By Randy Noles
“It’s the color,” says Ed Sanderson of his work. “I’m not afraid to use it. If my work was photorealistic, I’d feel like a human copy machine. My paintings are interpretations of how I see the world.” Sanderson’s ebullient images are highly collectible, and have been used as poster art for major art festivals and now twice on the covers of Winter Park Magazine.

Although Edward Sanderson Jr. lives on acreage in Lake County, he says “I never fail to be inspired when I come to Winter Park.” Something about the city’s ambiance, Sanderson says, lends itself to his dynamic compositions and fearless use of color.

A Sanderson painting, Wish You Were Here — which depicted outdoor dining along Park Avenue — graced the cover of Winter Park Magazine’s Winter 2022 issue. 

That work now ranks among our most popular covers — so we were glad when Sanderson recently revisited Park Avenue and painted Loving Life, a more abstract but equally vivid vision of the city’s signature boulevard.

A native of Philadelphia, Sanderson moved to Altamonte Springs with his family at age 5, the youngest of four siblings. He was inspired to pursue art by his father, a BellSouth executive who was also a master model builder. He went on to earn an A.A. degree from Valencia College and to enroll in UCF with the intention of studying painting.

But formal art education quickly went by the wayside when Sanderson was hired to sketch pastel portraits for tourists at Walt Disney World, where an artist who was fast and could churn out a good likeness might haul in hundreds of dollars per day.

However, when Sanderson’s mother died of cancer in 2001, he turned his focus to fine art and entered the festival circuit, where he attracted a following of collectors with his ebullient contemporary-impressionistic style.

In 2007, he was selected as the poster artist for the Celebration Art Festival and would subsequently complete 10 more hot-selling official posters — including one for this year’s Winter Park Autumn Art Festival, which runs Saturday and Sunday, October 7 and 8, in Central Park. 

Sanderson also donates paintings to be sold for fundraisers that benefit such charities as the Golden Rule Foundation, Kids Beating Cancer and The Sharing Center. A painting that he made of Kiev was sold to raise funds for the Ukraine Ballet Benefit, held in conjunction with the troupe’s 2022 performance in Orlando.

“It’s the color,” says Sanderson. “I’m not afraid to use it. If my work was photorealistic, I’d feel like a human copy machine. My paintings are interpretations of how I see the world, where I prefer to use bold and unbridled brushwork without regard to reality. I just paint whatever brings me happiness.”

Adds Sanderson: “I invite the viewer to look at life on a daily basis as a gift filled with fleeting moments. In this sometimes-tumultuous world of uncertainty and darkness, I encourage people to seek out the beauty that we’re blessed with each day — which is often found in ordinary places.”

Many local artists know Sanderson already. Since 2010, he has been the senior framing manager at Sam Flax in Orlando, the building on East Colonial Drive that looks as though it was assembled from Legos. It’s a major purveyor of art supplies and an unofficial gathering place for artists of all genres.

“We’re all artists here in one form or another,” notes Sanderson. “I’m surrounded by creative people and surrounded by beautiful art every day. I love to mentor and encourage young artists who come in.”

In addition to daily immersion in an arts-oriented environment, Sanderson says his work is energized by his wife, Christi, “who inspires me to be a better artist and a better person.” The couple has two children: Emily, 15, and Edward Jr., 17.

To see more of Sanderson’s work — which includes several Winter Park settings — visit originalsbysanderson.com.

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