A lifelong artist with a printmaking degree from the University of Central Oklahoma, Sarah Day-Short aimed to make art her career. Starting out, she focused on drawing and detail-oriented work, like custom pet portraits. However, these projects left her feeling boxed in; she wasn’t able to put as much creativity into the work as she wanted.
Enter abstract. To break out of that rut, Day-Short began stretching canvases and slinging paint Jackson Pollock-style.
“I started going in the studio and feeling, rather than going in with a plan,” she says.
Now, Day-Short creates large-scale, colorful abstract art with acrylic paint, along with the occasional metal leaf work. She also works with resin to make functional art that has use in everyday life. Her aim is to liven up the spaces in which her work hangs and to make art accessible, whether that’s by price or form.
“Going into an art gallery, I feel like many people are intimidated by the prices,” she says. “Anybody can spend $20 on a set of coasters. That’s a little piece of functional art that you can have in your house.”
Custom abstract pieces are Day-Short’s favorite type of project; they require her to marry her artistic vision with a client’s needs. To do this, she both familiarizes herself with the space the piece will hang in and acquaints the client with her portfolio and style of work. Then, the artist gets to work.
“I’ve been pretty lucky with clients,” she says. “They let me take that creativity and roll with it.”
Day-Short saw infinite possibility for her creativity when a friend first introduced her to resin. While initially she was interested in coating her painting with the clear, malleable material, Day-Short quickly became interested in the medium’s ability to mold and transform into what she envisioned. What started as making coasters has expanded into creating serving trays, bowls and votive candle holders.
A few years into life as a full-time maker, Day-Short’s creativity began to wane, and she felt burnt out. To occupy her spare time, she began volunteering in the kitchen at the Homeless Alliance and quickly discovered the nonprofit offered an art class. So, she started working in watercolors with the group.
Pre-pandemic, the Alliance hosted a quarterly art show, selling items made in the class and returning the profits to the artists. Day-Short donates 100% of profits from her watercolor pieces to the Alliance. Watercolors aside, Day-Short regularly donates a minimum of 10% of her monthly profits to a charity.
“I feel like that’s what I need to do to just give back to these other artists, people that are struggling and people that aren’t as fortunate as I am,” she says. “It’s something that I’ve always felt like brings me back down to Earth.”
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Homeless Alliance’s art class has been on pause, and Day-Short found herself furloughed from her art world job, instead working in a cubicle daily. She says she’s found it hard to stay creative during this time.
“I’d really like to create for the sake of creating again,” she says.
These days, Day-Short draws her inspiration from nature and her daily bike ride to Lake Hefner, where she sometimes paints with watercolors. In late June, she participated in the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition’s statewide art walk, OK Art Crawl. Post-COVID, Day-Short hopes to regain some of her wholesale clients and consignment vendors, as well as grow her online shop and take more custom orders.