Sarah Jane Brown – Contemporary Landscape Paintings
Welcome to the website for contemporary Welsh landscape artist, Sarah Jane Brown
I have always loved painting, for me 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 always struggle to find words for.
I started painting professionally after experiencing a really debilitating period of depression in my mid-30s. To help with recovery, I started evening art classes and 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!
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. 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. 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.
I walk the coast path or the beach almost every day, sometimes I sketch or photograph something that catches my eye, but always I am 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.
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 apply paint with brushes, knives, rags and sometimes fingers! It is painted, scraped, flicked, spattered and poured on in a very intuitive decision making process. I enjoy the versatility of oil paint, and find it the best medium to convey the varied sensations of being in the landscape; sometimes calm, restorative, or spiritually uplifting an at other times wild, dynamic, rejuvenating and mentally energising.
Being in this dramatic environment with its rocky shores, high cliffs, big skies and unpredictable seas, can be a truly humbling experience. Nature can be both diminishing, and uplifting in equal measure. One of the things that I try to convey through my paintings is that traditional sense of the sublime; awesomely beautiful yet also a little overwhelming. It allows you to gain perspective; to be more aware of everything around you, to look both inward and outward. If you walk out onto a remote clifftop, that a hasn’t changed for a thousand years, you feel less caught up with insignificant stuff.
Forgetting the everyday, letting everything go and just absorbing the moment allows memories to come, ephemerally, like the sea washing in and leaving marks on the landscape. The details don’t matter, what matters is the feeling; the sound of the sea, the gulls, the wind, the smell of the salt in the air, the feel of the elements on your skin, and the thoughts that pass through your head when you’re alone on a beach or a cliff top.