Sandra Roumagoux

Sandra Roumagoux: ‘I’ve stayed in art my entire life’

The oil painter and former Newport mayor, whose work is featured at the Newport Visual Arts Center, says she can't separate politics and art

When the Newport Visual Arts Center opens its virtual Pop Up Craft Show on Wednesday, Dec. 16, it will kick off the celebration of local artists with a live-streaming talk at 6 p.m. by Sandra Roumagoux. She will unveil her new exhibit catalog, Sandra Roumagoux: Retrospective, and discuss her featured paintings in the show.

Known for her love of nature and passion for politics, Roumagoux has described her art as an “interpretation of the ever-relevant paradoxes of faith, war, and nature. Much of what I do is predicated upon a personal, fundamental acceptance of the ‘divine absurdities’ of existence, and the dualities in our existence of love/hate, violence/peace, silent/sound, night/day.”

We caught up with Roumagoux by phone to talk about her life in art. Her comments have been edited for length and clarity.

You’ve been painting for what seems your entire life. Talk about your early inspiration to become an artist and how you’ve evolved.

Roumagoux: I grew up with sisters, all older. They were always interested in drawing. They’d be listening to the radio and drawing with charcoal and paper. As a child, I was fascinated how a two-dimensional drawing could look three dimensional. It’s using perspective space. That’s where the interest started. I also had girlfriends who liked to draw. We would get figurines and draw them. 

The other part was I was the only left-handed person in the family and that was encouraged. Even though I held the pen all wrong. That was allowed. It wasn’t even an issue. Because I’ve spent so many years training … I have become more ambidextrous now that I am old.

Sandra Roumagoux will discuss her paintings in the Pop Up Craft Show at the Newport Visual Arts Center during a live-streamed talk on Dec. 16. Photo courtesy: Newport Visual Arts Center
Sandra Roumagoux will discuss her oil paintings in the Pop Up Craft Show at the Newport Visual Arts Center during a live-streamed talk on Dec. 16. Photo courtesy: Newport Visual Arts Center

You’ve been quoted as saying you were raised in a family of avid environmentalists and gun lovers. How did that impact the artist you became?

For one thing, it was so much a part of the culture of the family for deer hunting season, pheasant season, duck season, hunting dogs. My dad had his own duck blind, he shot traps. He won several trophies in shooting traps. I remember as a child going with him on Sunday shoots. That was our church. I would go behind him and pick up shotgun shells and use them as castanets.

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