This week’s cover artist, Sarah Lamb, has mastered the art of the still life and displays that in this particular work with an elegant softness that echoes the petals of her peonies. Lamb’s composition allows for the flowers themselves to be experienced in full glory, with the blurred background and the clear glass vase functioning only to enhance their presence. Born in Virginia and raised in Georgia, Lamb studied art in France and then continued her training in New York, where she lived for eight years before moving to Pennsylvania with her husband, portrait artist David Larnad. The artist fills us in on her recent move to Texas.
In your last Dan’s Papers cover artist interview, you were talking about moving to Texas and now you’re there. What’s it like?
It’s 70° and feels like spring today. We had been renting last year, and this year decided to buy. Our daughter will be starting kindergarten next year here. We love it, and we’re also keeping the farm in Pennsylvania—summer is awful in Houston. I have a gallery here that represents me, that’s what introduced us to the area. My husband is a painter too, we both have studios right now in an old Budweiser refrigeration plant, with great windows and lighting, but eventually we’ll build our own studios.
In Pennsylvania your studios were at home, how is this different?
Yes, they were right on our property, here it’s about a 10-minute drive. I didn’t think I’d like it, but I’ve actually enjoyed it.
Has being in Houston changed your subject matter at all?
Well, with my still lifes, there’s a certain kind of flower that blooms here—they’re called camellias. So I did a series of those. I also paint a little bit smaller here, because my bigger props, like the huge vases and barn doors are back in PA. I haven’t done any big paintings here, but eventually when I get my studio more set up, I will.
What’s the Houston art scene like?
It’s a very well-heeled town and they throw a lot of money into the arts. There’s a world-class museum, a wonderful park and botanical gardens, The Menil Collection is here. A lot of patrons of the arts live here, so there are some major private collections. It’s an art-minded community. People think of Texas as provincial in some ways, but people are generous, they give millions away, so the museums have a lot going on. I feel very lucky to be here.
So your gallery is what brought you there. What type of gallery is it?
Yes, Meredith Long, is run by Meredith himself, who sold most of the area’s John Singer Sargents and had a huge collection of 19th century American art. I’m one of the only contemporary realists aside from my mentor Jacob Collins.
I studied with Collins in New York. He has a school now called Grand Central Atelier. He knew Meredith 20 years ago, and he talked him into giving his students a show. Almost everything in the show sold, so then we had another show, and then Meredith gave me a solo show.
As a contemporary realist, do you have a special technique for painting the glass vase?
That light background with the vase is kind of a tricky thing to do. I try to do this type of thing on an overcast day, when light is consistent in the studio, and doesn’t change as much as it does on a sunny day.
Sarah Lamb’s work can be seen at The Grenning Gallery in Sag Harbor, where she will be having a solo exhibition in June. Visit grenninggallery.com for details.