Thursday, August 23, 2012

DPW Spotlight Interview: Sarah Sedwick

Each week we will spotlight a different DPW artist who will give away one of their best paintings. 

To enter to win Sarah Sedwick's painting, "Apple Bowl with Apple Blossoms," go to Daily Paintworks and click on the Spotlight Giveaway button in the top-left corner of the website.

From Sarah's DPW Gallery page:
My real passion is putting brush to pigment, paint to canvas. I got my BFA at MICA (in Baltimore) and now live in Eugene, Oregon. My recent work has been mainly still lives and nudes, all painted direct from life, no photos.
Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.

I’ve been into art as long as I can remember. I was ten years old the first time I tried oil paint. I’m not saying it was love at first sight – it seemed like kind of a stinky complicated mess back then. Also, I almost got trampled by my first live model - a horse!

Apple Bowl with Apple Blossoms
(click here to see original image)

Enter to win by clicking the "Artist Spotlight and Giveaway" button!

Did you have any stops and starts in your painting career?

After I graduated from art school, I went through a period of intense self-doubt during which I did almost NO art for about seven years. I can't believe it, but it's true. What did I do with myself during all that time? I waitressed, worked in a bookstore, watered plants in office buildings (yes, that’s a real job), fell in love and got married.

We settled here in Oregon five years ago, and I just knew it was time to begin painting again. Now I can’t imagine going through another dry spell of that length, though it did take me six months to get back in the studio after my daughter was born in ‘09.

Peppers and Wedges
(click here to see original image)

What mediums and genres have you experimented with? Which ones have "stuck" and which ones have fallen away? Which ones are you looking forward to exploring?

Throughout childhood I was a serious felt-tip pen fanatic. I filled countless drawing pads with black and white drawings (of princesses). Later I went through a long phase with pen and ink and gouache. I used all kinds of different colored pens, pencils, sticks - whatever was around - in my sketchbooks during college. Sketchbooking is the one artistic practice that I really want to get back into. Lately all my art time is focused on painting, but one day I will be toting that black-covered sketchbook everywhere with me again.

Your work is an intriguing mixture of very fine, but vibrant still lifes and direct, but relaxed nudes. What can you tell us about what you are drawn to capturing in paint?

Thanks for saying so! I do feel that they are different bodies of work, but painting figures refuels my passion for still life when I get into ruts. I’m always surprised by how much of my still life practice is applicable to painting the nudes. I don’t experience much difference between painting a bowl of apples and, ahem, round parts of the female anatomy – aside from mixing flesh tones, which is pure fun.

(click here to see original image)

In still life I’m usually trying to capture a certain quality of light, or a color combination that is really inspiring me that day. I also love working with shadows as part of a composition.  When I paint the figure, I try for drama – dark darks, lost edges - and I always get a thrill from capturing a facial likeness.

What does procrastination look like for you? What techniques work to ensure that you make time for your art?

Procrastination for me, at its worst, can be summed up in one word: the internet! I have some healthier forms of procrastination, though: maintaining my Etsy shop, research (aka stalking other artists’ blogs), and running. At least when I’m running I can theoretically be brainstorming painting ideas, though I’m usually just jamming to music and checking out what the other runners are wearing.

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

Most of my paintings aren’t narrative, and they I don’t usually intend them to represent grander themes. (You won’t find an ‘Assumption of the Virgin’ on my website.) If the persimmons are ready to be picked over at my mom’s, I’m excited about painting persimmons. And I know I’m not the only DPW artist to seek inspiration in the produce department!

Irises on a Low Table
(click here to see original image)

Often, I’ll add elements to a still life based on color combinations I want to try. I’ll never stop being fascinated by what color can do to manipulate the whole mood of a piece.

How do you keep art "fresh?" What techniques have helped you avoid burnout and keep your work vibrant and engaging?

When I feel burned out, I go to the thrift store! Honestly, a day spent browsing for new things to paint sends me back to the studio excited. New fabrics and colored-paper backgrounds are also great that way.

What do you feel you are learning about right now as an artist?

I’m learning about teaching, for one, which is a universe of newness for me! I’ve taught some small workshops, and learned a ton about myself as an artist doing it. (Maybe I should have been paying them!)

I’m also constantly learning new things about blogging, marketing, creating my “brand” and reaching out to my colleagues and collectors on the internet – and locally! I’m an artist, and I love to hide out in my studio - but putting myself ‘out there’ has been really rewarding.

The Red Rasta
(click here to see original image)

What makes you happiest about your art?

There’s nothing like finding that ‘zone’ of perfect concentration. When I’m there, I seriously feel like a rockstar. Of course, that high may not last through my first look at a painting after a night’s sleep, but in the moment of creation, it’s pretty sublime.

I also really love hearing feedback from my customers. A woman recently wrote to tell me that her children had made up their own names for all my paintings, and that was priceless! Feeling connected to a community of art-lovers is so great.

Thanks, Sarah!

© 2012 Jennifer Newcomb Marine

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