We had the good fortune of connecting with Sarah Hughes and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Sarah, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
I think that this concept and how I apply it to my life as an artist and business owner is often in flux.

I used to feel overwhelmed by the fact that I never leave my workspace—my job—because I work from home. There are constant reminders of the things that I need to get done. It can be very exhausting to constantly return to my workspace and never feel like I have a regular hours. I truly feel like most other entrepreneurs—I work 24/7.

However in the last couple of years I have experimented with what works for me and my workflow. It often depends on what other responsibilities I have in our family life and that’s one of the big perks of owning your own work and business. It gives us the freedom to adjust and merge the two together.

I have found that creating clear, quarterly goals helps me cast a short-term vision for myself. I then take time on Saturday or Sunday of each week and plan out what I need to accomplish for my business goals as well as my personal appointments and to-do lists.
I use my planner to create time blocks for my workflow so that I can clearly see what time I have to work with and how to divide up my time to accomplish those goals.

The intention of creating time blocks for my work is so that in the hours that are not designated for business, I can feel complete freedom to unplug and not be caught up in the guilt of what work is left over at the end of the day. There will always be more to do; there will always be the need for rest. The aim is a personalized version of the word “balance”.

I have also found that having my studio space in a separate room of my house with a door helps me create more of a separation of work and play. I walk into the studio in the morning and know that is my designated space to create and work. When I am done for the day, I can close the door and create a bit of a tangible reminder that I can now move on to my personal life without feeling guilt and that constant tug to go and do “just one more thing”. There are also days when taking some of my work to a local coffee shop helps me have the focus and accountability of fulfilling my work t0-do list.

I am still learning and growing in art of finding that “balance” for my work and personal life. I believe that it is essential to aim for some kind of routine and healthy workflow. It will have an incredible impact immediate and long-term on my mental health, family life, friendship and the work that I have dedicated myself to.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I have always been interested in art. From a young age I would ask my family members in turn to pose for their portrait drawing. I would ask my parents for books on how to draw and tools like sketchbooks and graphite pencils. I loved all of the arts—writing, music, art, etc.

In 2018 I received my bachelors degree in Piano Performance and didn’t do much with sketching and painting in college. It was after graduating that I found myself teaching private music lessons hours everyday and needing a quiet outlet to unwind with at the end of the day. Being newly married, the budget was a little tight and I decided I would try my hand at painting our own Christmas wall decor.

It was then that I found a cheap watercolor set in our office and some watercolor paper. I honestly don’t even remember how that ended up in the bottom shelf of the office bookshelf.

I could say “the rest is history” but being a primarily self-taught artist was and is a journey. I watched countless YouTube videos and gradually invested in better quality art materials which proved to be a game-changer. I worked with watercolors for about two years selling to family and friends, creating an Instagram account that designated for my art and soon found myself with commission requests from complete strangers.

I am still learning and have decided to go the route of working with a couple of other experienced fine art painters who have pushed me, critiqued my work and have been an incredible blessing to me. I am also taking online courses through New Masters Academy which is an amazing tool for artists who want to grow their skill but decide that going to art school isn’t for them.

I have since moved from watercolor and ink house portraits to still life and landscape paintings with oils. I really enjoy exploring with other mediums but my goal is to continue developing my skill in oil painting.

I am still on a journey of discovering my “style” and while I am very much captivated with moody paintings of earth and sky, I am determined to paint different subject matters for the sake of my long-term growth.

I want my work to reflect the emotion related to the subject matter and hopefully pulls my views into a story or feeling that will impact their lives. I gather inspiration from where I live, our travels, other master artists from the era of Impressionism.

I truly believe that I have been given the opportunity to reflect the beauty of God in my work and that doesn’t happen by accident. It happens with a clear purpose and the willing hands to craft that opportunity into what I hope will be a party of my legacy.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I would definitely say that a walk in Piedmont Park and a stroll through the Georgia Aquarium are a must. I also love taking a few hours to eat, shop and explore Ponce City Market with friends.

Fox Theatre in Atlanta, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and the Athens Symphony Orchestra are some of my favorite places to hear music and plays that inspire my creative work. Catching a show or concert at any of these venues is definitely at the top of my list.

I also really enjoy going on long drives with my husband and friends through the countryside and I find that the green hills and many wooded forests are so essential to just taking a break from the business of life and reminding myself to slowdown. We always are sure to see a variety of horses, cow, goats and many beauty old homes on your country drives. And of course, grabbing a treat at our local coffee shop, Tradewind, is always fun where we’re bound to bump into a friend!

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would not be on the track that I am on today without the constant encouragement of my husband, Jordan. He is the one who helps me craft a vision for my work and is my biggest cheerleader in the day to day. My parents and family have also been my biggest supporters in both my work and personal life.

Jess Velarde is the artist who first introduced me to the medium of oil paints of which I am using primarily today. She is an incredibly talented artist and the person who spent hours coaching me and answering the many questions I had about selling my art and becoming a better artist every day.

I also want to thank my current art coach and mentor, Phil Starke. His critiques are instrumental and essential to my growth and his advice has been invaluable. I am so grateful for the generosity and friendship of Phil and his wife, Sheri.

Website: Bristleandhues.co

Instagram: Bristleandhues

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