“There is something about being immersed in the vastness of the landscape that gives clarity and focus to the space within.”
Nature can be both diminishing and uplifting, in equal measure. Being in this dramatic environment – with its rocky shores, high cliffs, big skies and unpredictable seas – can be a truly humbling experience.
One of the things that I try to share through my paintings is that traditional sense of the 'sublime'; awesomely beautiful but also a little overwhelming.
Yet, despite the slight sense of overwhelm, there is something about being immersed in the vastness of incredible landscapes that gives clarity and focus to the space within us. It allows us to gain perspective; to be more aware of everything around us, and to look both inward and outward, all at the same time.
It’s my aim to stir these feelings of wonderment and awe in you, reminding you of your own vitality and life-force, through my artwork.
Even as a child I loved painting, it was a way to lose myself in another world. Now as an adult it’s a way of expressing my thoughts and feelings, like a visual form of poetry. Colour, tone and texture can somehow describe those elusive things that I sometimes struggle to find words for.
Like many people of my generation my creative side was not really encouraged and on leaving school I pursued "something more sensible".
It was not until I experienced something of a mental health meltdown in my mid-30s that I finally rediscovered how vital that form of self expression was to me.
Painting helped me recover from this difficult period. I started evening art classes at the local college as a way to rehabilitate myself.
I loved it so much that I went on to a foundation diploma in Art & Design and then a Fine Art honours degree. My first exhibition was a sell-out show, which launched me into painting full-time, and I haven’t looked back since!
“The sea is part of who I am now...”
I walk the coast path or the beach almost every day, sometimes I sketch or photograph something that catches my eye, but I’m always observing and taking mental notes.
I particularly love walking on the beach in the winter when it is quiet. The stormy winter skies are full of colour and drama and are reflected in the wet sand. It’s a subject that I love to paint over and over.
Before becoming an artist I spent most of my working life at sea. As a teenager I crewed on a yacht delivery to Spain, then on local boat trips around the Pembrokeshire coast, followed by a 10-year seafaring career onboard the ferry to Ireland. Looking back, even that part of my life has informed so much of my art career – even if I wasn’t actively creating at the time, I was immersing myself in the sea and finding inspiration in it.
I still occasionally crew on local boat trips and that always inspires me to try and capture the movement and power of the sea and the unique atmospheric qualities of this coast. It is so stunningly beautiful, rugged and remote.
The sea is part of who I am now and because I’m so familiar with the elements and the feeling of being at sea, it inevitably shows up as a sense of atmosphere and movement in my paintings. You could say the storminess in my 30s that brought me back to art, and to myself, is also present!
“...brushes, knives, rags and sometimes fingers! ”
Back in the studio I combine traditional techniques with a more contemporary working practice using a variety of methods; staining, glazing and blending in many layers, gradually building up thickness and texture.
I love the versatility of oil paint. It's the best medium to convey the sensations of being in the landscape; sometimes calm, restorative, or spiritually uplifting and at other times wild, dynamic, rejuvenating and mentally energising.
I apply paint with brushes, knives, rags and sometimes fingers! It is painted, scraped, flicked, spattered and poured on in a very intuitive and joyful decision making process.
These paintings are an outpouring of personal feeling and a strong sense of place. Whilst they are not abstract, they are open to interpretation.
Because I use the landscape 'metaphorically' they describe a whole range of thoughts and emotions. It's my hope they will stir something within you too, because as a great man once said...
“Art is standing with one hand extended into the universe and one hand extended into the world, and letting ourselves be a conduit for passing energy.”
– Albert Einstein
In the media
Sarah Jane is building up a strong following for her dramatic, intensely hued oil paintings that reflect the landscapes and seascapes of Pembrokeshire's unspoilt coastline.
A lifelong love of west Wales's wild sea views and landscapes inspires Sarah Jane Brown's oils on canvas.
Sarah demonstrates a dramatic colourful sky using just a few colours, some simple glazing techniques and a little bit of patience.
Join me on Instagram
I often share images of my painting life on Instagram - from inspiring photos and videos, to glimpses of work in progress to revealing finished work and everything in between!