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!

The Creative Frenzy: An Arts + Crafts Playground on Yadkin Rd

Addrienne VanOver, owner of The Creative Frenzy on Yadkin Road, glanced around the shop, smiling as she said, “There’s so much more I want to do, too.” It’s hard to believe there’s more, as VanOver currently runs the shop, does custom design work for private clients, leads private and group crafting workshops, and teaches both one-on-one in her store and at Fayetteville Technical Community College (and is a mama of three and married for almost twenty years!).

She opened The Creative Frenzy in August 2018 and moved into the current location at 4760 Yadkin Road (near the corner of Yadkin and Skibo) in March of 2019. It’s a bit like an arts & crafts playground. You can bring your own toys–er, arts and crafts supplies–and work on your project in the company of others. Or you can buy or borrow from the shop. “Anything you see on Pinterest, we can do here,” Addrienne quips. There’s supplies for paper-crafting, painting, embroidery, making wood signs, printing t-shirts, even a photo studio set up for product or people shoots. And at $25-35 per hour for most workshops or instruction, it’s affordable to try everything.

Group workshops are the current shop specialty. In addition to her general craft workshops, there are also events geared towards veterans and for homeschoolers. There’s even a quilting club who meets at the shop every Monday! “We also have a free kids story time–it’s always on Saturday but varies through the month–and book club on the last Sunday of every month,” Addrienne said. “They both have crafts involved and everyone is welcome to come.” She did say the kids’ storytime tends to fill up, so get there early!

Addrienne also does custom design work and sells her original embroidery designs through her website. “I want other crafters to use the shop as a place to start their own Etsy stores,” she expressed. And since she often brings her own kids to the shop, kids are more than welcomed: they are encouraged to come and craft, too! Oh, and did I mention you can rent the shop for birthday parties? Eight kid minimum and an amazing craft to take home after!

image via The Creative Frenzy Facebook page

Check out her website, Facebook, and Instagram, and sign up for the email list to find out about ALL Addrienne has going on! She’s also looking for other crafty teachers, so if you have friends asking “how do you do that?,” maybe it’s time for you to teach it!