The Voice Interview

Publication: The Voice Magazine
Author: Elisheva Braun

No need for instagram

The following is courtesy of The Voice Magazine based in Lakewood, NJ;


She discovered her talent by accident. Struggles have only served to skyrocket her career.

Simultaneously powerful and ethereal. delicate and immersive. Sarah's paintings touch, transport, and inspire.

Discovering art

"I was always artistic," says Sarah.

"Growing up, I loved to play around with things like hair makeup. and fashion."

"When I graduated high school, I moved from job to job, never feeling satisfied with the work. I tried out careers as a clothing saleswoman, a cake decorator, and a gift wrapper, but I never felt I was contributing anything significant to the world"

Then Sarah underwent a medical procedure and was hospitalized for several days. "I couldn't move around, and I was bored to death. All I wanted was to get out of my hospital room, which was starting to feel like a jail. One day, a nurse brought me a small canvas and paintbrush to help me pass the time”.

Aside from fingerpainting and kindergarten projects, Sarah had never created art. "I didn't feel like failing at another thing. so I stashed the supplies in the corner of the room and ignored them. But later in the evening, boredom won out, and I decided to give painting a try. When I started painting, it was like something opened up inside me. I went from one canvas to the next creating a bird, a sunset, and a girl on a swing.

"When I was discharged, I went back to my old job and put painting on the back burner. There was a part of me that said, You're not good enough to be a real artist. Now I know that my thinking was too in-the-box.

Painting is not about trying to be like everyone else; it's about walking down a path and discovering your own vision of the world. You can take inspiration from others, but you have to approach it from your own mind as opposed to trying to get into someone else's head and figuring out how they made their piece."

A year later, Sarah married Eli Begun. She stopped working and spent her days cleaning the house, visiting family, and dabbling in painting just a bit. When covid hit, stores were closed and she could no longer purchase canvases

"One day, I opened the baking cabinet and said, If I can't paint on canvas, I'll find something else to use. I grabbed a sheet of silver foil and used it as my canvas. The results were vivid and beautiful, with a dramatic glow-in-the-dark effect. I never dreamed that I'd actually sell foil paintings, but these days, they are very popular.

During covid, I began painting constantly. Relaxing at home with my canvases, I felt that Hashem had given me the gift of art at the time I needed it most."

To enhance her skills, Sarah attended the talented Mira Eisen's art classes, and she embraced the new role art played in her life

Profitable painting

For months, Sarah would paint, then post the finished products on-line. She hoped to use the platform to sell her work, but for some reason, she couldn't close a single deal. When her baby was born. Sarah decided to delete her Instagram account forever.

There's a massive lack of privacy on social media. People ask the most. invasive questions, and you can't blame them. After all. you're putting your life online. Instagram also causes jealousy and competition and is full of unfiltered content that I didn't want to see. I felt that if I had real emunah and bitachon, I wouldn't need Instagram to make money.

"I asked Hashem (G-d) that in return for this difficult sacrifice. He show me that He is my marketer. Within a few months of deleting my account, I started selling paintings left and right. It was inspiring to see that I really didn't need Instagram for parnassah. Hashem decides how much money I will make, and I'll get it regardless of my efforts. Until to-day, people ask me, 'How do you sell paintings without Instagram?' My answer is always the same: “Hashem sells them"

Creative process

"When I start a painting. I study a reference photo to get a clear idea of the dimensions and angles I'll need to recreate. I play around with my palette, slapping on a bunch of blobs until the canvas looks like something a little kid would make. Next, I take my palette knife-one of my favorite tools -and make lines to create shapes. I keep expanding. adding, and tweaking until the painting comes together.

"I listen to music while I work, playing either upbeat, current frum singers or classical music, depending on the atmosphere of the painting.

The song really sets the mood.

When I look back at finished products, I can remember which music I was listening to when I made them."

Sarah's favorite style is abstract art because it gives the painter freedom to explore and have fun. "When you look closely, abstract art is just splashes of this and that, and it's really cool to turn a mess into something meaningful."

Sarah spends many hours a day in her studio. "I drop my son off at 9 am, then change into painting clothes and get to work. All of a sudden, it's 3:00, and i have to run to do pickup. When I'm immersed in art, it feels like I'm on a different planet with no worries or stresses.

It's hard to get out of the creative zone, but at 3:30, I stop and put painting on pause. My child comes first; my husband comes first; my house comes first. So, I close the studio door and re-enter the real world."

Some paintings take weeks to complete, and the quickest ones need just 24 hours. "After I finish a painting, I say, I don't know how I created this. It's obviously not my own talent. Hashem (God) is beside me while I work, guiding my hand so I can create beautiful Jewish paintings."

Painter's tape: Getting unstuck

Blank canvas syndrome is a struggle for creators of any art form. "When I'm thinking too much about painting. I get caught up in my own head and I can't be creative. Mira Eisen taught me to stop when I'm stuck, and when I feel inspired and come back to the painting-hours, days, or weeks later-I'll be able to finish it."

Sarah has painted canvases that are taller and wider than she is. "When I feel overwhelmed and don't know where to start, I tell myself, Sarah, you did this a bunch of times. Just relax. Have fun.

"There are times when it's just not working, and I start to doubt my skills. I tell husband, I don't think I know how to paint. What if I just don't have the talent?' Eli reminds me that I'm a successful artist who has sold many paintings and helps me get past the insecurities.

Shifting her style

Sarah's first paintings featured vivid blues, reds, copper, and yellows. "I loved using lots of bright colors but quickly learned that most people prefer a more modern, muted look. I had to shift to ward a palette of elegant whites, pale pinks, and soft blues to cater to my clientele. In the beginning, it was a little hard because it didn't feel like me; I’m not a one-color type of person. Then I realized that there can be a million shades and tones within one color, and a monochromatic look can be really pretty."

Another change was in the art itself. "When I started painting, I had a lot of unique ideas for creative pictures and concepts. The demand in the frum world is for classic Judaic art subjects: the Kosel, the Yam Suf, Kever Rochel...the list is almost endless. I never get bored, though because I can paint the same thing ten times and it will look different in every piece. There's a different element I want to emphasize each time and different mediums I want to use." Art is fluid and ever-changing

"I'm constantly trying new things: there's so much more to explore! I'm always inspired and amazed by other people's paintings. I take the inspiration and use it to think of new ideas of my own.

In pursuit of perfection

'I'm a perfectionist, so I struggle with needing my paintings to be flawless. Even when the results seen impeccable, I'm always critiquing myself. But if I waited until things were perfect, I would never finish a proiect. That's why my rule is that when I sign it, it's done. Even if two days later 1 want to add something, I tell my-self, Sarah, nothing in life is perfect.

You worked hard on this. It's stunning.

You're done.

"On the other hand, if I feel like a painting is missing something. I don't sign it. I put it aside until I've added all the finishing touches and I'm happy with the result. Then I sign it and move on to the next one"

Imperfections, Sarah says, are what make art so wonderfully individual.

"It's the flawed pieces that are beautiful. If you look at Van Gogh's Starry Night, it's a gorgeous painting. But there's no way it's perfect. It's impossible, Van Gogh was a human being.

When we aim for perfection, we can't get anywhere.

Always tweaking, refining, enhancing, and advancing while accepting imperfections as the stamp of human originality. In our perpetual journeys toward excellence, Sarah's message rings true for every aspect of life.

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