Sally Whelan

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Guest Artist at the 550 Gallery and Studios.

Artist Statement


Blue Velvet – 2018 – oils on canvas – 60 x 76cm

Sally Whelan – “Painter Sally” is a British figurative and portrait artist. She creates compelling works with a strong narrative and bold composition that provoke a feeling of curiosity from the viewer. Her daring use of a limited and sometimes non-existent background, coupled with her ability to capture the very soul of her sitters, seems to cast her subjects adrift. With nowhere to hide, unflinchingly raw and vulnerable, her characters are caught in the spotlight, idolized, and are powerfully unapologetic for the state we find them in. A witty charm and well-observed sense of humor blend uniquely with a hintingly dark undercurrent. “Bodies, people, their stories, their skin, the hidden shades, and depths, from the inside out, a fabric that is always changing. Never predictable, always challenging and something I feel compelled to depict.”
Sally works predominantly in oil paint & utilizes a range of surfaces to paint on – “whatever the painting tells me it needs” – from chunks of wood found on beaches, forest floors and abandoned buildings, to old leather bags & metal street signs, from pieces of furniture to the finest linen canvas.
A carefully tailored life of endless travel, colorful and creative experiences, a curious mind, open heart, and a steely determination, culminate into a self-taught education that currently spans 18 years. Having traveled extensively in her early 20’s, and eventually landing in Byron Bay, Australia, the young painter lived here for 3 years in an artistic collective making films, props, sets and experimenting with sculpture, collage, painting, murals and worrying attempts at taxidermy puppetry. “It was a place of complete artistic and personal freedom to try new things, surrounded by incredible scenic beauty and likeminded folk” Sally had her first solo art exhibition “Wolf & Beads” in 2010 while living in Byron Bay. Moving back to the UK in 2012, Sally worked as a hairdresser and Make-up Artist for the BBC and painted in her spare time. She showed her work in group shows in London, before moving to the West Country to work as a wig maker for TV, Film & Theatre. Still dedicating all her spare time into developing her painting practice, she had her first UK solo exhibition “These Little Walls” in 2016. “The last couple of years have been pretty much non-stop since I made the leap into full time ‘arting’. My work has been exhibited in some fantastic group shows all over the UK alongside some incredibly talented artists, I’ve been commissioned to create some outrageous paintings, and at the end of 2018 had my 2nd UK solo show ‘I’ve Fallen So Far, For The People You Are’” Sally works endlessly on her ever-growing body of work, as well as commissioned oil paintings for private collectors. She also creates paintings for the TV and film industry. Her most recent projects being the drama series ‘Sex Education’ – currently showing on Netflix – as well as ‘Phillip Pullmans Dark Materials’ airing in 2020 on the BBC. Sally has shown and sells her work internationally, including Australia, America, Canada, Europe and throughout the UK. www.paintersally.com Instagram: painter.sally


Are Those Dreams Inside Your Head?- 2019 – Oil & acrylic on canvas – 11×15 inch


Workshops/Classes

Painting People -an insight into the figurative and portrait painting process of British artist Sally Whelan –“Painter Sally” Demonstration Session–1.5 hrs–10min Intro/hello1 hr Oils on paper demo –I will create an allaprima figurative oil study working from photo reference. I will talk about my palette set up, what materials I use and the different techniques I use for creating different works ie Private Commissions, and TV Commissions 20min Q&A Half Day Workshop –A study of the figure in Oils–2.5hrs–For this session we will be working to create an alla prima figurative study in oils on paper, working from photo reference. When working with a new model I will create many of these studies while also working on a much bigger piece. This helps me to learn the contours and character of my sitter. Students will need to bring a high-quality photo reference to work from. (details of dimensions/composition of photo will be sent out to each student signed up for the class, I will also have a selection of images to work from if needed)Outline: IntroPallette set up –materials we will be using drawing up directly onto the surface. Roughing out the shape creating a swift “underpainting” Blocking in–concentrating on masses and composition working from dark tones to light break –a cup of tea! Looking at color variations –warm and cool toned areas of the figure how to create depth and highlight. Arranging colour harmony. Putting in backgroundRefining the painting –balancing detail final high lightsEquipment/Supplies:Easel –1 per student board for easel –1 per student selection of brushes (around 5) ranging from small 0,1 2 size to around a 8 or 10 can be synthetic or hog style(see attached pic)Palette –1 per studentArches oil paper –12×16” size -2 pieces per student asking tape Oil paints: Burnt umber, raw umber, Prussian blue, ultramarine blue,cad red, cad orange, Indian red, alizarin crimson, geranium lake, titanium white, yellow ochre, Naples yellow, kings blue deep, brownish grey, flesh tint, unbleached titanium oxide(see pic)Turpentine (bottle to share with class)Linseed oil (bottle to share with class)A jar with a lid –1 per student a pot for linseed oil –1 per student a pot for used brushes –1 per student rags -2 per student (or several rolls of paper towels to share)Palette knife –1 per student reference pics to work from

Sally-Whelan-artist-statement-bio

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