Artist in Focus: Sarah Anderson

The view of Ross Creek from the city. IMAGE: Sarah Anderson

“I am often told that my work appears indigenous, but although I love the colours and style it has not particularly influenced me. My inspiration was more initially developed from poverty and scarcity of materials. I started with plain graphite, moved on to filling space with line instead of colour, substituting limited colours for effect rather than accuracy, and then it all evolved from there.”

It’s a surprising revelation about artist Sarah Anderson’s work, which is often so rich in colour and details that it feels anything but lacking in abundance.

Sarah’s striking urban drawings – which she often works on as part of the prolific Urban Sketchers Townsville group – are part of her recent return to artistic endeavours. Sarah lives with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), two debilitating disorders which forced her from work about five years ago. With no job to go to, and unable to continue volunteer firefighting and wildlife rescue, Sarah turned to drawing for its creative therapy.

“I have no artistic training but was always creative as a kid, from rearranging leaves and rocks in the garden to eventually building furniture and signs for a living,” said Sarah.

“Pens and pencils are my tool of choice now, versatile, practical and light; they don’t make too much mess; and can be tucked away in my handbag with my ‘waiting room’ sketchbook and be with me always for quiet moments or future sketch ideas.”

Public artwork at Jezzine Barracks IMAGE: Sarah Anderson

Sarah first discovered the Urban Sketchers movement while living in Cairns and was part of the foundation group when it was established here in Townsville.

“Urban sketching has been an invaluable learning tool for technique and for me personally,” she said.

“My art has become faster, less pedantic, more daring and colourful. It helped me to feel more confident in creating art in a public setting as well as sharing and displaying my art.

“Importantly being new to the area, it opened up opportunities to meet some wonderful and interesting people in the talented art community of Townsville, along with visiting artists from interstate and abroad.”

Sunset over Castle Hill IMAGE: Sarah Anderson

Sarah said she is never short on inspiration drawn from Townsville’s natural and man-made landscapes.

“Townsville is a sketcher’s dream, with so many beautiful places, interesting buildings, ocean, river, mountains and an active outdoorsy population.

“My latest project is night sketching and have a few large artworks on the go from the beautiful Halo light show in Queens Gardens last year.

“If I could access a place I would like to draw that I haven’t been, it would be up high. Maybe a tall building or some rooftops for a different perspective. Yes, there are drone photos but there’s nothing quite like drawing with others from life, it’s the real deal,” said Sarah.

Sarah said her greatest accomplishment as an artist is the joy her work has brought to others.

“It’s corny but true. Artists create for many reasons and art reflects mood, style and purpose of the artist and affects the viewer in return. I believe there is an over-supply of darkness and turmoil in the world today, so I choose to spread calm, light-hearted colour, beauty and hopefully happiness. I hope I succeed but I’m enjoying the process anyway.”

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