Saralene Tapley


According to my Instagram feed, today is apparently International Women’s Day, and I’m here to tell you about an inspiring artist who is a woman and happens to be quite international.

I love celebrating women, especially other female artists. Friends, meet Saralane Tapley.

Photograph of artist Saralene Tapley

Saralene Tapley

Saralene and I first met at school in Taiwan. She was a phenomenal artist even back then and I was fortunate to have taken a few art classes with her, which were taught by her extremely talented artist mother Georganna Tapley.

This woman is absolutely prolific in her art! I have been following her journey through different artistic styles and I am in awe of her ability and consistency in creating for the sake of creating. She literally does it for the process, creating for her self enjoyment and fulfilment, and as a result, never suffers a creative block.

“What I enjoy most about working in the arts is that I can continuously reinvent my artwork. There are many mediums to explore and subjects to discover. I also enjoy seeing other artists work and comparing and learning from different ideas and forms of visual language.”

Saralene is an Irish-American artist currently living in Houston where she completed her Masters in Arts and Humanities at the University of Houston Clear Lake. Prior to that, she was living in NYC studying at the New York Academy of Art. Previous to that she lived in Dublin (and London), where she finished a BFA at Dublin’s National College of Art and Design. She was raised in the United States until she was eleven, then moved to Taiwan, then on to Korea where she graduated high school. A fellow global citizen, I love it!

Take a look at Saralene’s website, it is a magnificent archive of her past work. Definitely an artist to admire, follow her on Instagram @saralenet.

Below are some insights into Saralene’s practice.

What inspires you?

My biggest inspiration is people. I love everything about people both physically and in terms of personality. I enjoy trying to use my observation skills as well as my intuition to capture an aspect of them that I consider to be both real and beautiful. My work, however, is also concerned with design and structure. I employ an abstract aesthetic to both the rendering of my subjects’ faces and bodies to both delight my own interest while painting as well as the viewer’s interest upon observing the painting. In short, I also really like pattern.

Is your process (the way you create) always the same or different every time?

When I am working on a particular series my work tends to be quite similar. I am not, however, an artist that sticks to one way of working very long. I am very keen to explore and experiment with different media, subject matter and visual language, so my work is always going through transitions.

Did your family support your dream of becoming an artist/maker?

My mother is an artist, so my family has been extremely supportive of my artistic interests. My Dad makes my frames and my mother is my most trusted critic. My younger sister and her kids and I often exchange opinions about my work and her kids’ work.

Figurative painting by Saralene Tapley of a nake lady lying sitting on ground with legs laid out in front, with a feather boa around her neck and holding a flower.

What do you love most about the maker/artist community in Houston?

I am not extremely involved in the Houston art scene as I find it less receptive to figurative art than New York City.  I am however very pleased with the Instagram community of artists. We are all very encouraging of each other. I stay in contact with many of the artists from The New York’s Academy of Art, my grad school, and artists from around the globe I have yet to meet via social media.

What’s 1 thing you want people to know about your work?

A lot of my work is made for my own enjoyment. I make work because I can’t not make work. I enjoy when I create a portrait that my subject likes or my work speaks to someone’s experiences on some level. I often think my work is appreciated on an aesthetic or emotional level more than an intellectual level. I am happy if my work resonates with the viewer in this way.

You’re known for painting and printing are there other ways you love to express yourself?

Aside from painting and printing, I really enjoy walking and jogging outdoors. I jog every morning for 4-8 miles and go for walks in the day if I am not painting. I think a lot during these times. I solve problems with my paintings, plan my classes, play out old and future conversations in my head. I find this time very therapeutic in addition it helps me deal with stress, anxiety and other emotions I have a hard time releasing.

What’s your favourite medium?

I enjoy anything thick and water based. I like acrylic, but recently I have been working solely with silkscreen pigment for both my monotypes as well as paintings on canvas.

How do you deal with a creative block?

I never suffer from creative block. I do however suffer from days in which I may be physically too tired to paint or days when my life experiences do not balance with the time I put into painting. I need to paint to survive in my world. I suffer if I do not. My source material, however, is my emotions. If I have been painting for too many days consecutively, sometimes I have to remind myself to stop and go back into the world and live.

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