If you’ve walked down Market Street on a day that the Arts Market is taking place, you probably would have noticed the plethora of colours and textures being presented by our talented artists. Sara Sherwood paints vibrant city skylines onto canvas using oil paint – her use of colour makes them hard to miss as you walk past. We wanted to find out about Sara’s story, how she got to where she is today and the inspiration behind it all…
Growing up did you always want to be an artist? Talk to us about how you got to where you are now…
I loved art but did not consider myself very talented and my art teacher suggested to give up when it was time to pick subjects for GCSE. My mother died at that time so I changed schools but through this sad turn of events (encouraged by a friend of hers) I met a wonderful art teacher who said I could study with him. He let me express myself and allowed my creativity to flow. The same school suggested I go to art college where I chose to study BTEC display and advertising, then went on to study HND Spatial design at another college, which covered interior and set design rather than fine art as I felt I needed a “proper job” to support myself. I was now an independent student and did not have the confidence to study the fine art course that was in my heart. However, this study proved fruitful and I ended up with a 17-year career in project and business management in the design sector. This was the perfect grounding for managing my business as an artist in later life. I then suffered a further two bereavements, which alongside an overloaded and stressful job lead to an emotional breakdown, which I now refer to as my “breakthrough”. I was fortunate to have healthcare that gave me an introduction to meditation and relaxation. This began my spiritual journey and led me to paint again as part of my healing process. I explored new age techniques over the following years including yoga and angels culminating in a church in Greece where I found great peace. During this time I returned to the design sector and learned many stress management and well-being techniques. For a few years I took a less demanding job which due to my previous professional experience, I was able to achieve in a 4 day week. My bosses did not understand mental health very well but supported me when I needed. I had a much better life/work balance. Over time I painted more and more and eventually set up my own website and started doing trade shows with the support of my friends and family.
I became a full-time artist in 2005 and continued painting on this basis ever since. I manage my mental wellbeing with positive thinking, physical fitness and get my strength from Christ. I paint from my heart and want to express love and joy in my work. I feel this is my calling and would hope this story inspires others to follow their dreams. I would always encourage a leap of faith along with a realistic action plan, hard work and focus. I’m also a believer of balance, rather than an all or nothing approach, every step towards a dream is a journey to be enjoyed in each moment as it unfolds. I believe we have a destiny, but also feel that we can create opportunities and just go for it.
What do you love most about Spitalfields Arts Market and why did you choose to sell your art here?
I love the diversity of people that sell and visit Spitalfields Markets, it’s a hive of creativity and talent fused with hard working and positive individuals that have built their own brands and products. It’s refreshing to see unique arts that are represented directly by the artist. The Arts market gives me the perfect forum to get direct feedback from clients and the general public, I see reactions first hand and note which art sells best so that I can then create new work with a specific customer base in mind. I have found many of the other artists at Spitalfields both supportive and positive, we share ideas for art products and suppliers which have enriched all of our lives. The area is perfect to exhibit my paintings of London and get I inspiration from the local vibe.
We can see from your Cityscape work that you’re a fan of London skyscrapers… do you have a favourite?
I think it is the mix of shapes and sizes that I love: Old against new; brick against glass; contrasts and reflections. Just like humanity. If I had to choose one it would be the iconic St Pauls as it has a timeless classic beauty and I love the fact that it has been through a war and is still standing. I also love the shard standing tall and the Gherkin for its gentle curves.
How would you describe your style of painting?
Semi- abstract. Fluid and fun, yet with depth and impact. My style is definitely unique and from within. My trademark is the sweeping skies in my cityscapes along with a skyline that dances with colour.
If you could invite any artist (dead or alive) over for dinner, who would you pick?
I would choose Van Gough. He had a tough life with his own challenges, so I think it is time someone looked after him. I would say thank you for the joy his sunflowers bring. If I could, I would make it a party with Monet, Degas, Renoir and Turner as their work has inspired and given me much pleasure over the years.
Do you have any advice for young artists that want to follow in your footsteps?
Trust and follow your dreams. Take it step by step and let the journey unfold, both in business and creativity. The fun is in the process, not the outcome. Set yourself free of any expectation and just hold an intention of love and positivity. When you paint go inside for inspiration, it is the only way to be authentically you. This will bring forth unique art with depth.
You can catch Sara and check out her work on all of the Arts Markets dates for 2019, click here to view the full list.