Colby Adams Sanford Paints in China


Colby Adams Sanford recently returned from living and painting in China. As an artist he likes to work with acrylics, wood, and all types of reclaimed materials. He and his wife now live in Provo, Utah. Sanford says of his unique style, “Reclaiming materials and making them something beautiful – a metaphor of what Christ can do for us.”

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Where in the World is Colby Adams Sanford? I am so glad that you asked this question. As of this spring I am living in Provo, Utah… But I think that you might be referring to the fact that my wife Alicia and I love to travel. We were living in China for the past couple years, so that took us around Asia. On our way home, we took a marvelous trip through Europe. We are itching to go on another adventure. Anywhere! I think our next trip is going to be the East Coast to visit some dear friends and family, but Iceland is also at the top of the list. I think that it is important to see something new. The most honest and exciting way to do that is to get out and walk around. The further from the studio the better.

You like to work with reclaimed materials. Explain why and describe some of the items. Old piles of wood. The more beat-up and gnarly, the better. My favorite so far are the 20 year old boards from the ceramic factory in China where we lived. The boards carried the ceramic products from one station in the factory to another. They have layer after layer of splatters, sprays, strokes, and stains of paint and glaze. The visual information there is really intriguing to me. While in Europe, I was able to paint on an old leather glasses case near a park bench in Rome and an inch by inch tile that had washed up on a beach in Spain.

In my studio now I have a few rocks, some rafters, and more China boards that I shipped back to the states. Oh! And a piece of floorboard from the bedroom my dad grew up in. The house has long since fallen down but my Dad and I crawled in with a saw and swiped a slab. That is going to be one emotional painting experience.

There is a deeper meaning that has me searching for found materials all the time. I take the abandoned garbage, spend time with it, polish it up, and give it life and value. I get emotional thinking about the atonement and what it does for us in our various states of garbage and despair. Through the atonement we can be polished back up and find our innate worth.

Describe your travel art kit. I use 4 colors, three (ish) brushes, a straight edge palate knife, and a little spray bottle. Titanium White, Mars or Ivory Black, Raw Sienna and Burnt Sienna. Oh! And a small tube of gold. The travel set is always acrylics because its dries quickly and I love the texture. It is all bundled up in a small orange pouch that my wife gave me. She had it while we were dating and I always coveted it. Along with that, I usually have a couple of pieces of wood in my backpack.

On all of our travels, my paints are the first thing I pack. Painting on the airplane while my wife sleeps on my shoulder is probably one of my absolute favorite things to do. The airport security is usually pretty nervous about me taking the kit on the plane. I rarely make it through security without them opening my orange pouch, but usually there are no problems. On our last trip out of Hong Kong, they took away my palate knife. Really guys? I bought a new one in Florence.

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