In the countdown to this year’s Emsworth Art’s Trail we are meeting with some our our artists to give you an insight into their inspirations, creative processes and work space. This week we were delighted to meet local painter Sara Louise Russell to hear how her work is inspired by French impressionists and how she inherited her passion for art from her mother.

What type of artist are you?  

I am a portrait artist and inspirational/abstract

Do you have a background in art/design – when did you first start your creative journey?  

Yes – My mother was a talented water colour artist and went to Goldsmith’s College.  I have painted from a very young age, and attended Bishop Otter College in the late 80’s on a Related Arts Course, gaining my degree in 1990. I have sold my paintings from my early 20’s to the present day through galleries and privately and through exhibitions.

Can you describe your creative process? 

I paint instinctively in the first place and then compare to the rule book afterwards.  If  I am doing a portrait – I will start with the hair and then work around that.  I find colour helps with perspective, so I go straight for the colour, and shade and shaping – and this automatically aids perspective.

With my inspirational art, I use colour and shapes as my base – so the things I have learnt through conventional art, I use for my abstract art.  I work on shapes and then bring forward designs that generally comes from my subconscious – even surprising myself.  This form of art is very relaxing and can be used as a meditative process to escape from the problems of the day.  

I often paint from photocard practice pieces I experiment with felt tip.  These are often complete in themselves but I like to re-create them onto canvas or watercolour.

What or who inspires you?

Colour and shapes – Artists such as Toulouse le Trec, Van Gogh, Cezanne and Leonardo Da Vinci.  French impressionists.

What do you enjoy most about the process? 

The meditative process and the surprising results.

Can you describe your studio/workspace? 

I convert my living space into an art studio – when I am working from home.   I use a long work table that collapses when not in use so I can either hide it under the bed or stand it up against the wall behind the curtain.  I prefer working on the flat surface and then all my tools and equipment is spread out along the table.  I picked up a tip from a local artist on how to preserve oils and acrylic paint while in use.  For acrylics I use an old flat cooking tin with wet kitchen paper and I use that as my palate.  Then when I need a break, I cover it with cling film.  This way it is clean and tidy and when  I finish with it, I can simply roll up the kitchen paper and throw away.  No issues with cleaning up equipment after each session except rinsing out the brushes.

I do have a large easel when I am working on large canvases.

When not working at home, I work in a unit at The Draper’s Yard, in The Hornet,  Chichester.  I am not due to go back into a unit until the Spring, as it is too cold this time of year.

I also work in Emsworth Community Centre, joining in with an art group.

What keeps you going whilst you work – soundtrack? Snacks? A fluffy assistant? 

My own thoughts – tea, coffee, sandwich.  Time does go fast when I am focussed on my work.  If I am not careful I could go all night.

What can we expect to see from you on this years’ art trail? 

A mixture of animal portraits, scenes and inspirational and abstract art.

Where are you exhibiting? – What can people expect from the location?   

I am exhibiting in The Assembly Room, Emsworth Community Centre – and people can expect to have space to see my art work and compare with other artists work.  Very central in the town and easy to access.

Why did you want to take part in the trail?

 I have been meaning to for a long while.  The opportunity arose and I took it.  It was suggested by the admin team at The Community Centre.

What are your artistic ambitions?

To sell more paintings and work creatively all the time. I am also a  musician, and the two disciplines go together.

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