Framed Print © Sarah Kelk

Sarah Kelk

Photographer Eve Wilson for The Design Files blog © Sarah Kelk
© Photographer Eve Wilson for The Design Files blog

Day 25 – Sarah Kelk

 Sarah Kelk is a self-taught artist who resides in Melbourne, Australia.  Sarah uses oil and acrylic paints  and is inspired by nature, architecture and decorative arts to name just a few.  If you are in Melbourne, look out for Sarah Kelk’s solo show entitled ‘COMMON GROUND’ for Modern Times – opening night is Nov 16th!

Are you a self taught artist, or what studies did you do to get where you are today?

I guess I’m self taught. I’ve always loved the feeling of creating and have painted since I was young. My parents have a pretty big collection of my work from Kinder days through until now (some of it more cringe worthy than others).

I have both a Design and an Art History degree, and started selling work whilst I was studying at University, although once I started travelling, running a business and having a family, painting naturally took a bit of a back seat. I was itching to spend more time with a brush in hand about 5 years and haven’t stopped since. I love how my degree and work experience (I ran a gallery space in the UK for 7 years) has let me see both sides to being an artist, and as much as I’d love to have a degree in painting, I’m actually totally fine with being self taught.

What tools, programs and apps do you love or cannot live without?

I used to paint only in oils, but have recently loved the speed of working with acrylics. I’m really particular about which brushes I use, (but am also really bad at looking after them). I love the ‘give’ of painting on a tightly stretched canvas, and I couldn’t live without great natural light.

Apart from painting tools, my go to’s are instagram, pinterest, books and the huge amount of papers, flyers, postcards and that I have collected over the years.

Framed Print © Sarah KelkYour art provides inspirations to so many others.  What or who inspires you?

Aww, thanks! That’s so nice.. As far as inspirations go, I’ll often use a picture as a starting point of inspiration, which might be a landscape with great colors, or a random picture of a garage door I have snapped on my phone, a cutting from a magazine or a something from a book.

I always have a sketchbook in my bag with me and am always collecting paper, receipts tickets, flyers, postcards. Their might just be something tiny in the corner of a picture that jumps out to me, and might form the basis of a new painting.

Although there’s a plethora of influences behind my work, (references of nature, architecture and decorative arts), these influences are usually only the starting point for my work. The process or applying paint to the canvas plays a huge role in the development of each piece.

Time. It’s amazing what a solid block of time in my work space can do. I usually come out of a day in the studio with more ideas and inspirations than I started with, which to me, is a sign that I’m on the right track.

Can you describe your process including how long a piece of art or photography takes you from concept to complete?

Most of my work is pretty intuitive. I have a rough plan — mostly by picking colors or shapes — but start with a really rough few expressive under coats. I do these really quickly, which gives me a feel about which direction the rest of the painting will head in. I then add color blocks on top and simply build on it from there, leaving bits I like and working over others.

As far as how long a piece will take me, its kind of like that analogy ‘how long is a piece of string’. In a way, each piece takes its own form, it’s kind of the piece working itself out.  Some pieces seem to take hardly any time where others end up taking weeks and weeks.

Artwork for T'gallant Wines © Sarah KelkWhat part of your process do you love the most?

I never know how a piece is going to end up and that’s what I love the most about creating it. When I start, there’s lots of energy and it’s really exciting, but the difference between that and when it’s finished is worlds apart. My paintings almost feel like completely different pieces from start to finish…the whole process is fascinating to me, and something I never tire of.

If you weren’t an artist, what do you think you would be doing for work?

An accountant or a midwife. Funnily enough … both of these things are polar opposites to each other, and painting! Go figure.

Who is the most fascinating or inspiring person you have met or worked with?

Melbourne has the most amazingly supportive creative community, and I think a lot of creatives (myself included) feel inspirited being a part of this in some way. There is simply just TOO many inspiring creatives to name!

On a more personal level, I have really strong female role models in my family (my sister, Mother and Grandmother) and they have always been a really strong pillar of inspiration and support to me. All of them are endlessly capable, have the strongest worth ethic I know, and are constantly creating beautiful things.

What artwork of yours are you most proud of?

I still love two big pieces that I painting for my wonderful sister Helen and I back in 2011. I’d had a bit of a break from painting, and a request from my sister to ‘make something big for her wall’, and two canvases found on the side of the road were all I needed to get myself back into painting.

What’s next in the professional pipe works for you?

I’m currently working on a solo show titled ’COMMON GROUND’ for Modern Times here in Melbourne, which I’m really looking forward to sharing. Opening night is Nov 16th, so make sure you pop along for a visit.

Prints © Sarah KelkBonus fun question

What is your pet peeve?

I’m a half glass full person, so I negative people really hard to be around. I hate it when someone complains without looking for a solution.

What is your current favourite album?

Gang of Youths new album, ‘Go Farther in Lightness’ is on high rotation in the studio at the moment.

Apart from art, what is your favourite thing to do?

Where do I start ….. hanging with my friends and family, eating soft cheese, being outdoors, bike rides, cooking Korean food, running, planning holidays, red wine, board games with my kids, noodles, and early mornings! Sorry … that’s way more than one!


Website and Shop: Sarah Kelk
Social: Sarah Kelk on Instagram

Sarah Kelk © Sarah Kelk


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Images courtesy of Sarah Kelk © Sarah Kelk




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