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artist interview – sarah strickland

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Melbourne textile designer and illustrator Sarah Strickland makes staying indoors look rather appealing. Painting sun-filled domestic scenes is Sarah's specialty (along with creating eye-catching prints for local fashion labels), so we asked her a bit about her process and inspiration below. 

Where did your love of art begin? Honestly, before I can even remember. My parents were original hipsters who always encouraged craftiness and interest in the arts. We lived out in the bush, too, so we were a long way away from most things, which meant I had a lot of time to live in my own imagination. I just loved making things, and that's never really gone away.

What kind of mediums do you work with? I mostly paint with gouache as I can't get enough of the flatness and intensity of the colour. It gives excellent bang for your buck in terms of colour. I have started to dabble in oils, too, which has been great for neuroplasticity and challenging how I go about painting a picture.

What kinds of things do you love painting most? I generally love painting things and scenes I want to remember; ordinary things that seem to bring a moment of serenity or calm. I'm probably drawn to more closely observed scenes like interiors or plants, as I love getting stuck into the details. There's something meditative about looking that closely at an inanimate object.

You have a very specific colour palette – how did you decide that this would be your style? It's not necessarily something I ever decided on, it just seems to be that way. Again, I'm drawn to bright colours innately, so I tend to use those. I'm sure it will evolve as I go along.

What’s something about the textile design process that people might be surprised to know? It can be quite an obsessive process. Every element from the colours to the design, to the placement, feel of the fabric and the way it drapes is pored over and perfected. It usually takes quite a bit of time and back and forth with the manufacturer to get it right. We always joke that the consumer will never notice or appreciate the pain of all this effort. Maybe they will, but it will probably only be other textile designers that do!

Any advice for young artists? Something I try to tell myself all the time is to just keep working, even if it's just a scribble in the sketchbook. I tend to work in intense blocks of activity towards an exhibition or a project, and when it's over, I completely stop drawing or painting for a while until I have a new deadline. So when I decide to get going again, I find it really difficult as I'm all out of practice – there's always a moment of panic that I can't do it anymore. If only I kept up the practice, I think I'd find it much easier to find my groove again – it’s kind of like exercise. For some reason, though, I never listen to my own advice.

What’s getting you through lockdown? I'm trying pretty hard not to think about it too much, so I find food (hot chips), gardening and taking advantage of the extra time to paint excellent distractions! Along with my 16-month-old little boy who is learning to walk – he's a good distraction, too.

See more from Sarah over on her website or Instagram