December & January Artist Feature - Sarah Reynolds
For many months our walls have been decorated in beautiful scenic landscapes… but if you’ve been in recently, you’ve likely noticed that those iconic photographs have been swapped for some warm toned abstract art… this new artwork has caught a lot of wandering eyes, many finding themselves really taking them in. Some of the local favorites include her pieces of a cougar, the rabbit, and the snake. So what’s the story behind this ethereal new series? Welcome to Dream Theory.
The creator is local graphics artist Sarah Reynolds. As a child she practiced realism, “I was a horse girl,” she laughed. In those days she would draw horses as realistic as possible, tape them together and make her own wallpaper. Nowadays, she’s primarily an illustrator, though she enjoys watercolors as well. In her early 20s, Sarah began doing graphic design for a coffee roasting company. She practiced logos and merchandising design, and soon after she made the move to Marquette to attend NMU’s graphic design program. For her digital art, Sarah predominantly uses procreate, “it’s a streamlined process.” With this program she can easily get work created, printed, and web ready.
Sarah’s inspiration varies, but often she feels captivated by still life. For her it can be anything from elements in homes, flora and the organic, etc. Once a spark finds her, she’ll start with pencil sketches, identifying concepts, or playing with color palettes. Lately, she’s felt drawn to the American southwest.
For Dream Theory, her artistic journey began back in October. While the project took a few months to create, she explains that it mostly started by accident. In need of a break from client work, she wanted to doodle aimlessly and began putting together a sandstone color palette. Inspired in part by her trip to New Mexico, Sarah remembers being greeted by the state sign which read “Welcome to New Mexico: the Land of Enchantment.” Surrounded by red and pink hues, geological features and the general charm of the desert, it truly did feel magical and enchanting. With those themes in mind she created her first piece of the series, featuring a long time favorite reptile of hers: the snake… from there, Dream Theory was born.
A few different animals are present in Sarah’s work - cougar, rabbit, moth, etc. Though not present on our walls, her work also features a simurgh. Sometimes compared to a phoenix, a simurgh is a Persian mythical bird, often represented as benevolent and divine. This piece is actually featured in a tarot inspired card deck, expected to be released this year (pre-order available here). Her card deck is a collaborative project featuring poet and writer Sally Rashid. Acting as a gateway to journey deeper, users can expect daily journal prompts, affirmations, and exploring spiritual practice from a natural and academic perspective. Between the standalone art and the deck, Sarah considers the series to be done, “you know when you know, like finishing a book.”
I asked Sarah how it felt to see her artwork out in the world, be it on our walls here at Velodrome, or in someone’s personal home, “a little scary,” she says. Sarah only just recently began referencing herself as an illustrator because of imposter syndrome. Despite it being her dream to work in art, it's an intimidating leap. Sarah’s first solo show was last summer at our local Contrast Coffee, a show that sold out several times - it was this show that gave her the confidence to begin expanding her presence on the internet and also searching for public displays. This part of her journey has been good and fulfilling.
What’s next? Sarah is in the beginning stages of working through a concept she’s coining as “human-ish,” an exploration of human still life. She explains that there might not be real humans in the pieces, but she’s focusing on the banal observations of human behavior and the scenes from their life. As of right now, she expects them to be floral and plant based, with the addition of the human element like placing flowers in vases. “I love the boring and dusty,” she laughed.
If you’d like to follow along with Sarah, you can find her on instagram at @couturra, or online here.
Interview by Kaelyn Wright, VDCC Cafe Manager