Sarah’s work impressed me the moment I saw it. I loved how she captured the emotiveness of children and in turn makes the viewer really feel. It’s a difficult thing to create believable, multidimensional characters in any novel and it is equally difficult to capture that well in some form of visual art. But the thing is I feel as if I have known some of the people in her paintings since I was a child because of how well she portrays them. For me, this is an incredible attribute to have as an artist, and Sarah has it. We are thrilled that she is the featured artist for this issue and hope you enjoy her work. You can find more of her work on her website. —Jonathan Minnema
What do you do and how can I find it?
While I use a variety of media and subject matters, I primarily create drawn and painted portraits in what I label an “illustrative realism” style. Faces and figures are definitely the thing I enjoy creating most, and they are typically done in watercolor, gouache, ink, and pencil.
At this point in time, my work is primarily commission-based, so directly contacting me through my website is the best way to go. I forewarn that I am restless in my explorations of art, so following my Instagram account is a good way to keep up with new things I am trying.
How did you get started?
I can’t remember a time that I wasn’t creating. I have distinct memories of constantly drawing horses as a young girl—this isn’t surprising considering my Texas childhood. I went into college without a declared major, believing that I would go into education, since I knew I loved working with kids.
After taking a drawing class in my first semester, I knew my future was in art. I know that I have always had a unique view of the world that needs to be expressed in some tangible way, and for me that way is through my artwork. I find my work to be my way to give dignity and goodness to subjects that can often be overlooked. I am excited to be on this journey as an artist and trying to be open handed for what the future has in store.
What is the coolest story you have about doing what you do?
I had a professor in college that taught me essentially everything I now know about color theory. For those unaware, color theory is a most complex thing to understand, and one could spend a lifetime trying to do so.
The way she explained color revolutionized the way I view the world around me and the way I convey color in my artwork. The sky is not just blue; the grass is not just green. It was like learning a new language in many ways—a language of color.
When I learned several years after I graduated that this professor had died, I was completely devastated. I knew that she would never see the ways I applied the lifelong lessons she taught me, nor would I ever truly be able to thank her for doing so.
This experience has made me realize that I have the ability and obligation to teach, to create, to give to others through my unique gifting. We, as artists, are able to bring beauty and hope in the midst of chaos and new perspective in places of close-mindedness. In the future, I hope to pour out of myself in the ways I have been poured into.
Who (or what) is the biggest inspiration for your work?
Children. Hands down. I’ve always been enamored by the way their imagination seems to be uninhibited, running wild and free. As one that works with kids constantly, I am not blind to the ways they can be difficult. I’m also aware of their keen ability to create and invent in the most mundane situations.
My time with kids is often spent trying to see the things that they see, to take a step into their world. This is the place where I’m inspired most. When I make art, I try to enter into a world of curiosity, much like a child, embracing the challenges that come along the way.
If you could give someone advice for doing what you’re doing, what would it be?
First, the best advice I could give to visual artists is to leave room to create the things that give you joy. Sure, artists have to find ways to pay the bills, but they must be able to explore and express what they are most passionate about. You will feel creatively stifled as an artist if you don’t. Embrace the vulnerability that comes with exposing your inner self to the world. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.
Second, make sure you get plugged into an artist or a supportive community. You can try doing it all on your own, but you will be depriving yourself of the delight that comes from letting others in and being able to bounce ideas off of one another. We have so much to offer to each other, and I know my art has matured as a result of surrounding myself with encouraging individuals.
Believe me, I don’t do these things perfectly, but I see tangible evidence of growth as an artist and human being when I institute these practices in my life.
Photos by YC Jones Photography.