Artist/Painter/Music Lover/Mother/Decorator/All-Around Badass, Sara Tyler, grew up in New Braunfels, Texas. She now resides in Austin where she is creating a buzz on the local art scene. We recently caught up with Sara for some Mexican food, and a stroll down South Congress.
At what point in your life did you realize you had this artistic gift?
Looking back I realize that I had it at a very young age...but real-time realization? I would say high school.
When did you first decide to take your ability seriously and really get into creating art?
Have you had any formal training?
I took a ton of art and design classes in college. Drawing, woodwork, metals, art history, etc...and one painting class. My teacher for that class was Walle Conoly at St Edward's. He's such a wonderful person!...and right before I started painting seriously...I saw him at Guero's and another place within a week. I hadn't seen him since St. Ed's (about 9 years). So weird. It helped me get my brushes back out and get at it!
What type of painting / materials are we talking here?
Acrylic, molding paste, structure gel, wire, sand, stucco, varnish. I love experimenting and creating textures as well as mixing color. I will explore oils one day! I'm really impatient and oils take a long time to dry.
Do you have a favorite subject matter?
Nah, if I stuck to one thing, I would get bored. Although the square pops up quite often. I lean toward symmetry, maybe that's why.
How long will a painting take from start to finish?
There's no set time. I never work on just one piece at a time, either. I'm usually revolving 3 or 4...some don't make it ( trash), some get painted over, and some just flow naturally. I would say anywhere from a few days to the longest being 3 months. I also sometimes get bored with a piece and will take a break from it and come back. Not because it's a boring painting but it's not the right time to finish it.
How do you know when a painting is finished?
I immediately think of Jackson Pollock being asked this and replying, "How do you know when you're finished making love?" Hmmmm? Not sure if it's THAT definite for me, but I just know. This is a really good question—I suppose I could work on a piece more, but there's always the fear of doing too much or ruining it. I guess the easiest way to explain it is—I am done when it feels done. Then I just let it be for what it is.
What part of the creative process gives you the most satisfaction?
Getting the idea for a painting...not sure how it happens. I put on music (always to paint and to get inspiration) and draw, meditate, and sometimes I'm cleaning or walking through Whole Foods and it'll pop in my head and I have to get it out somehow. (laughs)
Where do you find inspiration for new work?
Everywhere. Music especially....I wouldn't have started painting period if it weren't for certain albums. (Underneath the Onion Trees by Bob Schneider & Mitch Watkins). It has some amazingly beautiful guitar mixed with dark and sometimes disturbing subject matter. Depressingly beautiful? I was really going through a tough time when I first started painting. That album helped me process and express it, and spill my guts onto canvas. I still listen to it more for the meditative effect it has on me. Plus I just love it... it will be part of my repertoire forever. I get inspired by food as well. Food can be a really creative outlet and I love eating and trying new food. Food rocks! Nature, architecture, decor, anything interesting I see around me. It could be as big as a mountain or as small as a light switch –you just never know. Sometimes, I'm inspired by an emotion or the way I feel around someone or in a certain place. The vibe I get or energy created between two people.
Whose work do you admire?
Wow. So many. I have really diverse taste- I remember seeing Kathy Womack's work at the Pecan Street Festival & Armadillo Bizarre and really liking it like 10 years ago...now she has a sweet gallery downtown. She's really good. I also showed some work in Tarrytown at an open house for Austin City Living and another artist was showing there. His work is really cool! William K Stidham.
Do you have any pre-painting rituals or superstitions?
Meditation and music.
What was the first piece of art that you sold?
Not exactly sure -but I know "David's Squares" was one of the very first. It's also one of my faves.
Do you ever get sad when you sell one of your works? Is is difficult to let them go?
Yes! I remember being sad when I had to let some of my early pieces go -so much work and emotion had gone into them. It was a definite feeling of loss. I don't know exactly when, but I remember having an "ah-ha!" moment where I realized I needed to open up the energy around the paintings and not hold onto them.
Where can we find some of your completed work?
I feel like my art is floating all over Austin. I do have some pieces for sale at Mangia on Lake Austin Blvd. I will have one of my larger pieces at East Side Yoga in early June. I'll be showing some pieces at One World Theatre in July. My goal is to have my own gallery and I would love an extra workshop for all my side projects.
