Meet Sarah! | Stamford Moms

How many kids do you have and what are their ages?
I have two boys, Asher and Harper who are 3 and 1.

What is your favorite thing about Stamford?
My favorite thing about living in the Stamford is the community I have found. I am lucky to have met a lot of families in my neighborhood, through my prenatal classes, mothers groups, and through friends of friends. Through all of this I have been welcomed into a “village” so to speak. It’s been wonderful, especially when I was pregnant with my first, to find other women who were supportive and compassionate.

What are your favorite restaurants in Stamford?
I have two favorite restaurants in Stamford. My favorite take-out location is Friends Cafe, which has the best empanadas and the friendliest staff. My favorite date spot is Olio, specifically their brunches, which was the first place my husband and I went to when we moved here.

Tell us about your career.
I grew up in Northern Virginia and graduated from Hollins University with a degree in visual arts and went on to get a masters degree there as well in children’s book illustration. My husband and I then moved to New York City so I could pursue a master’s degree in painting from the New York Studio School.

I’ve worked both as a figurative painter and as a children’s book illustrator ever since. I have two published books, “The Great Adventures of Piggy,” and “ Cowboy Grandma,” and I recently had two solo shows In Caledonia, New York and San Diego California for my figurative series, based on my transition into motherhood. Currently I have my own studio practice at home and I do some freelance work for an artist in Darien.

How did Painted Bear Studios get started?
Painted Bear studios began when I was in college, as a way for me to paint as a Muralist during the summer. It has since become a platform for me to pursue all of my professional endeavors including illustration, painting, teaching, and college portfolio prep.

What’s your favorite thing to draw?
Currently my children are my muses, and I am rediscovering my spaces through the lens of motherhood. The kids are growing and my perception and experience of places that I’ve overlooked in the past, has changed significantly. I am currently on a quest to capture those moments honestly. I think we are often blasted with the idealized version of motherhood, and I want to break down those preconceived ideas through my work.

I am also simultaneously working on illustrations that started as a series of paintings I did to decorate my son’s nursery. They depict motherhood through different images of different animals. I am enjoying trying to capture the expressions of the animals, and relating their experience through my own lens. The lion mothers in the coloring book cards I created for Stamford Moms are both happy, tired and maybe a little overwhelmed with their cubs.

What’s the best thing about your job?
Art has given me a way to communicate and express my creativity. I spend a great amount of time working from perception, and I think because of that, I have gained a real appreciation for nature, and I take time noticing the nuances of color and relationships around me. I try to incorporate as much “research” into my day as I can so I don’t really stop working when I am with my kids. I might not be painting but I try to take notice of everything around me, and try strategize and plan out my paintings. Motherhood and art enrich one another and I can’t have one without the other.

How are you using your work to help others during the COVID-19 crisis?
During COVID-19 I am working on a few paintings, and the proceeds from both the paintings and prints will be going to medical organizations. The paintings will be based on the drawings I did for the coloring card for Stamford Moms, featuring the lions. I am donating the original paintings to the Beauty in Strength online art auction to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphona society

I will also be making prints from the paintings and the proceeds from that will be donated to Stamford Hospital. These are available through my print site:

How do you juggle work and mommyhood?
When I work I need dedicated time and space. Luckily we have a sitter who was coming once a week for three hours so I could work then. I also dedicate my nights to studio time.

Luckily my oldest son is also extremely interested in art. We’ve incorporated daily studio time into our routine so as soon as the baby goes down we get to work. We paint a lot of watercolors and I have been working on some commissions. It’s led to a lot of fun discoveries and experimentation. I also put on YouTube lectures or an art podcast that can play in the background while we work so if I am not actively painting my own work and I am helping me son, I am still learning.

Lastly, my colleagues from graduate school and I have started doing virtual zoom studio visits on Sunday afternoons. It’s kept us all accountable, and it’s nice to have feedback and validation from your peers. I am extremely lucky that my son loves the studio though, I think he has made more work and breakthroughs than I have during this time which is really wonderful to be a part of.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve gotten from another mom?
The best advice I ever got was from one of my friends who is a sculptor and mother Lenka Maskova. She often incorporates her kids into her practice. At one point I asked her how she did it and she told me, “It’s important for your children to see that you take your art and yourself seriously, it’s the only way that they will too. It’s easy to feel guilty about working but you need to set the example that creativity is important and essential to you, and they will respect that. Also, children are a lot like your art, you take the time to mold and foster their growth and at some point you have to let them go and just let them be what they are in the world.”

You can check our Sarah’s work on Instagram @paintedbear1, or!

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