Updated: Jan 12, 2022
I had the pleasure of interviewing Sarah Brown for July’s Love for Local Artists feature. Sarah Brown herself is whimsy and gentleness personified. It’s no mystery why these qualities shine through in her soft watercolor illustration work. Sarah’s watercolor paintings reflect the joyful and imaginative way that she views the world.
Read to discover what inspires Sarah to create and how she practices art making as a lifestyle.
What does art making mean to you?
As cliche as it sounds, art means the world to me. I met my husband at an art show that we both had work displayed in. That night, we sat on a curb and talked about how we wanted to live in homes where everything was handmade. I knew that very evening that we’d get married. Now, for almost 19 years, we’ve been working towards that handmade house!
“...Art means the world to me.”
How long have you been creating?
I’ve been creating for as long as I can remember. My parents and step parents are all very creative entrepreneurs, and my creativity was nurtured and encouraged as far back as I can remember. I always had access to art and craft supplies. Aside from drawing and painting, one of the first 3D things I remember creating when I was 4 or 5 years old was a “record player” that I made from a scrap of wood that I hammered a nail into and then cut out paper records to play on it!
“...when I was 4 or 5…[I made] a ‘record player’...from a scrap of wood that I hammered a nail into and then cut out paper records to play on it!”
What inspires you?
I’m inspired by animals, nature, my daughters, funny thoughts, elaborate jokes, music, memories from my childhood, joy, happiness, people, interesting color combinations, basically everything I see inspires me in some way, even if I don’t realize it at the time!
“...animals, nature, my daughters, funny thoughts, elaborate jokes, memories from my childhood…”
How has creating art helped you navigate life’s challenges?
I could write a whole book about this, but I’ll try to keep it simple! As a child, my art helped me to be seen as something other than just a quiet, awkward person. In high school I was failing a lot of classes and hated going to school, then I had the opportunity to go to Vo-Tech for commercial art during my junior and senior years. It encouraged me to have 100% attendance, and I even made the honor roll senior year. Aside from having access to all the art supplies and learning so many techniques, spending half of every day with other young artists was so amazing!
In my adult life, creating has helped me get through everything. I struggle with anxiety, and keeping my hands and mind busy with creative projects helps keep me calm and focused. I process a lot of emotions through my art. Even though it’s mostly cute and colorful, I’m often working through some rough thoughts while I’m painting.
“I struggle with anxiety, and keeping my hands and mind busy with creative projects helps keep me calm and focused.”
What’s your medium of choice and why?
Last year I switched from acrylic to watercolor for a few reasons. I wanted to paint every day and canvases take up a lot of space. I was also concerned about the environmental impact, and I thought paper and watercolor would have a smaller footprint.
Even though I paint every day, I also love to sew, make pottery, garden, do home improvements, and more. Making all kinds of things is a way of life for me.
“I switched from acrylic to watercolor... I was concerned about the environmental impact, and I thought paper and watercolor would have a smaller footprint.”
What are your favorite subjects/ themes?
I mostly paint cute animals, birds, and happy people. I really enjoy painting tiny details on everything!
“...cute animals, birds, and happy people…”
How do you know when your painting is done?
When the colors and layout feel balanced, and I start painting tiny flowers in the background, the painting is done.
“...I start painting tiny flowers in the background…”
When you are working through problems in your work, who do you talk to?
In the past, I have been very stubborn and rarely asked for help or advice, trusting my own process fully. But since covid, I have been connecting more with people about my art.
My dear friend Jennifer Meyer has been such an important part of my journey this past year. She really helps me see my art in a different way, and she always has great advice on how to make improvements.
I’ve also had some really great and inspiring art life talks with local friends like you, Marcy Hall, Erika Whiting, Melissa Shimek, and others, also some lovely friends I’ve met on Instagram!
“My dear friend...helps me see my art in a different way, and she always has great advice on how to make improvements.”
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Hmmm... this is tough. I try not to think about the past too much. It’s static, and I have no jurisdiction there. Maybe I’d tell myself about setting healthy boundaries. That’s something I’ve been slow to learn!
“I try not to think about the past too much. It’s static, and I have no jurisdiction there.”
Anything else you’d like to share?
Thank you for inviting me to participate! I really enjoyed all of these questions, and I think what you’re doing is fantastic! I’m so fortunate to live around so many amazing artists, like you! I always look forward to seeing your art!