Snefrid Sneve-Schultze

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Still Life, Landscape, Figure and Portrait Paintings
in Oil by

Snefrid Sneve-Schultze


NORWEGIAN ARTIST FINDS A CREATIVE HOME ON CAPE COD

by Nicola Francis Burnell

Published in The Cape Codder, October 17, 2000: Cape Cod Antiques & Art, October 2000.

Emerging artist Snefrid Sneve-Schultze ("Sissi") has recently discovered that she can live a creative, fulfilling life - right here on Cape Cod. After struggling for years with her creative ambitions in a society that typically views art as a hobby, she has finally found a home, in Eastham, where she lives with her new husband Robert, also an emerging artist.

Originally from Bardu, in the northern part of Norway, Sneve-Schultze professes to have been drawing for as long as she can remember. "There was always paper, watercolors and crayons around," she says. But when her grade school class-mates asked her to fill in their pictures with people and animals, she did not realize she had a particular gift. "I was just helping fellow students who didn't trust themselves."

In her Norwegian high school, where the program was purely academic, she had no art classes for three years. Although she felt frustrated with academia, it actually worked to her advantage once she arrived in the United States. Her academic education enabled her to attend Moorhead State University in Minnesota, where she received a bachelor of arts degree. "It was a new school, so the facilities were great," she recalls, Many of the teachers were fresh from earning their master's degree. "They were very excited about being teachers." This enthusiasm encouraged Sneve-Schultze to continue her career in the arts.

When she moved to Boston to attend the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, she was disappointed, however by her experience. "While the teachers might have been great artists, they were trying to teach in classes that were too large," she remarks. Sneve-Schultze was also hearing "from all angles" that artists couldn't live off their work. Her confidence waned, so she decided to enter Massachusetts College of Art to study fashion design. "I wanted to have something to fall back on, financially," she says.

After three years of training, Sneve-Schultze found work with Tatiana of Boston, as a pattern-maker and assistant designer for their made-to-order wedding gowns. "Fashion design in its purest sense, is just another artistic outlet," she says. "You can be just as expressive with clothing as you can with drawing except somebody has to wear it." But working within the practical limitations of fashion design eventually became to much for her, and she was not too upset when she was laid off after two years. In fact, she took this as an opportunity to start her own business as a custom designer and pattern-maker in Cambridge, MA.

Although she worked for herself for two more years Sneve-Schultze was still unhappy. She now believes she was suffering from a "creative block" during the ten years she worked as a fashion designer. She describes how all hope had left her. "I was just existing," she recalls. "I didn't feel much joy or hope for the future."

When the chance arose to move into a friend's house on Cape Cod in 1993, Sneve-Schultze gladly left the city. "I love the ocean and the clean air," she says. For a while, she spent time just walking the beaches, where she developed a facination with the water and soon realized that she wanted to paint it. I wanted to express what I felt when I saw the light on the water," she recalls. After experimenting unsuccessfully with watercolors alone, she took a couple of classes through Nauset Adult Education Program to learn technical skills.

"I started just experimenting and playing," she says. In 1995 Sneve-Schultze really broke through her creative block in an exercise she did with a friend. "We were switching watercolors," she explains. After working a little on a painting, she exchanged her piece for her friends work. "We went back and forth. Whatever I saw in the picture was different to what my friend saw, then when I got it back it was something else again. It was a wonderful experience for me because it really taught me to loosen up."

When faced with a blank piece of paper, Sneve-Schultze has two ways of approaching her work. "One is where I know what the painting is going to be, and I have a clear idea of how I want it to look," she explains. "Other times, I let the work develop into what it wants to be. I just help the painting come up out of the paper, by adding color, but it's already in there."

In 1999, one of Sneve-Schultze paintings won first prize in the watercolor media at the Cape Cod Art Association's members' show. This recognition renewed her faith in herself as an artist. "It was a nice pat on the back," she smiles. Since then she has created several new paintings and has plans to enter juried shows, both on and off the Cape. "When I started embracing my creativity again, hope started coming back, although I don't know which came first," she says.

"I have felt all my life that I have a special gift, but I need to use it, if I want to keep it." Sneve-Schultze now paints in the studio she shares with her husband. "It's nice to have someone to run ideas by and get feedback on my work," she says. "He also helps me gain perspective when I am too involved with a painting and need to step back a little."

Her work now reflects a metaphysical understanding of life. "I try to show different kinds of realities that are happening together," she says. My reality is different from yours, so I try to show how I see something, while making it recognizable so that you see something too." In a series of water lily paintings, for example, she explores the many ways water and color combine to create different visual effects. "I also try to show energy and how everything is infused with life," Sneve-Schultze explains. Almost all her paintings exhibit this interpretation of how "spirit" moves through nature, transforming modest forms into beautiful, serene images. Some of these watercolors were recently exhibited in the Emerging Artist's show at the Framing Gallery in Orleans, where a couple of paintings are still on display.

While some artists are so connected to their work that they have difficulty letting it go, Sneve-Schultze is happy to share her vision through her paintings. "I can always do another one!" she says, laughing. People like artwork around them because it speaks to them in some way, which is exactly what motivates Sneve-Schultze to get her work out there. "I want what I express, or what people see, to be healing for them," she explains. "Whether my work hangs in their home or in their office, I hope it resonates with them in some way and makes them happy."


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