Whimsy with wax: Visual Artist Sara-Jane Lee

Visual Artist Sara-Jane Lee

Sara-Jane Lee was born in New York City and grew up with a very strong connection to the arts. Throughout her artistic evolution, she has focused on accurate physical representation, as well as exploring the range and complexity of human emotion evoked by an image with inspiration drawn from nature.

Although she continues to work in all mediums with a focus on realism, Sara-Jane has recently become fascinated with crayons. With the textural energy of the wax and it’s vibrancy of color, the crayon medium combines and expresses the whimsical side of her personality, and presents a dichotomy of precise realistic renderings with tools presumed for the artistically primitive. Her drawings are immediately relatable. The large scale in which she prefers to work adds to their impact, and enables a purity of emotional response.

Hermit Crab

3 things that make my life richer: The first thing that enriches my life would have to be any time I am able to spend outside, surrounded by nature. I spend as much time as I can throughout the week going for hikes, or walks, taking in the beautiful North Carolina landscape. The second thing that makes me feel enriched is spending time with animals. My work consists mainly of animal portraits, and spending time volunteering at animal shelters, hanging out with my two cats, or even visiting zoos or aquariums is always extremely inspiring. The last thing that is enriching may sound silly, but would have to be a really well made cup of tea. I’ve found that it is important to take little moments like having a cup of tea for yourself to maintain mental clarity and openness to creativity. 

Local artist that I admire: One local artist that I have really grown to admire is Guy Jencks. Jencks is a potter, based right here in Cumberland County. His ever-changing style, and constant experimentation with new techniques always pays off, and definitely encourages me to continue to push my own artistic boundaries. 

Current artistic experiments: I have recently been experimenting with many different surfaces. Instead of sticking to your traditional “paper”, I’ve been experimenting with different colored and textured matboards, as well as wood, to achieve new effects with the crayons. 

What changed about my work in 2020: Throughout 2020, I really expanded the color palate of my pieces. I’ve only been working with crayons for a few years, and it has taken some time to really perfect my technique, with an extremely temperamental medium. It has taken me a while to understand how to layer colors and manipulate the crayons, without being able to erase anything, to produce pieces that have a full range of color – not only 2-3 layers. 

Where I practice my art: Currently, I am lucky enough to have a small studio room in my house. I normally work with my pieces pinned vertically to the wall, so I have bolted smooth wooden boards as neutral work surfaces on which to pin my work. Since I work on a large scale, my boards cover a 4’x8′ area. 

How do I find my next subject: I usually look for an expression that makes me laugh. Whether that be from a human, or an animal: Humor has always been a major part of my personality that I can’t help but show through my work. Animals are absolutely more expressive and relatable than we generally give them credit for. 

Advice for an emerging artist: Always make sure that you remain true to who YOU are when creating. Many artists start out copying master work for practice, or trying to emulate a particular style, however this will always make you feel confined. Always make sure you leave a clear piece of yourself in pieces – they always come out better that way!

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