Urban Road

Paintings that look like photographs: Sarah Abbott Art and Design

At first glance, some of today’s feature artist’s paintings had us thinking they were photographs. The intricate details drew us in and are a feast for the eyes. We had the great pleasure of sitting down with the incredible talent that is Sarah Abbott Art and Design.

Related article: Artist Jessie Feitosa captures fleeting moments in her contemporary still life artworks
Related article: The delicate, hand drawn floral illustrations from Claudia Lowry

Sarah Abbott with various still life paintings
Sarah Abbott from Sarah Abbott Art and Design | Image credit: Samantha deSouza Photography
Still life tangerine native blossoms by Sarah Abbott Art and Design

Sarah Abbott is a acrylic artist who loves painting still life, landscapes and Australian botanicals.

“I’m a West Australian artist but grew up on a rural property in country Queensland,” Sarah explains.

“For the past 5 years, I’ve called Fremantle home. I live here with my husband, 2 kids and our much loved whippet, Arrow.

“Fremantle is such a wonderful place to live as an artist. It has long been a beacon for creative souls. It was my move here that inspired me to paint again.

“Even though I have lived all over the world, nowhere has quite spoken to me the way Freo does.”

Still life vase of flowers and cut lemon segments by Sarah Abbott Art and Design
Still life painting of fluffy native florals by Sarah Abbott Art and Design

Like so many creatives, Sarah took a more ‘sensible’ job before her passion took over and drew her back to painting.

“When I was younger, I was convinced I was going to be an artist. I started a fine art degree, but after a week of lectures I came to the realisation that I had made a horrible mistake,” Sarah remembers.

“Art at university was nothing like I had hoped. I wanted to learn a craft to make me a brilliant painter. It was nothing like that and I dropped out the following week.

“Like many creative kids, I veered towards a more stable creative career path, studying and working in Interior Design. My career fulfilled me for many years and I was fortunate enough to work both here and overseas.

“Then one day, saddened by the fact that I hadn’t practiced art in any form for almost 15 years, I picked up a brush, and started painting.”

Still life table spread including pears, crackers and olives by Sarah Abbott Art and Design
Still life painting of banskia and vase on table by Sarah Abbott Art and Design

It was when looking for a creative outlet after her son was born that Sarah turned to painting.

“I picked up a paintbrush again about 3 and a half years ago. Initially I set out to find an outlet from the monotony of nappy changes and feeding after my son was born,” Sarah says.

“However one thing led to another and I’ve been blessed to be able to turn my creative passion into a thriving career. 

“I often think of my painting as part time, as I fit it in around family life. However I’m quite sure If I added it up, it would be full-time hours and then some!

“One of my biggest challenges has been finding balance with the work. I’ve really had to become disciplined with my time in order to make it all work.

Still life vase of yellow banksia flowers by Sarah Abbott Art and Design
Still life painting of green gumnuts in vase by Sarah Abbott Art and Design

Florals and botanicals feature heavily in Sarah’s work.

“I grew up on 40 acres of bushland. My parents are keen gardeners and plant lovers, and at one time ran a plant nursery out of our home garden.

“It isn’t too hard to see why botanicals have been such a large influence in my work! Looking back on my earliest sketches and paintings, they were mostly flowers and plants from my parents garden.

“I think my early influences and upbringing have played a big role in the work I am drawn towards making. I’ve always enjoyed the challenge presented by painting and drawing in a realistic fashion.   

Sarah Abbott sketching from a photograph

The paintings from Sarah Abbott Art and Design are so detailed and intricate, they look like photographs.

“I work from photographs, and am constantly collecting and collating ideas wherever I am,” smiles Sarah.

“If I’m putting a still life composition together, I will often take hundreds of photos, from every different angle with different vases, and props. The vast majority of these will never see the light of day, but one or two may make the cut.  

“More and more these days I find myself combining elements from multiple images to create one perfect composition. I will also leave things out or alter the scale of elements to create the strongest final image I can.  

“Once the kids are both in school, I really want to try my hand at en plein air painting [a French phrase meaning, “in the open air,” describes the process of painting a landscape outdoors] and get out of the studio for a couple of days a week.”

Big thank you to Sarah for sharing her story with us. We loved hearing how Sarah creates her beautiful paintings.

To see more from Sarah Abbott Art and Design, visit her website or take a scroll through her Instagram. Subscribe to her mailing list to be the first to hear about new releases, or upcoming exhibitions.

More artist chats here

Still life reflections on empty vessels by Sarah Abbott Art and Design
Still life of candied cumquats by Sarah Abbott Art and Design
Tablescape still life of red gin cocktails by Sarah Abbott Art and Design
Still life of green building by Sarah Abbott Art and Design
Gina Beschorner Style Curator

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