Over a decade of Art: Est. 2013

My inspiration & life as an artist

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  • Sally West
  • 06/01/2015

About 18 months I relocated to Sydney after living at Blueys Beach on the mid north coast of NSW for over 10 years. Blueys was an idyllic lifestyle and where my 2 daughters were born. I was incredibly lucky to have those years in that amazingly beautiful environment. It was all about the beaches and lifestyle. It was quiet, our house was surrounded by bamboo and palm trees. Our street had no curb and guttering, it was a sleepy coastal town most of the year. 

It was my source of inspiration for all those 10 years. I painted the beaches, the little shops, the kids on their pushbikes riding to the beach. So many beautiful images that invoked a sense of calm and isolation. But it was here that my fascination grew with the street scenes. The little strip of shops at Blueys were so colourful and across the road from my back gate. I was able to paint them over and over. The shopkeepers seemed to constantly change the colours of their buildings. As soon as someone did, I would repaint them.

Surfers & Swimmers - En Plein Air  Oil on Canvas 45x45cm $880
Surfers & Swimmers – En Plein Air
Oil on Canvas 45x45cm $880


It was hard to leave Blueys. 

Myself and my 2 daughters moved into a tiny 2 bedroom apartment just off Queenscliff Road. It was fascinating. It was noisy! We put our dining table right up against the window so that we could see the traffic. Our faces peering over our meals like we had just installed the biggest flat screen TV known to mankind. We were excited to see the buses coming and going. This was Queenscliff Road, a major artery on the Northern Beaches. After having lived the quiet life, it all seemed so crazy and chaotic. People coming and going, street signs, traffic lights, buses, cars, taxis. I thought the novelty would wear off. We stayed in that apartment for almost a year and the street scene below it never stopped being our entertainment. The girls still reminisce about that view to me. 


'Bin Night - Queenscliff Road' Oil on Canvas Finalist in the 2014 Gosford Regional Art Prize
‘Bin Night – Queenscliff Road’ Oil on Canvas
Finalist in the 2014 Gosford Regional Art Prize


I am predominantly a plein air landscape painter, although I also like to work in the studio to do portraits, still life,  abstracts and other works such as this, where it’s near impossible to setup a large canvas in such a location. 

Sally West's easel - Painting en plein air at Freshwater (NSW)
Sally West’s easel – Painting en plein air at Freshwater (NSW)

Having done so much plein air work though, has allowed me to really understand light and develop a faster way of working and applying the paint. I used to labour over studio pieces, but now, in the studio, I focus and work as if on location, without time and try to recreate the energy.

I grew up in the country, in Central NSW, on a sheep and wheat station, which I can only assume is another reason why I find the urban scenes so fascinating. I remember as a child looking around me at the vastness, the nothingness and longing for something more. Perhaps as a reaction to this, I now rarely do a landscape without some sort of human element involved. I just love the diversity of the urban landscape. The unpredictability of it all. It’s dynamic and constantly stimulating to me.

I have spent many years now painting urban landscapes and it’s only perhaps because of this that now when I go back to the environment where I grew up that I finally see it’s beauty also. The beauty in the nothingness. 

I am currently working on a whole series of street scenes that are focused on the Northern Beaches and my new local environment.