By Ted Simpson –
Walking into Sarah Marie Lacy’s studio you will be greeted by work that delves into the pure, naked soul of the people she draws. This comes from Sarah’s talent at capturing grace in humanity, also because her subjects are mostly nudes.
Sarah’s second floor studio near the corner of Hamilton Avenue and Carling will make for a must-see stop on the West End Studio Tour (WEST) for any who appreciate nude portraiture in the classical style.
It’s her first year with WEST, having just recently celebrated one year since opening the studio, and having moved to Ottawa for the first time only a year before that. Sarah and her husband landed here after returning home from France, where they lived for over a year, while she studied under master artists at the Studio Escalier.
“I’ve always loved classic, realistic art, but at typical art school they don’t really teach you that anymore, it’s not founded in the same things that classical art used to be founded in,” says Sarah about her desire to travel abroad in search of influence.
She was drawn to Studio Escalier, a small arts school in rural France that was founded by a small group of masters, whose teaching lineage can be traced back 500 years to Renaissance Italy. The school only accepts 12 students per class. An intensive schedule has students working six hours a day, five days a week.
“The work they were making at Escalier was the work I wanted to make,” says Sarah. “They knew something that no one else knew, and I wanted to know as well.”
She recalls making the proposal to her partner: “How do you feel about selling all of our furniture and most of our stuff, dropping out of university and moving to France?” The idea went over well and the young couple thrived in the creative isolation of the French countryside.
“It was sort of like being a creative monk,” describes Sarah.
Sarah’s current work consists mostly of nude figures drawn in pencil, and sometimes painted, on plain backgrounds. Every drawing contains a beautiful and intricate light, with shadows and highlights dancing across the human body.
“How you draw is about recognizing the humanity in what you’re drawing, and there are rules to how humanity presents itself – visual rules,” says Sarah. She explains one of the keys to her style as: “Empathy with another person’s movement, empathy with their body. Capturing the full nobility and grace of that person in front of you.”
The West End Studio Tour takes place September 17 & 18 and 24 & 25. For more information, as well as addresses of artists’ studios, see westendstudiotour.ca.