Mountain Arts Network Artist Spotlight

Sandra Charlebois

Sandra Charlebois is a painter who said she “loves impressionism and how light and color interact, setting the scene with mood and emotion.”

Charlebois said she primarily creates oil paintings and has a passion for using wildlife as her subjects. While painting, she said that she uses “a playful and whimsical style with bold, exaggerated colors.”

“Sandy’s Bears” is a series of paintings that convey Charlebois’ observations of the bears that have wandered onto her property over the past decade.

Charlebois said her fascination with the “beautiful lumbering creatures” began as she watched mother bears instruct their young, the curiosity of the animals as they turned over logs, and the “indignity of a young bear falling out of a tree.” The resulting paintings are “interpretations of whimsy, imagination and fun.”

Casey Whitesell

Casey Whitesell describes herself as a welder and “metal artist.” Her family has lived on the mountain for roughly 20 years and the 29-year-old currently lives in Running Springs.

Whitesell said that she started working with metal in 2008 when she attended a technical theater program at the Pacific Conservatory Theatre in Santa Maria.

“I was eager to learn even more about the process,” Whitesell said. “I took welding classes at San Bernardino Valley College and also attended a welding program at the Center for Employment Training in Colton.”

Though these classes and training, Whitesell learned how to work with steel and aluminum, became familiar with tools of the trade, and learned to weld using several different techniques.

Whitesell said that she primarily uses a plasma cutter and the metal inert gas (MIG) and tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding techniques to create her art. She also uses different finishes with her art, such as rust, alcohol inks, heat treatments, and polishing. She uses steel that has been sourced on the mountain or recycled locally. Her husband also helps her get scrap metal.

“My metal art is inspired by the beautiful animals and plants around us here on the mountains,”  Whitesell said. “As a child, I was always fascinated with the abundance of wildlife here. I love the permanence and beauty of steel and aluminum and I love making art out of something that can be difficult and challenging to work with or manipulate.”