We have heard about The Sessions. Explain what this event is, and how you are involved.
The Sessions is one of the coolest things I've ever done. Lauren Bucherie and CJ Vinson put it together. Basically, a group of really great people get together and make incredible energy in this little, old magical theater. Usually four or five musicians/bands (singer/songwriters) perform 4 or 5 song sets. An artist paints live on stage with the musicians. There's a silent auction and the audience members can bid on the painting while it's all going on. It is sooo fun, and I swear the energy from everyone involved is amazing. I feel a mixture of awe at the talent of these people singing their hearts out, gratitude for my gift and the experience, (and to be honest nerves...I try not to get too freaked out) stage fright. Also, I literally feel what the musicians are doing. I can feel them stomping their feet and playing their guitars...such a neat feeling. I remind myself to enjoy what I'm doing and just "be in the moment"...feeling it and soaking it up. I've gotten to paint to some incredibly talented people during the 3 Sessions I've done: Joanna Barbera, CJ Vinson, Danny Malone, Suzanna Choffel, Deadman, Dan Dyer, Matt the Electrician w/ Scrappy Jud Newcomb, Carley Wolf, Charlie Faye & Will Sexton, Kacy Crowley, Erin Ivey...so blown away. I love these people!
How long have you been in Austin now? Do you ever plan to return to N.B.?
Around 14 years or so? Long enough to see and feel it/and the people change. I moved here immediately after high school to play volleyball at St. Ed's in '94, took a short hiatus in San Marcos, and moved back after 2 years there. It's home. I've always had a love affair with Austin. I remember staying with my oldest sis when she went to St. Eds. I was maybe 14...and that was it. I fell in love with Austin and knew I would live here. Just very recently I've been feeling like getting away...from the condos, traffic, construction, ...hipsters? It's new and invasive...I don't know. I still love Austin of course...but now it's like you have to look for the good nuggets of Austin surrounded by all these new things. It's weird...but not in a good Austin way. Not sure if it's because I am getting older or what...but I've been craving seclusion or a more peaceful existence lately. New Braunfels or the surrounding hill country could definitely be an option.
Give us 3 reasons why New Braunfels is better than Austin?
Dude! (laughing) I can't say better...it's totally apples & oranges. I would say three things that New Braunfels has that Austin doesn't (and that I love) are: Gruene Hall, the Guadalupe River, and all of my childhood memories.
Where would your dream studio be located and what would it look like?
The first thing I imagine is complete seclusion, glass walls, green surrounding- almost forest-like. Contemporary clean (except for the mess I am making), quiet (except for my music of course). No one around, no noise or traffic. Just me and my canvas and paint.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Ask me in 5 yrs?
Do you have any other talents we should know about?
Oh well...I'm a decorating ninja. I'm obsessed with décor.
O.K. Let's get down to it. How do we purchase a Sara Tyler painting?
A good place to start is my website: www.saratylerart.com. See where I am showing at the moment to view if you choose. Or just contact me email or call anytime! (You can always come to the Sessions and see me paint live and bid on a painting too!)
If one wanted to commission a work directly from you, how should they do it?
Feel free to call or email me anytime! I can be contacted through my website.
If you were stranded on a deserted island, and could have only 3 personal items, what would they be?
First of all, that sounds kinda nice or sounds like it would suck...depending on what mood I'm in. Now, it's sounding nice so I'll go...and take: 1. Steven (boyfriend...is that a personal item?) 2. Dylan (son) and 3. A knife that never gets dull- to cut stuff you know? (laughs) The boys are pretty handy and tough...I think we'd make it.
There's not one where I can just say this is it...this is THE one. I would say I love these movies: Chicago, Labyrinth, Wizard of Oz and A River Runs Through It.
3 favorite albums?
Oof...don't do this to me....(laughs) I would be here all day.
In the next life, you will return to this world as a ...?
I would opt not to come back- I'll stay on "the other side" thanks!
SHOUT OUT time. Whaddya got?
I'd like to give a shout out to Trey from The NB Scene, my son Dylan for making me the luckiest mom on the planet. Steven for his love and support. My family and my friends that have stuck with me through all the ups and downs. I love you all - thank you for encouraging me!