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In today’s Partner Spotlight, we talked with Sarah Whyte about her artistic process and influences. Sarah is a talented watercolor artist who loves to teach others how to express themselves through art. She passes on the same desire to create, as well as her skills and knowledge, to others through her workshops. Her current work focuses on the beauty, complexity, and depth of macro florals, inspired in part by the twentieth-century work of southwestern artist Georgia O’Keeffe. To ensure the highest quality prints for her customers, Sarah has partnered with Lumaprints as her trusted print provider.


  1. What media do you use for your art style? Is there a specific reason why you chose this media? 

I’ve dabbled in many media over time, but kept returning to my first love: watercolors. I first fell in love with them as a girl, but have stuck with them because of their beautiful fluidity. Watercolors allow me to get lost in my process rather than fighting my medium: the mixing of paint, the slow, meditative application of water and pigment to carefully prepared paper, the magic (and challenge!) of water as a blending tool.  


  1. Can you describe your art and your art style? 

My style leans toward realism, without being photo-realistic. I love to look at abstract paintings, but my brain and my heart seem determined to seek detail in my own work. In our busy, cluttered world, finding the wee detail in an object calms my spirit and allows me to slow down and savor the stillness of the moment. I cannot throw paint at a canvas and complete a painting in an hour; my work takes many days, sometimes weeks, to achieve.


  1. Who or what drives you to create your art and share it to the world? 

Beauty. There are no enigmatic, mystical themes in my work; I just love the challenge of replicating the beauty I see all around me. That can be people, animals, flowers, landscapes … the common denominator is simply beauty and challenge. I love to push myself to learn something with each new painting.  


  1. What drives you to create your art and share it to the world?  

Sharing my art has become second nature, but it took a long time to get there. I’ve always been creative, but never had the courage to call myself an artist until about a decade ago. I started filling up my social media feeds with other artists and discovered that art doesn’t always have to be technical or refined to be beautiful. I saw so much that I could do myself, so that inspired me to be bold. I began posting my rudimentary paintings on social media to my small community of friends, family, and other artists, and received the encouragement I needed to continue. Looking back at those earlier paintings is a bit cringey, but it’s also good to see improvement. Now my social media accounts serve as valuable personal history. I hope I can encourage others the way I was strengthened, just by continuing to share my creative journey.


  1. Can you share a favorite quote or saying that you live by?

A few years ago I was at a very low point in my personal life, and was stopped dead in my tracks by a book I was reading by Glennon Doyle (Untamed). This quote quite literally changed the direction of my life:
“Discontent is the nagging of the imagination. Discontent is evidence that your imagination has not given up on you. It is still pressing, swelling, trying to get your attention by whispering: ‘Not this.’
“‘Not this’ is a very important stage.”
After reading this, I learned to listen more to my instincts. I quit my toxic job and went full-time with my art. While definitely a challenging move, I’ve never been happier.


  1. Can you discuss a specific piece of art that you are particularly proud of and why?

I have several pieces that still surprise me. Getting lost in the fine detail of my style, I sometimes don’t realize what I’m creating until I’ve finished and taken pictures of it. The photo gives me the distance to really see the WHOLE of the painting, and occasionally I’m a bit shocked to see what came out of me. “Single Peonies,” “Cymbidium,” and “Fly Girl” are just a few examples of this.


  1. Can you walk us through your creative process from start to finish?

First, I deconstruct. Then, I rebuild. It’s all about contemplation and observation. When I plan a painting, I spend a lot of time looking at my subject. The longer I look, the more my brain begins to break down the image into its component pieces and colors. I begin to see the minute hints of saffron in the pale pink of a rhododendron, violet blue in a black shadow, purple in a deep brown. Painting, for me, requires a meditative reflection on the essence of my subject, which is something I do almost subconsciously. I hope to inspire others to look deeply at the world around them and to see things they had never before noticed.
Sadly, I’ve developed a genetic Essential Tremor, which means I don’t draw or write well with pencil and paper anymore. To accommodate for this, I now draw on my iPad with Procreate and Apple Pencil. Procreate has a ‘streamline’ function which smooths my lines. I print my sketches and transfer them to my watercolor paper (I use Arches almost exclusively) which has been carefully stretched to mitigate cockling. Mixing colors is a fun challenge for me; careful observation of my subject allows me to replicate exact colors. Then I paint, very slowly – petal by petal, hair by hair. This can take a very long time, but for me, it’s a labor of love.


  1. How do you handle creative blocks or challenges in your work?

I’m probably a rare breed, but I don’t generally experience creative blocks. For me, art is my full-time gig, so I approach it pragmatically. I have a job to do, so I do it. When you paint fine detail from photographs, you don’t have to rely as much on inspiration.


  1. What is your advice to aspiring artists?

Listen to your instincts. Follow a wide variety of artists, exposing yourself to every possible style while seeking your own. Copy their work – just as a learning experience! – to see what styles/mediums fit your soul. Share your work with trusted people, and you’ll find the encouragement you need to keep growing. Passion needs fortification, and skill development needs passion. Feed yourself, and be gentle with yourself. Art takes time and commitment, but if it’s what you’re meant to do, it will be a joy, not a chore.


Learn more about Sarah and her art:
Facebook: Sarahwhytestudio
Instagram: @sarahwhytestudio

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