Featured Artist Sanda Manuila

Artist Sanda Manuila presents a collection of narrative paintings that address climate and geopolitical issues. See more of her impressive portfolio on her website.


pastel painting of a bird and roses

“The Heart of Nature” pastel and gouache on paper


Born in Geneva, Switzerland of Romanian political refugees, I experienced early in my life the trauma of exile and isolation. As a young adult I moved to California where I still reside today. My personal history of separation and my perspective as an outsider gave me a visceral connection to my artwork. When I paint, I tell stories of myself, and the world around me. I find a sense of self-fulfillment.


pastel painting of dead flowers

“Emergence” pastel and gouache on paper, 24″ x 20″


In the last few years, events have been troublesome, and the future remains uncertain. I paint visual stories of a world on the edge. A world living in disturbing times, threatened by climate change denial, the fear of the other, tribalism and political unrest.


eco-conscious painting of nature in flames

“Stop” oil on canvas, 24″ x 30 “


I choose dead roses, decaying vegetation, birds, and insects as my muses. They depict the struggle for survival and the resiliency of nature. Despite the abuse inflicted upon her, she still remains beautiful.


symbolic painting of American flag and dead nature

“Hanging in There” pastel and gouache on paper, 24″ x 20″


I love birds. Because they fly and have access into a world we cannot reach, they invoke associations of freedom and spirit. Birds sing, and even though their language remains mysterious to us, they invoke many feelings.


Oil painting of monarch butterflies

“Traîté de Décomposition” oil on canvas, 30″ x 24″


Dead roses recur frequently in my work. They show beauty in decay. After some time they stop changing, and take on a timeless quality. Monarch butterflies represent the voyage of the soul. Metamorphosis is the magic that they teach us. Without the pollination of bees, we couldn’t survive.


Symbolic painting of bird extinction

“Extinction” oil on canvas, 24″ x 30″


I describe my work as realism with a contemporary approach. I create meaning by choosing images that work as allegories for the feelings I want to convey. Boundaries are blurred between dream and reality, realism, and abstraction.


symbolic oil painting of homeless animals

“Homeless” oil on canvas, 24″ x 20″


I create art on two different levels. First, I develop many images digitally from photographs I take whenever I see something that visually interests me. This is a private step, as I don’t share them with the public. They are my personal intimate research, which stimulates me. I don’t like spontaneity. I prefer to map everything out, even if sometimes I encounter a problem and need to make some changes.


oil painting about the destruction of nature

“Nature’s New Normal” oil on canvas, 24″ x 30″


Once I have an image that works and talks to me, I physically paint it. I use two different media: oil on canvas and mixed media pastel and gouache painting on paper. With the oils, I focus on the physical quality of light and transparency. With pastel and gouache, which I use in alternating layers, I get looser and more textural. All my works are multi-layered.


painting of decaying flowers

“Decaying Beauty” pastel and gouache on paper, 14.5″ x 20″


My intention is to provoke an emotional reaction in the viewers that is intriguing, disturbing, wondering, not leaving them indifferent with a pretty picture. I want them to connect emotionally with the image, to pause and question what they see, and how they feel. I paint poetry.


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