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The Village People: Artist Cindy Engler

Our first Q-and-A interview features Sewickley Artist Cindy Engler.

  has an amazing cast of eccentric characters. A neighbor may be championing a cause, or a friend could be a community leader.

Sewickley resident Cindy Engler may be known for many things: her fabulous style, her sweet and charming nature, her love of yoga -- the list goes on. But not everyone may know that she also is a talented and diversified artist.

Engler is having a one-day show from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday at the Crane Building, 40 24th St., in the Strip District.  Parking is available in the gated lot on Twenty-Fifth Street. The entrance to the building is at the lot.

Currently working in three mediums and always expanding her impressive portfolio, Engler is about to have her first show, "Fashion to Passion." Until then, see her work at her website: cindyengler.com.

The art sale will be open to the public this weekend. During this busy time, Engler took a few minutes to tell us about her work.

Q. What did you do before your interest in art?

A. I became interested in art in high school. I had a mentor who was an artist and she encouraged me.  My grandmother was a seamstress, and we used to make all of my clothes. I learned that being creative was really fulfilling to me. I went on to the Art Institute of Pittsburgh after high school to study fashion illustration. After my studies there, I left art and went into the modeling field in Pittsburgh. I had a successful career for many years, primarily doing fashion photography and television commercial work.

Q. Will people be surprised to find out you are such a talented artist?

A. Probably.

Q. What made you start creating?      

A. I love the feeling of working on a project and the satisfaction that comes with seeing my ideas come alive.

Q. Do you have any formal training?

A. Yes, I attended the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, the Ivy School of Professional Art, and have taken many independent classes.

Q. What about on-going classes and training?

A. There is a place I love to go to in the summer.  It is called Anderson Ranch in Snowmass, CO. It is a live-in art camp for adults.  They offer a variety of different types of interesting courses and it is total immersion in whatever you are studying for the week. The studios are open 24 hours, and it is fun to go back into the studio and work late into the night.

Q. How long have you been working at your art?

A. I have always been creative, but I have focused primarily on oil painting for the last seven years.

Q. What is your favorite medium?

A. I enjoy working with oil paints; I love the vibrant colors and the depth I can achieve by layering and scratching through the paint.

Q. Why now have you chosen to showcase your work?

A. I have a studio filled with paintings, and my family and friends have encouraged me to show them.

Q. What inspires each piece?

A. My interest in fashion and seeing women as sensual beings is my inspiration to create, and I am inspired by high-fashion magazine layouts. I am constantly tearing pages from magazines to keep in a file in my studio.

Q. Tell me about "encaustic" expression. Where did you learn it? What is it? Why do you like it?

A. Encaustic painting is painting with hot wax. It was popular in ancient Greece and is experiencing a revival. I have studied encaustic painting for two years at Anderson Ranch in Colorado.  I like it because I enjoy working with three-dimensional objects and transforming them by building up the wax and then carving back into it to reveal something that I had concealed intentionally.  It is intimidating initially because the wax is hot, so you need to work quickly, and then use a blowtorch or heat gun to fuse the wax before adding additional layers. It's really interesting and totally addicting! My studio looks like a laboratory when I am working with encaustics.

Q. Explain your glass mosaic work.    

A. I use safety glass. I paint it, then shatter it into tiny pieces. Think of a broken windshield and all the miniscule pieces of glass. I then transform objects into interesting pieces by gluing each shard of glass on individually using tweezers. It's a labor of love!

Q. What is next for you as an artist?

A. I enjoy what I am doing now, but am interested in working with metal in the future. I think designing yoga clothes would also be something I would be interested in.

Q. When is your show open to the public?

A. It is open one day, Sunday, Feb. 20, from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Crane Building in the Strip District.  The address is 40 Twenty Fourth St.

Q. How do you feel about people seeing your work for the first time?

A. I am excited!

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