Thursday, March 24, 2022

DPW Spotlight Interview: Sarah Maccario

 Each week we will spotlight a different DPW artist who will give away one of their best paintings. To enter to win Sarah Maccario's painting "La Montagne Sainte Victoire bleu lilas" go to Daily Paintworks and click on the link at the top of the page announcing their interview.

An Introduction from Sarah Maccario:

Hello I’m Sarah and I’m delighted to have been invited to be DPW’s Spotlight Artist. I’m British and I live in the South of France with my French husband, Georges, in a small village near Aix-en-Provence. Painting for me is a kind of creative visual diary, a way to express myself and share the poetry of life. We live near Cezanne’s famous muse, La Montagne Sainte Victoire. I’ve been enjoying documenting my surroundings through painting the beautiful countryside and also aspects of everyday life. I’m just building up a new body of work including some pieces which I will no doubt share on Daily Paintworks.

La Montagne Sainte Victoire bleu lilas
(click to view)

Enter to win by clicking on the link at the top of the DPW home page announcing interview

What did you want to be growing up?  

I didn’t think too much about it. I was interested in many things, nature, wildlife, existential questions, all sorts. I liked to be outside and experience things, the weather, places. I liked art, making things, colour, pattern and writing. 
When did your artistic journey begin?  

When I was very young, I liked colouring, making mud sculptures and miniature gardens. I remember enjoying basket weaving, natural dyeing and embroidery using neon colours! At school in the 1960s and 70s, I discovered how much I enjoyed painting, drawing and modelling clay. Applying paint, evoking a feeling, a place, being transported and totally immersed, losing sense of time for a while. I particularly remember a book cover project, I painted Gondolas in Venice. I dreamt of painting giant cheese plant leaves on my bedroom walls. I also wanted to fill my bedroom to the brim with gossamer or coloured silks or ferns.

I went to art school in my late teens and again twenty years later, which in fact is twenty years ago now! I loved doing the Foundation course and it was then I began to consider myself as an ‘Artist’ and really lived and breathed art for 4 life changing years at Winchester School of Art, part of the University of Southampton. I was so happy to finally get my Bachelors of Art Degree in Fine Art, Painting.
Did you have any long periods without creative expression? How did you get back on the horse?

I’ve always found creative outlets. I have painted intermittently throughout my life but there are many forms of art and ways to be creative. I have enjoyed gardening and making clothes at different times, photography and frequently, just doodling on the back of an envelope. I love travel and exploring so I’m never short of inspiration. Actually, Daily Paintworks has been a real motivation to paint frequently again and I’m enjoying seeing my painting develop.

Which mediums and genres do you gravitate toward? Which ones don’t appeal?

When we lived in Southampton, UK, I belonged to an art collective and had a large studio space for a few years alongside 15 or 20 artists. At that time, I made big works on wood panels or canvas using acrylic paints. I also made a lot of sculptures from found objects. When I was at art school, (for the second time around in 2002-6) I made lots of 3D work from plastic debris collected on the beach. Quite unusual at the time but our impact on the planet became concerning to me. Some of my sculptures were included in exhibitions in the South of England. I enjoy conceptual art too, sometimes you can get a big idea across without making an enormous artwork but then I like enormous artworks too! Currently I’m trying to find what appeals to others and aligns with my own ideas for Daily Paintworks. I’ve been quite experimental, using oils and trying different techniques but I’ve also started using acrylics again as I feel at home with them. I really would like to use eco-friendly paints. A few years ago, I made a collection of artworks on my iPhone, just using a basic painting app, for an exhibition about my home town, Southampton. It was fun drawing on my phone ‘en plein air’. I sometimes use watercolours or biros or markers or whatever’s around. Sand or pebbles on the beach. Fallen twigs in the park. An arrangement of wildflowers from a walk. Not all art lasts forever or even a day.

Les Trois Sages
(click to view)

What was the process like of pinpointing your personal style or finding your voice?  

I don’t think about it too much. It’s probably embedded anyway. I don’t really want to be defined as ‘the person who paints such and such….’ I like the freedom that art gives you if you take it. It’s interesting that famous artists are often known for a particular thing but actually they have a whole repertoire if you look deeper. Usually, I prefer to paint semi-abstract but for Daily Paintworks I was teaching myself to paint in oils again after using acrylics for so long so I tried a range of subject matter and style. I’ve always been quite experimental with techniques and approaches. Sometimes the work is just about an idea. I would be interested to know if viewers can see a connection in my Daily Paintworks paintings. Please do let me know.

