Freshly Inked Interview with Sarah Tidwell

Instagram: @inkydragon

Sarah, what's a favorite or sentimental piece that you've done?

I have many favorites, but among them, My ‘Kudu Princess’ painting was the first time I tackled something larger than my comfort zone and I am so happy that I did.  I learned so much, took the time to record and time-lapse of my process and progress, and documented it as much as I could.  I learned a lot about how I liked to paint during the creation of this piece and it’s opened me up to new challenges and obstacles which have lead to even bigger and better paintings. It serves as a glowing reminder that it's okay to challenge myself and learn from it.
Where do you find inspiration?

From looking at my work, it's not hard to guess I love animals.  Before I was given the opportunity to do art full-time, I was a veterinary technician.  This brought me into contact with not only people’s pets but a wide range of exotic animals as well.  It’s still a field I greatly admire and it led to me doing a lot of work for clients on the side.  Working in the veterinary world educated me in all sorts of animal anatomy and behavior, which has flowed directly into my work.  Though much of what I do is whimsical and light-hearted, I also love to portray the darker, wilder side of creatures; which is where my experience around wolves and foxes begins to show up frequently in my work as well.  

When did you start creating? 

It’s a difficult thing to pinpoint because I’ve always been creative.  I’ve always found a way to incorporate art into my job, but it wasn’t until 2013 that Jeral stepped in and gave me the opportunity to do art full-time.  Since that summer, my art began to grow in a new direction away from pet portraits and more out of my own imagination.  I began experimenting with new paints, colors, and brushes, (which is when Jeral and I decided to make the Monster Stix!) and I found new confidence in myself when it came to applying my sketches and creativity to canvas. Several local shows encouraged my art in a few more directions, and within a few years I realized that I had developed a whole new style that people seemed to respond well to.  

Tell us about future plans for your art?

Motherhood has taken a big chunk out of the time I've had for art lately, but it has also offered me a wealth of inspiration.  I have a veritable flood of ideas for children's books, illustrations, and paintings.  It has given me time to reflect on the paths I want to take and how I want to move forward with my art.  Animals have always been a central focus, particularly people's pets, but I'm looking forward to pushing outside my comfort zone of fur, feathers, and scales in the future.  I want to work on a larger scale, for greater impact, as well.

Your husband is an artist as well, would you say your styles are similar or contrasting? 

Our styles of approaching a project are often similar, but I feel like our styles of execution are different.  We use the same brushes and paint differently most of the time, but the end result is still satisfying.  

Together how do you guys come up with ideas or keep each other motivated? 

We definitely suffer from having too many projects at once, haha.  We're very good about throwing down constructive criticism on each other. Even when we don't want to listen to what the other has to say, it seeps in and gets us moving in the right direction or re-thinking our current trajectory on whatever we're working on.  We are avid art book collectors, and if you've ever stepped into Tidwell HQ then you'd see we also surround ourselves with art.  All kinds of art, from expensive paintings to framed post-it notes, we hang it up because we love to look at it every day and glean inspiration from it all. 

What's your advice for artists who are just starting out? 

Challenge yourself with projects that will teach you something, and learn to welcome the knowledge from your mistakes and failures, it'll help you grow. Find a community that will offer you honest feedback and learn to take it. Just because one family member or a handful of friends don't like what you do, it doesn't mean your work isn't valid or good.  People have different tastes just like people have different styles, and your people are out there...FIND THEM.   Don't obsess over your Followers...their opinion may be valid, but it isn't law.  Be humble.  Share your secrets with others when they come asking, and ask other artists for advice when you feel stuck or you're uncertain about working with a tool or medium.  The Art World isn't some Secret Club where only the "good" ones get in.  We all started from the bottom.  Anyone who forgets that and can't give you the time of day isn't worth your time anyway.

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