Colour Theory, Cityscapes and Wobbles: We Enter the World of Sarah Fosse

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In one sentence say what you do.

I’m a painter and I depict cityscapes, mainly London as I live here and I am passionate about this city in a very bright, unique way.

How long have you been painting for?

I have been painting since I was a child, but painting professionally for about three or four years. 2013 was my first exhibition in London.

Did you study art?

I did a foundation course in Bristol, but then sadly personal circumstances meant I had to give it up and try to get a proper job. I went and worked for an accountancy firm and had some of my best sales, I was about twenty years of age and I was filling all of their board rooms with paintings, so it’s always been there and I have always been moonlighting with it. Even when I have side-lined it it is has never been parked; it’s very prominent in my life.

What was the turning point when you decided to go full time?

I guess financial circumstances helped, I saved up a lot with this always in mind knowing that it would be worth it to invest in something like this rather than investing in material things. Eventually it came about that I was lucky enough to do it and sales helped to boost my confident that it could work, and it’s not going too bad so far.

Most of your reflection paintings are done in blocks of separate colours, why do you choose to keep separation in your colours?

They evolved these paintings, with so many lines around them you’ve got to be really careful, because if there are too many similar colours all together they get lost in a big jumble and you can’t quite tell what it is, so the colours need to pop. I have always loved colour theory, the colour spectrum and putting contrasting colours next to each other; it just makes them work and not get lost. They are quite difficult to explain because they came from nowhere really.

We can see those purples and oranges together and they are opposite ends of the spectrum, so you are creating your tonal values through this opposition.

Yes, for example, where possible I’ll try to get a bit of red next to a green tree, because I think it makes sense. The trees then aren’t fighting for a position next to a similar colour.

Why the avoidance of straight lines?

Well to be honest I’m really not good at drawing a straight line! I can’t even cut in a straight line if I am trying to do labels for an exhibition, I need a guillotine as I always seem to go off kilter, and also I love the wobbly reflections. Even on my way in to the studio today, I have passed the docks a thousand times and I still stop to take iPhone pics, because it’s such a gorgeous day today as well, the reflections are so lovely and distorted.

When I came to putting the actual cityscape on top of the water I did try to make straight lines, but it seemed at odds with itself, which might be good to explore one day, but at the time I didn’t really like it. They seemed very rigid against these lovely loose free shapes; I thought it would be more fluid to continue the wobbles, as I call them, of the reflections into the buildings. Not quite as extreme as the way I portray the water, but I continue that wobbly swerve and give the whole picture a fluidity so that it works together as one.

Well it’s lovely.

Thank you!

What would you say is your biggest achievement so far?

Gosh, I was really delighted to show in the Royal Collage of Art last December, that’s just got to be the worlds top art institution, so having my work in their hallowed halls was quite an honour.

How did that come about?

I did an exhibition called Flux, curated by Lisa Gray and she curates art to quite a high standard. She selects people that are doing something different, emerging and pushing forward in their field. I was lucky enough to be part of that.

You’ve been painting the city for quite a while now, what is it about the subject which appeals to you?

I just really love the way London puts old and new together and something will just pop up like the shard and will be sat there in the same viewpoint as Tower Bridge and yet it sort of works. People are annoyed at first and don’t like it, but eventually you can’t imagine the skyline without it. I find it very inspiring; it’s a great city. People always say “oh its foggy, grey and rainy,” but I think that when you look for it there is colour, the bright red buses, post boxes, phone boxes, the vibe of the place, Camden town, Whitechapel market, colour everywhere. The people make it colourful, it just has a vibe and I try to capture that fun joyful vibe of, it may be biased, but what I think is the greatest city on earth.

How would you like to develop over the next ten years?

I would like to do some really huge scale public art or get my style on a London bus or something really impactful and huge to get it out there.

Yeah, we think your work would be awesome for mural.

Yeah I think it would lend itself to going really big. The thought of a bus going around or a taxi, but buses are bigger, all decked out like that would be fantastic. People do quite similar things, but people have started to say “oh I know whose work that is,” which is quite an honour at the moment, so I’d like to just keep pushing my brand and getting it enjoyed and out there.

Sarah will be exhibiting her fantastic wobbly paintings in Focus LDN's 2016 Winter Exhibition this December 13th-17th at The Menier Gallery, London Bridge.

Eventbrite - Winter Exhibition | Private View