Five Minutes with Sarah Elder

Sarah Elder reflects on life in lockdown and creating artwork during unstable circumstances. 

Sarah Elder is creates artwork inspired by her styles, her work depicts animals and the spirit of their characters. 

What inspires you to create art?

I have always drawn inspiration from the animals, landscapes, people and everyday life I have encountered, both in my extensive travels abroad and in the UK.  I love to travel to different countries soaking up and embracing the atmosphere, colour and culture of these distant lands. I hope to convey “the spirit of the place” in my paintings.

Having been passionate about animals since a child, I have always sketched and painted them. The thrill of the speed has inspired me to focus and concentrate on capturing  the movement, athleticism and agility of the animals; be it the thundering of hooves,  the  speed and grace of a dog or cheetah, or the dash of a hare or warthog.  

What is your creative process?

I sketch and paint in situ, and work on bigger paintings in my studio. I work in many mediums and use unconventional mediums such as the  extensive collection of handmade papers, which I collect from all over the world, papyrus, Elephantdung paper, African earths, charcoal and sand, sourced directly from the environment in which I am working. Technically this is often implied by a series of gentle brush strokes coupled with layers of glaze which allow a shimmering translucence to pervade the paintings.

What was your most memorable sale?

That’s a difficult one, when I was 24, working fulltime in publishing, but painting whenever I could. I exhibited  at the Mall Galleries in London, Art for Youth, an exhibition in aid of  the charity Youth Clubs UK.  I was over the moon, when a very simple loose watercolour was bought by the then Head of British Art for Christies Auction House, this endorsement encouraged me to follow my dream and navigate a way out of full time employment into being a full time artist.

How have you found working through the last six months? 

The last 6 months have been very difficult.  I moved from London to a cottage in the country just before lockdown. All exhibitions and the open studios planned were cancelled.  My studio contents were stuck in storage until August, and we were not allowed to use the studios. However, I did enjoying painting outside. Over this period  I have  addressed and am trying to harness social media, long overdue and much needed. So I am taking the opportunity to try and make it a daily routine. I am also getting my website, mailing system and publicity ideas up to date. The VAA came into my life just at the right time!

How would you advise artists who are beginning their career? 

To learn as much as you can, work hard, push yourself, enjoy it and never give up! Like everything it has it’s up and downs but keep going, It is worth it. Depending on your circumstance, it can be good to have another job/way of earning money too, as this can take off the pressure financially a bit and also of “having to create”.  Sometimes I have had part time jobs, sometimes done a year of other work, giving the art a rest for a bit. You will find whatever suits you!