60 Second interview with artist: Sally Jane Fuerst

Sally Jane Fuerst is a young, talented American Artist living in London.  Sally studied in the states before she progressed to studies in classical painting in Florence, Italy.  In order to complete her training Sally moved to London in 2009 to study at The London Atelier of Representational Art.  It is in London that Sally really seems to have developed and blossomed into the extraordinary talent she is today.

Portrait of me!

I had the pleasure of posing for a portrait for Sally over the past two weeks.  I had never posed for a portrait before, needless to say I wasn’t sure what to expect.  When I told my mum about the portrait, for some reason she was convinced I was posing nude.  I had to reassure her that it was in fact just a portrait, (I’m not sure I’d have the nerve to pose au natural. . .but mum you’ll be the first to know if I ever do!).  Every day I would sit for a few hours wearing a little wooly owl hat!  It is this quirky detailing that makes Sally’s work shine.  She often scours the internet and shops for unconventional items and attire.  She has painted people wearing blow up blue Mohawks, zebra’s, monkeys, and crab costumes.  It is obvious that Sally paints a little piece of herself in every one of her paintings.  They are colourful, quirky and slightly off kilter . . just like her!  Sally is charming and sweet and it is through her paintings that we see a sneak peek of her wild side.

Over the two weeks of my painting, I watched as the other artist’s were busy perfecting their own works.  It was quite inspirational to see the pain staking time, effort and plain hard work these artists put into their paintings (One man spent two weeks on the still life of a pear…two weeks…on one pear!)  As Charles Horton Cooley once said ‘An Artist cannot fail; it is a success to be one’.

Now, for a few words with Sally herself:

Avril: When did you first realize you were an artist?

Sally Jane: I’ve always loved to draw and paint, when I was little I used to draw the same picture of my dog over and over.  I also remember drawing portraits of my dad and accidentally putting his moustache over the bridge of his nose.  It’s nice to see how much my observational skills have improved!

A: Tell me a bit about your work?

SJ: My work is a blend of my interest in classical painting, fancy dress, fashion, and unusual props.  I spend hours researching for costumes and large, playful things to use in my work.  I guess a lot of my paintings are a way to say, “Look at this! Isn’t it cool!”

A: What artists have influenced you/Do you have a favourite artist?

SJ: My favourite painter has to be John Singer Sargent, and he greatly influences how I paint technically.  However, I feel most inspired by fashion photography.  I love Richard Avedon and his brilliant use of shape and humour.

A: What inspires you to paint and how do you keep motivated?

SJ: Usually while I’m working on one painting I think of five more that I want to do.  I wish I could paint faster!  They’re really starting to pile up, but that’s what keeps me motivated.  I have all these ideas that I’m desperate to realise.

A: What is it like to be an artist in London & do you find London to be a place of inspiration?

SJ: Yes, I adore London!  I think I have a very romantic idea of it, but it’s a city that’s full of art and fashion and coffee chains!  Just walking down the street I can find inspiration from a poster, someone’s outfit, a store window, etc.

A: What qualities do you believe you need to posses to be a successful artist?

SJ: Haha persistence!  With so many amazing artists in London it’s easy to feel lost in the crowd.  However, I strongly believe that if you stick with it and push yourself to always produce your best work then you’re bound to catch someone’s eye.  At least that’s what I’m hoping.

A: What are your artistic plans for the future?

SJ: I am determined to keep painting full-time, and hopefully begin selling my work through a gallery here in London.  I would also love the opportunity to participate in art fairs like the Frieze and Art Basel.

A: What other interests do you have outside of painting?

SJ: As sad as it sounds, everything that interests me somehow relates back to painting.  For instance, I’ve always loved animals and therefore often include them in my work. I’m fascinated by the interaction between humans and animals, especially if the animals are artificial – it makes the painting wonderfully surreal.

A: What is your favourite colour!?

SJ: My favourite colour is pink, I’m even happier if it sparkles.

Sally certainly caught my eye and is definitely one to look out for in the future.   To view more of Sally Jane’s work click here.


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