Sunday, January 2, 2011

artist feature: sarah hickey

self-portrait (background:  "a bird on the wrist is worth two in the bush")
i met sarah, through our love for angelique houtkamp's art, and so many other things.  she is a really beautiful woman inside and out, and a great friend.  i saw her art through meeting her on my blog, and i fell in love with her work.  it exudes female empowerment and celebrates femininity.  i adore her choice of texture and stencils to enhance the beauty of her work.

let's get to know the lady behind the art:

CD:  could you share some information about yourself?
SH:  my name is sarah hickey, and i am a brisbane, australia based artist.  it's only been in the last three years that ive been seriously producing art again after a long hiatus.  i love the journey of it all, although i often want to jump ahead of myself all the time.  it's during those times that i need to remind myself why i do it in the first place - because it makes me happy.

CD:  what is your background in art? 
SH:  i studied fine art at queensland college of art immediately, after graduating from high school.  it seemed like a natural progression at the time, as i'd always been identified as being "arty" throughout my schooling years.

i found these years of study quite tumultuous in many ways.  upon relfection and with the benefit of hindsight, i think i was too young for the degree.  you need to have an inner strenght and knowledge of self to get the most out of it.  i used to marvel at how the more mature aged students handled the course.  the critiquing process can be quite devastating to someone so young and inexperienced.  however, it was a period of intense growth for me and i wouldn't play it any other way.  the unique experience and the subsequent years of not practising art have fired a determination and body of work that seems to keep flowing.  so it's all good.

"queen amazon and her avian entourage"
CD:  what is your approach when it comes to composition?
SH:  i usually like to do a bit of a "mock up" of the composition on an A4 scale before i transfer it onto canvas.  i used to "freestyle" it, and would have to work very hard (often with poor results) to try and make the image "work".  if it works on the smaller scale, it generally works on the larger scale.

sarah hickey's studio
CD:  could you give us a detailed overview or steps when it comes to creating your wonderful art?
SH:  i generally create an A4 collage of collected images of women and animals gathered from a variety of sources - magazines, vintage photography books, printouts of animals from the web, etc...  i prepare the canvas by layering on printed materials/fabrics.  i then, transfer the collaged image onto the canvas, and start to work with acrylics over the top.  i then get spray paint to stencil  patterns / designs on the outskirts of the image.  then, the final step is to use thickly applied oils to separate the subject matter of the painting from the backround image.

"betty the tiger tamer can jump through hoops"
CD:  who are the most influencial artists who you look up to?  and what drew you into their work?
SH:  like many people, i like klimt.  i loved the way he used patterning, structure, and shapes in his work.  he was unabashedly focused on the beauty of the aesthetic in his art.    i love the visual decadence, embellishment, and richness of the art deco period.  i love the fact that art seemed to have a clear purpose too, to enrich and beautify people's daily lives - lofty ideas.

"the kiss" - gustav klimt (source)
i like andy warhol for his business savvy and ability to produce ideas that continue to connect with people today.  when we recently had an exhibition of his work here in brisbane, there were record crowds to the show.  i think it's because people feel his work is somehow accessible.  he used everyday objects or easily identifiable images of people/celebrity that the general public found that they could connect with.  i love that he was once shunned by the art establishment, and then became its ultimate darling.  

"turquoise marilyn" - andy warhol (source)
 i love  a wide range of contemporary illustrators and street artists.  they both seem to have a freshness and vitality about them that is generally represented by new ideas and young blood.

CD:  how do you like the viewers of your work to feel?
SH:  i really want people to trust their gut when it comes to art.  i think the art world has brainwashed people into believing that they "don't know much about art", and that it would be wrong for them to judge.  we are made of a wide variety of people from differnt backgrounds and  contexts, and people should have the right to have different responses to different artists.  that means that some people will like my work and connect with it, others will hate it - everyone has a right to their opinion.  i'm not going to write a five page conceptual paper about why you should look at the work a second time and respect it if your initial response has been a guttural "nope, that's not for me".  okay... off soapbox now...

"girl with owls - candied blond with tattoos"
CD:  do you have a favorite piece, out of the works you've created?
SH:  in every batch or collection of work (i usually work on a group at once), i always have a couple that really stand out.  these are usually the ones that i could sell four times over.  then, there are the images that you need to produce in order to get to those stronger ones. 

i always prefer the most recent images.  sometimes, i look back on my earlier work, and i'm embarrassed to say they're mine.  my poor earlier work - i'm a flippant mistress!

"sally's circus:  band leader and icon with red orchids"
CD:  do you enjoy creating a series or a theme?
SH:  absolutely.  everything is stronger in repetition...  i think it naturally happens this way.  sometimes i think painting (or any artmaking activity) is like a conversation with the spirit.  there seems to be a gust of that energy that sweeps you up in a momentum where you produce several pieces in a small amount of time, then you have a little rest waiting for the next creative wave.

CD:  can you give us 5 words to describe yourself?
SH:  happy, colorful, heartfelt, inspired, and optimistic.

"jane and her coconut macaroons"
 CD:  do you have a most inspirational place?  if so, where is it and why?
SH:  anywhere near the water, or an arty bookshop.

CD:  can you share some of your future plans, for example, the direction of your most recent work?
SH:  horns seem to be making their way into my work.  there seems to be a group of female illustrators at the moment who are particularly attracted by that connection between animal and woman, beauty and mythology.  i love these themes.  i love religious iconography.  chinese propaganda posters and advertising visuals of the 1950's - all the same thing really.  i love the ideal.  we shouldn't be scared of the ideal.  i like to embrace all that is supremely beautiful and unabashedly focused on the aesthetic.  i think my work will continue to focus on these things.  i think the women in my work are maturing, i feel that they are becoming stronger - more fierce in a contained, dignified way.

"she who wears the horns"
CD:  what keeps you motivated?
SH:  people's support of what i'm doing, and my own sense of happiness that comes from being a painting hermit for a while.  an exhibition, through exhausting, really spurs you on.  it's lovely to get that immediate feedback.  people handing over their hard earned dollars, because they've seen a piece and connected with it.

"an eye on the horizon an owl on my wrist"
CD:  do you have any advice to give aspiring artists?
SH:  go for it!

have a small group of one or two people that love you, and want to encourage you on your journey.  they will be your applause when you most need it.

although you'll be impatient for success, take your time and pat yourself on the back for making progressive babysteps towards where you want to be.

leave the peanut gallery out of it - nobody truly knows where you want to go like you do.  even those supportive family, friends, and loved ones!

follow your gut at all times, and spoil yourself often.

you get better at this (i strangely left that out of the equation when i first got started). 

dream big (cliched but so true)... belief is just a thought you keep thinking.  start to believe that artists are worthy and capable of producing great wealth and abundance.  don't buy into the myth that art = poverty.  although in saying this, having another skill up your sleeve helps in the initial stages.

keep going, keep believing, keep producing.  wonderful things are possible and likely to happen.

"vampira sets her sights on another conquest"
i hope you enjoyed learning more about sarah hickey.  if you would like view or get the latest updates on her work, click on the links below:


all images used in this post is courtesy of, and used with the permission of sarah hickey.  please contact her at, if you wish to re-post any images on your blog, or any photo sharing websites.  thank you.

have a great week!
xo, carla

1 comment:

The Words Crafter said...

Wow, thanks for sharing this! Her art has an almost ancient quality to it, with a modern twist. It's beautiful!

I hope you've had a wonderful holiday and happy new year!