Artist Spotlight: Sally Veach

We are so excited to be representing Sally Veach, a new artist to Anne Neilson Fine Art Gallery! She is a fellow mountain dweller from the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, and has truly been a joy to get to know.

She’s a passionate, innovative artist who expresses herself, her thoughts, ideas and inspirations not only in her words written here, but also in her expressionistic paintings. Her work is especially meaningful as her Barns of Shenandoah series depicts “the tragedy of historic barns and the fact that they are slowly returning to nature”.

The preservation that occurs by making these paintings is the essence of the artists surroundings; the beauty, color and energy that occurs within nature. Her depictions thrill the viewer with the way air and earth come together to move nature, and also allow it to reclaim. Barns come from trees that belong to the soil, and in turn barns rest upon that soil, that ultimately takes back what is theirs.

Read on to learn more about Sally Veach: as an artist, her likes and her life!

Hometown: Chatham, NJ

Currently Living: Woodstock, VA

When did you start your career in art?

Phase one of my art career started as a teenager when I began to complete commissions, earned a BFA in Illustration from Syracuse University, and continued in the graphic arts for a few years after graduation.  Phase two began about five years ago, when I reconnected with my artist identity and started my current, fine art practice in painting.

How long have you known you wanted to be an artist? 

I knew I “was” an artist from about age 11.  There was no question in my mind about “wanting to be”!  About five years ago, I then made a decision that I “wanted to be” an artist!  Sometimes it’s a strange, topsy-turvy world.

Describe your aesthetic in three words:

Gestural, Expressive, Colorism

Describe your artistic process and preparation.

My artistic process begins with the intense observation of, and inspiration from the natural landscape surrounding my home in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. The amazing of colors, energy, and atmospheric perspective of our natural world get quickly recorded with my cell phone camera. There are thousands of photos available to rekindle my memories.  I don’t refer to the photos for reference but use them to jog my memory of what was interesting about the scenes. This almost always has to do with color.  So, when I begin a painting, the colors and a basic idea of compositional design serve as the beginning structure.  From there the work takes a course of its own, and I enter a spontaneous period of adding and subtracting elements until I can see a pathway developing.  I’ll continue down that path until there are no more unresolved aspects of the composition, and the painting communicates what I am trying to express.

Favorite piece you’ve painted to date and why?

My favorite piece currently is “Solstice 2”.  I love this painting because it most successfully communicates the colors, gestural expression, and style of working that I am anxious to continue exploring. I feel it is the most “me”!

Currently available at ANFA Gallery.

Who inspires you personally and/or professionally?

I am inspired and influenced by the work of Eric Aho, a contemporary, abstract landscape painter from Vermont.  I also love the work of Cy Twombly.  I believe it is the gestural, fresh expression inherent in Twombly’s work that is so intriguing to me. He also practiced right down the valley from me in Lexington, VA.  Personally, I am inspired by my mother who is just now retiring from professional life at the age of 92.  At my age of 56, I hope I have that many more years to grow and develop as an artist!

Headwaters by Eric Aho.

What challenges do you think exist in the world of fine art?

There is a conflict between the personal expression of an artist and the business of selling the work.

How do you approach/overcome them?

I resolve that conflict by recognizing that the final step in art is communicating with the world by sharing your work with others.  For patrons, the act of collecting art is a wonderful, built-in step that completes the process of being an artist.  But the first order of business is producing pure, authentic work.  The two realms have a symbiotic relationship, but I am careful to focus on exploring my personal interests and inspirations first. If an artist does not keep this priority, then the work becomes contrived and shallow, and by default less compelling to the collector.

Biggest accomplishment to date (personally or professionally)?

Professionally, my biggest accomplishment is being offered an eight month show at the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley in Winchester, Virginia, which is tentatively planned for 2019.  This show will feature my series, Barns of Shenandoah,and is about the endangered, historic barns of Shenandoah County, VA. I have partnered with our local historical society and we are forming a group focused on raising awareness of and preserving the historic barns of Shenandoah County, VA.  I love that I have found a great way to contribute to my community through donating a portion of all barn-related paintings to the historical society.

Ironically, my art practice is probably also my biggest, personal accomplishment.  It was difficult to “face the demons” when reconnecting to the identity of an artist, and to believe that I was worthy to attempt a career in art took a lot of positive self-talk.  It goes to show, dream big and persist!

Favorite location to paint/what is your studio like?

I love to paint in my studio, which is in a room above the garage in our home.  It has become a refuge, a place belonging just to me.  It is often messy but I know where everything is!

A random fact about you:

I’m kind of a contradiction. I love to play golf but sing opera.  I love to learn nerdy facts but love to get glammed up for a night out too.

Favorite place to vacation? And/or dream trip?

My favorite place to vacation is the ocean, or any large body of water. My dream trip would be a cozy cottage on a private stretch of natural beach.  Even though I love the mountains, my vacation would be to the beach.

What are you currently reading?

21 Answers for 21st Century Questions by Yuval Noah Harari

What are you currently listening to?

Jolene by Ray Lamontagne

What would you be doing if you were not an artist?

Drowning in my sorrows.

One thing you couldn’t live without?

My two grown children and my husband of 30 years.

If you could switch lives with anyone for a day, who would it be?

Not sure, except that it would have to be someone who never has self-doubt and was free from existential anxiety, lol.  But probably, that person does not exist!

Your all-time favorite artist and/or your favorite emerging artist?

My all-time favorite artist is Eric Aho. I’d have to say that my favorite emerging artist is William McClure, who is also represented by Anne Neilson Fine Art.

Painting XVII by William McClure, currently available at ANFA Gallery.

Dream commission?

My dream commission would be monumental painting for a large public space or office building. But I’d have to find a bigger studio first!

What do you want your audience to know about your work?

I want my audience to know that every time I paint, I am channeling the beauty and awe of nature through a filter of the anxiety of modern life–the human condition, you could say.  My message is:  Look Up, Remember to Notice Beauty, Remember to Find Joy.  Nature is a poultice for all that ails us and is free for all.

What makes your work unique?

I believe my work is unique in that I use traditional concepts of landscape color theory and composition combined with an abstract expressionist method.  My paintings are landscapes, but very much on the verge of pure abstraction, and I strive to make every mark free with the energy of my body and not contrived or controlled.

Name one goal for your career you’d like to achieve in the next 5 years:

Within the next five years, I would like to achieve a level of confidence in my painting expression to the point where each foray onto the canvas is an act of joy free from self-doubt. And I would like to be part of the conversation in the larger art world.

Come visit us at ANFA Gallery to view some of Sally Veach’s available works, and check out to learn even more about this wonderful woman and look at her entire breathe of work!

And She Rises, by Sally Veach currently available at ANFA Gallery.

—Written by, Sophie Lane at ANFA Gallery