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Painting Has Gotten Sandi Bates through the Pandemic

Growing up in San Francisco, Anderson Artists Guild member Sandi Bates wasn’t interested in art, especially after a high school art teacher told her on the first day of class to get out and try something else. It wasn’t until last year, at age 71, that she discovered a passion for watercolor.

She took a class from AAG member Mary McAlister but has learned mostly through online tutorials. Over the past year, she has painted every day. “It helped a lot and got me through the pandemic,” she said.

Because she doesn’t have much studio space, she works small. Her favorite size is four by six inches. To help her learn, she asked friends to send pictures of their grandkids, and during the pandemic, she sent watercolor greeting cards of landscapes and flowers to her neighbors. She also sold four-by-six-inch watercolor paintings for $10 each during a fundraiser for a neighborhood garden, hauling in $2000.

Bates’ working life started with the phone company at age 18 in California. Initially, wearing a dress and high heels, she spent each day on her feet, taking tapes that came in—an order for a phone, for instance—and fixing jams in a computer room the size of two homes.

Over time, she moved up from secretarial jobs into management. She oversaw a word processing unit, then an accounting office, then a marketing group, and finally payroll. When Ma Bell was bought out, she retired and moved east due to her husband’s job transfer.

In New Jersey, she worked part time with Exxon, and the couple adopted their son from Korea. By the time the 18-month process was complete, they had a toddler. In those days, instead of the parents traveling to Korea, they paid for a U.S. serviceman to bring their son to them.

Bates and her husband retired to Anderson about five years ago. “The people here are wonderful,” she said. “When I was told to have a blessed day, I knew I’d moved to the right place.”

For more information about Bates, visit


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