Now that we are living in the south of France again and near the majestic mountain St Victoire, Cezanne’s muse, I feel compelled to go out and sketch and paint some of the beautiful scenery. My artwork is a kind of visual diary, sharing some of my thoughts, favourite places and things around me in my daily paintings. Daily Paintworks is like Instagram or Twitter for Painters! Love seeing what others are up to.

Name an artist (or artists), well-known or not, who you admire. Why? 

There are so many artists I admire and I find new ones every week but broadly it's more 19th and 20th century painters British and French painters including John Singer Sargent, Gwen John, Toulouse Lautrec, French Impressionists, Matisse and Les Fauves, The Nabis, St Ives Artists, Prunella Clough and of course all the American Abstract Expressionists … I like them for different reasons, the brush strokes, the portrayal of light, the semi abstract forms, the outrageous or subdued use of colour or just the feeling I get looking at their work. I love very contemporary art too in all its forms and go to as many exhibitions as I can. At Art School we visited Paris and New York. I’ve been to the Venice Biennale twice and it’s awesome! So much art in all genres, film, installations, sculpture, drawing, performance. I loved Phyllida Barlow’s ‘Folly’ at the British Pavilion. Always good to champion women artists and there are plenty to choose from! There are many good artists on Daily Paintworks and I enjoy seeing the progression of another artist. I do buy artworks from other artists as do many of my artist friends. It’s important to support each other and also a privilege to have their work on my wall!

Jaune de Cadmium
(click to view)

If you could offer one piece of advice to your younger, creative self — what would that be?

‘Do an apprenticeship to get qualified in a creative profession so that you can fall back on that when you need to earn money!’ I’ve had endless, not very well-paid, part-time jobs to support my artistic career and haven’t been able to always offer myself the studio space or the amount of time needed to make my art. Mind you, I have had some interesting part time jobs, Grape Picker, CBS Records Receptionist, English as a Foreign Language Teacher, Railway Station Staff at Monaco, Librarian, Contemporary Art Gallery Assistant, Seamstress, to name a few. I’ve met some amazing people along the way. Sometimes I wish I was a qualified gardener/architect/clothes designer/graphic designer.
Do you utilize any habits or tricks for winning the distraction and procrastination battle?  

Try to get started early in the day on the creative mission. Don’t get distracted by the admin until later in the day! But here I am typing at 9am! Being a full-time artist involves about 10 different roles to support your art. It feels like you are doing 10 jobs simultaneously. Record keeping, photographer, social media, supplies coordinator, packaging and mailroom assistant, secretary… and that’s before you’ve picked up a paintbrush! It’s very difficult to stick to a strict routine making artwork.
Belle vue méditerranée
(click to view)

In moments of self-doubt or adversity, how do you push forward? 

Either take a break or just keep going!

What are some of your long and short term goals for yourself or your art? 

So it feels like I’ve been what they call an ‘emerging artist’ for years and I’m ready to become ‘established’ but realistically, I need a studio space again to do that. As my (French) husband and I moved back to France two years ago, I have had to start making new friends and finding my feet again in the French art world. I have artwork in a Gallery in Aix-en-Provence and I belong to two local art groups. I just participated in an exhibition (which generated sales) in our village, part of several related events on the theme of Water. Integrating into French life and becoming established as an artist are my main goals. There is a fair amount of paperwork involved too!

Figues de Barberie
(click to view)

What does success mean to you personally?  

I have a love/hate relationship with the artworld. I worked in a gallery where artworks by Gerhard Richter were individually worth more than my house. Special paintings. I had to make sure people didn’t touch them! That feels like a different world of celebrity and excessive wealth. I’m not in that league and not particularly keen to be. I consider myself lucky to be an Artist and spend time making art. I suppose then that I would like to be totally self-supporting in my artistic endeavours and that my art is considered ‘valuable’ but I would prefer that it is because it offers a particular and original view of the world.

What is one of your proudest moments in your creative life?

A few years ago, my home city, Southampton in the UK, was starting the process of submitting a bid for UK City of Culture 2025. I was invited, as a local Artist, to participate and create an artwork in response. I wanted to inspire people to get on board with the idea and I created an interactive map with supporting artworks to encourage people to reflect on all the creativity at grass roots level already extant in the city and to build on that. I am proud of my initial contribution to this ongoing, city-wide project and happy to say that Southampton has been longlisted to final 8! Although I live in France now, I really hope Southampton achieves City of Culture 2025 and I hope to participate in building and being a part of a creative community locally here in France. Art, especially at grass roots level and in this difficult time, is a panacea and more vital than ever, for everyone.

Happy painting! Sarah x

(click to view)

Thanks, Sarah!

© 2022 Maddie Marine

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