Capturing the Atmosphere and Mood of the Landscape – an Interview with Sara Bor

April 27, 2017

Sara working directly on canvas in the landscape. 2016


If you want to be totally immersed in a painting then look no further than the atmospheric work of Devon based artist Sara Bor.  With her vigorous mark making and use of colour Sara’s landscapes capture the mood of a place whatever the weather.  For this blog we have a chat with Sara about her practice, theory and inspirations, giving you an insight into her work.


Luminescent. Sara Bor. 2017. £620


What training  have you  had?

I studied for a BA (Hons) in Fine Art at West Surrey College of art and Design in 1977 and then went onto complete a Postgraduate Certificate in Art and Design Education in 1980.  I then became involved in the London animation scene and freelanced for many of the leading animation studios before setting up an animation company with my husband.  After many years producing award-winning children’s animated TV series I returned to my fine art roots and in 2007 I gained an MA in Art and Design.


What are your artistic influences?

Influences on my practice have included the intuitive drawing techniques of artist Louise Watkins whose methodology links drawing with meditation and the total involvement of materials and tools. Influences also include the practice of contemporary colourist Ashley Hanson.  His subject matter of the familiar is deconstructed and explored through his vibrant use of colour and the process of building up layers of paint through a series of techniques of paint application. His knowledge of colour and methodology have encouraged me to embrace his philosophy of 'freedom in painting'. Additionally my work has been informed by landscape artist Lewis Noble whose process involves building up layers then scrapping back and scratching though the paint symbolising the erosion of the landscape.  Other influences include John Virtue's 20th Century concept of making work directly in the landscape using found materials and tools and Anthony Garratt's outside works, painted in situ and seen in context, Joan Eardley's raw emotive work and use of paint, Hannah Woodman's gestural mark making and Louise Balaam's emotional response to landscape expressed through the language of paint. I am also inspired by Barbara Rae, Anita Reynolds and Gerhart Richter.


What inspires  you? 

Rugged landscape and coast, the weather conditions, light, colour, sounds and shapes.  A total immersion of being in a particular place, heightened perception, aware of everything that is going on in that environment on that day at that time.  Capturing a moment in time.


Tell me a  bit  about  your artistic practice.

My artistic practice is a search to find a visual language that articulates my perceptions of place through an exploration of colour and mark making. The work is an intuitive response to particular areas of the landscape and coast that are important to me, communicating the mood, atmosphere and energy of the subject matter and reflecting on the raw elemental power of the weather and effects of the ever changing light.  My work is in acrylic and oils and evolves through the process of building up layers of paint creating a sensuous surface of textures created by a variety of tools, marks and gestures.  Exposed areas of under painting emphasis the layers of history and memory.  I explore and experiment with a limited palette creating a unique range of colour. 


A collection of Sara's working sketchbooks. 2016


Describe your preliminary process.

I start by working out on location working with compressed charcoal and water, mixed media and found material. Compressed charcoal is incredibly versatile and you can create many different marks, its very immediate and bold and it is easy to work quickly and intuitively.  I will often collect earth samples, flowers, grasses, sand etc and rub them into my drawings. It is an extra bit of evidence of where you have been drawing. 



Evening Light. Sara Bor 2017. £550


Why do you do what you do?

The process of painting is motivated by an inner need to express myself both emotionally and to convey to how I respond to particular places and what they mean to me. It is an incredible struggle and sometimes extremely unrewarding.  Developing and exploring ideas and experimenting with new techniques is what I get the most satisfaction out of, whereas final outcomes can be very challenging.

Sometimes it is a fight in the dark and sometimes it is like someone has turned on the light. 



What would you like an audience to take from your work?

To experience a connection with the work, maybe a memory or a recollection evoked by the visual language of the marks, gestures and colours.


Tide Receeding. Sara Bor. 2016 - Created on location in Tighnabruaich



Photography. Kenneth Campbell 2016.

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