Visual Artist Spotlight: Sarah Fensore

Sarah Fensore grew up in the wilds of Maine and graduated from Colby College (with a major in French and a double minor in Art and Environmental Studies) in 2013.

During college Sarah's academic concentration was in oil painting, but she dabbled in a little bit of everything with her spare time, including poster design, scenic artwork, graphic novels, t-shirt prints, photography, and prolific amounts of notebook-margin doodles. 


How do you start a piece of art?

Brainstorming and lots of sketching. Very occasionally a great idea will come fully formed but 90% of the time I have to sit down, start with something, and just keep going from there. I start connecting ideas and branching off others and eventually it will lead to a kind of breakthrough moment where I know exactly what I'm going to do.

At what point did you consider yourself an artist?

That's a really interesting question... and I suppose it depends on your definition. On the one hand, I've always considered myself an artist. Art has been something I've actively worked at my entire life, and it's always been a part of who I am. On the other hand, I've never considered art as my main profession and therefore never identified myself as “an artist” in that sense. Since it's such an integral part of who I am I know I'll keep making art no matter what else I'm doing in life. So I guess you could say I'm an artist at heart but not formally.

Which of your own pieces of art is your favorite and why?

It's an older work, but I really love this oil painting I did when I studied abroad in France. It was of a priory on top of Mont Sainte-Victoire (the same mountain Cézanne painted all time) and I gave it to my host Mom at the end of my time there.

How do you know when a piece of art is not working, what do you do about it?

I generally have a good idea in my head of what I want something to look like or feel like and when it isn't matching up with what I'm actually producing I know it's not working. That doesn't necessarily mean I'll abandon it- sometimes it ends up being a good piece that's just different from what I was imagining. If I want to get it right though I'll keep trying until I do. Whenever you're working on something you're also learning. So even if the overall piece didn't come out well, every minute you spent on it was a learning experience for next time.

How do you accept critiques?

Receiving and processing feedback about your artwork is a really important skill. I think you just have to accept that there's always more to learn and room to improve, no matter how many years you've been working at something. Critiques from other people help me take a step away from my work, get out of my own head, and understand how others are seeing and interpreting my art.

What’s the hardest part about creating for you?

Forcing creativity has always been difficult for me. When you're running up against a deadline to get your work in it creates a lot of pressure. Sometimes that pressure is when I work best, and sometimes I just fall flat. I hate feeling like I didn't do my best work for someone, but you have to accept that you're not always going to feel absolutely great about everything you do.

You can follow Sarah on her Instagram @Sarahfensore and be sure to check out her featured work in the upcoming issue of Pelorus Press!