Yesterday I was in Newport visiting my mum as it was her birthday. As we were browsing the charity shops, as we do, we came across a brand new art gallery. Most of the paintings in there were quite traditional: landscapes, seascapes, children on the beach, men and women drinking wine. I was impressed with the technical skills on display, but less so with the composition and emotional impact (or lack thereof) in me. However, in amongst all the ‘usuals’ I saw a gem of a print of a painting by an artist called Sarah Graham. The print was of an oil painting of a pile of sweets. It was ordinary, it was quirky, it was big. It was very me.
This painting above wasn’t the one I saw, but the painting (as in verb) of this can be watched on a time lapse video I found on YouTube. I like this video for a number of reasons: firstly, I am studying time lapse videos at the moment for my current art college project; secondly, I found myself strangely absorbed by watching the traffic and people out of her window more than watching her paint; thirdly, because it was interesting to watch such an amazing painting slowly come to life.
Sarah Graham is described as a phot-realist painter. What I like about her paintings is that she is taking things quite ordinary, sweets and toys, and using them to bring our attention to elements such as colour, reflections, light and contrast. She is making the viewer notice and study ordinary objects. She is bringing objects to life. As she says on her website ‘I love exaggerating virtually every element of the image; focus; blur; colour; highlights, and it’s these processes I hope that give my work less of a slavish photographic representation of the world, and more a sense of reality as we might hope to see it.’
She ponders on her website whether her obsession with sweets comes from a time when she worked at Woolworths and was promoted to head of ‘pick ‘n’ mix’.
I wish I could paint like this, technically. I’m not sure whether I’d want to be a strict ‘photo-realist’ painter though. I think I’d find it quite frustrating. I’m not enough of a perfectionist! I admire her work though. There’s something of my sky remote painting in her work (obviously on a less-able level!).
Sarah Graham’s website, http://sarahgraham.info/default.asp?id=1 [last accessed 12 July 2013]