Sarah Hough

Sarah Hough is our Artist of the Month for March 2015. An accomplished artist, Sarah takes inspiration from the nature that surrounds her in Dorset, England. She is both a keen draughtsman, and experienced in creating imagery for surface pattern design. Her images offer a fresh and lighthearted approach to motif development, perfect for product licensing.

What is your earliest memory of an artwork and who was it by? 

My grandparents had a print of ‘Wise Old Elephant’ painted in 1962 by David Shepherd. It hung in their hallway where I spent a lot of time not only playing on the stairs, but looking at the elephant. As I grew older I realised why that picture was imprinted on my mind… it just wasn't the kind of picture I expected my grandparents to choose at all, and that memory serves as a constant reminder to me of the subjectivity of art and that you can’t always predict what someone will like or be drawn to.


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 Peacock Parade, 2004 (digital)    Honey Bee, 2010 (digital)


What is your favourite time of day to be in your studio?

Early morning, before the rest of the house wakes. It’s a quiet time of day and I feel as if I’ve stolen some time while others sleep. I’ll stand and look at the previous day's work, assessing it and enjoying the time and space to think and plan what needs to be done next.


Talk us through a day in the life of Sarah Hough. What’s your routine?

I’m usually up early and after spending half an hour in my studio reviewing the previous days work, I’ll wake the rest of the house and the day will begin to unfold. After getting my three children to school, I grab my sketchbook and pull on my walking boots, then the dogs and I will head off for a walk, during which I will stop and sketch. I try to complete a sketch each morning - it helps me focus and working directly from observation is so important to me, noting the changes in the seasons and weather. Back in the studio I scan the sketch and post it on my blog before getting on with work in the studio or meeting clients to discuss commissions. I work through until it’s time to head off on my bicycle to pick up the children from school, it’s a lovely bike ride along the Piddle Valley and a good opportunity to clear my head and think things through. Later in the evening, once the dust has settled, I will spend an hour or so catching up on admin and correspondence.


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 Cupcake Crazy, 2008 (digital)    Plush, 2005 (digital)


How would you sum up your practice in 5 words?

I look, draw, paint, repeat.


Your work mixes fine art and surface pattern illustration. How do the two work together?

I enjoy the effect of mixing the two, with fine art providing a starting point and anchor before combining this with surface pattern ideas and experimenting to see what effect I can achieve. Very often I will have an idea for something I think will work well, and usually the process of executing that idea will lead to a different conclusion, but the idea sowed the seed! I feel it is important to have a plan but remain flexible enough to allow your work to evolve and change direction if necessary!


What has been your most exciting commission to date? 

In the past couple of years, I have undertaken a number of hand-bound sketchbook commissions, each one is very different but all have been an enormous privilege, spending time with the client drawing the places and landscapes they or someone close to them love. It is a wonderful way to get to know someone and their connection with the land. These commissions have had quite an impact on the rest of my work as well as my own place within the landscape.


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 Odonata, 2008 (digital)    Home Sweet Home, 2008 (digital)


How do you find working to commission? Do you find it pushes your work in new directions?

Working to commission is always rewarding, I enjoy the challenge and process of working to a brief and deadline, teasing out what the client wants to achieve and then providing them with my response which I find immensely satisfying. Yes, I do find that working to commission broadens and develops my work, sometimes taking my work in new and unexpected directions - I think that this helps to prevent stagnation and becoming too self indulgent with my work.


Digital or Analogue?

Often (but not always) a progression from analogue to digital: I always start by simple mark making on paper and will go on to refine the composition by hand before eventually scanning it to create a digital file. Depending on what I’m trying to achieve, I might then work on it further altering blocks of colour digitally or repeating motifs. I don’t ‘draw’ on the computer, preferring to use the computer for its ability to manipulate and transform an analogue image.


Drawing or painting?

When I’m drawing, I can lose myself in what I’m working on for hours, whereas I am looser with my painting and it gives me the freedom to express my feelings and explore the atmosphere, time and place. So both.


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 Papillon, 2008 (digital)    Apples and Pears, 2012 (digital)


Which other artists, dead or alive would you choose to have dinner with?

Norman Ackroyd, Ragnar Kjartansson, Georgia O’Keefe, Lucian Freud, Samuel Palmer, Katsushika Hokusai and Vincent Van Gogh - that should fill the table and make for quite a lively evening!


What convinced you to join Bridgeman Studio for licensing, and what are your hopes for working as a Bridgeman Studio artist?

I have learnt how important it is to focus my time and energy on the things I’m good at and surround myself with great people. This is why I have chosen Bridgeman Studio to license my work and handle commissions - they have the international reputation, skills and experience to reach a far wider audience for my work than I ever could achieve, as well as the integrity to handle it properly. This allows me more time to create, which is what I love most.

See all of Sarah Hough's works available for licensing here

 Camp Bracken, 2012 (digital)

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