Sandra Merwin is known for her dramatic motion and bold confident paint strokes that convey movement, spirit and energy.  Kinetic energy springs from her paintings as she uses line, color, texture and light to translate motion and the feeling of fluidity in a style that is uniquely her's.

Sandra took an unusual route to becoming an artist. She had a successful consulting practice in Minneapolis, Minnesota,  had authored six books  and she was feeling a little burned out.  She decided to try something totally different. Without any art background, she stumbled into a a drawing class taught by a visiting instructor from Europe. At the end of the course the instructor took Sandra aside and said, "You need to quit your job and become an artist." Sandra was stunned. The instructor gave Sandra a comprehensive list of books to read, art supplies to buy and a schedule to follow. 

Sandra took her advice and began her  journey in visual art, "I drew 4-6 hours a day, every day. I took my sketch book everywhere. At stoplights I would draw 30 second sketches. While I waited in line at the grocery story I would sketch the items in my grocery cart. When I had lunch with friends I drew portraits  of them.  I did this for four years until my hand and my eye became one and I saw the world through new eyes."

The common theme running through Sandra's art is nature, wildlife and animals.  As third generation Montanan, She grew up being surrounded by animals and the big skies of Montana. From the Pronghorn Antelope and Angus cattle that grazed in near by fields to the Tennessee Walker she rode, Sandra experienced the movement and essence of these animals. Now, as an artist,  she takes her love of Montana and animals and puts it on canvas. She creates paintings that are fresh and expressive.  She usually creates alla prima without an under drawing of any sort.  This direct painting method creates an emotional spontaneity that can't be duplicated.

Her paintings have graced the covers of six magazines. She has won numerous awards and was featured artist at two galleries.  Sandra's painting "Trifecta" is in the permanent collection of the Billings Clinic and hangs in the lobby of the Billings Cancer Center. Her painting of  "Jag" was commission by The Humane Society of the US and belongs to the Governor of Montana. 

"My art is about animals, nature, motion, emotion, spirit, gesture and soul. I want to paint more than fur and fang. I want to paint more than the eye can see."


montana artist sj merwin


"Aside from Sandra’s ability as an artist, which is considerable and defies description, the thing that struck me was how easy she was to work with. She was both accessible and straightforward. Most artists I have dealt with have a pretentious air about them, acting affronted when you simply offer YOUR opinion. This was not the case with Sandra. She included me in the creative process and encouraged my thoughts (even my subconscious ones) and weaved them into the painting seamlessly. Now every time I look at the work, a thousand fragments stare back at me; traces of azure vault into the air, mingling with a golden sky while below, fiery wisps of violet blend with strings of the deepest cerulean. She somehow captured the purest elements of human nature; love, anger, hope, sadness and joy, and united them into a living canvas that, for me, is a priceless rarity. This piece wouldn’t have been possible without Sandra’s vision; she is able to put feeling to ink, passion to acrylic and touch the quiet places of the secret heart. "
Jon Farrell

"Three years ago I wandered into Sandra's studio on Montana Ave. and fell in love with her art and have been collecting her works ever since.  Sandra captures the spirit and very essence of her subjects — whether it is a delicate, solitary rock wren, or a huge golden stallion against a Montana blue sky. I now own eight Merwin horse paintings and several exquisite bird paintings.  Oh! and I love her use of color -— her blue horses are simply marvelous."
B. Baxter

"I very much admire your beautiful piece "Blue Dancer Trinity." I think it catches the divine energy and beauty. … I love the movement of energy and grace – it somehow caught me…"
Gregor Sneddon, Anglican Priest, Canada

"Sandra caught the essence of each of my three dogs, including the one you did without knowing Hannah. I treasure these paintings, one in oil, one in charcoal, and one in water colors — you captured the personality, the look, and the eyes of each dog as an individual."
J. Miller

"The thread that wanders seemingly in a random way through Merwin's art is a demonstration of a kinetic energy that she is able to capture on canvas. It isn't random though. You would think that a painter creating works with animals as her subject matter would automatically be able to achieve this. Not so; I've viewed plenty of flat, still renderings — all kitsch and no vibe.

"The translation of motion, the feeling of fluidity, has to be delivered through line, color, texture and light. Her canine and equine portraits have different levels of energy. With the horses, 'Forum' for example, power and movement almost explode from under the skin. Most of the dog portraiture is more subdued, and so personal that looking at some of the subjects almost makes one feel like we might be voyeurs watching a tender moment that belongs only to the owners. But then there are the frolicking pups that you know will be deliriously whirling and turning, ready to scamper madly and get into mischief.

"My hope is that she will continue to create for many years to come, always experimenting and pushing the edge of artistic vision.

"My view of Sandra Merwin's work is that she is able to work her way, painstakingly, to the essence of the subject. I find it very interesting that is able to reflect that essence in the eyes of her characters — she just gets it!
I am especially captivated by her technical prowess in building up texture in such a way that you can feel the airedale's curly coat, or the bemused smile and gently raised eyebrow that says so well the tolerance these dogs have for us.

"Sandra Merwin has a very refined ability to capture the bond that exists between her subjects and her clients — they all say it. Sandra got it--just the right color, the exact glance, the mood." Don't know HOW she does it, but she drills deep and touches heartstrings."
Linda Tegarden

"I have always admired Sandra Merwin's work, she has the ability to capture the mood, texture, and color perfectly of her subjects. I was not aware, however, to the depth and degree of her abilities until I commissioned Sandra to do a portrait of my pets. Not only did she capture the mood, texture, and color perfectly of my pets, but she managed to capture the essence of their very beings."
Karlene Ochoa

"We love our painting of Barkley. We adore the style of layers with textured paint. Sandra caught her eye and the flash of teeth she had when she smiled! Barkley would be honored that Sandra donated to Airedale Terrier Rescue in her memory."
Linda McVey

"It is such a joy to have your art in our home. When I walk into the room the horses feel alive as if they are galloping towards me. The little charming Chickadee on the small canvas makes me smile with delight. Your idea of not framing the painting but allowing the wall color be the frame was clever. It makes a statement that everyone notices when they enter the room. You are a talented and thoughtful artist."
Allyson Perling

"Sandra has found her own style and captured her own unique technique.
Her paintings have a primordial spirit to them. The paintings I own exhibit that  energy be they watercolor, pastel or acrylic."
VB Hoyt

When Stubbs' painting of a St. Bernard sold at auction for more than three million dollars many people thought that this was a new fad. The fact is that artwork with the subject of animals has historic connections to humans. This deeply emotional, expressive art started with ancient cave art in France and continues through the centuries to modern day.