Title: Pastel Artist
Sarah, you’ve been creating with pastels since 2003. How did you first get involved with this art form?
I started taking a drawing class at the Lynchburg Art Club. After the second week, I switched to a pastels class because my teacher, Christine Rooney, said, “Drawing is not your thing; color is.”
What do you like the most about pastels?
Pastel chalks come in many colors, and they can be blended with each other [on the paper] (they are also very messy!). Pastels are made with pigments and fillers, and you want more pigment. Roché pastels (made in Paris since the 18th century) have a lot more pigment—and are more expensive. I use them for highlights.
What types of things inspire you to create a new piece?
I am inspired by going to museums and galleries to see works of art. Nature, especially clouds and flowers and animals, speak to me. And—I do not always see what others see!
Since appearing in Lynchburg Living in 2012, you’ve been very busy! Tell us about your trip to Paris.
The two months in Paris for my dad’s sabbatical leave were fun! I could paint in our atelier at the Cité des Artes, overlooking the Seine and Notre Dame. Paris museums are free for persons with a disability and one escort, so we could go to the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay many times. We also went to Giverny and saw Monet’s studio and home.
What other art adventures have you had?
After returning from Paris, I gave a few talks and then was invited to do a presentation for an in-service program on creativity for Method, a global design firm in London. This past summer we went on a back-country walking tour of the parts of Ghost Ranch where Georgia O’Keeffe painted. We saw the formations that she saw and could compare them with what she painted.
And you also showed some of your work at the Academy Center of the Arts earlier this year—your first gallery show. Congratulations! How did it feel?
Thank you for asking! Before the show I was nervous, but it was a great experience to see my paintings hung in that space.
Another big project was a published book of your artwork. Tell us about that and how it came together.
We had thought of doing a small Snapfish book of some of my paintings for my nephew and niece, but Nancy Marion from Blackwell Press suggested we do a longer and more professional book. We also included the story of my development. I wrote an essay; my parents wrote another essay. We hope the book might be of interest to other families who have children with disabilities.
What advice would you give to other aspiring artists?
Find a good teacher and a supportive class. Try whatever inspires you. It’s always fun to learn new techniques.
How can people get in touch with you?
Through my e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
A book of Sarah’s work, As I See It, is available for purchase at Givens Books in Lynchburg.