Sarah Sky is a visual artist who was born in France, studied Literature in New York, and now lives in Guatemala. Her works explore the contrast between order and chaos, between the organic and the geometric. We interviewed Sarah to learn more about her practice, inspirations, and what she is working on today.
1. How does your creative day look like and what inspires you to make art?
I love to paint in the morning. I am an early riser and often I am in the studio between 6 and 7am. But first - coffee :) I feel that in the morning I am at my freshest, that’s when new ideas come to me - when I am able to see problems with new eyes. In the morning I feel this feeling of anticipation - I am excited to see what will happen next once I pick up the brush. I also like to paint in the afternoons/evenings, though I seem to paint differently - sometimes with stronger emotions after a long day. Or with a sense of healing.
I am inspired by everything around me. I travel often, and seeing new landscapes, countries, things inspires me a lot. I am also inspired by words - novels, poems - and colors. Many of my collections are based on specific color palettes - and the rest is secondary. I can get addicted to colors because they speak to the mood I’m in, and I can stay in that “mood” an entire year sometimes, until I get bored and feel the need for something new.
2. Tell us more about your art studio.
I used to paint in a large room in my house, and about a year and a half ago I decided I needed a more intentional space. I designed it with my partner - we drew out the plans, and there was a lot of thought that went into it: the ceiling height, the large windows, skylights for a corner I thought might be too dark. Everything was designed with the intention to create - from the 9 or so meters of work space to hang canvases to the sound the rain would make when it hits the roof. It’s my sanctuary.
3. How did you first get interested in your medium?
As a child I took art classes but mostly drew with pencils and charcoal. I drew a lot. But I never had any formal training with paint. I started dabbling with acrylics when I moved to Guatemala 12 years ago, but I painted very little. In 2016, I started painting in earnest and I fell in love with it. Acrylics, for me, are the perfect medium because I am very impatient - I can’t stand to wait for a layer of paint to dry so I end up starting a new painting in the meantime. That’s why I’m also working on several pieces at once. I also use a lot of other materials to add accents to my pieces - spray paint, charcoal, dry and oil pastels. These are things I’ve explored and have included in my pieces for different reasons, though there is almost always one of these elements present along with the paint.
4. Describe your style in one sentence.
I’m an abstract expressionist obsessed with movement, who sometimes dabbles in loose figurative forms.
5. Has your style changed over time?
My style has changed a lot over time. Years ago I was much more focused on figurative works - women’s faces mostly - and the abstract part was mostly a background or complement. I am now more focused on purely abstract work - it is a bigger challenge in my opinion, because there are no rules and what you are doing has to feel right to you, so you have to be very connected to yourself.
6. What are your main artistic tools?
My main tools are large brushes, rollers, sponges and different types of pastels.
7. Do you ever experience creativity blocks and how do you stay positive and inspired?
Yes, I think we all do. And I usually get very down when that happens. But I have been able to recognize that when I feel that way I’m most likely tired or need a change of scenery. Often the answer is to rest, and come back to it the next day or in a few days. If I still feel that way, I try to set aside my large scale work and start small - some small studies on paper, some sketches, anything that feels low stakes and like a not very big commitment. If I can do those things, that usually loosens me up to go back to my work, and often even awakens my curiosity to try something I did on paper on a larger scale.
8. What artists - either contemporary or from history - have had an impact on you and your art practice?
So many!! My first love was Andy Warhol, and a lot of my early paintings were very Pop in color and theme. More recent artists that I have followed and been inspired by are Bobbie Burgers, Joy Kinna, Ewa Matyja, Rebecca Stern, Paulina Cerda, and Fernanda Rivero - though I am constantly scrolling instagram and discovering new art crushes.
9. Do you think the art world has changed or will be changing due to the pandemic? If yes, how?
I think that artists will always continue to make art - because it is a necessity. What may have changed in the pandemic is that people now feel more confident about buying art online - and artists are focusing more efforts on their online presence, on telling their story.
10. What project are you working on right now? What would you like to do next?
I am currently working on a collection called The Blue Period - a series of works in a romantic palette, which is both bold and soft. I don’t know what I will do next. Or as Salinger said: "How do you know what you are going to do until you do it? The answer is, you don’t."