Teresa Saia - Painter

I first heard about Teresa Saia in early summer of 2007, when I was part of the Art Committee of the Seattle CancerCare Alliance. Our curator, Rick Kirsten, suggested we should visit her booth in the upcoming Bellevue Art Fair and get our own impression from her work. 

I dragged my husband, Ari, with me on this mission. Finding her booth in the busy fair was not a problem; it was the place that attracted most people’s attention. We were there by noon of the first day of the fair and almost all her paintings had the sold red stickers on them. Everyone, including Ari and I, was captivated by the magic of her paintings and her use of colors. 

All of the Art Committee members were enchanted by her art as well. Together with Rick we went to visit her studio, at Pioneer Square, to choose paintings for the hospital. We bought a beautiful big painting of a Tuscan landscape, which is hanging in the hospital lobby in font of the elevators. We also purchased a smaller painting of a Northwest landscape, this one is hanging in one of the other departments. Because of its central location, the Tuscan painting attracts a lot of attention. It offers a beautiful and relaxing escape for the patients.

Teresa’s main painting medium is soft pastels. Soft pastels are pure color pigments; this is why pastel paintings have such prominent and vibrant colors. That same year I registered to do a workshop with her at the Dakota Art Center in Mt. Vernon, WA. Until I met Teresa I had only painted with oil colors. I went there without any previous knowledge of how to work with soft pastels. I did manage, but I knew I didn’t get the best of it. I spent hours struggling with the new medium, instead of focusing on Teresa’s unique painting techniques. I only managed to complete one painting during this three day workshop.

Teresa demonstrate her technique. Bottom right: Teresa's dog - Sky

This year I took several basic pastel classes with painter Terry Furchgott at Gage Art Academy, and then did another workshop with Teresa at Dakota. This time I had a completely different experience than my first workshop. Being more familiar with the medium I could now focus my attention on learning how to paint like Teresa. These were incredible four days; I slept, ate and lived just to paint. It was a blissful long weekend.  

my table during the workshop

Teresa is a gifted painter and an incredible teacher. I love the colorful way in which she sees our world and the way she interprets it onto the paper. Every morning, before we would go to work on our own paintings, she would start with a demo, as a case study for us. While some painters stick to what they see, Teresa has no problem editing reality to create a more dramatic painting. I admire this artistic freedom and ability.

Teresa combines two different photos in one painting

Unlike painting with oils, water or acrylic, where one need only a few colors and the rest can be made by mixing, painting with pastels requires having many pre-made color options. Dakota art store has an amazing and exclusive pastel collection, and the students get to tour the pastel warehouse, or as Teresa calls it – The Candy Store. During the class, whenever we needed something, we could go to the warehouse, just behind the classroom, and grab whatever we needed. This benefit added to the whole artistic experience during the class.

During the year Teresa offers several workshops and also painting trips to Italy, for details check her website. Howard/Mandville Gallery in Kirkland, WA., and Vail Fine Art Gallery in Vail, CO. present her work.