Create! Magazine is pleased to share an interview with artist Sarah Aileen, who is currently featured in the PxP Contemporary exhibition 'Chromatic'. Aileen is a painter working in the style of hard-edge and geometric abstraction. An artist and designer based in Seattle, Washington, Aileen's artistic style is a nod to her graphic design background, love of editing, and fascination with striking color combinations. Works on hardwood, paper, and canvas are at the core of her practice.

Sarah Aileen hard edge painting
Sarah Aileen, Beyond The Horizon

Artist Statement

Color is a force. I use the design of my paintings to emphasize and explore the impact of color, in the context of hard-edge painting and minimalism. I have always been drawn to the interplay between seemingly unrelated colors and shapes. I often apply strong contrast to proportions to create visual tension in my pieces. The dynamic angles and broad, saturated color fields create energy that is experienced uniquely by each viewer.

Can you share a bit about your background and how you became an artist?

I’ve always been creatively inclined. As a child, I was soaking paper in an old work tub and then dotting it with watercolors to create “stationery”. In college, I studied art and experimented with sculpture, ceramics, metals, you name it. Ironically, I never took a painting studio class! Once out of school, I took the “practical” route and went into the corporate world for 17 years. During that time I created sporadically. The urge to return to something more artistic and entrepreneurial never left. Making that pivot has been like returning to myself and I’m excited to continue pursuing this path.

Sarah Aileen geometric abstraction painting
Sarah Aileen, Until We Meet Again
Sarah Aileen contemporary abstract painting
Sarah Aileen, She's Electric

How did you develop your style?

I’ve always loved minimalism. It allows for energy to be expressed with shape and color. My education is grounded in graphic design and that background can be seen in the precision of my pieces. I’m a big fan of editing and refining.

I’m always on the lookout for new ideas: the colors in a sign, architectural lines, patterns of light and shadow; all of these and more can spark an idea. I flesh out the concepts, either digitally or by hand. I run through multiple variations until I land on one that energizes me. Once the design reaches that point, I’m ready to bring it to life.  

Fluid acrylics are my medium of choice. Over the past year, I’ve transitioned to working on wood and paper, as opposed to my previous work on canvas. The 5 pieces in “Chromatic” are on wood. The flat, smooth surface is perfect for executing the crisp lines that are a signature in my pieces.

Tell us about the specific pieces you're showing in "Chromatic". Give us a bit of insight into your process of creating them and what you hope viewers take away from seeing them.

There are many seeds of inspiration in daily life. The design for the 5 pieces in “Chromatic” originated from an everyday moment. I was going to be photographing a few painted wood panels. I’d laid them on their sides and when I came back to them, the colors looked so vibrant together! I took that initial impression and began creating thumbnail sketches, quick drawings to run through a variety of compositions. I adjusted the proportions of each band and added a very thin line for additional visual tension. The design came about because of observing and expanding on an ordinary moment.

Inspiration is everywhere and not only for artists. Knowing the backstory, my hope is that the viewer will watch for similar moments of magic in their own life.

Sarah Aileen painting
Sarah Aileen, A Place In The Sun

What role does color play in your art?

Saturated fields of color are a hallmark in hard-edge painting. I further emphasize my abstract, geometric shapes with bold color combinations. I gravitate to the contrast between light and dark, and warm and cool tones. There will typically be a touch of the unexpected. I often use colors that would normally clash but come together beautifully because of the balance of shapes.

The 5 pieces included in “Chromatic” are the same design but each piece has different energy based on the colors used. The pieces “She’s Electric” and “Beyond the Horizon” are made up entirely of warm tones, while the other 3 have a mix of both warm and cool tones and therefore have more dynamic tension. Color has its own psychology and is layered with our lived experience. Often these impressions are subconscious but intentionally viewing art can start to reveal more about what color means to each of us.

Just for fun! What's your favorite color?

I’ve heard the best way to determine this answer is to look in your closet. Based on that, I would have to say pink. Pale to vibrant, I love it all!

Instagram: @sarahaileenstudio