Sara Caracristi

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Awhile back when we were shooting Jenna Greenberg's textile studio, she told us we absolutely must visit her friend Sara's studio in the Mill Arts building. So when Sara Caracristi invited us over to check it out, we were seriously excited. We're huge fans of her paintings, and having a glimpse into an artist's creative process is très cool. With a new solo show (the largest to date) at the Terence Robert Gallery, we caught up with her as she was putting finishing touches on a series of paintings before she heading out to Ottawa. We first have to tell you how incredibly kind Sara and her partner Marcel are. They made us feel right at home in the studio as we snapped away offering us coffee and homemade molasses cookies.

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"I am inspired by people watching," explained Sara, "and how people act and react within public spaces." She begins with a photograph usually taken from parking garages and balconies, wherever she can get above a crowd. Her latest series draws visuals from the Toronto Eaton Centre and Nathan Phillips Square. She then sifts through the images and choose the characters and groups that she likes, sometimes collaging multiple images together and working from that. "My paintings allow the viewer freedom to meander, making connections and narratives between the groupings and individuals," said Sara. By painting with acrylic and water based varnishes, her paintings have a tile like quality to them because of the multiple layers of varnish glazes.

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Most people associate the arts scene with James Street North. It's exciting to know you can afford amazing work spaces in less central areas. After moving from Halifax to Hamilton two years ago, Sara decided she needed a separate space from her home to paint. After looking at the Studios at Hotel Hamilton, she got in touch with the Imperial Cotton Center for the Arts and they suggested the studios at 270 Sherman. Three weeks later she moved right in. "The studio space I chose is in the Mill Arts building, located in the courtyard of the main building complex," explained Sara, "The building has eight spaces with a common area and kitchen, and a shared large sink for cleaning brushes." With tall ceilings and windows, the space is airy and flooded with natural light. And with the fairly open work space, she's become good friends with the fellow artists.

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We've been talking a lot about doing what you love. Finding a career that suits you, or even a job you like is tough enough so to meet someone like Sara who does what she loves everyday is such a great inspiration. We were recently offered this advice -- find something you would do for free, and then find a way to get paid to do it. This way your work will never feel like a job. We saw a TED talk awhile ago by the great Elizabeth Gilbert entitled Nurturing Creativity. She talked about the reaction she had when she would tell people she wanted to be a writer. We think anyone who is going into a creative field be it a writer, musician, or painter will surely face some hard pressing questions but Sara really offers a lot of inspiration. Not only is she talented and respected, but both she and her partner are making a living through art and we celebrate her for that.

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Above, Sara's inspiration board

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While Sara keeps the space clean and bright, she surrounds herself with art books, a few fun objects and lots of paint. We also spotted a few of Marcel's doodles around the studio (see them here on his blog). "I have subscriptions to both Canadian Art and Bordercrossings," enthused Sara, "I also really enjoy New American Painters, although it's more of a book than a magazine."

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Sara's exhibition Inside Out is on from March 4th - 21st at the Terence Robert Gallery in Ottawa. You can see her show online here.