Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Sketchbook Peeks - Sarah Hamilton

Before we start, tell us a little about yourself/how did you get into art/craft/design career and how it all started and where you are now.

I'm an Artist and Designer making colourful contemporary cards, prints, mirrors and woodblocks. After studying Fine Art/Printmaking at Central St Martins I began my career making cards, which sold in stores including Paperchase, The Conran Shop and Designers Guild. The success of this aspect of my business gave me the funds to set up my studio and concentrate on a wider range of artwork.
Nowadays I have a lovely studio in our unusual Mid-Century house in South London where I make prints, woodblocks, mirrors and stationery which I sell via my website, open house events and select exhibitions. I also use my skills as a colourist in the commercial textiles field and often visit clients in Sweden as a design consultant.

How long have you been using sketchbooks?

Sketchbooks are incredibly important to me and are the starting point to everything I make. I've kept them since my teens, rather too long ago to admit, but here's a clue - when I was a teenager Glastonbury tickets were £8!

How often do you sketch?

Most days, I have a pile of sketchbooks and a wide range of pencils, with different leads, next to my sofa.

How do you feel about the prospect of starting a new sketchbook?

I never fill one book then move to another, I have a number of sketchbooks on the go at one time as I make most of my drawings over time, often referring from one book to another. I often start a sketch in one book, then go back to it some time later as I tend to mull over ideas then rework them.

When/where do you get your inspiration for your sketchbook pages?

From the entire range of things which inspire me. These include artists such as Milton Avery, William Scott and Eric Ravillious. I collect old tins, 1950's ceramics and textiles - the colours, imagery and graphics send shivers dow my spine. I'm also, like most artists, passionate about nature and draw from objects I find such as twigs, leaves, pebbles and fossils.

How would you describe your creative process?

Over the years I've developed a range of images and symbols which recur across the diverse range of my work. When I'm happy with a shape I will use it in a wide variety of ways. Quite often I'll perfect an image by cutting it out in profile so I can simplify it to incorporate into a composition. I'll resize it depending on how much colour I need within the overall design. Sometimes a tiny splash of colour is necessary to enhance the image, in which case the symbol almost becomes abstract. I often use a computer, but only to modify sizes or compositions. To me designs which originate in the computer look really obvious and crude. I think a mac is an invaluable tool for artists but its never where my designs start. The pleasure of drawing is the root of all my work.

Have your sketchbooks evolved over the years and if so, how?

Yes definately. I found some sketchbooks I'd made a few years with pages of mark making and colourways. These days I prefer to use pencil in my books, they are much more about developing imagery than experimenting with colour, which I do in other ways. I also found some drawings I'd made in black marker pen which I hated so much I nearly ripped them out. For me it's pencil every time.

What is your favourite medium to work with?

In my sketchbooks, as I said definately pencil, with a range of leads and softnesses. Pencil is so flexible - I'm known for my use of colour and people are surprised when I say grey is my favourite colour.

Do you have a favourite sketchbook?

I have a few, there are some drawings which I find I go back to over and over again. I look at the drawing and think if I just made it slightly darker, or add some textural marks or changed the relationships between images.

If you had to pick one favourite page which would it be and why?

I love this drawing for the movement between the fruit. I like the idea that they land there like they were thrown. Often there are narratives dynamics between my shapes. In traditional still lives the fruit sits static in the bowl...the rebel in me wants to shake things up a bit and make them bounce around.

Thanks to Sarah for taking us on a tour of her sketchbook pages. I so love her work!! If you want to find out more about what Sarah is up to then please check out her spanking new website here which has links to her social media and her shop and blog. Sarah is also having an Open Studio on 11th and 12th of May as part of Dulwich Festival. Why not pop along if you're in the area and treat yourself to one of her beautiful pieces of work.

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