Passionate minor to major paintings : Fourth year animates with oil on canvas

There are many campus artists that specialize in various mediums of art. One of those artists that stands out is Courtney Engelhardt. A senior at Sonoma State University with one year left before graduation, Engelhardt has been in attendance all four years. Originally from San Diego, Engelhardt found her passion for art in middle school at her grandmother’s Sunday school. 

Carrying that passion into high school and college, she came to Sonoma State as a sociology major, took an art class her sophomore year, and decided on art as a minor. Engelhardt leans towards oil painting over other mediums, while still enjoying drawing and painting more than sculpting and crafting. Humble and passionate, Engelhardt encourages visits to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and support for smaller artists in the Bay Area. 

STAR:  When did you first discover you had a passion for art?

Engelhardt: I’ve always liked doodling stuff when I was a kid, and did a lot of arts and crafts. It wasn’t until high school when I was a sophomore that I took my first painting class and got into things like oil and acrylic paint.

STAR: What got you into art? Did your parents or a teacher have any influence?

Engelhardt: “I always remember as a kid, my grandma would have Sunday school classes that we did a lot of arts and crafts in; so she would always get me little paint kits. So I just kept painting and getting nicer paints and brushes, and practiced.”

STAR: What kind of classes did you take for art?

Engelhardt: In high school, I took beginner’s art and we did small paintings and worked with charcoal. And then in college, I started with a GE, which was beginning painting, [and] fell in love with the art program. So I took intermediate painting and picked up art as a minor. Then I took advance painting last semester and that’s when I decided to bump it up to a major along with my sociology [path].

STAR: Where do you find inspiration for your art?

Engelhardt: Well, there isn’t really anything specific that inspires me. I usually just like to mix patterns and colors together that are geometrical and colorful. Lately, I’ve been doing mashups of other things to make a bigger image, and usually I use images I personally take, like from music festivals or when I’m hiking or walking around the city. The more weird it is, the better.

STAR: Do you have any favorite artists? Or are there any art exhibits you’ve been to that stood out to you?

Engelhardt: I don’t have any specific favorite artists, but I’m attracted to contemporary art and abstract stuff. I really like going to the MOMA in San Francisco and walking up and down the streets and finding cute little pop-up exhibits like I’m window shopping. But I do love looking at a bunch of different artists I find on Instagram like Riley Davis; she’s not famous but her art is really cool.

STAR: What are your favorite and least favorite techniques or mediums to work with?

Engelhardt: My favorite would be oil, probably because that’s the most common thing I use and I love how much texture you can get out of it. Depending on what I’m painting, though, I use a lot of different brushes and sizes. I wouldn’t say I have a least favorite, I just use oil paint more than anything [else] is all. I’m always down to try new techniques because it’s fun to do small projects to take a break from my bigger projects.

STAR: Do you want to pursue art after college?

Engelhardt: I think I want to continue schooling to become a teacher or professor of art but I am still debating since I’m double majoring; so I have a couple options. But I’m still unsure. I’m not opposed to continuing art somehow.

STAR: Have you won any awards or been featured in any exhibits? 

Engelhardt: I won this national computer art contest in the fifth grade and I won $300 for it. In my hometown in San Diego, there were these Oceanside competitions I would be in throughout middle school and high school. And I’ve been in SSU’s Annual Juried Exhibition. But nothing too major.

STAR: What projects are you currently working on? 

Engelhardt: I’m doing a couple things. One thing’s for my beginning printmaking class and I’m carving out a stamp on a 2x3 foot wood board with wood chisels. Other than that, I’m not working on anything too big; I just like to mess around with different sized canvases and paint when I have time. At home I have a couple canvases with completely different images that I’m doing just to test stuff out before I go into my classes and start a large-scale project.

STAR: What are your favorite pieces you’ve made during your time here at Sonoma State? that you are most proud of and what were they for?

Engelhardt: One of my favorites that is in my living room is a painting of Chance the Rapper that I did for an assignment in my beginning painting class because it has these cool color swirls and I put a few different layers that really makes the whole painting pop. Another one is something I never named, but I describe it as the “Avocado Painting” that I did in my advance painting class; it has a bunch of pictures I collected that I made a collage out of and mashed together. I still don’t know what it really is, but I know I love how it turned out, and that one is also in my living room on the wall. And the third painting I am proud of would be one I did for my final project in my advance painting class that is a little hard to describe. But there’s a naked lady covered in flowers with this abstract background that took me a really long time to commit to. That took a lot of trial and error and testing on smaller scale canvases.