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Sarah Jane Moon – Bulldog Bursary Winner 2013

Sarah Jane Moon is a London based figurative artist specialising in portraiture.  Originally from New Zealand Sarah initially studied English Literature and Japanese followed by Visual Arts Theory.  Although always interested in art and painting it was not until doing an inspirational short course in drawing at Central St Martins that Sarah Jane Moon made the jump to painting.  Sarah Jane enrolled at The Heatherley School of Fine Art on the Portrait Diploma and has not looked back.

Since gaining her diploma Sarah Jane Moon has received commendations from both the Royal Society of Portrait Painters and the Royal British Society of Sculptors.  Sarah Jane has exhibited with the RSPP and her work featured in the Lynn Painter Stainers exhibition this year.


sarah jane moon couple

Sarah Jane Moon Wins Bulldog Bursary 2013

In 2013 Sarah Jane Moon was awarded the Bulldog Bursary by the Royal Society of Portrait Painters.  The bursary aims to help develop the talent of an emerging portrait artist.  Not only did she receive £5,000 but has been mentored by members of the RSPP and was invited to exhibit in the annual show at the Mall Galleries.  Having this knowledge and experience on hand has been undoubtedly priceless.

How Would You Describe Sarah Jane Moon’s Painting?

Despite being trained in the traditional way at the Heatherley School, with focus on drawing and working from life, individual trademarks of Sarah Jane’s work quickly emerged.  Sarah Jane Moon worked from photographs which is quite often frowned upon and used thick lines of black and white to outline her portraits.  Using a basic colour palette, heavy lines and bold brushstrokes her paintings can appear quite graphic.

With a strong focus on portraiture Sarah Jane Moon not only successfully conveys the likeness of her subject but shows the identity and personality of the sitter.  Human connection and relationships are a main focus of Sarah Jane’s painting and the intimacy within her portraits is clearly evident.

Sarah Jane Moon currently works from her studio in Brixton and on location.

Pullingers Art Shop caught up with Sarah Jane Moon as she comes to the end of her year as the Bulldog Bursary Portrait Prize winner.

What Did It Mean To You To Win The Bulldog Bursary & How Has It Helped?

The Bulldog Bursary has given me scope to expand the breadth and depth of my practice, allowing me to be less constrained by the practicalities of making work. I have been able to purchase more art materials and spend more time in the studio generally.


Sarah Jane Moon and her portrait at Motherhood

What Do You Hope To Achieve In Each Portrait?

I think portraits are more often than not the residue of the space between two (or more) individuals and as such, usually portray relationships rather than autonomous individuals. Any act of observation and translation is by necessity partial, subjective and particular. I hope to convey this in some way and celebrate it. Formally I also aim to achieve a sort of vibrancy in terms of the juxtaposition and relationship between colour, line, composition and tone.

What Draws You To Paint Portraits?

Life to me is largely about the connections one makes with other people; the intimacies or lack thereof. Human relationships between friends, lovers, strangers and acquaintances fascinate me.

Do You Use Any Particular Techniques?

I usually paint with oil. First drawing in (sometimes with charcoal, but mostly with thinned oil) and then impatiently moving on to colour. I seldom use thinners or mediums and rely on a very basic palette of white, black, and a few yellows, reds and blues.

How Do You Start Each Painting? Do You Have A Working Ritual?

I stretch my own canvas, usually using 12 ounce cotton duck and then prime with varying layers of acrylic, sanding in between. I enjoy that this is a process that takes time and the control it gives me over the surface texture. It is also nice to begin a relationship with the work so early on, to physically make the thing.

Which Living & Non Living Artist Would You Like To Have A Drink With?

Jenny Saville as I am hugely excited by her work and also find her articulate and astute when talking about painting and her practice. I admire her ambition and commitment to painting.

See Jenny Saville’s first ever solo exhibition in London at the Gagosian Gallery until 26/07/14.

Alice Neel as I love her work and find her perspective on life and painting unique and uncompromising.

If You Could Show Your Work Anywhere, On Anything, Where Would It Be?

Somewhere personal and intimate with an appreciative, intelligent and open audience that was willing to engage with the work.

What’s In Your Art Kit?

I have all sorts of art materials and media around but mostly use brushes (both synthetic and hog), palette knives, rags, wooden palettes, and sansodor when painting, easels of various kinds and either board primed with shellac or acrylic or stretched cotton duck canvas.


sarah jane moon studio

Which Sketchbooks Do You Use?

I use Moleskine Notebooks when I can afford them as I think they have a nice feel and simplicity, but anything will do really.

Is There An Art Product You Could Not Do Without?

Brushes, Oil Paint, canvas and rags are essential (and some sort of palette). I like to keep my painting kit as straight forward as possible.

Are There Any Art Materials That You Would Like To Try?

Not that I can think of although I am always interested in trying different brands of Oil Paint.

What Are You Working On At The Moment & Hoping To Achieve This Year?

I have several commissions on going but I am also spending a lot of time working on paintings of friends and others. One is a very large piece that measures 3 x 2.5 meters and has 18 people in it which feels very ambitious. I would also like to start some large scale nudes in the coming months.

Are You Entering Any Open Submissions & Awards This Year?

I am always trying my luck with various Exhibitions and awards and thus far have been in both the Lynn Painter Stainers Exhibition and The Royal Society of Portrait Painters Annual Show this year.

What Is The Best Piece Of Advice You Have Been Given?

On leaving The Heatherley School of Fine Art where I studied portraiture for two years the then Principal of the school, John Walton, urged me to not be fussy in the work that I took on and to embrace all opportunities that came my way. I think this is excellent advice to young and emerging painters in a field that is full of uncertainty and also not a bad attitude to adopt in other areas of life.


sarah Jane Moon bow tie

What Is Your Most Notable Achievement To Date? 

Receiving the Bulldog Bursary and exhibiting in The Royal Society of Portrait Painters’ Exhibition alongside many painters whose work I hugely respect has been a significant boost and very encouraging, although I have several projects on going that I am also very excited about.

What Would Your Dream Project Be?

After thinking quite hard about this question I realise, happily, that I am working on a few of them currently. I would like to continue to paint the people who are in my life and that I know whilst also attempting to expand my vocabulary formally and investigate painterly issues.


Many Thanks to Sarah Jane Moon and I for one am very interested to see how her painting progresses.

See more of Sarah Jane Moon’s work at & on Facebook

If you are interested in purchasing or commissioning work from Sarah Jane Moon, Studio visits can be arranged by contacting her personally on 07837 404284 or email her at  You can also be added to her mailing list for studio sales.


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