Sarah Fitzgerald Blurs the Line Between Graphic Design and Fine Art

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You can find art all over town -- not just on gallery walls. In this series, we'll be looking at some of the local artists who serve up their work in coffeehouses and other non-gallery businesses around town.

"I am a transplant," says painter Sarah Fitzgerald. "I went to design school at DAAP, at the University of Cincinnati, where my major was graphic design. They have a five-year co-op program, so I bounced around all over the United States, working in design firms in fun cities like Boston and San Francisco." But Denver ended up being the most fun destination, and Fitzgerald and her family set down roots here about four years ago. "As cliché as it sounds, the mountains and sunshine really resonated with us," says Fitzgerald. Since then, she's managed to convert her graphic-design training into a healthy fine arts career.

See also: Christian Hawkins Brings Shades of Grey to Colorado Scenes

Fitzgerald's progression from being a full-time graphic designer to an artist began when she was working in Los Angeles. There she switched from nine-to-five work to contract graphic-design gigs.

She knew she'd want to stay home with her children when they arrived, and the next shift happened when her daughter was born. "That was a good way to transition back to painting, which is what had originally drawn me to design school," Fitzgerald explains.

"Painting," she continues, "was something I could jam into two-hour nap chunks." What's more, it was exactly the sort of creative outlet she needed when her kids were younger. "I still got to pursue things that made me happy during the day; it wasn't only diapers and laundry and groceries," Fitzgerald recalls.

When Fitzgerald started putting acrylic to canvas and clayboard -- her preferred backdrop; a smooth multimedia substrate -- she was creating animals. Hence Fitz Farm, a business name that's grown to encompass produce, Colorado landscapes, flowers and even a few abstract renderings.

The painter's work is characterized by strong, precise lines, many of which are actually etched into the claybord, making the pieces engraved paintings. "People have said that my graphic design background has influenced the technique," Fitzgerald says. "I admire other artists who are more free-flowing, But I typically do things that are very ordered and linear."

Lately, though, Fitzgerald has been experimenting with a new form -- "a total different approach," as she puts it. "You can get pigeonholed as painting a certain thing, and I didn't want to feel limited in that way." Her abstract pieces, Fitzgerald says, are "more about the exercise of painting and not thinking about the end result."

Continue reading for more of Fitzgerald's work.

You can see Fitzgerald's work at several spots around town. The painting currently hanging at Pajama Baking Company is an acrylic that's more indicative of her trademark style. She also has pieces at the gift shop at the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History in Boulder, and sells at Willow - An Artisan's Market. Recently, Fitzgerald has gotten into the pop-up art show scene, and has also done live paintings. Fitzgerald's watercolors, along with other novelty goods, are available on Society 6.

On top of painting, Fitzgerald does cards, calendars and prints for local markets like Firefly Handmade and Horseshoe Market -- another nod to her past life in graphic design.

Fitzgerald creates her art in a light-filled sunroom attached to her family's main home, oftentimes alongside her now school-aged children. She's been toying with the idea of illustrating a children's book, and was recently invited to join an exciting new concept: community-supported art.

CSArt was modeled on the buy-direct, buy-local spirit of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), and is a collaboration between the Denver Botanic Gardens and the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art. "I am going to be creating sixty pieces of art for them," says Fitzgerald. "Anybody can buy a share, and shareholders will get a crop of art instead of a crop of veggies at two set 2015 distribution dates."

For more on Fitzgerald, visit her website, Facebook page or follow her on Instagram.

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