Graduates 2018: Sara Lavelle: Illustration

Drawing upon a strong fascination with human psychology, philosophy and spirituality, my work has a predominant focus on portrait painting and figuration.

Through exploring the figure, I want to be able to access the authentic experience of how it feels to be human. I find that painting someone is a way of engaging and connecting with them on a deep and intense level. I am fascinated by the way that artists are able to capture a likeness of their sitter that goes beyond mere physical representation. In this way portraiture helps me to explore the metaphysical concept of what it means to be human. I move freely between commissioned pieces and self initiated projects.

Sara Lavelle portrait

Often using myself as my subject, I work in an introspective and confessional manner and I use my practice as a way of exploring and addressing intimate parts of my being. Through looking at highly personal topics such as my own sense of detachment from self, I look to tap into universal emotions that the viewer shares and can relate to thus leading them to explore these areas of their own person.

Sara Lavelle figure on sofa

I aim to bring delicacy and care to the raw and often weighty topics I am working with. I want my paintings to communicate the intensity of my investigations but with a quiet softness. This comes through in the colours I choose, the poses I work with and the quality of line I employ.


What are your plans after graduating?

I am hoping to start exhibiting my work after I graduate. I have noticed a rise of portraiture and figuration in the contemporary art world which I would love to be part of. I was recently preselected for the Royal Society of Portrait Artist’s Annual Exhibition and have taken part in a number of other painting and portraiture competitions.

Sara Lavelle self portrait

How have you found studying Illustration at Brighton?

I have often been asked why I studied illustration and not painting. The truth is that I did not know that I wanted to paint until half way though my degree. I decided to take a painting class when I was on the exchange program with Minneapolis College of Art and Design and fell in love with the medium. Going to America is one of the many opportunities that I have been given at Brighton that have changed my life.

When I came back to Brighton I was able to employ my painting practice to set briefs, pushing my work in new and exciting directions that have shaped who I am as an artist. I love that I have been trained in an education that lies between fine art and design. The illustration course is expansive and inclusive and supports a multiplicity of practices which provides endless inspiration. It has been an amazing three years.

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