Sarah Ammons is an interdisciplinary artist with a love of working with graphite, gouache, and oil. An Ontario, Canada native, Sarah fell in love with Healdsburg, Calif. after earning her MFA from San Francisco Art Institute in Painting and Drawing. We joined Sarah in her home studio with her little one to learn more about the gal behind the paintings.
What inspires your work the most?
I have always been inspired by my life and world around me. My paintings and drawings are mostly object or figure-based, often even self portraiture, and drawing from life or photograph. Lately I have been most inspired by watching Silas look at the world, with his fresh eyes and complete amazement. Colors seem more vivid, shapes and shadows more interesting. I think we can fall into a mundane pattern of seeing our world around us and forget to marvel at the beauty in all aspects of our daily lives–our homes, the objects we interact with, the patterns we choose to wear, etc. With a little one around, I am remembering to look at our world as he does with curiosity, excitement and wonder.
What does your perfect day look like?
After becoming a mom, I have realized the importance of everyday activities I may have once taken for granted. My perfect day has a pretty simple recipe; in addition to plenty of adventuring with Silas, if I can do yoga, shower, and studio in one day, it’s perfection. I will take them in any order they come and be thankful. Throw in a sunset paddle board and you’ve got a miracle.
How has becoming a mother changed your artistic practice?
Time is a gift now, and the ability to focus and find a predictable work schedule is difficult to come by too. I am learning that I need to be flexible with the type of work I can do and the kind of mood or the amount of time I have in the studio. For instance, when Silas is napping, it’s a good time to do some meditative drawing like botanicals or oceans. When Silas goes to the plaza with Dad for a couple hours, I can work on my figurative paintings and portraits which require more time and greater focus. When Silas has a rough night, I let myself be tired and I have some tea in my studio with my paintings. Just sitting with them is sometimes the most productive thing I can do.
What is your favorite thing in your studio?
There are so many things I love intensely, but the mascot bears a mention; my orange acorn fireplace is like the heart and hearth of my studio. Although it’s not actually functional, in the winter I run an electric heater that looks like a fire, on warmer days I might light candles in it. This acts like a little ritual to get my creativity going for the day. Its retro orange is also one of my cornerstone colors and finds its way into everything I do. I often shift around a lot in my studio, moving from sitting at my desk, to working on the walls, to moving around the island, and my fireplace is at the center of it all.
Is there a project you’re working on that you’re most excited about?
I’m recently coming back from a self imposed maternity leave of sorts. I have just finished some outstanding commissions from last year’s round of shows, and I am gearing up for another round, starting at the end of the summer. It’s been a long time since I have done any self portraits, but I have a series of photos of me and the dogs that my husband took just days before heading to the delivery room, that I have been eager to explore. That and some of the daily photos I take of Silas exploring food. I’m looking forward to doing some self exploration at this point.
What advice do you have for other parents who create or work from home?
Have patience with yourself. You’re not the same you as you used to be. It’s important to find ways, or moments–even small ones–to pay daily homage to the core principles of your identity, goals and aspirations. However, being a parent to a little one is so time limited. Allow yourself to explore the world and take time with your kid. Allow yourself to see the world through their eyes. I think creative work can only benefit from this. Don’t beat yourself up for not being as productive as you once were.
What’s on your travel bucket list?
I would love to go to Vienna. Right at the beginning of the Pandemic, my husband and I had to cancel a long awaited trip there. I am a big fan of Egon Schiele and Viennese Expressionism. I would love to go take in the history of the city and look really, really closely at all the brush marks and pencil lines I can find.