Sarah Paolucci is an oil painter living in central Connecticut. She has received a BFA and MFA from the Hartford Art School. A lifelong artist, she also has been a graphic designer for over 15 years and an adjunct professor for 4 years.
Currently, she is working on several different bodies of works, including glass objects, hands and animals.. In them she has found the essence of the subjects she paints while studying light and form.
Painting has become an essential part of her life and the way she stays grounded. As 2020 has been a challenge for everyone, becoming a first time mother in the time of COVID has been especially isolating for her. However, Sarah's studio has been her place of solace, where she can regroup and come back to the world energized and refreshed.
What’s your preferred medium to paint, and why?
My preferred medium is oil paints. There is a richness and depth to them you just can’t get with other media. I have tried many different media over the years, from colored pencil, to watercolor to acrylic to gouache. Nothing compares to oil paint. The flexibility of oils to be both opaque and transparent depending on what medium you use with it is the versatility that I love. Glazing back an entire painting is scary and bringing it back to the light is a thrilling experience every time. But so is working alla prima! I’ve been working more and more on getting the whole story out in one sitting. Working faster and learning how to “see” the important parts and distill which details are necessary and which can be left out.
What’s your favorite and least favorite thing to paint? Why?
I learned how to draw by drawing my dog when I was young. I would look around for something to draw and she was always the most interesting thing in the room. I learned to draw fast because she would never stay in the same position for very long. It was almost as if she knew I was drawing her and would move on purpose. I love doing pet portraits, not only because the fur is so much fun to paint, but also because pets are such huge influences in our lives and make a lasting impression on us. They hold a very special place in our hearts.
Nowadays (aside from pets) my favorite thing to paint is glass bottles. The challenge of being able to see through something and also trying to capture how the light reflects is something that intrigues me. Trying to capture the light and shadow is a challenge that I love taking on, time and time again.
When are you the most creative? Morning? Night? Why?
I’m most creative in the evening. After dinner has been eaten and the dishes have been done. After my son has gone to bed and the house gets quiet. I can clear my mind, I’m free to let my creativity flow. I’ve always been more of an afternoon/evening creative type. The morning is reserved for getting all the things done. Once I do that I can get into my studio and stay there for awhile. It’s my happy place.
What do you listen to when you are painting/creating artwork and why?
I mostly listen to podcasts or audiobooks. My favorite podcasts are Radiolab, ReplyAll, The Savvy Painter, The Memory Palace, Revisionist History, Creative Pep Talk. It all depends on my mood and what I’m feeling like that day. But sometimes I will listen to audiobooks too. If I have a painting I really want to concentrate on and not get distracted by commercials, or trying to find another podcast in an hour, I’ll listen to audiobooks. There are times when I get so sucked in (to both the painting and stories) and I don’t even realize how long I’ve been painting.
Where do you like to paint (outside of a studio)?
Sometimes I’ll bring my supplies to the woods when I go hiking. I typically will paint with gouache on location instead of oil, for pure ease of use. Although, most times, when I have the intention of painting on a hike, I end up never taking my paints out. LOL I get distracted by the hike and I don’t want to stop moving. It’s fun for everyone. My supplies get to go on an adventure without actually doing any work!
When you receive unsolicited critiques or comments, how do you feel/how do you react?
It depends on who it’s from. It’s always hard to hear criticism when it’s not asked for, and I’m not braced for it. Especially when the painting isn’t done yet. But I try to take it with a grain of salt. Just be polite, say thank you and move on. If it’s a non artist, I will probably ignore them. If it’s someone who’s artwork I admire, I will take a step back and decide if the criticism is warranted. Sometimes it makes complete sense and I’ll need to address it. Sometimes my ego takes a hit, but knowing when it’s just a bruised ego versus something that actually needs to be fixed can be tricky to navigate.
Also, people love to try to tell artists what to paint next. “You should paint ____!” I think it’s great that they are excited about my art enough to want to be a part of it by giving suggestions. Their suggestions aren’t usually something that I follow through with, but occasionally there will be a gem of an idea that will turn into something. But I always try to make it my own. Blindly following other people’s advice is never a good idea.
Sarah's Favorite Trekell Products:
I love the Golden Taklon brushes. My faves right now are the flats and the rounds. The flats get me to be a little more broad with my brushstrokes and the rounds are there for my details. They are durable and hold their shape longer than other brands. Oil paint is really rough on brushes. Having to rigorously clean the brushes every time puts a lot of wear on tear on the bristles. I love the Linseed Oil Soap for Oil Paint for that too! It seems to break down the oil paint faster than other brush cleaners I’ve used in the past.
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