Meet Sarah White—her mission to decorate her dining room turned her into a sought-after artist

Photo by Natalea Bonjour

A few years ago, Sarah White was looking for a reasonably priced, large-scale piece of art for her dining room. When she couldn’t find what she wanted, she decided to pick up a paintbrush and make her own.

As her collection grew, White, a Hallmark creative by day, wanted a space to document her work. She turned to Instagram. At first, she was quiet about putting her artwork online. But now she has a few thousand followers on Instagram (@whitewoodcanvas), and her abstract paintings are being commissioned by people around the city and sold at stores like Golden & Pine.

We chatted about her abstract collection, her process, the pandemic and a few of her favorite spots around the city.

Tell me about your abstract collection.

My pieces blur the lines between structured and organic. I create with design-minded geographic shapes and patterns, purposeful color combinations and subtle texture. I work from both intuition and emotion. I compose as I go, which involves a lot of me successfully covering up a bunch of mistakes.

Where do you find inspiration?

I’m inspired by nature—specifically the ocean—a sad day, a happy day. I’m a huge fan of Cy Twombly and his combination of painting and drawing technique, repetitive lines and scribbles. I also love Helen Frankenthaler. Her large formats of fluid shapes and simplified compositions are breathtaking.

What is the creative and physical process like for making your designs?

When starting a collection, I usually work in a series, around ten to fifteen pieces at a time. I also set a release date even before I have any idea of what I’m doing. I work better when I have an end goal.

Above all else, I need solitude when creating. I need silence and time alone to process. At night, when the house is still and everyone is asleep, that’s when I paint. I listen to the same music over and over again and start.

Did the onset of the pandemic affect your art at all?

The pandemic shifted all our lives so dramatically, but my painting has remained the same. It was the thing that kept me moored as we navigated the chaos of our family figuring out totally new patterns of school, work and play.

Also, the requests just kept coming in. I think people got bored with their walls and wanted to brighten their homes with new art, and I was happy to bring some joy during that time.

Favorite Spots

Blackhole Bakery

“Anything from them is to die for, but I was introduced to their Mochi Donut last year and it is my favorite breakfast indulgence.”

The Lobby at Hotel Kansas City

“I love sipping cocktails at Hotel Kansas City because I feel like I’ve been transported to a different era when I’m there. The rich architecture and history there is worth the visit alone.”

Urban Mining Vintage

“My love for designing and composing goes beyond my paintings and bleeds into the way I style my environment. I’m constantly rearranging and styling the objects around me. I like to wander the curations at Urban Mining. In my opinion, they have the best selection in the city.”

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