Sarah Waghorn is both a traditional en plein air painter and studio artist. Above all she is lover of Australian flora. As part of Contempo by KAB month, KAB Gallery is delighted to have her current series of oil paintings adorning the walls drawing visitors from near and far.
On delivery of these bright and beautiful paintings Sarah told me that this “has been my most enjoyable series to date.” She also detailed how the series has developed into an entire body of work focused on the exploration of native Australian flora.
“I think it will continue to be a prominent series throughout my painting life – I enjoy trees so much and allowing myself to paint them in their flowering glory is so inspiring. Sometimes waiting for that certain time of year gives me a strong sense of anticipation and with it – joy.”
I asked Sarah about her inspiration to paint floral subjects and she explained that her inspiration comes from two key places. Firstly she has been inspired by her time spent visiting Wendy Whiteley’s gardens in Lavender Bay (SYD AU). She says “I love the intimacy of her garden along with the variety of colour schemes in her planting. Visually it is very compelling especially at certain times of the day when there is strong sunlight illuminating vibrant foliage.”
Wendy Whiteley’s Garden is located at Lavender Bay on the Lower North Shore of Sydney Harbour. Coming from the Sydney CBD, it is just a magical stroll over the Sydney Harbour Bridge and then a few minute walk to find yourself tucked away in a creatively landscaped garden featuring sculptures by Australia’s treasured artist Brett Whiteley, meandering pathways and unlimited beauty.
Sarah’s favourite flowers to paint are the Waratah, Flowering Gum and Banksia.
Her inspiration also stems from her life growing up in the UK. “Growing up in the Northern Hemisphere meant that my introduction to Australian native trees and flowers came at a time when my appreciation of unusual and exotic plants and trees was more mature. They are unlike anything familiar to me and so therefore when I see something like a giant Tree Waratah I am pretty awe-struck!”
Sarah hasn’t always dedicated her life to the brushes and easel but she has always found herself immersed within the arts and creativity. She studied a Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design at Bristol Polytechnic and for almost ten years prior to moving away from the UK spent her time working in London on magazines as an Art Director. Titles included House & Garden, Brides & Setting up Home, Tatler and ELLE. After making her way to Australia in 1999 Sarah completed a Diploma in Photography at KVB in North Sydney and took up a career in photography. This was cut short by the combination of the arrival of children and some overseas postings with her husband. Finally Sarah settled in Sydney with her family in 2010, and decided to start painting in 2015 – something she hadn’t done for years.
Sarah loves working with oil paints and while she has worked with acrylics, oil is definitely her preferred medium choice “I love the buttery consistency and really enjoy mixing colours together. I am quite happy to paint with acrylic if I am doing quick studies or if I am painting in an interior where the smell of oil paint would not be welcome.” Oil paint does pose a challenge to Sarah’s painting schedule in the summer months. “I struggle in the hot summer months – oil painting requires latex gloves which are not pleasant in the heat. Spring and Autumn are the best months to get out of the studio for plein air painting.” Sarah always stands at her easel for her painting sessions, finding the act of sitting constricts her creativity.
While hot Australian summers make en plein air painting uncomfortable, Australia has provided the perfect life for Sarah’s art career to blossom. She admits that “Australia has made me think about and observe the light. The strong sunlight and increased density of colour produced by this pure light has been both fascinating and inspiring. I am forever enchanted by how light falls across plants, flowers, leaves, water and landscape and having grown up in a far softer (Northern Hemisphere) light I notice the Australian colour temperature all the time and am eager to capture this in my paint palette.” The positives and the negatives have all contributed to her technical growth and art practice. Her art is becoming well recognised and in demand. After several successful exhibitions and feature at a Sydney Art Fair, Sarah Waghorn is an artist to watch.