Get Real. Webb paints it like it is
Artist Sarah Webb’s credo is straightforward: get out and paint what you see.
Webb, whether working out of her Nashville studio or her flat in London, does just that. And does it well enough to support a full-time career as well as catch the eye of Belmont University’s Jim Meaders, himself an artist, who is chairman of the school’s Art Department and manages the Leu Gallery on campus.
“I'm essentially a realist myself,” Meaders said. “I particularly like late 19th- and early 20th-century American realism, and I think Sarah’s work is based on a traditional style but uses contemporary subject matter.”
Meaders enthusiasm for Webb’s work goes beyond basic cordial admiration: “If you took her and sat her in mid-19th-century England or Paris, she would probably be showing up Courbet,” he said, referring to Gustave Courbet, a French realist who inspired the American painter Whistler as well as the Impressionist.
Webb—who last exhibit work in Nashville five years ago as part of a show at Nashville International Airport—said that once she and her husband, attorney Gary Webb, began spending much of the year in London, her style changed.
“I used to paint more in an Impressionistic style, but in London I moved more into realism,” she said. “It enables me to capture the spirit of the person or place.”
Webb said some viewers associate her work with photo-realism, but “it has more of a painterly quality.”
Her favorite subjects include painting people, “especially the female form.” She does commission portraits, but also paints people in scenes drawn from London and visits to Paris.
As for the people she paints, “I seem to choose people who have the same quality—not only are they beautiful on the outside, they also have inner beauty. My paintings are soul paintings.”
As for places: “Especially in Paris, when walking down the street, I see something and then immediately I see the paining. It strikes me and it’s hard to explain. It’s almost like magic.”
Hosting Webb’s exhibit of 21 pieces in the Leu Gallery made sense, Meaders said, because members of the Leu family admired and collected Webb’s work.