out “not so great” but continuing to practice and practice and practice is the way to improve. Drawing something you love is also the way to improve and I know all of you love B&B already. If you can’t buy books on drawing get to your local library and borrow some. Just keep at it. Keep a reference file of photos etc. for inspiration. Also, remember we all have our own style and it will develop more and more as you practice. Sign and date all you do so you can look back and actually see the improvement. Just don’t give up. Learning to draw is more about desire than it is about any mysterious “talent”.
Why did you decide to make your art available on line for the enjoyment of all the BATB fans?
I do B&B art for myself of course but I also do it for the fans. The show and fandom are all about sharing with each other the talents and abilities we have no matter what they are. At first submitting art to zine editors was a way for me to be able to afford zines but now new hard copy zines are almost nonexistent. The internet has changed the face of this and pretty much every fandom out there. After a piece of my art is used the first time for something like a conzine or calendar or tee-shirt I don’t mind at all having it on the internet for others to enjoy. Having something to share with others is a privilege.
Tell us about the time you were a newbie and met fandom. How did your artistic gifts blossom and how were they welcomed by the other fans?
Well, after watching the show for more than a year and being pretty obsessed with it I saw an ad in the Family Circle Magazine about the International Fan Club. I tore out the ad and kept it for weeks and debated with myself about whether this was a silly thing to do or not. Finally I sent in my application and received my first B&B newsletter. I learned what a zine was and about conventions. I think it was about the time that South of Oz was taking place. I longed to go and knew I’d never get to but it was still fun to read about it all. The International Fan club decided to disband after the end of the show. I couldn’t believe this and looked for others to keep in touch with. Back then it was all phone calls and letters. I started submitting art for zines and talked to a few other fans on the phone. When Tunnelcon II was announced and I found it was in Las Vegas I really wanted to go but with us raising 4 kids pretty much on one salary I didn’t think I could go. My sweet husband decided that maybe we could do it. The plane ticket was about $90 round trip and I had a friend who said she’d go and we could share the room cost. I had never been away from home or my husband or ever flown on a plane. I told myself that this was a one time shot and that would be enough for me. ; ) Famous last words. To make a long story short…we had a great time and I met several people I had only spoken to on the phone. I do want to stress though that the early cons had lots more people attending and being a newbie was a bit uncomfortable some of the time. I also attended Tunnelcon III and this time my hubby went with. I then attended the first LA con with another friend. These were all great but still nothing like the smaller cons now.
Then my whole life changed when I bought a computer and joined BBTV more than 11 years ago. I planned to attend Minneapolis’s Reflections. My friend backed out at the last minute so I accepted an invitation to share two connecting rooms with people I’d never met. One lived in Idaho so she came to Utah so we could meet before we went to the con together. Cathy Moran has been coming to visit me off and on since then. In fact she was just here this past weekend. : ) Pat King was one of the original roomies too. The three of us have picked up a few others along the way. My roomies mean the world to me and we have even managed to get together occasionally away from the con. We’ve also helped with planning and running some of the cons, especially San Francisco and Kansas City and are looking forward to putting on the con in 2010 in San Diego. I’m not the biggest help with all this but my roomies are amazing when it comes to organizing and putting on of a con. I love you guys! But you already know that. ; )
I also have a huge extended family of so many others who attend the yearly conventions. I’ve even somehow been adopted into another set of roomies along with a very special friendship with a fan from Germany. You guys also know I love you a lot!
And…each year at the con we keep adding new family members (aka the Virgins). It’s so exciting to see these newbies discover the joys a convention brings as well as the community we have all year long, including of course Winterfest online. I want to thank the wonderful committee that gives us so much fun and wonder and joy at this time of the year. It helps us to remember that we are always connected to each other.
And now I’m beginning to plan for the trip to New Orleans. It’s going to be wonderful to see everyone again and to hopefully help a little bit. If anyone is on the fence about going to their first con, all I can say is, please try and make it happen. You’re family is waiting to meet you. You won’t be disappointed. Just one warning…one is never enough.
Do all your friends and family members know you're a fan? How do they feel about your Beauty and the Beast involvement? Do they worry about your sanity?
Yep, they all do. I’ve never feltt the need reason to hide my involvement. My husband and kids have always been supportive but I’m sure they do wonder about my sanity! ; ) There is always some eye rolling going on if someone asks me about my B&B artwork. Especially if they have to stand there and listen to me. They do tease me but hey, we all have our obsessions etc.
How has Beauty and the Beast affected your life?
How much room do I have? ; ) Seriously, there is not a single part of my life that hasn’t been affected by B&B and the fans themselves. I have done so many things and been so many places I never would have gone. I have found art and creativity again and the desire to improve my talents and abilities. I have found courage to do things I never thought I could do. I have found friends and family that I would never have even crossed paths with if not for the show. I have had two jobs that I’ve loved that I got simply because someone else saw my B&B art and asked me to work for them. I believe I have been a better mother, wife, friend and person because of the values the show teaches us and the encouragement it gives us to give to and accept others, including ourselves. The show has helped me through some very hard times, like the suicide attempt of my son, the death of my mother and a time that my husband was unemployed. I have gotten through a lot knowing that each year I can look forward to time spent with my extended family. My life has been enlarged and enriched by all that is B&B.
Are you or have you been involved in other fandoms in the same way?
I’ve never been a part of organized fandom of anything else but I have done some art, years ago, for a few other fandom zines, like Lois and Clark, X-Files and have done a few never published pics for Quantum Leap and Highlander.
I really can’t imagine being involved with anything else like I am with B&B. But… I do love Sci Fi/Fantasy shows like Star Trek, Stargate -SG-1 and at the moment I love Lost.
Do you want to say anything else to the readers of this interview about yourself, BATB, the art or fandom?
I would just like to give my love and thanks to all the fans, old and new. The part that the show and you all, in particular, have played in my life overwhelms me. I can’t imagine life without fandom. All my love,