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Her jeans resemble a Jackson Pollock painting. Her fingertips are stained blue from an evening at the easel. The more-than-half-finished piece before her, a 48-by-60-inch scene of the Juno Beach Pier, looks as if one could walk into it.
The vivid impasto lights up her small studio, awash in the colors of the sea and sky. Waves crashing ashore, clouds floating above and an iconic subject that resonates with those in northern Palm Beach County—these three motifs epitomize the work of palette-knife artist Sarah LaPierre.
“I love landscapes,” LaPierre says smiling. “South Florida skies have just an endless supply of beauty. They're different every day.”
The azure-inspired subject matter that comprises her coveted collection of canvases will highlight this month's ArtiGras Fine Arts Festival, set for Feb. 13 to 15 at Abacoa in Jupiter. It will mark her fifth appearance at the juried show. Last year, she served as the event's commemorative poster artist, creating an inviting image of a sandy, sea-grape-lined walkway to the perfect beach spot.
“I definitely see growth,” the 24-year-old says of her ongoing oeuvre. “Lighting, shading, coloring—I've learned better techniques.”
LaPierre's creations hang in homes across the country and around the world, including Canada, England, Germany and Sweden. She spends many of her days developing private commissions for buyers looking to bring a piece of paradise to their home. Her research comes in the form of kayak trips, nature walks and taking photographs of enviable environs.
“I work at it,” she says. “I study other artists. I study old masters. I like to be challenged by painting.”
LaPierre has a leg up, though. Much of her creativity comes from her father, the late Joseph LaPierre, a 20year mainstay at ArtiGras and its commemorative poster artist in 2009. Her natural ability gelled at an early age. From the time she can remember, she sat at her father's feet and scribbled designs on his supply cart. As she got older, he let her contribute to his art by allotting her a small section to complete. “He would give me a square and say, ‘This is yours,'” she remembers.
The family home flowed with creativity, and brushes, paints and other artistic tools.
“I grew up with it,” LaPierre says. “I always wanted to be doing a drawing, a painting, a sculpture—anything.”
She started her career embellishing her father's giclées in his signature thick-paint style. She also taught classes at Alla Prima Creations on Canvas, a Juno Beach “sip-and-stroke” venue for the public to learn the basics of painting while enjoying a glass of wine.
“It was great experience for me because I had to explain my process, which is really hard for artists to do,” says LaPierre, who now teaches at Uptown Art's Jupiter and West Palm Beach locations.
With the addition of such extracurricular activities as creating a cosmic character for a science-fiction book and painting life-size paper dresses worn by models, her job as an artist is full-time.
“Which I can't even believe,” LaPierre says. “I do some kind of work seven days a week.”