By Nicole Keiper
Sarah Mason’s abstract paintings, with washes of watercolor that evoke foggy, dreamy landscapes, can fit just fine in a gallery setting. But more often than not on the Birmingham artist’s social media feeds, you see her spotlighting pieces placed lovingly inside buyers’ homes — anchoring mantels, brightening master bedrooms, making a bold and colorful statement above an overstuffed couch.
Homes, ultimately, are where the self-taught mom of two’s heart is.
“I really love the idea of helping a person bring light, inspiration and energy into their home,” Mason says. “I would so much rather meet someone at their home, go through their colors and style, and help them come up with the perfect piece, rather than have them find my art at a gallery and never meet me.
“Galleries are wonderful, and serve a purpose. But I enjoy the personal connection that is made through art.”
It makes sense, then, that Mason often pulls from home-decor trends and publications for inspiration as she sits down to work on new pieces.
“When I look through a current Architectural Digest, Veranda, or any type of home decor magazine, I test myself to see if I can match the colors of a room that inspires me, while creating a design that matches the aesthetic of the decor featured in the article,” she says. “I try to put myself in the shoes of the homeowner or decorator, and see if I can come up with the perfect piece to fit the room they designed.”
The outside world finds its way into Mason’s art just about as much as interiors do, too. Growing up in Gillette, Wyoming, Mason spent a healthy share of time taking in mountain vistas, and you’ll see ghosts of the Tetons and the Rockies hiding in the designs and colors of some of her work.
Nature shows up a little more literally, in the bright, shimmery and textural pops of gold that often jump off her watercolor washes.
“The paint I use is made up of ground minerals straight from the earth,” Mason says. “The shimmer in the paint comes from the rock mica, which I remember playing with as a child.”
Those textures, on canvas, come through a little like a solo breaking out of a harmonious chorus, which is fitting: Mason’s formal education is in music, and at home in Alabama, she and ex-husband Will launched and run Mason Music Studios, offering instruction for kids on a range of instruments, from violin to drums, plus music camps and more, at multiple locations across Birmingham.
On the visual-art front, Mason is inclined to help others learn, too — she regularly teaches painting classes, giving other adults the tools to channel inspiration and beautify their homes.
“I love teaching classes,” Mason says. “For me, it’s a social gathering where people come together and enjoy an activity that is relaxing, creative and inspiring. I tell the people in my classes that I want them to go home with a painting they would feel comfortable hanging on their wall, so I make sure they leave with a piece that is perfect for them.”