Tools & Talismans #24 — Sarah Fagan

A few months after I began painting the first few pieces for this series, a friend asked me if I had heard of an artist named Sarah Fagan, and told me I should check out her work.

Sarah’s painting is about “elevating the status of everyday objects” and the consequent interaction between viewer and painting. Her work is aMAZing, and though our focus is slightly different, there is a feel of similarity — painting objects, with a deep interest in how these “things” interact with each other, with their owner and with the space around them.

I was totally jazzed when she said “yes” to my request to be a part of the Tools & Talismans series, and am so delighted to share with you some of Sarah Fagan’s “everyday” objects, in watercolor.

And can I say? The plastic bread bag tie. I smile every time I look at it. It’s so humble, so ubiquitous, and yet somehow manages to be be so poignant, sitting between Bingo’s B2 and a ticket.

I paint and make books as a way to control my world, still my thoughts. Therefore, my tools for these tasks are as vital to my personal well-being as my art making. My OLFA knife cuts paper, opens packages, and even removes brush hairs from paintings-in-progress with surgical precision. My bonefolder, used for bookmaking, I carved and sanded by hand from an elk bone. These tools, along with other studio necessities like pencils and paintbrushes, are among some of my favorite things to paint as a still life artist. I love what they can make with the help of a human hand, so I glorify their usefulness in my work.

I get to know the objects I paint the way a portrait painter might get to know her models. Spoons, tickets, bread tags, and old bingo chips, pictured here, are some of my oft used “sitters.” Do I paint small because I am a collector or collect because I paint small? It is a “chicken or egg” dilemma whose answer I may never know. My small objects are my worry stones, my models to align, group, photograph, paint, and repeat.

Sarah Fagan is an Organizer and Painter of Objects


Tools & Talismans is a personal painting project where I’m documenting {in watercolor} the tools and talismans of 100 different women — creators and healers, thinkers and makers, wordsmiths and visionaries. Join me for a year of Tools & Talismans — I'll be sharing a new painting with you every Wednesday.

I also create commissioned illustrations for people just like you — contact me and we can talk about what you might need for your website, a book cover and etc.