OZMA WOMEN: A Visit With Sarah Delaney

September 19, 2018

OZMA WOMEN: A Visit With Sarah Delaney

Sarah Delaney is a Vancouver-based action painter inspired by nature's beautiful chaos. Two paintings from her series History of Here, hang in the home she shares with her husband and two cats. 

In her 200 sq. ft studio, Sarah practices mindfulness when it comes to decorating her humble space. Her interior aesthetic consists of minimalism combined with natural textures such as raw wood and wicker. The same goes for her style: pared down and earthy. But when it comes to her action paintings, she embraces the hidden colors and wild landscapes of her surrounding home, British Columbia.

Left: Sarah wears OZMA's Cypress Playsuit  in Natural. Right: In Studio, 40 x 60", 2018


What's integral to your work as an artist?

Honestly, the most integral part of my work is that I feel it. If my work stopped making me feel, or bringing me joy, or providing inspiration I don’t know what I’d do. I put my heart into my paintings and they give me meaning.


What is your go-to paint brand?

I use a lot of Golden and Liquitex acrylic paint.


What colors are you gravitating towards these days & why?

Mixing colours is my very favourite. Each colour that you see on the canvas is usually made up of three or four colours straight from the paint tubes. The act of creating colours is amazing and pretty critical to how I paint. I am always trying to recreate tones I’ve seen in nature or in the city. There are certainly colours that I am drawn to that I use the most, they almost act as a ground for the other pops of unique colour combinations I find: Dark wooded shadows, cloud-cover skies and West Coast ocean waters, sunsets, clay dirt, dry straw and crunchy grass, old rooftops and brick buildings.


 Left: Mixed media on canvas, Daydream, 28 x 36”, 2018. Right: the coast of the Pacific Ocean

"My work is all about my relationship to the places I’ve been, the story of the world, and the history of here."

Paintings, just like songs, can take a very short or very long time to complete. What's the longest period of time you have spent on a painting recently?

Occasionally, paintings will take a few months to complete. This might happen when something about it is not working. When I feel like I have to set it aside until I’m ready to conquer it again, or I work on it on and off until its ready. The power of creation is super weird like that. Other times, I will get on a roll and a painting can be made a a few days. Murals take the longest. They are obviously the largest and most challenging (just climbing up and down the ladder takes time). Last year I did an outdoor mural in Vancouver BC that took a week straight, from sun up to sundown. It was a proud accomplishment — sore body and sunburn, and all.

What story do you hope to tell through your art?

I use my painting as a way of visual storytelling. My paintings are made up of a variety of small marks and reactions that tell a story of place. I describe my paintings as a pile of textures, colours, movements, and sounds that make up an environment or a feeling. My art is my response to the world around me. My work is all about my relationship to the places I’ve been, the story of the world, and the history of here.


Left: Sarah curates her intricate wall shelf. Right: In her light-filled studio, Sarah gives equal attention to how she stores her paint tubes in woven baskets.


"I describe my paintings as a pile of textures, colours, movements, and sounds that make up an environment or a feeling. My art is my response to the world around me."  

Your work is abstract and takes on free forms, but does it comment on any social or political issues going on today?

Without intention. The topic of social and political issues turn my insides upside down. The residue of any political conversation lingers with me a while, generally in a negative way. I really hope that I don’t bring it into my work. My job and life are to create art, so I think that I might go crazy if I chose to focus on social change and injustices as a theme in my everyday. Instead, I use the creation of art as a break from the headlines, and as an opportunity to feel light and at peace.


You have been working professionally as an artist for 9 years, how has your painting process changed over the years?

When I didn’t have a studio space I used to spend a lot of time in community darkrooms, but the combination of the dark room paired with the dreary wet Vancouver winters eventually got tiresome. When I didn’t have a lot of square footage in my studios my paintings were smaller. When I finally moved into a larger space they grew quite a bit. And when I’m on the road, my sketchbooks fill up. I really adapt my work to my lifestyle.

Close up of History Of Here series, Fitzsimmons Range 26 x 48"

If money or resources were not an issue, what would be your dream project?

My dream project would be to live in a dream setting, like Joshua Tree, or Bryce Canyon for a prolonged period of time and just create whatever I wanted. Without reason, without a commission in mind, or a quota of pieces I had to make, without major bills to pay, and without knowing that it was a vacation that was about the end soon. I’ve been to both of these places and they were dream worlds. I make a lot of work about magical places like these, but the work is always made after the trip, back in my studio. I'd be curious how my work might change if it was in a residency-like setting. What would influence my work? What collaborations might take place?


Lucky for Sarah, Joshua Tree is only 3 hours away by plane. She can visit her dreamworld anytime her fancy strikes.


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