Based in Franklin, Tenn., Vicki Sawyer’s fun loving personality and enthusiasm for life are evident in her whimsical paintings.
As a child she learned to identify plants on nature walks with her grandfather and soaked up her father’s love for birds. On a walk several years ago it occurred to Sawyer that if birds could build nests, then they could make hats. This inspired her bird paintings in which each bird wears a ‘hat’ of natural materials, with the series expanding to include other creatures and concepts, such as squirrels in masks and rabbits encountering their toy counterparts.
Vicki creates original paintings and also licenses her images for a number of products such as plates, napkins and needlepoint. You can find products at PaperProducts Design, Hester and Cook, and Melissa Shirley Designs. Vicki’s plate designs from Paper Products Design made the list of Oprah’s Favorite Things in the December 2015 issue of O magazine!
How did you get started as an artist?
As a young girl I loved to draw, paint and make crafts. I used to walk through the woods behind our house to get to school. I wanted to try woodcarving and envisioned placing carved animals all around the woods that would happily surprise my siblings when they walked to school. My mom wisely suggested trying to carve a bar of soap, before I attempted wood. From then on I focused more on drawing and painting.
How does your love of nature influence your art?
To get creatively recharged, I often go for walks. All the outdoor sights and smells take me to a welcomed place outside of the confines of the studio.
What five words best describe your work?
Whimsical, passionate, engaging, joyful and figurative.
Tell us a bit about your technique.
I love working in acrylics because they dry quickly and enable me to paint in many layers with great satisfaction. I start with a burnt umber under painting and then build washes of white to map in the figures, all the while thinking of volume and light source. Then I build the layers of color on top.
What is a typical workday like for you?
I am slow moving in the morning, which is nice. I am grateful to work at home. Then I answer business emails and maybe work on the computer preparing images for licensing. Painting usually takes up the rest of the day, often into the evening. But there is always a walk in there somewhere.
What do you listen to while you work?
The blues, (not because I resonate with the lyrics so much, but I love the beat). Then I might switch it up and listen to Tom Waits, Billy Joel, or Celtic music.
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