“The aim of art is not to represent the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.”
, a southern artist close to our hearts here at Bella Vita, said the Aristotle quote above sums up her thoughts on art and what she hopes to achieve as an artist. “As a product of the South, I paint what I know and hope that others can relate and find meaning in it.”
Born and raised in Oxford, Mississippi, Sarah was born to two artful parents. Her dad, John Arrechea, is a writer and her mom, Lois, is a painter. Sarah said unlike her mom, though, she didn’t take a real interest in painting until she became a mother herself. Then she sought painting as a creative outlet. Sarah’s mom signed her up for a showcase in the Double Decker Arts Festival in Oxford. She said when all her artwork sold at the festival, it was an encouragement to continue painting on a regular basis for paying customers rather than just for family and friends.
Today some of Sarah’s artwork is available through Bella Vita. Sarah said “it’s pretty special” she and her mom display their artwork together in Atlanta. One of their shows will be on display at Neiman Marcus in Atlanta from this November through next January.
Experimenting with Media...
Sarah’s preferred medium is acrylic paint applied with a paint knife. “That is just something that has some experimentation,” she said. “You do something every day, you get tired of doing the same thing, the same technique, so I was encouraged to try new things and I’ve gotten to mix it up using the painting knife rather than a brush.”
Sarah's Materials & Creative Process...
Sarah said she also likes to do prep work to her canvases before she ever begins the drawing process or applies paint. “My favorite canvases are the ones I have handmade at a local shop in midtown,” she said and that as much as possible, she buys all her supplies locally. When asked about her creative process, she said, “I usually go for a walk to wake myself up and clear my head.” Then she snuggles with her dog, a golden doodle name Molly, while “spending a lot of time deciding what to paint.” “Half the process is deciding what I want to do on the canvas and once I get it figured out and drawn on, I try to do about three [paintings] at a time.”
She said from there, her process may differ depending on what she’s working on. Generally, she will paint backgrounds on about three canvases at a time then go back and work on the details on each canvas.
Sarah's Inspiration & Subject Matter...
Sarah described the subject matter of her artwork as autobiographical. For instance, she said when she and her husband were living in New York City, she spent a lot of time in Central Park with her children while her husband was at work. Based on that experience, she painted a series about Central Park. “Most of my work is about experiences from growing up in Mississippi and travel and my Christian faith comes into play a lot, too.”
As an interior designer, Sarah graduated from Mississippi State with a degree in interior design, she said one art form she enjoys apart from painting is architecture and she wishes she had studied it in college. “I really enjoy seeing old architecture especially, but any of travel that we do, I’m interested in checking out the architecture in the area.” As far as local architecture, Sarah said she loves the old buildings in downtown Memphis including a lot of the old church buildings and the Tennessee Brewery. “Any structure with a strong sense of place I find fascinating, whether new construction or historic.”
Sarah at Home...
Sarah lives in Memphis with her husband, Gary, and their three sons Russell, a student at the University of Alabama, William, and Samuel.