Sally Kheng is a mixed medium artist who works from her studio at home in Reepham, painting, creating textile art and jewellery all inspired by the Lincolnshire landscape using vibrant colours.
Art has always been a part of Sally’s life. She studied art and design at Trent College in Nottingham and fine art at Edinburgh College of Art, showcasing her first solo exhibition in Louth in 2003. Creativity was harnessed throughout careers as a textile designer and graphic designer, but it took a backseat briefly whilst she raised her children. After returning to a silversmith course, her passion reignited. “When you have a long break like I did sometimes you lose your confidence a little bit, but what has been nice is connecting with some really lovely creative people.” Sally is part of the Lincolnshire Artists Society (LAS) as well as a new group called Creative Lincs. “Being with other creative people inspired me to really get back into painting and exhibiting again.”
Sally is now able to dedicate all her time to being an artist, and after receiving questions of how she makes money from doing so, she decided to write it all down into a book called Bold Art. “I wrote it during lockdown about my journey from when I left college, through my work and how I found my style and how I sell my work. I think if people see how somebody else achieves something, it inspires them, and they are more willing to give it a go.”
Finally in a place to make a living out of art, Sally has worked hard to get her name known. “We are lucky these days to have incredible tools like social media – I have built up a pretty hefty following on Instagram, which takes some doing, but it pays off and is crucial for getting yourself known.” She also details an ethos of appealing to everybody, and not just focusing your work on paintings worth thousands. “I try and cover every base – I make cards for £2.50, prints which are £50-£100 as well as mounted work, commissions and higher priced paintings. When you do an exhibition, you can make really good bread and butter money from cards and prints, so you definitely have to be more broad minded about it if you’re going to make a living out of it.”
Sally describes her style as merging landscape, light and abstraction. “Paint marks tell my secret. I see the landscape in vivid shades, and I want to share my rose tinted glasses with the viewer. I first depict the view in sketchy scribbles of pen lines then I reawaken my drawings in watercolour, fabric, stitch and threads.
“I want lines and geometric shapes to intersect, layer together and create a sense of distance and depth. Although the brush and stitch marks are considered, I also allow the paint and sewing machine to react to movement and see what can be shaped by chance.”
Sally’s style has developed from a literal translation of the subject to a bold, more graphic representation, enhanced by stitch. “Whilst you can go to college or university and learn the basics of drawing and painting which I did, I think as you learn to use different tools and different mediums, you find eventually that your style emerges, and you find what you love and the things that excite you. For me that was most definitely colour – I am quite vibrant with in my work.”
LAS currently have their annual Usher Show which showcases various work from the members. Sally had two of her impressive 2m x 1.5m paintings accepted and are currently on display at the Usher Gallery for people to view until the 3rd of September between 10am-4pm every day. “It is lovely to have my work on display there. I think artists are trying very hard to keep the usher as a gallery and show that it is worth keeping, so the more people that know and visit there the better.”
The other group Sally is a part of, Creative Lincs, had their first exhibition Vivid at the Sam Scorer Gallery during July. As well as established artists, there were also artists who had never exhibited their work before, which included sculpture work, felting, glass, wood and paintings. The group also decided to provide workshops, something which is important to Sally. “There’s lots of people interested in art but they don’t know how to learn or go about getting involved, and workshops are a great place to start. I’m very pro helping people and I’m a big believer in art for mental health as well, I’ve done classes in the past for people who have found a lot of joy and help in creativity.”
Through Creative Lincs, Sally has also organised a craft fair at Reepham at Christmas which will have around 30 different artists and crafts people. “Things like this that get the community involved are not only good fun, but I think also very important.”
One of Sally’s artistic passions is keeping sketchbooks. “They travel with me everywhere with watercolour paints and inks so I can capture a moment from life and use it later to work from in my studio, either creating acrylic landscapes on canvas or larger watercolours on paper.
This autumn/winter I have decided to create a new book based on publishing the pages of these sketchbooks.”If you’d like to find out more about Sally or purchase her work, you can visit www.sallykheng.co.uk or find her on Instagram at @salkheng