Father and daughter duo, William Edwards and Sarah Stewart are an artistic force to be reckoned with. William who originally set out to study documentary filmmaking, instead put his education on hold to raise a growing family that eventually numbered 6 children. He first became a house painter in his native Southern California and when the family moved to his wife Becky’s home town in upstate New York, he set his sights on delving into a more artistic aspect of painting. William attended decorative art training in London, New York City and Miami and learned a myriad of techniques from faux wood graining and marble to Venetian plaster and “trompe l’oeil” (a realistic painting style that means “to trick the eye.”) Venetian plaster has seen a resurgence in popularity of late for its timeless appeal and utilityin contemporary minimalist spaces. Venetian plaster has around for centuries and was first used in Italy where water, lime, and marble dust were combined and spread on walls and burnished to create depth and shine.
Sarah, the oldest of the children, would spend countless hours in her father’s studio watching him mix paints and practice his various techniques on sample boards. “I was so riveted that I wouldn’t even say anything for hours and then I would and he would practically throw his paintbrush and we would laugh,” she recalls. “I think even then the seeds for my own artistic endeavors were planted.” William and Becky and their kids vacationed to Santa Rosa Beach in the late ’90s where they fell in love with the white sand and crystal clear waters of the Gulf of Mexico. “We just knew we had to move” says William. So in 1998, they did and bought a home just blocks from the water. Since then they have never looked back.
Sarah has had the opportunity to study nursing and is certified as an art teacher as well but prefers to teach private art lessons and create bas relief plaster paintings. Bas relief is French for “low relief” as in a two-dimensional work of art with depth. Sarah’s trip to Monaco, France, Italy, and Switzerland in 2015 was pivotal. “To feel the heartbeat of the renaissance, to hear the bells ring from ancient cathedrals, to walk sun-washed streets and watch the waves break on polished marble stones was nourishing to my soul. To see the refined architectural edifices, to admire masterpieces at the Louvre and contemplate the history and art soaked cultures of Europe was life-changing. I felt inspired to keep finding my direction as an artist and my love for classical themes was solidified.”
Both Sarah and her father William will be showing their bas relief plaster art at the “Art in the Park” show in Watercolor March 21-22. His company is called 30A Decorative Arts and Sarah’s is 30A Venetian. They collaborate on projects together and give bids for Venetian plaster. “To work with my dad here at the beach,” says Sarah, “and follow my own artistic pursuits for a living is truly a dream come true.”
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