Arts fest: Pop realist Laura Sargeant finds good fortune in art

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Laura Sargeant’s art career began with a cow named Olive.

After 20-plus years working as a general contractor, Sargeant found herself at loose ends when she and her partner moved to a farm in Mulmur. When they headed off on a trip to Scotland, she wondered aloud what she should do to amuse herself, and a suggestion of a portrait of the cow was made.

Sargeant says Olive turned out rather well, leading to multiple commissions for dog portraits. Eventually she transitioned to painting celebrity dogs, and then celebrities.

Sargeant started painting as a child but it wasn’t until she began earning five figures for commissions that she started to call herself a professional artist. She considers herself primarily a painter, but works in many mediums, including wood, metal sculpture and collage.

Sargeant describes her style as Pop Realism and says she sees things a bit differently than other people.

These days her studio is a house in Collingwood where she has created the ultimate “she shed,” a place to paint, sculpt, work out in her home gym and occasionally crash overnight. She answers the door wearing paint smeared overalls and very funky glasses which hint at the visual treasures found within.

As partial payment for a recent commission, Sargeant scored some amazing tickets for a Pink concert. She arrived wearing a shirt she had decorated with her portrait of the pop star, and found herself sitting behind the performer’s son. The son is now the owner of an original Laura Sergeant shirt bearing the message, “She’s my mom” and Sargeant left with an autographed shirt.

Sargeant was recently contacted by an NBC broadcaster who wished to buy a painting which she had posted on Instagram. She expressed surprise that someone would be willing to purchase art based purely on an online image, but the buyer assured her she has been an Instagram follower for years and has long wanted to own a piece of her work.

She still maintains a home in Toronto, although she has only been there a handful of times in the last year and a half, but loves to visit the Queen Street West area for inspiration.

Getting ready for the Creemore Festival of the Arts has been a bit of a nightmare, said Sargeant. She has sold five paintings in the last month, is putting finishing touches on a large commission, and is busy moving out of the house in Mulmur. She would have withdrawn from the show but for the commitment she made to her old friend Martha Bull, coordinator of the Artists on Location self-led tour. Among the work she will be showing in Creemore is a collage titled Fragile, Handle with Care inspired in part by a fortune cookie which encouraged her to “Keep in touch with some form of the arts.” It includes a large skull with a “fragile” label, a hummingbird and a peace sign, and is a commentary on what we are doing to the environment.

Upcoming projects include a line of hoodies featuring her images and perhaps some three-dimensional works incorporating painting and metal. The desire to work in 3D is a throwback to her roots in homebuilding and design.

Find Laura Sargeant’s work will be on display at 211 Mill St.

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