Our newest Well + Wonder artist, Sarah Rafferty has opened our eyes to the world of cyanotype photography and we couldn’t be more excited! Based in the Brandywine Valley (a home to many artists over the years and just 20 miles west of Philadelphia) Sarah Rafferty is surrounded by land that deeply inspires and creates a yearning within her to explore and appreciate. Through her artwork Through her thoughtful and dynamic botanical compositions - Sarah tells a story of her surroundings using the oldest photographic process - cyanotype. The process of mixing a light-sensitive chemical solution, painting it on paper, and exposing the work to sunlight. An avid walker Sarah believes that the everydayness of walking in nature is critical to mental health and sustained artistic practice. The outdoors is where she baths in inspiration daily, keeping that at the forefront of her creative practice and business. An educator as much as an artist Sarah and her artistic process, are fascinating! Adding her to the Well + Wonder collection is a dream. Her In Full Bloom collection will debut with Well + Wonder on Monday, May 22 at 12 pm - you won’t want to miss it! Until then, continue reading to learn all about this fabulous artist - Sarah Rafferty!
What is currently on your nightstand?
This is the best first question because I don’t really have one. (We’re getting to know one another quickly!) My husband and I used to live in a tiny house with a bedroom just big enough for our bed and so we only had one nightstand. Because of that we switched sides every time we changed the sheets. Now we have a bigger bedroom with tables next to the bed but because we don’t have “sides” we don’t keep anything on them except lights. We still switch each time we change the sheets. Weird? I know, right!?
Who is your biggest influence as an artist and why?
I have a few - Georgia O’Keeffe has always been a huge influence for me. I found her while in middle school when I was discovering myself as an artist. Then in high school I was taken by Mapplethorpe and classic black and white photography - his flowers! I spent a lot of time in the darkroom. In college I loved everything Black Mountain College - Rauschenberg, Cage, MC Richards - I loved how much art and community came together in that space and how much the community of artists influenced one another’s work. My longest standing muse however is Georgia because of her relationship to herself and the arts. I am quite taken by how she pushed boundaries and stayed true to her artistic vision.
Tell us about your childhood. What is the most memorable moment as a young person?
I had such a wonderful childhood. My mom and dad were terrific parents. They are quite artistic as well - Mom a classical pianist, Dad a restoration-architect and historian. Our house was full of beauty (old things, art, music, food, flowers, gardens, etc.) They supported my every move from being in the arts and also being the weird child in the family that also wanted to play sports!
If you could only have one supply in your art studio, what would it be and why?
Cyanotype solution - I’m fairly certain I could still make cyanotypes if that were the only thing I had - I could use my hands!?
What is your favorite room in your house? Describe it.
I love small spaces and our guest room in our new house is small and cozy. It has an 18th century bed, a window that looks out to the 2nd floor screen porch (so lots of natural light), and a beautiful closet. I decorated that room first when we moved, so it has an Atwater Designs pillow (that I designed) on the bed and all the art on the walls is botanical!
What is your biggest score online?
Facebook Marketplace has been amazing! We found an incredible sectional sofa for $500 and we couldn’t believe it. It is a $3500 couch!
What is the benefit of buying art through a collective? What do you recommend for those that are new to buying original art?
There is so much to choose from while also being carefully curated when you buy from a collective. You are also buying into a community of artists that support one another. To me, it is a beautiful connection of many of the things that I love about art - beauty, interiors and community! Win, win, win! My recommendations when buying originals art are simple - invest in the things that you love and your space will feel your own. There is so much power in living in spaces that inspire us, motivate us, and delight us. It has such an impact on the way we live our lives and how we show up to those around us.
If you have the entire day to spend in an art museum, which one and why?
Ohhh, I love so many museums but I think it would be the Guggenheim. I’d do it in sections with coffee and lunch in-between to take it all in, think, journal, and then return to take more in.
What is your favorite hotel and what makes it special?
I recently went to The Graduate Hotel in Nashville and I loved it so much. It was so fun, unique, maximalist and so much art everywhere. They even did a video documentary on the artists. It would be so cool to have work in a place like that!
If you were a lipstick color would you be red, pink, or clear and why?
Light pink - I love soft and subtle.
I can never get on a plane without….
How did you get into the world of art?
I think it was ultimately my parents who provided the foundation upon which my curiosity grew but as I reflect on this question, I have so many mentors in my life who have supported my journey and I think it was just as much my art teachers as my parents. My teachers have always been important to me. I really like having teachers, mentors and roll models. My middle school art teacher really saw something in me and helped me to see myself more clearly. I have her to thank and then many of my teachers after that as well.
What do you do to relax?
I love to watch a good show (Shrinks anyone? Succession!?) with my animals and husband. Nothin like a couch snuggle-puddle to really help me unwind. I sometime relax too hard when I read (although I do enjoy a good book!) and I fall asleep! Also, my husband and I play ping pong in the basement at the end of the day. It’s the best. And of course, I do a lot of walking in nature - everyday between 2-4pm you can find me, sans phone, out in the natural world just breathing deep in wonder.
When do you get the biggest surge of inspiration?
In nature, for sure but I have found that reading about other artists also makes me really excited and ready to get in the studio!
Prediction for the Color of 2024?
Sage Green?? I think it’s going to be green of some kind.
What is your idea of a date night? Dinner and a movie or dancing all night?
I love being surprised - so anything that includes being told to “meet me at 6 dressed like…” I didn’t use to like this but my husband is big on the surprises and so it’s become something that I absolutely love about him and out relationship. We’ve done everything from dinner and movie (love that) to brainstorm sessions at our local co-working space to mini golf. If it has been planned out without me and I just get to show up, it’s a great date night!
Tell us about your favorite painting that you have created.
Hands down, Lost in the Lavender (the largest piece I have created to date) from my artist residency at Warwick Furnace Farm last year.
One piece of advice for buying original art?
Buy what you love. But what calls to you and makes you want to look at it. It can be more complicated than that, but at the end of the day we should surround ourselves with the things that we love and make us excited about the spaces we create and the spaces we inhabit.