Sarah Collard (Collard Creations)

Sarah Collard is a Manitoban artist, working in the province for 15 years. Originally from Burlington, Ontario, she’s an artist in mid career; regionally and provincially known, a graduate from the University of Waterloo, Nipissing University and Sheridan College. She has been the recipient of various awards and scholarships. Initially Collard developed her artwork in the Swan River Valley where rural life had a positive effect on her painting. Upon moving to Altona, and later Winnipeg, she developed her experience as an art educator, teaching for the Borderland School Division, the Louis Riel School Division and Linden Christian School. She also began studying towards a Masters in Education at the University of Manitoba.

Sarah regularly exhibits her mixed media drawings on paper, paintings and prints in Manitoba and occasionally in Ontario. This has been made possible by the continuous support of the Manitoba Arts Council, arts organizations, business community and private sector. Collard was able to travel to Tadoule Lake and teach Dene students with the artist in the schools project. Her work has been exhibited at the Mennonite Heritage Center, Medea Gallery and Fleet Gallery in Winnipeg as well as at the University of Waterloo, Dundas Valley, Clear Lake, McCreary, and Swan River. This versatile artist has painted over twenty indoor and six outdoor murals in Manitoba. Mural styles range from fantasy to realism, impressionism to fauvism, aboriginal to post-modern abstraction. She has served on the Manitoba Association of Art Education, Swan Valley Arts Council and is a member of the Winnipeg Sketch Club, CARFAC, MAWA, Plug-In Gallery and is published in MAAE newsletters and town newspapers. Collard has worked consistently with grade nine students at George McDowell School to create large scale murals twice yearly for musical concerts. As part of the Graham Street Festival, Collard executed three murals on walls, doorways and signal boxes for Downtown Biz, a celebration of the improvements business owners made to the area. Whether Sarah is painting a mural, teaching students, drawing figures or working on a commission, she enjoys every minute of it. “It is a pleasure to be a part of the Manitoba art community,” she says.

Sarah is passionate about drawing the human form, and enjoys painting both the male and female body, which she calls her figurative work. However, most of her nudes are of the female form. She will typically do a mixed media collage of her models which ends up as an abstracted ethereal rendering. “I love doing figures,” says Sarah, “and they are wonderful bedroom pieces.” She has a hard time understanding negative societal attitudes that suppress the celebration of our bodies, but rather she views them, and sexuality, as gifts from God. “In terms of content sometimes I flip: they can be about friendship, or about our own sexuality, or violence against women or any number of things. But they’re all intuitive and I love them.” While engaged in this work Sarah says that she enjoys experimenting with various media and techniques and, consequently loves the unpredictability of the result. “I like allowing the process to flow, and abstracting from the reality.”

She’s lived in Winnipeg now for over 15 years, and is happy here. “I like the art community in Winnipeg. It’s not snooty, it’s accessible, and the people are down to earth. The cost of living is a lot lower here and I can find a way to fulfill my aspirations. I’m able to live and work full time as an artist. The galleries downtown are wonderful. It’s a great safe community to bring up my kids.”

Collard is thankful to her family for the warm encouraging environment and atmosphere she was blessed to have grown up in. “My parents rave about the fact that I could play independently, whether it was making a house out of a box, colouring or drawing on my sister’s top bunk! We were a large busy family, so they were very appreciative that they didn’t have to devote so much time ‘managing me’. I was encouraged in all my artwork by my parents and extended family. I think that most of the creative genes came from my grandfather and uncle. Grandpa Ray Collard was a sculptor and painter and my Uncle Rod Collard is an accomplished watercolour artist. He does beautiful landscapes of old cottages and buildings in the Southern Ontario area.”

Murals are a natural outlet of expression for her. “I like the size, and that it’s on a building that the public can see and enjoy. I love the physicality of Murals, the social aspect of it and the interactions with the public. I love painting outdoors in the summertime, plus I can get a tan! I also like the whole business aspect of Murals. I love hooking up with other people’s goals and seeing them come to fruition. I love going into an area to work and then discovering that entire area, whether it’s the people, the restaurants, the shops or the landscape.”

Being an artist, she’s extremely self-critical. She says that she can’t be the artist she wants to be until she reaches the point where she is working full time, every day with commissions and can support herself solely on her artwork. It’s a lofty goal of hers to work towards and eventually attain this; and to have a studio (possibly downtown) as a base of operations. She is unapologetic about her passions, her opinions, her behaviour and her ‘edge’. “Sarah Collard as an artist allows my voice to come out,” she exclaims.

Her artwork is a form of therapy for her. “Art invigorates me. It gives me a sense of accomplishment. The process of creating a piece of art gives me great satisfaction. It’s relaxing in one sense, and it’s not in another! Art excites every fibre of my being! I’m addicted to learning new things, which happens all the time. I love the freedom and adventure through art. Art is not just what I do, but how I am. I’m a perceiver and I think. I’m attracted to beauty, and that beauty and my perceptions and thoughts all get reflected in my artwork.”

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Click here to view Sarah's outdoor Winnipeg Murals.