Meet Sally Lyons … a talented local artist specialising in graphite and colour pencil artworks, which we think are just amazing! We had the pleasure of chatting with Sally recently …
Hi Sally. You’ve been in the Manning-Great Lakes for around four years, so what brought you here?
My family and I had been living in the Southern Highlands for 13 years. It was beautiful there, but we felt a sea change was in order. During my time living here I’ve completed two courses in Animals Studies and two in Business Studies, earning my Certificate III in Micro Business late last year when I joined the New Enterprise Incentive Scheme (NEIS) to get a start on running my own small business – and I haven’t looked back since. Running my own business has been extremely rewarding and also gave me a chance to learn about, and get in touch with, the locals.
Tell us a bit about what first inspired you to become an artist. Did you have any formal training, and if so, where?
Ever since I was little, I was told I was often found quietly sitting and drawing. It wasn’t until I was around 13 years old that I started putting more practice into it … and I’d say I’m still practicing. Studying Visual Arts in high school helped a little with sketching, shading and blending colours, but I’m mainly self-taught, and I often get inspiration from looking at other artists’ work on Instagram or YouTube. I’ve also had plenty of support from friends and family.
The idea to actually start making a living from what I love doing began when I was volunteering at the Wingham Pet Motel, where I was encouraged by the owner who, after seeing a portrait of her dog that I drew, suggested that I draw portraits of her customers’ pets.
I notice that you specialise in graphite and colour pencil art. Can you tell us what you like most about using these mediums?
I’d never really thought about why I use them. I just picked up whatever pencil type was nearby and began drawing – sometimes practicing with a ball point pen when a lead pencil wasn’t available. Graphite and colour pencils were also often the most affordable art tools for me, along with being one of the most common birthday gifts I received.
What about your photography – tell us a bit about what you love and what inspires you when using that medium?
When it comes to my photography, I don’t really give much thought to it. I just take photos of what looks good or interesting. Sharing it on sites like Instagram allows people to see some of the pretty things this region has to offer.
What has been your favourite subject, and why?
Drawing anything is fun to me, but I feel animals or pets would be my favourite subjects. While drawing realistic fur and keeping to the pet’s fur pattern can be challenging, it’s fun – and I love the feedback I receive from pet owners when they see their furry friend in graphite or coloured pencil form!
If you could draw or photograph anything in the world, what would it be (and what medium would you use)?
If I could draw (or photograph) anything in the world it would have to be the critically endangered animals on the World Wildlife Fund list. I absolutely love animals and have actually begun working on a small art project to help out the charity, which involves drawing small portraits of each animal on the WWF critically endangered list and selling them as prints or on home décor products online, with the originals being sold at Not A Café in Wingham. Ten per cent of what I make on every sale is then donated to the World Wildlife Fund. It’s not much, but every dollar counts.
Are there any artists who have inspired you, or who you look up to?
The artists who inspire me are the ones similar to myself – not well known, but showing their work to the world via social media. There’s a friendly competition amongst artists online, but we also all have each other’s backs, no matter how different our art styles are.
Do you have any exhibitions coming up?
My business, Sally Louise Art, will be a part of the Not A Café stall at the Wingham Akoostik Festival in October this year.
I also occasionally sell some of my original work through the Not A Café shop.
Do you do mainly commissioned work?
While doing commissioned work is what my business is based on, I also draw portraits of celebrities or other animals whenever I have time between commissions.
Most of the time those drawings are put on hold while I finish customer portraits. It means I have an entire art folder filled with unfinished art, but it makes for good references or changes in my drawing.
Where is the best place to view your art, and how do our readers contact you?
The best place to view my art is my Instagram page (@sallylouiseart) or my Facebook page, Sally Louise Art. It’s where I post finished versions of my artwork, along with progress shots and behind the scenes of the drawing coming together – with a few photos of my pets thrown in for good measure.
Both my social media accounts each have links to my online shops; Etsy and Redbubble.
Interview: Ingrid Bayer.