Saundra Hardy Snyder is painting in her quiet home studio in Montibello near SouthPark on a recent afternoon.
Snyder is known for vibrant watercolor home portraits done with pen and ink. She has created portraits of houses in areas such as Myers Park, Eastover, Quail Hollow, Piper Glen and Ballantyne.
She works mostly from photographs, and a project takes about a month to complete.
“With watercolor, I tend to do landscapes, florals and then homes and things that make me feel ethereal,” she said. “I like that ethereal feel.”
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Her paintings are in private and corporate collections.
For several years, Snyder, 62, made pen-and-ink renderings of homes for tour brochures in the Mint Museum’s Room to Bloom celebration, a fundraiser by the Mint Museum Auxiliary.
The love of art began early for this New Hampshire native. In first grade, she painted trees dotted with tiny red apples.
“That was my first introduction to people thinking that I could paint, and of course I had my mother always telling me, ‘You’re an artist. You’re an artist,’ ” she said. “And if somebody’s telling you that all the time, you kind of start believing it.”
As a teenager, Snyder drew pencil portraits of movie stars on the walls.
“I’m surprised my mother didn’t have it repainted,” she said.
Snyder, who also has led a long real estate career, gave up art at age 18, she said, and did not return to it for many years. At age 33, she took a class making watercolor and pen and ink Christmas cards.
Then she sought out every watercolor and design course she could.
“As soon as I saw the watercolor flowing, I thought, ‘Oh, this is for me,’ ” she said. “I love this feeling of freedom and it just turning into something else.”
The first award Snyder remembers winning was first place at Festival in the Park for a large floral watercolor.
“My world had just opened up,” she said.
Three main factors in watercolor painting are the amount of paint on the brush, the wetness of the brush and the wetness of the paper, Snyder said.
When painting home portraits, she adds or removes features at the client’s request and lets them select the season they want.
She also has done paintings of historic buildings, such as St. Mary’s Chapel near uptown Charlotte.
Donna de Molina became acquainted with Snyder’s work when she was the highest bidder in a silent auction of a watercolor home portrait.
“Her rendering was exquisite. Not only did she capture the architectural design to perfection along with the surrounding landscape, but I was delighted with her choice of color and her attention to detail,” de Molina wrote in an email.
Snyder and her husband, Tom, also own Designer Glass Mosaics in Pineville, where they make custom glass décor. Her skills are useful there in creating watercolor renderings of glass art and painting on glass.
Snyder enjoys giving back to others and has taught art to seniors – something she’d like to do again, she said.